Droste, Wilhelm Fr (1874-1929)

Prepared by: 
Regina Ganter
Birth / Death: 

born 22 March 1874, Hofstede

died 10th December 1929 Wasserfall/Rausbeck (Westphalia) age 55

Much loved Pallottine ‘ibal’ (father) at Beagle Bay from 1909 to 1929. Left a mission diary.


Wilhelm (later William) Droste was one of ten children of miner Wilhelm and Elisabeth, née Laurenzia. His father died of a lung disease in 1988, and three siblings died early. In 1898 he only referred to one 15-year old sister and five brothers, one of them a locksmith, another mentally handicapped in an institution in Niedermarsberg, and the youngest still at school. 1 After schooling to grade 8 he worked in the mines for about eight years.


He was drafted into the army reserve in July 1896 and entered the motherhouse of the Missionaires de La Salette at Grave in Holland for three semesters from about autumn 1896 to Easter 1898. In September 1898, at age 23, he entered the Pallottines and attended the mission high school at Ehrenbreitstein (Koblenz) for four years. He sat for his exam and received his habit in 1902, made his first profession in 1904 and was ordained in 1908.


A young Fr. Droste
A young Fr. Droste
Source: U1-908 Droste, ZAPP

However, as a mature age entrant from a poor background he struggled with the academic requirements. He failed the final exam in Dogma and Ethics and had to repeat it after his ordination, when he obtained a ‘pass conceded’. This lack of promise ‘was also the reason why Limburg Provincial Fr. Kopf sent him to the Australian mission’, rather than to Cameroon where the Bishop was willing to accept him.2


He departed for Australia with his classmate Fr. Traub and Br. Bringmann on 28 December 1908. In Rome they were joined by Fr. Kopf, who planned a surprise visitation of the mission, which had financial and staffing problems.3 They left Naples on a German steamer in January 1909 and reached the Kimberley in mid-February.4


By this time most mission residents spoke English and Fr. Droste never learned to speak any Aboriginal language5 but he won the hearts of the mission residents who all called him Ibal (father).


From 1911 he and Fr. Bachmair were taking turns to visit Lombadina, which had been acquired as an outstation in 1910 and was supervised by Fr. Emo as a secular priest.


In September 1913 Fr. Droste commenced a mission diary (although he is not formally listed as mission superior), which records the comings and goings on the mission. His entries switched between German, English, French, and Latin with a little shorthand sprinkled through. It shows convivial relations between the mission and its surrounding neighbours, often helping each other out. The mission boat Namban carried provisions for the surrounding stations including the police station at Pender Bay, and Beagle Bay acted as a mail distribution centre. The diary also records visitors from Broome and elsewhere and to and from neighbours such as the lighthousekeeper at Cape Leveque, Hunter’s camp at Boolgin, and Harry O’Grady’s Madana station in Cygnet Bay.


What it does not record is the constant police surveillance and missionary involvement in police work. Aboriginal people found in the prohibited areas of the pearling creeks were often removed to the missions, and the missionaries had to report anyone who left the mission without authorisation. Aboriginal persons who left their allocated employment or tried to retrieve their removed children were pursued by police trackers and brought in chains for trial at Pender Bay before the two local cattle station owners Harry O’Grady acting as magistrate and David Bell JP at Weedong Station, Pender Bay, who was Protector of Aborigines in the Broome district (1912-1917).6


16. 11. 1914 arrested abor. natives Jimmy alias Calucal and Elioner & Widge on warrant. charged with removing an Abor. halfcaste girl from BBM. Brought same to police camp. aged 9, girl was returned to mission school.7


In this case no further prosecution is recorded and no charge of ‘evil fame’ was laid, which means that the men were not suspected of prostitution, and were most likely relations of the girl, trying to take her back home.


Another case, where prostitution was involved, proceeded like this:


18.10.1912 .... at Baldwin Creek, a native named Billy who informed me Ernest had gone back to Carnot Bay. warned Billy re. camping near Creek and told him to find a master. ... arrested a native named Ernest alias Muggid on warrant charged with enticing an Aboriginal halfcaste away from Beagle Bay Mission. .... escorting a native woman named Mary alias Pelagia as witness. .... Left camp at 8am accompanied by Brother Henry escorting native prisoners Nipper & Ernest native witnesses Nellie Sarah & Mary and above named natives for the mission. Camped at Henrys Well at 5.30pm

visited natives camps got a halfcaste woman named Tipsy who is wanted for a witness in case Police v. Ernest who is charged with enticing Gipsy away from mission.

22. 10. 1912 Left mission at 6am accompanied by Rev Fr. Droste as witness in Ernest case and escorting native prisoners Nipper and Ernest also native witnesses Nellie Sarah Mary and Gipsy, arrived police station Pender Bay at 5.30pm ... Mr David Bell JP away from home ... expected home tomorrow

24. 10. 1912 Police court. Before Mr David Bell JP Mandabul alias Nipper Ernest alias Muggid charged on warrent by PC Johnston. Evil Fame. Remanded for eight days. Muggid alias Ernest charged on warrant enticing halfcaste Gipsy away from BBM. Remanded for eight days. .... ordered to find sureties of £20-0-0 each to be of good behaviour for 12 months in default six months h.l [hard labour]

Droste, assistant Georgie and witnesses Mary and Gipsy return to BBM8


Droste often had to spend days giving evidence before the ‘court’ at Pender Bay, sometimes waiting there until the station owner was ready to attend to his anxilliary official duties. He was keenly aware that Aboriginal prisoners in Western Australia were made to walk in chains, years after Dr. Roth had pilloried the state government (1905) for chaining Aboriginal prisoners by the neck. Droste’s economy of words is all the more eloquent for mentioning how


17 May 1916 Constable Rea left Beagle Bay mission with stockman John in chains to Harry O’Grady’s who sentenced him to nine months.


Nine months meant hard labour, working in chain gangs on roadworks or similar public works. Whatever Droste might have thought about his role, it was vitally important for the mission to maintain good relations with the local representatives of the state government.


In the middle of 1914 World War I erupted, which dented the massive German mission effort in Australia to a point from which it never recovered. In October 1914 the navy arrived at Beagle Bay to investigate reports that the missionaries were using a wireless set to act as German spies. Fr. Droste records:


8 October 1914

In the early hours 5.30am a detachment of marines from the cruiser Pioneer, 10 men and two officers in full war attire, arrived and thought they would find a wireless station here. The commander was Catholic. Between 10 and 11 am they went back some on horseback (four of them), some by bullock cart.


Constable Rae combed the area from Carnot Bay via Beagle Bay, Sixt’s market garden, Boolgin, and the old mission site at Disaster Bay for ten days between 16 to 25 October ‘to search for supposed wireless on coast’.9 In Droste’s diary this is cryptically recorded as


17 October 1914 Constable Rae back from Broome.


The military preferred to intern ‘enemy aliens’ but Catholic archbishop Joseph Clune achieved a compromise by stationing an Irish Redemptorist Father, John Creagh at the mission from 1914 to 1922. Meanwhile, the ‘enemy aliens’ were required to sign a pledge in order not to be interned.


A year later, on New Years Eve of 1916 the Parochus Bischofs announced to the congregation at Beagle Bay that the military authorities had ordered him to leave.10 Commenting on these events was a remark recorded in Droste’s diary two days earlier made by the indigenous assistant Damaso, about the Irish nuns: ‘Sisters talk and tonight mend their mouths.’ Fr. Bischofs was classified as an enemy alien and was not allowed to return to the Kimberley station at the end of war.11 Nothing else is recorded in Droste’s diary about the difficult wartime period, except about the food shortages.


A biographical note by Fr. Wilhelm Nathem SAC reflects that it was


in no small measure due to [Droste] that the unity between Irish sisters and German brothers was maintained through the war years and the Germans were not entirely banished. The Irish Redemptorist had to settle the concerns of the military more than once and to smooth down public opinion in Australia, which was getting worked up repeatedly against the German missionaries in the Kimberley, and he managed this successfully each time. But the collaboration of missionaries from so many different nationalities under such curious circumstances harboured many difficulties.12


In 1916 shortages of almost everything, especially food, becomes noticeable. Constable Rea recorded:


12. 8. 15 While passing Chilly Creek mission I was informed by the Manilaman Thomas [Puertollano] that the mission was out of stores. I was unable to give them any. He informed they expected their boat soon and this is the reason why all the mission natives are all along coast. I have sent to Derby for stores I expect them in a few weeks time. I am finding hard to obtain same this way now I was informed flour was £28-0-0 per ton in Derby.

15. 8. 15 at station [Pender Bay]. Natives passed through with two mules packed with stores for sisters at Chilly Creek.13


On 27 February Droste sent the Salvador to Lombadina to fetch some flour. It returned on 1 March with 9 bags of flour and two bags of rice from Thomas Puertollano. At this time Fr. Droste seems distracted and unfocused, and makes mistakes in recording the date. A few weeks later Fr. Thomas Bachmair came on the Namban from Lombadina and Droste was able to return ‘the 8 bags of rice to Bulaman’. Father Droste himself now went to Lombadina where on 8 May 1916 Harry O’Grady lent them 5 bottles of kerosene and 5 pounds of tobacco, and donated a boiler. On 25 May Harry O’Grady responded to their pleas with 9 pounds of currants, nutmeg and ginger to prepare for the concert on 28 May attended by O’Grady, who was a Catholic. On 30 June they celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by decorating the altar with shells and holding all-day adorations, interrupted by the arrival of a warship (possibly the Encounter) at 9am, which caused ‘great commotion’.


On 7 July 1916 a storm ripped the roof off the Lombadina sacristy and the next day Br. Heinrich Krallmann broke his shoulder, most likely in the attempt to repair the damage. On 11 July they received four tins of butter from Harry O’Grady.


Undeterred by all these calamities, on 14 July 1916 they built a funicular (Seilbahn, ropeway) to the top of the sandhill at Lombadina. And like the inspirational funicular to Mt. Vesuvius forty years earlier, commemorated by Verdi with ‘Funiculì, Funiculà’, the Lombadina ropeway has long succumbed to natural forces. But on 31 July Fr. Droste held his sermon from the top of the sandhill.


Fr. Droste in his middle years

Fr. Droste in his middle years
Source: U1-904 Droste, ZAPP.


In contrast, Droste’s diary is strangely silent on the feverish activity that was taking place at Beagle Bay during this time to build the church from handmade mud-bricks and shells collected on the beach. This initiative is generally ascribed to the Brothers at the mission and to Fr. Bachmair. It was consecrated at Ascencion in 1918 by the Irish mission superior Fr. Creagh. The high altar and the side altars are decorated with pearl-shell not unlike the Roter Hahn church in Arenberg (Koblenz), known to all Ehrenbreitstein candidates.14


The only eloquence Droste allowed himself in the diary was on the death of Fr. Thomas Bachmair in August 1918. This left Droste the only Pallottine Father in the Kimberley until 1925, when Fr. Benedict Püsken and Fr. Albert Scherzinger arrived.


Despite its silences on the major important developments on the mission, Droste’s diary contains some lines that make it worth reading. On 10 December 1916 Droste records that


Damaso buried an old human bone found at Namogon and sang the Miserere softly to himself.


Parochus Bischofs was forced to leave Australia in 1920, and the vicariate was given over to Salesians (1924 to 1927) whom Droste viewed with circumspection. He felt that all their good work was taken from the Pallottines, and that ‘the good Salesians can come, but they will be bitterly disappointed’ – and so it was.15


After the Salesians withdrew the Kimberley vicariate finally fell to the Pallottines. A new Bishop needed to be found, and Droste clearly did not consider himself as a possible candidate. He emphasised that whoever was to be in charge, the candidate must speak English and must not be German, Silesian, Alsatian or Lothringian (from Lorraine). 16 Fr. Otto Raible, who had done good work in the Cameroons - now lost to Germany - suggested Droste as one of his adversaries in the selection round.17


Fr Droste in 1929

Fr. Droste in 1929.
He annotated the back of
this photo with 'moi'.

Source: U1-905 Droste, ZAPP.

Meanwhile modernity arrived at the mission in the form of a motorcar, and by 1928 Fr. Droste’s appearances at the Pender Bay court were by motorcar, according to the police journal.


In March 1926 Fr. Droste was able to collect £900 in Adelaide for the mission. He helped to publicise its activities also by sending news articles and photographs to Limburg for its museum display and for Fr. Walter’s history of the Kimberley mission, published in 1927.18


During Fr. Droste’s management of the mission experimental crops including rice were trialed, and the idea of a separate farm as centre for training and food production emerged. In order to qualify for freehold land, Fr. Droste became naturalised in June 1927 and in August Limburg approved the purchase of the Tardun farm, considered a lasting achievement for Fr. Droste.19 His biographers note that Fr. Droste worked under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and


with great zeal and success giving the mission much needed stability. It was Fr. Droste who planned the beginnings of the Tardun foundation and made arrangements for its establishment.20


Droste’s Australian passport was issued in Fremantle in February 1929, but it was only used once, to return to Germany in June. In April and May 1929, on the eve of his departure for Europe, he was still giving interviews to gain publicity for the mission.21


The new Kimberley Bishop Raible kept him informed of developments in the Kimberley, such as the closure of the Beagle Bay police station. Fr. Droste wrote to his congregation at Beagle Bay that his sister Mary could hardly recognise him after all these years, and wanted him home and this health was poorly.


For his silver jubilee as a Pallottine in October 1929 he was showered with expressions of love, friendship and respect from Beagle Bay and Broome. Carmel Marshal and Jessie Talbot wrote ‘the place quite empty without you, we thought our eyeballs would come out from crying for you’. A bit of gossip, a poem and ‘a big love and kiss for yourself’ came from ‘your housekeeper your loving aunties Carmelina and Wilhelmena’. One group signed as ‘your black aunties Fedelis V Jarwin A Josephine John B Susena Angie Christina Dorothy Sampie and Isabella Longleg Mary Carmel Anselm’. Lily McCarthy signed as ‘your faithful friend’ (‘the children they read [your] letter and start to cry. They read the letter over and over’. Dorothy, Alice, Nellie, and Teresa signed as ‘your aunties’ (‘we hope you’ll be able to come back to us soon we are longing to see you back ... we must all go with nullas spears and kylies to bring you back’). Wilhelmena, Jud, Isabella, Lilly, Josie, Jeromine, and Ottilia signed as ‘your grateful children’. Aunties Agnes, Carmel, Dorothy, Josephine, Christine, Judy, Angie, Elizabeth and Victor wrote ‘seas and distance count for naught, our first thoughts, and our kind remembrance, to our fond Ebal W Droste’.


Mr. and Mrs Victor wrote ‘we heard that you was sick but we hope our dear Lord will spare you to us’. Auntie and Uncle Mr and Mrs Dan wrote ‘May God bless you and spare you a long live to do some more good for your dear blacks, so now farewell dear Ebal’. Teresa Wan signed as ‘Your fond child’.


Individual notes signed as ‘your loving child’ came from Mary Teresa Watson, Brigid Martin, Joseph (‘if you come back to Lombadina you will get well again’), Gerard (‘All the wambas send love and kisses to you for a Christmas box’), Agnes Emble (‘you wont know me when you come back, the place does me good’), Lissy Sibosado (‘We all pray for you every day. We like to see you come back’), Eva (‘I hope you will be coming to see us soon, we will all run half way to meet you’), Elizabeth (‘We were sorry to hear you were sick you must come back to Lombadina’), Mary Bernardine (‘we would like to send you bush fruit’), Philomena Sibosado (‘please Father you must come back to us’), Irene (‘you must carry the firestick when you are cold’) and M. Sibosado wrote ‘we have not forgotten you, our dear and good father........... It must be terribly cold by now in Germany’. Sr. Xavier who had just returned from a fundraising tour including Adelaide and Ballarat, sent love and best wishes from many who had left the mission.22 Read more (letters below)


A few months after returning home he visited his brother at Wasserfall near Ramsbeck, and contracted pneumonia. The Pallottine journal Pallotti’s Werk 1, 51:16-24 carried a feature about his life and work.


When Brothers Nissl, Müller and Stracke arrived in Broome from Limburg in June 1931 one of the Aboriginal men greeting them inquired about his Ibal.

When he heard of Droste’s death, ‘the Aborigines’s face fell’.23



Memorail Wall at Limberg Beagle Bay Cemetery

Memorial wall in the cemetery of the
Pallottine monastery, Limburg

Source: RG 2012

Beagle Bay cemetery in 2000

Source: Roberta Cowan, Rossmoyne




Dear Rev Fr. Droste,

just a few lines to let you know that we have not forgotten you, our dear and good father........... It must be terribly cold by now in Germany. ..... 24




Convent of St John of God, Broome, NWAust. 20th October 1929


Very Revd. and beloved Father Droste,

Our warmest heartwishes and greetings for your 25th Jubilee, also for the very happiest Christmas possible to your Reverence while absent from ‘dear old Beagle Bay’. ...

Words fail me when I would tell you how we miss you ‘Ibal’. In every place and time. God send you soon and safely home. Bishop or Rector you will be Ibal to our hearts for all time. Very Rev. Fr. Raible has marvellous command of the English, and is most gentle and helpful but the conditions under which you, each, took up this work are the poles asunder in comparison.

Wherever we went, south, or West Australia, we were besieged with loving messages for your Reverence and never an empty hand. ....25


Convent of Saint John of God, Sacred Heart Mission, Beagle Bay, Nov. 25/1929

Dear Ebal Droste,

We received your most welcome loving letter we were all very happy when we read the letter from our own deal Ebal who is so far away from us all we do miss our own dear Ebal it seems years since you went away we don’t ever forget you in our prayers especially at holy mass and also we make novenas [nine days of prayer] for you that God Almighty may spare your life to live amongst us we know you have done plenty for us we hope that you will be amongst your dear black children well dear Ebal we have three big Drysdale boys and two little girls the one is the girl that’s standing in the photo with the men of sixty and the little girl of six. Their names are Mary and Naulben. Henry Jacob and John they are used to us all we have great fun with them they came from Drysdale by the Koolinda with a lady Father Thomas will be coming after Christmas he sent us some photos of Drysdale the men and women all miss you very much they wish you would be back again in dear old Beagle Bay and also Dorothy Sampie will be getting married soon to Nicholas. We will miss her very much.

Well dear are all wishing you a happy Christmas and a bright New Year. We are very sorry you won’t be here for Christmas so dear Ebal we have to close our loving letter with love to you we wont forget you in our prayers that God may send his graces and blessing on you on Christmas night.

We remain your black aunties Fedelis V Jarwin A Josephine John B Susena Angie Christina Dorothy Sampie and Isabella Longleg Mary Carmel Anselm.

Kind regards to you from Sr M Mathew she is back with us



I think if you come back to Lombadina you will get well again black doctors are better than white ones they can clear out the sick more quick. You must bring us plenty of pants when you are coming back our pants break themselves and sister growls us, Sister says we want pants of sheet iron. Do boys in your country break their pants? ....

your loving child Joseph


... Lombadina is getting like a city. We have a new butchers’ shop, a big one a cart shed a girls dormitory is to be built soon. We are all well. All the old ladies have their hair bobbed now like the white ladies they are spinning belts for their wambas. Would the white wambas in Germany like one? All the wambas send love and kisses to you for a Christmas box.

Your loving child Gerard



Fr I am now in Lombadina and I like Lombadina very much. ..... you wont know me when you come back, the place does me good. Every Sunday and feastdays we go on picnics, every sundays. Fr August [Spangenberg] take us out sometimes we go hunting for kangaroos with Fr or for flying foxes. You wont know Lombadina it has changed a great deal, Fr Augustine has put up some new buildings .... The men are boring a new well in the farm, already they have the surface water, it is going to be called Saint Raphaels well.

your loving child Agnes (name withheld)




... we would like to send you bush fruit and some lizards but they might smell another kind and postman would not look after them. I think you will be too proud to eat bush tucker when you come you will be wanting white mans tucker. ....

your loveng child Mary Bernardine



... Brigid Patricia Mary were nearly drown in the sea, Father swam after them. Papa and the men are making a new well in the farm. We all pray for you every day. We like to see you come back. ..... Sometimes we go to see Coppa coppas, the old ladies dance and put roses in their hair to make them look young and beautiful but they still look like old potatoes.

Your loving child Lissy (name withheld)



... My little baby sister died . I hope you will be coming to see us soon, we will all run half way to meet you .... A big shark nearly killed us on Saturday.

Your loving child Eva



... last week Sampy got six turtles. We were sorry to hear you were sick you must come back to Lombadina and Dr Sadbow will make you good one. Little girls like teasing Sadbow properly he get wild with us. Good buy God bless you always.

Your loving child Elizabeth



... we hope you’ll be able to come back to us soon we are longing to see you back I suppose Mary Kaspar dont want to let you come back we must all go with noules spears and kaleys to bring you back. .... We had a pet emu we wanted to keep it till you come back but William broke one of his leg so we killed it nobody couldent stand to see the poor emu suffering we made William to kill it. .... Kind regards to Mary and Kaspar [Kasparek], ...

from your aunties Dorothy Alice Nellie and Teresa O


25 Nov 1929, Sacred Heart Mission, Beagle Bay

... we have two new girls from the Drysdale, Mary and Ivy they came just few days ago and three boys also ..... and the two girls from Pender Bay are here also , Margery went home and Dorothy is staying here, she seems to be very happy. Poor Margery cried so much when she left. Sister Margaret took our photo this morning with the hockey sticks ... poor father Healy didn’t stay with us long he left last month, we were fond of him, we suppose the climate wasn’t good for his health poor father, yet he was so very fond of blacks we were all very sorry of his departure

Your grateful children Wilhelmena, Jud, Isabella Lilly Josie Jeromine, Ottilia,



Beagle Bay Nov 9th 1929,

My Dear Rev Father Droste,

I have received your kind letter I was so pleased and also the children they read the letter and start to cry. They read the letter over and over.

Your faithful friend Lily (name withheld)



11 Nov 1929, SHMBB,

Dear Father,

we all thanking you ever so much for your kind letter which you wrote to us we were all glad to get it. ......

Seas and distance count for naught, our first thoughts, and our kind remembrance, to our fond Ebal W Droste,

Remember us to Auntie Mary and Uncle Kaspar [Kasparek]

we remain yours

Aunties Agnes Carmel Dorothy Josephine Christine Judy Angie and Elizabeth and Victor



Dear Ibal William Droste,

... sorry to say that Rev Father Healy left us and also our dear little Brother Kasprick [Kasparek] he went to Mullewa and also Rudolf [Zach] went to South and Mr and Mrs Dewar leaving for good, and we have lots of little children in the colony newly born. Marjory’s parents are here they came with their motorcar ... We had visitors from Broome Mr and Mrs Norman and also Sophia came with them stayed here for a week and also Mr and Mrs Everets and the children they just came the place looks very dray [sic]. Mary Visitation and Agnes Emble are in Lombadina. Alice and Judy came back from Lombadina. We have lots of nice games Mother Margaret taught us how to play new games hockey airball diamond ball, childen’s tennis footbal and we have a new game of football we mustn’ touch the ball with our hands only with our shoulders and our feet and our heads its really a funny game we do like it very much we never goes out on a picnic ...... I suppose you heard that Marcella and Imelda are in Broome Hospital Doctor Hynes took them with him. ....

Though I cannot grasp your hand

greetings from a far off land

wishes and remembrance true

from a hearts remembering you

goodbye dear Ibal ... give our love and kisses to Auntie Mary and kind regards to Uncle Kaspar [Kasparek] and a big love and keys for yourself. ... and kind regards to you and good wishes from Father Benedicit and the Brothers,

we remain your housekeeper your loving aunties Carmelina and Wilhelmena



29 Oct 1927 Convent School Lombadina

Dear Ebal Droste

.... when you come back you wont know us we are getting big fat and ugly. ... Please Father you must come back to us. ...

I remain your loving child Philomena (name withheld)


Nov 20th 1929 SHM BB

Our dear Father,

we have received your kind and loving letter, and was very pleased to hear once more from our absent Ibal. ....

before we got your letter we heard that you was sick but we hope our dear Lord will spare you to us. ....

Ludovina is here at present ... she had gone to Broome to work for Capt Gregory, also Bernard on months of May and now she is here at present she told me to tell you that Br Kasprick [Kasparek] told Bernard to work at Gregory’s and so she had to go too, her baby girls you know little Mary Scholastica, is as bold as brass and she is growing to be a big girl now. ...

William Watson is here and he is taking Marjory away now and leaves another little girl, Dorothy is her name. .....

As we think its time we should wish you for the Xmas is drawing near perhaps we may not live to see it so I think its better to wish now at present. ...

excuse me for pencil writing. I did not know that the people wrote their letters yesterday nobody told me that until this morning and the mail is going today so excuse dear Fr in a geat haste,

we remain your grateful friends, Mr and Mrs S. V.! [name withheld]


Sacred Heart Mission, Beagle Bay, July 1929,

Dear Revnd. Father Droste,

..... what did the people in Germany think you were when you first arrived many of them didn’t recognise you even your loving sister Mary ....

we two are still together in the same house till the old men come home again. .... I think you can remember Johanna’s little girl that she left behind well she’s dead few months ago also Taylor David’s girl died on the feast of St Monica. Pena has a baby boy born two weeks ago his name is Raphael. ...

Love and regards from Cyril and Rita

Mrs M. and Mrs S. [names withheld]



SHM, BB, July 22nd 1929,

Dear Revd Father Droste,

.... since you left here there were many deaths took place and some new babies came, I will give you the names on the other side. To tell you the truth, the place quite empty without you, we thought our eyeballs would come out from crying for you. ... We have those two new brothers here, they came safely, Br Paul [Ratjaski] is going down to Mullewa very soon. Sr Margaret and Xavier are back brought plenty things for us. Last Sunday 22 children were confirmed by Fr Raible [Bishop]. Rudolf [Zach] hasn’t been too well. I had to do he baking for over a month, Augustina Roe will be here on September, all going well with us ...

The new Brothers find and feel the cold very much, so when you coming back please Father bring us a coat each. ....

Fr Benedict is very good to us and he is the very one to be in the store, we have fun with him.

[Carmel M. and Jessie T.] [names withheld]




fat Paddy,

old Lucy,

Monica, David’s girl

Eda, Issacs

Annie Irwin

Lonsia Corpio

old Juliana


Cranky Ned


21st July 1929 SHM BB

Dear Father,

your kind letters has reached us safely. ......

Well dear Ibal, the new Brothers are here we are glad to have them, they are very strong they don’t talk much, very silent, when they came there wasn’t any welcome given to them because they came during the Benediction Rev Fr Raible came too. He had some children confirmed on the 14th of this month ....

[Stannie and Rosie]



SHM BB 18th July 1929

Dear Father Droste ,

...... Fr Raible came to confirm some children in Lombadina and another lot in the mission they had a party in the school Fr Raible was in it. Carmel and Papa were the Godmother and father they had such a great day. They thought they were in heaven. ....

It is very cold now and we dont like to come out of our beds till they pull out our blanket. Pena has a little boy name Raphael and Appolonia has a little girl name Teresa ....

Your fond child Teresa [name withheld]

[annotated: ‘replied’]


Convent School Sacred Heart Mission, BB 17 July 1929

Dear Father Droste,

..... Sister Margaret brought plenty of presents for us, we were glad to get the coats, because it is cold. Father, since you left the Mission so many died. Fat Paddy, Winnie, Juliana

[second page and signature missing]


SH Mission BB,

Nov 24, 1929

... we hope that you nick is getting beter ...

dear Father remember as to Father Bischofs tell him that we never forget him. Give our best wishing to him of cause not forget him, and tell him that I am steing [staying] in old shape yet. I suppose if he do remember that he was a Father that he put me in the Blacksmith shop. So now ai am 26 years in the shop ever since I suppose he has forgotten me altogether I also think of him in my memory and also in my prayers. .....

I hope you’ll put me out of the shop when you are coming home. ...

May God bless you and spare you a long live to do some more good for your dear blacks, so now farewell dear Ebal, ...

yours sincerley, auntie, uncle Mr Mrs D. [name withheld]

NB: We have 3 quinnie Womba and 2 quarrie girls from far away bush we know where from Drysdale Mission I hope you wont be frighten when you see them? Julie Teresa Vera Bennie and Martie send their wishes to you and to your dear Brothers and Sisters

Mr and Mrs D.


Collage of Letters to Fr Droste
Letters to Fr. Droste



1 File Note by Wilh. Nathem SAC at Limburg, February 1952 (in response to inquriy from Bochum-Riemke parish archive) in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

2 Excerpt from II Blatt P General, 5 December 1927 and File Note in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

3 Berichte über Ereignisse im Missionshaus Limburg 1980-1912, p.7, in Australien 1900-1907 B7d, l (3) ZAPP.

4 File Note in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

5 Excerpt from II Blatt P General, 5 December 1927 in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

6 David Bell, Pender Bay. Apptd. Protector of Aborigines Broome District

ITEM-1912/0694 microfiche SROWA.

7 Journal of Constable Rea 877, Pender Bay, 1 November 1914 to 24 November 1914 ITEM-1914/7860 SROWA.

8 Pender Bay - Journal of Constable Johnston (902) 1.3.1912 to 31.3.1912 ITEM-1912/2621 SROWA.

9 Journal of Constable Rea 877, Pender Bay, 9 October 1914 to 31 October 1914. ITEM-1914/7199 SROWA.

10 Droste diary, 1 January 1917 ZAPP.

11 File note in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

12 File Note in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

13 Journal of Constable Rea (877), Pender Bay ITEM-1915/5821 SROWA.

14 File Note in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

15 Droste, 4 Nov 1923, in Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:69.

16 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:71.

17 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:70/71.

18 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:79.

19 Sr Brigida Nailon CSB Nothing is wasted in the household of God – Vincent Pallotti’s Vision in Australia 1901-2001, Richmond: Spectrum 2001:79.

20 Pallottine Necrology, MS of the Pallottine Centre, Rossmoyne; and File Note in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

21 "West Australian Mission Rescue." The Catholic Press (NSW) 25 Apr 1929: 22. Web. 30 Sep 2013 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article107346492. "An Interview With Father Droste." Freeman's Journal (Sydney) 2 May 1929: 44. Web. 30 Sep 2013 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article118094800.

22 in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

23 Francis Byrne A Hard Road: Brother Frank Nissl 1888-1980, a life of service to the Aborigines of the Kimberleys. Nedlands, Tara House 1989:44.

24 Sibosado at Lombadina to Droste, 12 October 1929, in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.

25 Sr. Xavier to Droste, 20th October 1929 in Droste, Wilhelm [P] P 1 Nr 17 ZAPP.