Hausmann, Johann Gottfried (1811-1901)

Also known as: 
Rev. Godfrey Haussmann
Prepared by: 
Zoe Dyason, Regina Ganter

During his ninety years Godfrey Haussmann (as he was later called ) maintained a passionate interest in mission work, and was at times the sole advocate of Aboriginal mission work in Queensland. He insisted that ‘these people are meant to be saved’ and that the German Lutherans in Queensland had a ‘moral responsibility’ to do so. He was one of the first Gossner disciples, and like Gossner, he attempted to draw on the loyalty of his surrounding German community. He sought to combine the successful settlement of German migrants with productive enterprise into which Aboriginal people might be drawn. He was instrumental in settling a new wave of German immigrants in the Beenleigh and Logan areas in the 1860s and became the patriarch of the German settlers in southern Queensland. Although not well educated himself, his written English was entirely creditable.



Family Background

Pastor Haussmann
Source: Gunson 1960
Haussmann was born on 24 October 1811 at Zecklin, Saxony and was a butcher by trade living in Frankfurt/Oder. He and five others germinated the Gossner mission institute by approaching Johannes Gossner on 2 December 1836 after they were turned down by conventional mission institutes. Others in the group were Friedrich Franz, August Olbrecht and Johann Gottfried Wagner, all of whom were part of the first group sent out by Gossner, through the mediation of J.D. Lang to pioneer the Zion Hill mission at MoretonBay.
Before their departure to Australia in 1837, Gossner presented Haussmann with his wife Wilhelmina (nee Lehmann, 1810- 1889) a seamstress from Marburg. The group arrived in Brisbane in April 1838. Mrs Haussmann bore a daughter, Maria Jane in 1839 and a son, John in 1840. Later another daughter Anne Wilhelmina, and son, William Benjamin were born. 

Attack at Burpengary

During an attempt to set up an outstation at Burpengary in 1845, Hausmann was speared, which later troubled him much, and his leg became increasingly lame. He and the other missionaries worked in pairs to establish outstations at Humpy Bong (Redcliffe) and Burpengary. One day at the Burpengary outstation Aborigines surrounded the station, waited till Haussmann was alone, then called him outside where he was attacked and wounded. He described the attack:
Immediately the whole gathering was on their feet and spears, boomerangs, clubs, etc. were thrown at me. My poor dog was killed. I got to my feet and received a blow in my side and a spear in my back, which left a wound 5 inches deep, but thanks to my thick woollen shirt that I wore the spear did not stick fast. I arrived at our hut but was too weak to do anything…. As soon as I found the opportunity to leave the hut to escape a black shoved another one in and as he saw a bag of flour he took it and ran away…. I said to myself, now is my chance….Two rivers I had to wade through and I reached the station towards 4 o’clock in the morning after … a distance of 32 miles. [1]
This incident was later embellished as an encounter with cannibalism in the wilderness.   According to his ‘autobiography’ (compiler unknown) the Aborigines thought he was ‘plenty fat’ and that he would be ‘nice to eat’ and that one of the Aborigines had told him of the intentions of those who wanted to capture him. One settler, Emily Rode, claims that the Aborigines had been stockpiling wood for a fire because they were so sure they would be able to capture and eat Haussmann.[2] 


Further career

After the demise of Zion Hill mission in 1842 Haussman attended Lang’s Australian College in Sydney in 1851-52. He was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor in 1853 and became an itinerant chaplain to the English and German settlers in Maryborough, and the Burnett and Dawson districts. From Brisbane town in 1855 he reported working among the ‘savages who have built a little Chaple for me’.[3]
When Rev. William Ridley revived the idea of a Moreton Bay Aboriginal mission in 1855, Lang asked Haussmann to join him. Haussmann expressed his wholehearted support for the idea, particularly if it were premised on the idea of acquiring the local language first, and preaching to Aborigines in their own tongue (see excerpt below).[4] He recognised however that insufficient funds meant only one missionary could be supported.[5]
Excerpts from a letter by Hausmann to Lang, 10 July 1855
written in evident haste[6]:
…. I believe that the Aborigines in this land are fit and capable to believe and obey the gospel as well as other heathens, who are now living in the enjoyment of religion. I never could give the natives up, I always believed that they had a precious soul as well as I. … Various objections have been made concerning a Missionary cause amongst these Aborigines. It has been said, many ways have been tried with these natives to bring them to a better condition of life, but all has failed. But I ask, has ever the Gospel, that is, the whole Gospel been fully preached to them in their own language? I believe not.
… I believe the work will not be so quickly accomplished, as some think it may, it will take a good time to learn their language to get the Bible in that language, it would not be so difficult if the natives would not so often change their places, the missionary will be obliged to itinerate amongst the different tripes [sic] if he will do good, it is therefore a hard laborious work and not the work of one Missionary only at least two or three should be engaged in the work in order that it may be constantly followed up.
…. . Faith comes by hearing, therefore, the great principle work is now for the first to learn the language of the Aborigines and then convey the truth to them in their own mother’s tongue.[7]

Victorian years


Having declined to join Rev. Ridley at Zion Hill, Hausmann moved to Victoria in 1855 to become pastor at Germantown in Geelong (Grovedale), where he spent ‘five and a half years of a blessed ministry’ and was then transferred against his will to Castlemaine, where he stayed a year.[8] He was a founding member of the Lutheran synod of Victoria in 1856 of which he remained a lifelong member, rather than joining the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Queensland formed in 1885. In 1883, aged 72, Haussmann travelled to Melbourne from Queensland to undergo a colloquium orthodoxiae in order to re-join the synod.
Despite the fact that Queensland paid no ministers’ stipends, he had returned to south Brisbane in 1862 because,
the health condition of my wife worsened from month to month and for that reason I was forced to leave Victoria and go to the warmer climate in Queensland.[9]
However, Hedges suspects that Haussmann was ‘forced to leave his GermanTown church’ implying that his ‘unorthodox’ and ‘unconfessional’ teachings were a possible reason for his departure.[10] Actually, there is another possible explanation. 

German settlers arrive in Queensland


Queensland became an independent colony in 1859 and vigorously encouraged immigration, competing with the attraction of gold in Victoria. In 1861 Governor Bowen appointed two immigration agents, Mr Jordan in Britain and J. C. Heussler to recruit from Germany. The Queensland government view of German immigrants at that time was that they were a ‘sober, industrious and thriving class of the community …. More ready than the English labourers to settle down as cultivators of small freehold farms’[11]One thousand Prussian labourers had already arrived in 1855 under three-year indenture contracts mostly in Toowoomba. Land reform in 1860 now offered terms on which migrants financed their own passage but were given land orders on arrival (at no cost to the government).
Amidst a rapidly growing population of German migrants Pastor Schirmeister, at Zion Hill since 1857, had become the only Lutheran pastor in Queensland (from 1858 to 1861). He now formed a new congregation in South Brisbane, with a church on an acre of land at Stanley Street, and recruited Haussmann as pastor of the Nazareth Lutheran Church.

Settlement at the Logan River


During his time as pastor of Nazareth (1862-66) Haussmann became involved in settling a further wave of German immigrants in the Logan district.
Hausmann began conducting services in the Beenleigh in 1863. The first sale of 70 lots just south of the LoganRiver in October 1863 attracted only two purchasers, Quail and Carmody. In January 1864 the Susanne Godeffroy landed another 451 Germans. Its sister ship Wilhelmsburg had been lost on the journey with the loss of 282 lives, including 209 single men. Heussler observed that these men had been ‘the very class of labour so much wanted at present’.[12] 
Haussmann invited these migrants to camp on the Nazareth church grounds. Within a month of their arrival he had collaborated with Heussler (by then the Netherlands Consul) to secure land for a German settlement on the LoganRiver, personally escorting a small group to approve the site at present-day Waterford. They were later landed there by the Black Diamond on 23 February 1864. The community became known as ‘Bethania’. 
However, Haussmann’s unorthodox Gossner training again soured relations with the Lutheran immigrants. Hausmann’s interdenominational countenance from the Gossner mission had been strengthened through association with J.D. Lang, his own Presbyterian ordination, and Pastor Goethe in Victoria. In 1863 he had participated in the united prayer meetings held in Brisbane by Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Free Methodists and Wesleyans since 1861. 
This interdenominational approach conflicted with the avowed Confessionalism of the core group of the new immigrants. These eleven families from Greiffenberg in the rural Uckermark (northeast of Berlin), belonged to the ‘Lutheran Free Church’. They were old-Lutherans fiercely resisting the pressures towards church union exerted by Bismarck’s Prussia. The ‘oppression and violence of the PrussianStateChurch’ had been a key factor in their migration.[13]
After just one year, they asked Haussmann not to return because of his ‘unconventional’ approach. They wanted a ‘true Lutheran pastor’. This ‘true Lutheran’ did not materialise until Pastor C.G. Hellmuth arrived from Hermannsburg in 1868.
His entry in the Lutheran Almanac 1965, concludes: ‘Even though he subscribed to the Lutheran Confessions in theory, yet in practice he did not live up to the demands of the confessional principles.’[14]


We begin again where we ceased years ago


Godfrey had sent his son John to train at the Gossner mission, and when he returned as an ordained minister from Germany in 1866, Hausmann, at age 55, embarked on yet another challenge. He gave up his ministry at the Nazareth church, and attempted to establish an Aboriginal mission in association with a sugar cane plantation at Bethesda.
During his time at Bethesda he also established a second mission at Nerang Creek, which operated between 1871 and 1879. The only other similar ventures in Queensland in this period were by George Bridgmann at Mackay (1873-1883), and Tom Petrie at BribieIsland (1877-79) all being premised on the concept of using Aboriginal labour for productive purposes.
Whilst the mission at Bethesda was still in operation, Haussmann purchased land at Mt Cotton where he built a church in 1875 as the number of German settlers rapidly increased. New congregations were forming; a few taking north German place names such as Gramzow and Steglitz. Services were still held in German. By 1891 there were 23,400 German Lutherans in Queensland, concentrated in the south-east, running forty German parish schools.[15] The German missionary training institutions were both unable and reluctant to meet the demand for pastors in these rapidly growing communities. Consequently, Godfrey Haussmann ordained a number of laymen, including Hartwig, Ganstad, Burghardt, Copas and possibly Berndt to meet this need.
The table below shows the pastors of the Lutheran settler parishes in south-east Queensland, indicating Haussmann’s direct involvement in six of them. 
The early Lutheran parishes in South-East Queensland
Source: Hedges 1994
Map of the Lutheran churches in the Beenleigh area


Still on the old battleground


Despite Haussman’s efforts, it appears that there were no Aboriginal converts in Queensland in the mid 1800s. The missionary effort in Queensland became dormant until it was revived in the late 1870s and 1880s by Hermannsburg Lutherans and Herrnhut Moravians. 
Haussmann refused to countenance retirement. “I am still on the old battle ground” he reported to the Christenbote in February 1879. At age 83 he established yet another congregation, ‘Steglitz’ at PimpamaIsland, in 1894. He served this congregation until 1896. The following year his congregation at Mt Cotton suggested that they, too, might find a younger pastor but Haussmann objected vigorously: his legs might be lame, but his upper parts were still as strong as thirty years ago. He continued to organise annual mission festivals, collecting meagre donations for the Gossner mission in India.
A grand celebration was held for Pastor Haussmann’s 90th birthday at Beenleigh on 27 October 1901. There were delegations, telegrams and greetings from German congregations in Victoria and Queensland, and one from the acting governor of Queensland, Sir Samuel Griffith. The German Kaiser awarded him the Red Eagle Medal[16] and various congregations gathered donations in excess of £100. 
The Nord-Australische Zeitung reported that:
On Saturday afternoon we paid our respects to the worthy old gentleman…we greeted and congratulated the old man … he has witnessed the growth of many generations ... he has often been asked whether he wished to go into a well-earned retirement, he has always asserted that he would remain at his post until called away by death.[17]
Haussmann's grave at Beenleigh
Source: Gill 1971, p.92
Haussmann’s wish was fulfilled shortly afterwards. He collapsed during a service and passed away three days later on 31 December 1901. He is buried in the Beenleigh cemetery.
Neil Gunson describes Haussmann as ‘a man of great energy and dedication’, whose unconventional Lutheranism brought him into dispute with more orthodox Lutherans.[18] Pastor Egan found him ‘a very zealous man and confessor, and one who is always concerned about influencing his fellow Germans.’[19]Janette Nolan presumed him to have been an austere father, whose sense of righteousness must have alienated even his closest supporters. This view is supported by the Bethesda church constitution in which Haussmann insisted on moderation, modesty, discretion and frugality, and objected to all that was destructive of morality, such as dancing, gaming, frivolity and foolery.[20] According to Nolan, he was ‘unduly optimistic’ about his missionary efforts, being inspired by a sense of divine guidance, which meant that nobody could refute him, since his actions were ‘based on criteria outside of man’s jurisdictions’.[21]


[1] Haussmann, J.G. ‘An Autobiography of Pastor J. Gottfried Haussmann (1811-1901)’ in   Kunde, J.C, They came from Pommern (Prussia): the life of the Kunde family, J.C. Kunde, Cambooya, Queensland, 1982, p. 188-9.
[2] Gunson, W.N, ‘The Nundah Missionaries’ in The Royal Historical Society of Queensland Journal: Yearbook of proceedings’, vol. 6, no. 3, 1960-1961, p.528; and Haussmann, J.G. ‘An Autobiography of Pastor J. Gottfried Haussmann (1811-1901)’ in   Kunde, J.C, They came from Pommern (Prussia): the life of the Kunde family, J.C. Kunde, Cambooya, Queensland, 1982,p. 188.
[3]Hedges, B, ‘German Settlement in the Beenleigh area in the nineteenth century’ MLitt thesis, University of New England Press, Armidale, 1994, p.38.
[4] Hausmann, Letter to Lang, 10 July 1855, Mitchell Library, Lang Papers, A2240 Vol. 20, Reel 579, Frames 1-416.
[5] Hausmann, Letter to Brethren, German Mission, MoretonBay. 28 March 1855, Mitchell Library, Lang Papers, A2240 Vol. 20, Reel 579, Frames 1-416.
[6]Hausmann, Letter to Lang, 10 July 1855, Mitchell Library, Lang Papers, A2240 Vol. 20, Reel 579, Frames 1-416. 
[7] By this time linguistic efforts had been made by Handt, Threlkeld, Schürmann, Teichelmann and Meyer, but no complete Bible translation had been conducted (see Earliest Missions).
[8] Australischer Christenbote, March 1881.
[9] Haussmann, J.G. ‘An Autobiography of Pastor J. Gottfried Haussmann (1811-1901)’ in   Kunde, J.C, They came from Pommern (Prussia): the life of the Kunde family, J.C. Kunde, Cambooya, Queensland, 1982, p.189.
[10] Hedges, B, 1994, ‘German Settlement in the Beenleigh area in the nineteenth century:    a thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Letters’, University of New England Press, Armidale.
[11] Governor’s Despatches to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Vol. I 27/3/1861, p.430 in Nolan, J, ‘Pastor J.G. Haussmann: A Queensland Pioneer 1838-1901’, BA thesis, University of Queensland, 1964, p. 83.
[12] Heussler, Letter to Colonial Secretary, 21. 2. 1864, in Nolan, J, ‘Pastor J.G. Haussmann: A Queensland Pioneer 1838-1901’, BA thesis, University of Queensland, 1964, p.85.
[13]Nolan, J, ‘Pastor J.G. Haussmann: A Queensland Pioneer 1838-1901’, BA thesis, University of Queensland, 1964, p.86, citing Rev Scheer, speech at St. Peter’s in Beenleigh on the the 50th anniversary of German settlement at Waterford.
[14] Lutheran Almanach 1965, p. pp 27‑37, cited in Weiss, Peter, Short General and Statistical History of the Australian Lutheran Church, Lutheran Archives Australia, 2001-2007.
[15]Nolan, J, ‘Pastor J.G. Haussmann: A Queensland Pioneer 1838-1901’, BA thesis, University of Queensland, 1964, p.106, p. 107.
[16] The Rote Adler Orden was founded in 1705 in imitation of the Order of the Garter. It became the second highest award in Prussia, and was issued in various degrees.
[17] Nord-Australische Zeitung, 31 October 1901 in Gill, J.C.H, 1901, ‘A German Jubilee: Pastor J.G. Haussmann’s 90th Birthday Celebrations 26-27th October 1901’, 1971, p.85.
[18] Gunson, N. ‘Schmidt, Karl Wilhelm Edward (- 1864)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006, retrieved: October 13, 2008, from, J, ‘Pastor J.G. Haussmann: A Queensland Pioneer 1838-1901’, BA thesis, University of Queensland, 1964. ;
[19] Report from Pastor Egan in Australischer Christenbote, July 1886 tanslated by Lohe, M., ‘Pastor Haussmann and Mission Work from 1866’ Lutheran Archives, South Australia, 1964.  
[20] Hausmann, The Discipline and Government of the Congregation at Bethesda, 1867, Part III Paragraph 7.
[21]Nolan, J, ‘Pastor J.G. Haussmann: A Queensland Pioneer 1838-1901’, BA thesis, University of Queensland, 1964, p.105.