Teichelmann, Christian Gottlob (1807-1893)

Prepared by: 
Christine Lockwood

Christian Gottlob Teichelman and Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann from the Dresden Mission Society were the first missionaries in South Australia (1838-1846). Teichelmann's focus on engagement with adults, and his brief to lay the groundwork for the emergence of indigenous churches, placed him at odds with government and settlers. He became the foremost European authority on the Kaurna language of the Adelaide region and left important linguistic and ethnographic records now used for language reconstruction.

 

 

Christian Gottlob Teichelmann ca. 1888
Source: State Library of SA B6501

 

Early Life

Teichelmann was born on 15 December 1807, the son of a master cloth-maker in Dahme, Saxony (now in Brandenburg).1 His family was not religious. Teichelmann trained as a carpenter, studying with distinction at the Potsdam Royal Trade School. In 1828 he experienced a spiritual awakening. Subsequently, a London Missionary Society tract inspired him to be a missionary, a vocation confirmed by his associations with students at the Jänicke Mission Institute in Berlin.

 

Theological Formation

Teichelmann studied at the Jänicke Mission Institute from 1831-1836. Subjects included Latin, Greek, Hebrew, English, world and church history, geography and preaching. The Institute supplied missionaries who worked with non-Lutheran Dutch and British mission societies while remaining Lutheran. While at the Institute, Teichelmann and fellow student Clamor Wilhelm Schürmann were influenced by a revival of appreciation of the Lutheran Confessions2, in part fostered in the German states by a forced union of Lutheran and Calvinist churches in Prussia and the persecution of those who wished to remain Lutheran (‘Old Lutherans).3

On graduation in July 1836, Teichelmann and Schürmann were offered positions with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Lands (SPG). However, in line with its new policy, the SPG insisted that its missionaries must be ordained into the Church of England, accepting its Thirty-Nine Articles and Episcopal authority.4 When Teichelmann and Schürmann rejected these conditions, they were told they could expect no other positions. This helped trigger the formation on 17 August 1836 of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden (Dresden Mission Society or DMS), which hoped to establish missions free to teach according to Lutheran beliefs.5

Schürmann and Teichelmann did further studies at the DMS’ new mission institute in Dresden from September 1836 to February 1838. The DMS aimed to give missionaries a sound academic education and a thorough grounding in the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions, as well as practical skills. The Biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew) were taught so missionaries could understand and translate the Scriptures and acquire linguistic skills helpful for studying indigenous languages.6

 

19th century Leipzig and Dresden. Bottom right orphanage church in Dresden, used by the DMS seminary

Nineteenth century Leipzig and Dresden.
Bottom right Orphanage Church in Dresden,
used by the DMS seminary.

Source: Leipzig Mission Society headquarters, Leipzig

The DMS was planning a mission in India when George Fife Angas, chairman of the South Australian Company, asked it to send missionaries to South Australia, promising to support them with £100 a year as long as he was happy with them.7 The DMS accepted Angas’ invitation for a number of reasons: no missionaries were working in South Australia; it thought Angas’ support augured well for the mission’s success and suggested Aboriginal welfare would not be sacrifice to colonists’ interests; and South Australia’s religious freedom meant DMS missionaries would be free to establish Lutheran congregations.8 Teichelmann and Schürmann were ordained on 4 February 1838 and commissioned for work in South Australia on 8 February 1838.9

 

Teichelmann’s Instructions

At the time many, influenced by rationalism, saw the aim of mission work as spreading ‘superior’ European civilization around the world. Colonial authorities expected missionaries to assist colonisation by ‘civilising’ the Aborigines. Angas wanted missionaries to establish a Moravian-type agricultural mission and ‘Christianize’ and ‘civilise’ Aboriginal people so they would give up ‘war and wandering’, envy and revenge, and learn English and the ‘arts of civilisation’ so they could ‘amalgamate’ with European settlers as useful workers. Thus colonisation could proceed more peacefully.10

The DMS, however, told its missionaries to focus on spiritual work, sharing the Gospel of God’s love and forgiveness with all people. They were to do what they could to relieve Aboriginal people’s physical suffering but were not instructed to ‘civilise’ or Europeanise them. 11 They were to avoid imposing their own cultural standards and to allow the Holy Spirit to guide converts to make any cultural changes needed in response to the gospel. 12 They were to use local languages, translate Luther’s Small Catechism and the Scriptures, teach people to read them in their own language, train Aboriginal assistants and establish an Aboriginal Lutheran church. They were to model themselves on the Apostle Paul who ‘became all things to all people’, live with the people as nearly at their level as possible and partially support themselves.13 First, though, they were to establish a congregation among German settlers who would hopefully support their mission.14 Read more

Angas led the DMS to believe its financial commitment would be minimal as colonial authorities would provide for Aboriginal welfare and allow revenue from land reserved to benefit Aboriginal people to flow to the missionaries.15 However, there were no clear arrangements for the missionaries’ financial support.16 DMS support proved inadequate, leaving the missionaries dependent on government and vulnerable to its pressure. Angas’ limited support lasted only two years, with half of it diverted to cover fares for two more missionaries on one of Angas’ ships. Angas also lent money to enable a group of Prussian Lutheran refugees, led by Pastor August Kavel, to migrate to SA. He expected Kavel to oversee the missionaries and his followers to support them.17

 

Mission work in the Adelaide area

Pastors Teichelmann and Schürmann arrived in Adelaide on 12 October 1938. Their work was hampered by inadequate and uncertain financial support. Plans for a German congregation failed when the South Australia Company’s German employees in Adelaide showed little interest. On 18 November Pastor Kavel arrived with his followers and settled at Klemzig (about six kilometres from Adelaide) where they formed their own separate congregation. Kavel’s people were heavily indebted and able to give the missionaries only minimal support. Moreover, Kavel was reluctant to help when the missionaries failed to acknowledge his oversight, an expectation they had been unaware of.

 

The Piltawodli Native Location

Governor Hindmarsh (1836-38) had reserved a few acres on the banks of the Torrens River in Adelaide as a native ‘location’, which was moved in 1839 to Piltawodli (or Pirltawardli18) on the Torrens River opposite the old Adelaide gaol. The government planned to teach Aboriginal people to be ‘useful’ to the colony by settling, living in houses and growing food. Rations were distributed and a school planned. Governor Gawler (1838-41) continued this policy. Lacking resources to settle elsewhere, the missionaries took up residence at Piltawodli.

Teichelmann and Schürmann made learning the local Kaurna people’s language, customs and beliefs their first priority. They sought out the Kaurna, visiting their camps, accompanying them on hunting trips, inviting them to their houses and employing them as they were able. Teichelmann put his carpentry skills to good use by building huts for himself and Schürmann and helping Kaurna men build huts and establish gardens at Piltawodli. Teichelmann (and the Kaurna, according to Teichelmann) believed Gawler was well disposed towards Aboriginal people. But he believed Gawler was turning them into idlers by providing houses and rations while requiring nothing in return.19

In 1841 Teichelmann and Schürmann published Outlines of a Grammar, Vocabulary, and Phraseology, of the Aboriginal Language of South Australia, Spoken by the Natives in and for Some Distance around Adelaide (available through the National Library of Australia) Their stated motives were to improve understanding and communications between Europeans and Aborigines and, by demonstrating the regular formation and construction of the language, to prove the intelligence of Aboriginal people and their capacity for learning. They further hoped to contribute to the study of Aboriginal manners, customs and origins and ultimately to promote the spiritual and temporal welfare of Aboriginal people.

Teichelmann and Schürmann translated hymns, prayers and bible stories and the Ten Commandments though only the hymns and Ten Commandments have been located.20 They acknowledged their language knowledge was incomplete; they recorded about 3000 words out of a possible 10,000 and did not analyse all grammatical structures.21 Nevertheless, their records provided ‘by far the most comprehensive and best documentation of the language as spoken in the nineteenth century.’22 While others recorded word lists, the Dresden men also recorded grammar and, unlike their contemporaries, recorded Kaurna in its original, not pidginised, form. Teichelmann acted as interpreter for official occasions and for court cases involving Kaurna people.

 

The Kuri Dance of the Kaurna peopleby George Angas Torrens River near Piltawodli
The Kuri Dance of the Kaurna people

Source: George French Angas 1847,
National Gallery of Australia IRN 43839

Torrens River near Piltawodli
Source: Christine Lockwood 2013

 

 

The Piltawodli School

Using the Kaurna language, Schürmann started the first Aboriginal school in South Australia at Piltawodli in December 1839. It was first conducted in the open air and then an unoccupied house until the government built a school-house in December 1840. Reading, writing, religion, arithmetic, music, geography and English were taught.

Teichelmann believed mission work should focus firstly on adults and the school was premature while the people remained semi-nomadic.23 However, he assisted Schürmann in the school, especially in religious education and translating materials. In his opinion the students’ aptitude for learning surpassed that of European children.24 Schürmann moved to Port Lincoln in September 1840, so Teichelmann became chief teacher until missionary Samuel Gottlieb Klose, who arrived on 9 August 1840, had learned the Kaurna language sufficiently to take over the teaching, first of secular subjects and finally religious education. This freed Teichelmann to focus on language and evangelistic work among adults. He was mission treasurer until handing over to Klose in 1844.

Piltawoldi monument Piltawoldi Aboriginal School

Section of the Piltawodli Native Location monument
looking towards the mission school location

Source: Christine Lockwood 2013

Piltawodli Aboriginal School (Adelaide)

W.A. Cawthorne's Diaries for 1843, Mitchell Library,
State Library of NSW. Ref: CYA 103 part 3 p 254

Piltawoldi Native Locaton showing location of school and houses overlaid on modern aerial photograph Native School Establishment opened 1845 by Samuel Giles

Piltawodli Native Location showing location of school and
houses overlaid on modern aerial photograph.

Source: Christine Lockwood using information from Piltawodli monument

Native School Establishment, Adelaide, opened 1845.
Samuel Thomas Giles, National Library of Australia-an2376875 Adelaide 1840-49
http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-134359452

  

The Ebenezer settlement

The Kaurna moved frequently according to the seasons and the demands of ceremonial and religious life. This made ongoing contact and the missionaries’ language learning and evangelism difficult. This was exacerbated when Government plans for a Piltawodli Aboriginal settlement were abandoned in 1839 and unemployed Aboriginal people were increasingly discouraged from frequenting Adelaide. The colonial government rejected notions of Aboriginal land ownership, but Teichelmann insisted that the Kaurna people had clear land ownership entitlements based on the family unit.25 He protested against the government’s expropriation of all Aboriginal land and its failure to provide for Aboriginal people, having ‘dispossessed them of their natural resources and made them a more wandering people than before ... [ trespassers] on their formerly aboriginal property.’26 In 1843 he told Angas that the government would be guilty of exterminating Aboriginal people if it did not provide more liberally for them.27

 

 'A Scene in South Australia' by Alexander Schramm

‘A Scene in South Australia’
c.1850 by Alexander Schramm.

This painting portrays the effects of dispossession.

Source: Alexander Schramm, Australia, 1813 ‑ 1864
A scene in South Australia, c.1850, Adelaide, oil on canvas,25.7 x 31.8 cm, South Australian Government Grant 1982, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 8212P30

 

Pastor Teichelmann became increasingly disillusioned about government intentions, especially after George Grey (1841-1845) became governor. Teichelmann criticized plans to Europeanise Aboriginal people and assimilate them into colonial society as labourers and servants. He feared dispersal and assimilation would destroy Aboriginal languages and communities and prevent the establishment of Aboriginal congregations and schools.28

Teichelmann opposed the rapid change being forced on Aboriginal people.29 He hoped for Aboriginal reserves where the people could gradually learn from Europeans and adapt to the new situation. He hoped the government would assist Aboriginal people to acquire the skills of sedentary living and learn farming as an alternative to begging and thieving and wanted to live near such a reserve so he could have the contact with Aboriginal people necessary for language learning and evangelism which he saw as his primary work. 30

 

Kaurana Territory
Kaurna Territory
Source: Kaurna Warra Pintyandi website

Teichelmann did not want to get involved in establishing Aboriginal settlements himself but, as the government was doing little, there seemed to be no alternative.31 From 1839 he argued the need for a settlement so the missionaries could 'live among the heathen' who he hoped would settle around them.32 He believed this was necessary for Aboriginal survival and for evangelism.33 Angas had recommended a settlement at the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers, in New South Wales where land was cheap, and Schürmann also favoured establishing a refuge for Aboriginal people five or six day’s journey from the negative influences of European settlement.34 However, Teichelmann felt called to the Kaurna people and wanted to remain in their territory.35 The Murray-Darling junction region proved too dry but neither Angas nor his company were willing to provide land in South Australia, let alone in Kaurna territory. When Gawler reserved a few eighty-acre sections, leading settlers protested and reserved land was leased or sold to Europeans.36

 

In 1840 the DMS sent Pastor Klose to work with Teichelmann in the Adelaide area and Pastor Heinrich August Eduard Meyer to work with Schürmann so the two men could go their separate ways. Teichelmann asked Dresden for money to buy land and for Christian artisans to be sent out to help establish a settlement.37 Owning land and dwellings would provide some security from the uncertainty of government support and provide new converts with a home base and means of procuring a livelihood.38 The DMS responded that it only had sufficient funds for preaching and school instruction. The missionaries were to devote themselves to their true calling, teaching God’s Word, erecting schools and giving good advice. Establishing settlements was the government’s responsibility and a task for lay people.39

Teichelmann consulted Rev. Thomas Quinton Stow (Congregationalist), Rev. John Eggleston (Wesleyan), and William Giles, a South Australia Company agent.40 Eggleston believed a settlement was the only way to curb ‘nomadic’ ways and carry out mission work but all three cautioned Teichelmann about the high costs involved.41 All such plans in Australia had failed except the Wesleyans’ Port Philip Bay station where costs were £1,300 in 1841 alone.42 They recommended waiting as the government was contemplating settling Aboriginal people at a ‘location’ in the countryside.43 Teichelmann believed at least 160 acres were necessary but even purchasing and developing 80 acres of crown land would require a minimum of £1,000.44 However, little good crown land remained and settled blocks cost ten times as much as crown land.45 A request for Angas to donate or sell some of his land at a reasonable price was denied. Hoping to minimise conflict between Aborigines and Europeans, the Protector of Aborigines, Matthew Moorhouse, sounded Teichelmann out about being stationed to the north of the colony, and in February 1842 travelled with Klose to find a suitable place. Nothing eventuated however.46

When Angas’ support ended after 1840, leading colonist formed the short-lived 'South Australian Missionary Society in aid of the German Missionaries' in 1842. This Society was unwilling to support Aboriginal settlements because of the cost. Moreover most members believed nothing could be achieved with adults.47 Governor Grey preferred to disperse them among Europeans as workers, believing the sooner Aboriginal culture, languages and communities were broken down the better.48 Moreover, he believed Aboriginal people were dying out so money spent on them was wasted. 49 He and other members of the Society preferred to focus on separating children as early as possible from their families, educating them in English and giving them the skills to be useful in European society. Some believed Christian concepts could not be expressed in Aboriginal languages and Aboriginal people were incapable of grasping Christianity before they were ‘civilised.’50 Teichelmann insisted that the Christian faith was for all peoples and all tongues and ways of expressing Christian concepts in Aboriginal languages would be found. 51

Location of Teichelmann's mission work
Location of Teichelmann's mission work
Source: Overlay details Christine Lockwood

 

 

 

When a DMS Committee member donated £100 to buy land near Adelaide to make the mission more financially independent, and the DMS seemed to be promising £100 to develop it, Teichelmann bought 80 acres at Happy Valley, nineteen kilometres south of Adelaide in October 1842.52 He thought the South Australian Missionary Society was promising support and this influenced his decision to proceed though he was wary of the Society’s desire to control the project.53

Teichelmann called his property Ebenezer. Throughout 1843 he lived in a tent or with a neighbour while clearing the property and building two rudimentary houses with Aboriginal workers and a hired European man. Spending £290 to purchase and develop Ebenezer exhausted his money. He decided to limit further development to what he could do with Kaurna people interested in settling with him.54 He sold his horse and cart to complete his Ebenezer house and on 25 December 1843 married Margaret Nicholson, a neighbour’s eighteen year old daughter. They moved to Ebenezer in early 1844. He hoped to be independent of the government, to move the Piltawodli mission school to Ebenezer and to persuade Kaurna families to settle and farm with him.

 

 

The DMS Committee suggested all four missionaries relocate to Ebenezer to reduce costs.55 However, Klose, Schürmann and Meyer expressed concerns about Teichelmann’s ‘arbitrary initiative’ at Ebenezer.56 They thought he had misunderstood Dresden’s intentions which they understood to be that profits from farming should go into mission funds to make the missionaries more independent of money from Europe. They cautioned that Ebenezer’s proceeds would be inadequate to feed and clothe Aborigines or hire farm labourers and that the government would not provide Aboriginal rations or invest in property it didn’t own. They considered Ebenezer unsuitable for an Aboriginal settlement: the Kaurna did not gather there in significant numbers and it was too small, too close to the attractions of Adelaide, and in an area too closely populated by whites, making clashes inevitable. Klose protested that they could not afford the set-up costs or the hired help needed because they knew nothing about farming.57 The missionaries decided no more mission funds should go into agriculture; Teichelmann could only use his salary. Teichelmann felt aggrieved that his colleagues instead of joining him continued their own attempts to farm with Aboriginal people: Meyer at Encounter Bay and Schürmann at Port Lincoln.

By early 1844 Ebenezer was in trouble. It could not produce a profit sufficient to supplement mission funds or support Aboriginal people with food, clothes and shelter. High wages and low cereal prices meant mounting debts. One missionary family could support itself at Ebenezer but this would leave no time for evangelistic or language work. Hiring a skilled farm labourer would mean running at a loss.58 A Christian farmer, Heinrich Lührs, arrived from Germany in January 1844 to assist the mission. He worked fourteen days before deciding he could never do more than support himself at Ebenezer and no income would accrue to the mission.

Teichelmann provided food and clothing to Kaurna people while they worked with him, with the promise that the harvest would be theirs. They cleared, fenced, and planted potatoes and wheat, but preferred immediate remuneration to the promise of future rewards.59 Teichelmann reported ‘gradual improvement’ in their work habits, conduct, reliability and appreciation of his concern for them.60 Margaret, under primitive conditions, provided for workers at her table and trained Aboriginal women in domestic skills and sewing. Teichelmann was bitterly disappointed when, after a time away from the station, the workers failed to return to harvest their wheat as traditional tribal obligations took priority. They neglected their potatoes and failed to reserve seed potatoes for their next crop.61 Aboriginal people continued to come and go and Teichelmann employed them as he could. He initially blamed government rations and his neighbours’ ability to pay higher wages for Aboriginal unwillingness to work consistently. Later he identified other factors ̶ he expected workers to attend his morning devotions, tried to address spiritual matters with them and was ‘too well acquainted with their tricks.’62 Aboriginal workers complained they had heard it all before and were expected to work too hard. Teichelmann recognised they could get more sustenance from the bush, with less effort, than a European could from his daily work. There was no incentive to emulate European work habits.63

Teichelmann had other frustrations. He lacked the resources to provide for workers’ families or help the weak and elderly seeking sustenance at Ebenezer. He farmed four days a week to support his family, time lost to his language and evangelistic work.64 His missionary colleagues and other Christians did not support him.65 Governor Grey considered him to be working only for himself.66 Accusations he was neglecting his office to feather his own nest hurt him.67

By late 1844 the Kaurna had scattered and Teichelmann doubted they would return to the Adelaide area.68 Ebenezer could not be made profitable without additional capital.69 The DMS and Angas expected Aboriginal people to support the mission with their labour. Teichelmann protested that it was unrealistic to expect this of unconverted heathen. He could only continue at Ebenezer if the DMS provided money for the needs of the Aboriginal people settling there.70 Instead of spreading resources over four mission locations (Adelaide, Ebenezer, Encounter Bay and Port Lincoln) he recommended focusing on two, with two missionaries at each.71

Teichelmann exhausted himself with manual labour while continuing to study the Kaurna language and discuss spiritual matters with his workers at every opportunity. He regularly visited Aboriginal camps south of Adelaide and was distressed by the illness and neglect he found. On weekends he held Kaurna services in the Piltawodli schoolhouse and preached in the Adelaide Parklands – initially to the Kaurna and later, using a translator, to ‘Murray people’ from further east, some of whom understood Kaurna. He engaged them in robust discussions about religious beliefs.72 When visiting Adelaide he heard the Piltawodli children say their prayers and his wife helped teach them English. He saw signs of faith in old and young but also resistance as adults dissuaded children from accepting the Christian faith.73

Detail from 'Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the River Torrens' by Alexander Schramm 1850
Detail from 'A tribe of natives on the banks of the River Torrens'
by Alexander Schramm 1850
Source: National Gallery of Australia 143355

 

Teichelmann became increasingly uneasy about Grey’s plans for Aboriginal education.74 In 1843 Grey introduced boarding facilities at the Piltawodli school to counter the problem of absenteeism as children accompanied parents in their seasonal migrations. In 1844 he started an English school for ‘Murray’ children at Walkerville and insisted that all instruction be in English at Piltawodli as well. Teichelmann insisted that instruction in the Christian faith should be in the students’ mother tongue. He criticised the Walkerville school’s rote religious instruction in English without any real comprehension and its emphasis on changing outward behaviour in order to ‘civilise’ the children. He believed only changes flowing from Christian conviction would have lasting effect.75 After consulting Aboriginal leaders, he suggested girls be kept at school until their twelfth year, then permitted to marry the men to whom they had been promised at birth. Otherwise the elders’ authority and any hope of their co-operation would be destroyed.76 In 1844, Teichelmann suggested the Piltawodli school too might be doing more harm than good.77 He saw the need for better supervision of the boys out of school hours. 78 But when Teichelmann took boys who had outgrown the Piltawodli school to Ebenezer to work with him while receiving further education, Grey intervened to stop him.79

 

Teichelmann wanted to end the relationship with the government and move the Piltawodli school to Ebenezer. Klose opposed this because the £60-70 a year the school cost the government in food, clothing and school materials would fall on the missionaries, and Klose believed Ebenezer’s proceeds would not cover this cost.80 Despite Teichelmann’s objections, in mid-1845 Grey closed the Piltawodli mission school, transferring the students to the government’s new Native School Establishment on Kintore Avenue, Adelaide. Kaurna parents complained to Teichelmann that their girls were pressured at the new school to marry ‘Murray’ Aborigines and asked him to start a school at Ebenezer. However, Teichelmann lacked the funds.81

He appealed again to the DMS for financial help, outlining his plan in 1845. This was to win the confidence of Aboriginal people so they would willingly leave their children to be educated and cared for at Ebenezer while they moved around. In addition to academic subjects, the children would be taught handicrafts, domestic skills, carpentry and agriculture, one missionary running the school while another worked with adults in their camps or the city. Students would potentially form the nucleus of a Christian congregation with visiting relatives providing an opportunity for evangelist outreach The station would provide a comfortable destination as well as employment for Aboriginal people and gradually become self-supporting.82 Even then, given the significant outlay and the small number and ‘unfavourable circumstances’ of Aboriginal people, Teichelmann wondered whether it was possible to ‘justify spending time, strength and means on a field the nature of which corresponds so little to the aims and means of our church.’83

 

The Mission’s End

With the government refusing to support the missionaries’ efforts to help Aborigines settle the missionaries decided in January 1846 to lease Ebenezer and concentrate their work in two locations, Adelaide and Encounter Bay.84 Ebenezer had been costly and there seemed no prospect of the Kaurna settling there.85 It was decided Pastor Teichelmann should move to Adelaide to minister to city Germans, learn the language of the ‘Murray people’ displacing the Kaurna there and share the gospel with them. In April 1846 Teichelmann moved to Kensington, near Adelaide.

Without tangible results and reluctant to take money which could more profitably support the DMS’ flourishing Indian mission, in September 1846 the missionaries decided to retain their association with the DMS but relinquished its monetary support.86 They would support themselves, seizing whatever evangelistic opportunities arose. Teichelmann acquiesced against his better judgement, believing it was impossible to do mission work while working to support a family. He was upset by his colleagues’ failure to support Ebenezer and their slowness to recognise the need for independence from the government. He believed Grey had deceived and used them. His conscience accused him of failing the Aboriginal people who might one day accuse him for not proclaiming to them ‘the whole counsel of God.’87

Teichelmann expressed bitterness about the DMS’ inadequate support despite its Committee agreeing in 1844 that a settlement offered the best chance of mission success.88 However, in 1844 Karl Graul became DMS Director. He wanted to focus on one mission field – India – and wanted missionaries to be financially independent of DMS support. He opposed 'civilising’ schemes such as mission settlements and advocated grafting Christianity onto existing cultural and social foundations.

Teichelmann regretted the time he had spent trying to develop Ebenezer. 89 He believed if he had spent the time in undisturbed language study instead he would have known the language better and Aboriginal people would have a better grasp of ‘God’s counsel for their salvation.’90 He was concerned for Aboriginal welfare but his primary aim had always been, not to ‘civilise’ Aboriginal people, but to learn their language and share the gospel.91 ‘We dare not,’, ‘count on results or conversions so long as we cannot proclaim the Gospel to the heathen in their own language fully and with power,’ he wrote 92 Gospel proclamation was central: ‘What point is there for me to work with the Aborigines,’ he wrote, ‘if I cannot preach the Gospel to them… it would be better for the Aborigines and me never to have seen each other.’93

In February 1845 Teichelmann had began holding services for about thirty Germans in Adelaide and from mid 1845 till February 1846 held fortnightly English services for a congregation of Independents near Ebenezer. In February 1846 Klose lost his position at the Native School Establishment in Adelaide With the Kaurna mostly gone from Adelaide, Klose and Teichelmann ministered to Germans. In 1846 they organised Trinity Lutheran congregation among Adelaide Germans. Klose served the congregation from 1846 to1851. Klose and Teichelmann tried reaching out to Murray people with little success. They could no longer gather people in the Piltawodli schoolhouse or provide rations. The Vagrancy Act of 1847 discouraged Aboriginal people from congregating in Adelaide.

With the formation of an Adelaide Anglican diocese in 1847, Bishop Augustus Short demanded the right to supervise the Dresden missionaries, with all converts becoming members of the Church of England as they were English subjects.94 With no prospect of an Aboriginal Lutheran church, the Lutheran Mission was closed in 1848, the missionaries planning as individuals to assist Indigenous people as they were able.95

Teichelmann continued to work on the Kaurna language, sending handwritten notes of his 1857 dictionary and 1858 ‘Notes on Verbs’ to Grey, then governor in South Africa.96 These gave more complex definitions and 500 more complex sentences and phrases than his 1841 publication. By then few Kaurna speakers remained.

 

Ruin of Teichelmann's home in Stansbury
Ruin of Teichelmann’s home in Stansbury

Source: Christine Lockwood 2014

From 1848 Teichelmann supported his family by farming at Morphett Vale, taking fortnightly services at Trinity Lutheran Church from 1851-1856.97 He assisted the training of future pastors for German Lutheran congregations and was a member of the mission board which planned the Kooperamanna /Killalpaninna Lutheran mission which was started in 1866. He served as Lutheran pastor at Salem near Callington (1856-58), Callington and Kanmantoo (1858-64), Peter’s Hill and Carlsruhe (1865-1867) and Monarto (1871-1872). In retirement in 1874 he followed his sons to Yorke Peninsula, where they had taken up land, and became a founding member of the Stansbury Methodist Church.

Margaret Teichelmann bore fifteen children, twelve reaching maturity. They were taught at home. Teichelmann could afford further education for only one son, Ebenezer, who became a doctor.

Teichelmann was tall and well-built. Schürmann spoke of his courage in tackling the unknown.98 His writings reveal a perceptive, intelligent, hard-working, somewhat complex man. His insightfulness was matched with uncompromising opinions, determination, a keen sense of justice and forthright honesty that did not always win friends. He set himself high standards and expected the same of others. Professor Augustin Lodewyckx says he had an ‘unusual gift for linguistic anthropological observation’ and was ‘greatly respected for his conscientious devotion to duty and his quiet unostentatious character.’99 Governor Gawler called him ‘sincere, intelligent and persevering.’100 The South Australian Register’s editor called him ‘amiable and excellent.’101 Nevertheless, not everyone found him easy to work with; his colleagues sometimes found him dictatorial and critical.102 His forceful manner also influenced his relationship with some Aboriginal people though others appreciated his genuine compassion.103

Pastor Teichelmann baptised no Aboriginal people and established no Indigenous Lutheran church but he acted as a conscience to the community and stood beside the marginalised and oppressed. He and his fellow Lutheran missionaries laid the foundations for Anglican mission work in Adelaide and at Poonindie as well as the Raukkan (Lake Alexandrina) Mission. These missions played an important role in the survival of Aboriginal people in the settled parts of South Australia.

Today Teichelmann is most widely remembered for recording the Kaurna language and customs. The last fluent Kaurna speaker died in 1929 and the Kaurna lost their identity as a people. Since the 1990s University of Adelaide linguists led by Dr. Robert Amery have spearheaded Kaurna language reclamation and cultural awareness programs based on the missionaries’ records. As a result, hundreds have reclaimed their identity as Kaurna people.

 

 

1After 1815 Dahme was in Prussia.

2 Lutheran Confessions: writings setting out Lutheran teaching and collected in the Book of Concord of 1580.

3 James A Scherer, "The Triumph of Confessionalism in Nineteenth-Century German Lutheran Missions," Missio Apostolica, 1, no. 2, November 1993: 71-81.

4 C W Schürmann, 'Obituary for Pastor C G Teichelmann', Der Lutherische Kirchenbote für Australien, July 1887; Eighteenth annual report of the Evangelical-Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden, 17 August 1836 to 10 August 1837: 9; DMS to W. Smillie, 18 March 1843, G26, Assorted Correspondence, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder G, Adelaide: Lutheran Archives Australia (LAA).

5 Eighteenth annual report of the Evangelical-Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden, 17 August 1836 to 10 August 1837: 34, LAA.

6 Eighteenth annual report of the Evangelical-Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden, 17 August 1836 to 10 August 1837: 11-17, LAA.

7 Angas to Wermelskirch, 26 August 1837, ALMW 1.48/45, London Files, Leipzig Mission Archives, Halle: Francke Foundation Archives; Eighteenth annual report of the Evangelical-Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden 1836-1837: 19-20, LAA.

8 Eighteenth annual report of the Evangelical-Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden, 17 August 1836 to 10 August 1837: 22, LAA.

9 To read more see, Christine J Lockwood, ‘The Two Kingdoms: Lutheran Missionaries and the British Civilizing Mission in early South Australia,’ PhD University of Adelaide 2014. https://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/84754

10 Angas to Schürmann and Teichelmann, 28 May 1838, PRG174/10/140d-f,i, George Fife Angas Papers 1808-1880, PRG174, Adelaide: State Library of South Australia (SLSA).

11 'Instructions for the two missionaries of the evangelical-Lutheran Mission Society at Dresden, Chr. G. Teichelmann from Dahme (ducal Saxony) and Clamor W. Schuermann from Schledehausen (via Osnabrueck) 1837', in Acta Historica-Ecclesiastica Seculi XIX, ed. George Friedrich Heinrich Rheinwald, Hamburg: Friedrich Perthes, 1840: 676-82. A translation from the German can be found as Appendix A in Christine J Lockwood, ‘The Two Kingdoms: Lutheran Missionaries and the British Civilizing Mission in early South Australia,’ PhD University of Adelaide 2014

12 Johann Georg Gottfried Wermelskirch, 'Gutachten der Dresdener Missions-Gesellschaft, die Vielweiberei betreffend', Dresdener Missions-Nachrichten (1839): 136,138, LAA.

13 DMS to W. Smillie, 18 March 1843, G26, Assorted Correspondence, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder G, LAA.

14 'Instructions for the two missionaries of the evangelical-Lutheran Mission Society at Dresden, Chr. G. Teichelmann from Dahme (ducal Saxony) and Clamor W. Schuermann from Schledehausen (via Osnabrueck) 1837', in Acta Historica-Ecclesiastica Seculi XIX, ed. George Friedrich Heinrich Rheinwald, Hamburg: Friedrich Perthes, 1840: 676-82.

15 Kavel to DMS, 31 March1837, ALMW 1.48/16, London Files, Leipzig Mission Archives, Halle: Francke Foundation Archives.

16 Teichelmann to Angas, 2 January 1843, PRG174/5/21-26, George Fife Angas Papers 1808-1880, PRG174, SLSA.

17 Angas to Kavel, 8 July 1837, ALMW1.48/22-2, London Files, Leipzig Mission Archives, Halle: Francke Foundation Archives; Angas to Schürmann and Teichelmann, 28 May 1838, PRG174/10/140d-f,i, George Fife Angas Papers 1808-1880, PRG174, SLSA.

18 In 2010 the spelling of ‘Piltawodli’ was changed to ‘Pirltawardli’. Piltawodli, however, is the more commonly known spelling.

19 Teichelmann to DMS, 1 September 1840, Teichelmann Correspondence 1838-1853, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 3/Folder TB, LAA.

20 Rob Amery, 'The First Lutheran Missionaries in South Australia, Their Contribution to Kaurna Language Reclamation and the Reconciliation Movement', Journal of Friends of the Lutheran Archives, no. 10, October 2000: 32-33.

21 Amery and Simpson, 'Introduction to 'Kaurna', In Macquarie Aboriginal Words; a Dictionary of Words from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages, edited by Nick Thieberger and William McGregor. North Ryde, NSW: Macquarie, 1994:148; Rob Amery, 'The First Lutheran Missionaries in South Australia' 2000: 33-37.

22 Rob Amery, 'Beyond Their Expectations: Teichelmann and Schürmann’s Efforts to Preserve the Kaurna Language Continue to Bear Fruit', in The Struggle for Souls and Science: Constructing the Fifth Continent: German Missionaries and Scientists in Australia, edited by Walter F. Veit, Strehlow Research Centre, Alice Springs, NT: Northern Territory Government, 2004, revised 2011.

23 Teichelmann to Parents, 12 December 1838, Teichelmann Correspondence 1838-1853, LA; 26-27 November 1839, C G Teichelmann, Diaries 1839-1846, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 3/Folder TA, LAA.

24 Teichelmann Report, April-August 1840, Teichelmann Correspondence 1838-1853, TB41-44, LAA.

25 Teichelmann’s report to Gawler, included in Teichelmann to Wermelskirch, 4 November 1839, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

26 Teichelmann to Angas, 2 January 1843, PRG174/5/22, George Fife Angas Papers 1808-1880, PRG174, Adelaide: SLSA. Teichelmann speaks of their ‘extermination‘, rather than their 'becoming extinct‘ as preferred by many, including Bishop Broughton, Report of the Select Committee on Aborigines (British Settlements), House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, 1837, no. 425, 11.

27 Teichelmann to Angas, 2 January 1843, PRG174/5/22, Angas Papers, SLSA.

28 16 June 1838, Schürmann Diaries 1838-1845, C W Schürmann box 1, LAA.

29 Teichelmann to Angas, 2 January 1843, PRG174/5/22, Angas Papers, SLSA.

30 Southern Australian, 20 September 1842: 2; Teichelmann to Angas, April 1842, PRG/7/720, Angas Papers, SLSA.

31 Teichelmann to DMS, January 1839, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA; Schürmann to DMS, 5 November 1839, Schürmann Correspondence 1838-1893, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 2/Folder S, LAA.

32 Teichelmann to DMS, 4 July 1839, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

33 Extract from letter dated 22 February 1841, Collected Letters from the Missionaries and Conference Reports, 1838-1846: 75, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA.

34 Schürmann to DMS, 8 February 1839, Schürmann Correspondence 1838-1893, LAA.

35 Teichelmann report, April-August 1840, Teichelmann Correspondence, TB148; Teichelmann to DMS August 1842, Teichelmann Correspondence, TB212-213, LAA.

36 South Australian Register, 1 August 1840.

37 Teichelmann to DMS, 3 February 1840, Teichelmann Correspondence, TB137-39, LAA.

38 Teichelmann to DMS, 15 November 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

39 DMS to Schürmann and Teichelmann, 27 July 1840, Correspondence from Dresden Mission Society to all missionaries as a group, 1839-1949. Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA.

40 Teichelmann to DMS, undated letter (1841?), Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

41 John Eggleston, 10 November 1841, G22-23, Assorted Correspondence, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder G, LAA.

42 Joyce Graetz, ed. Missionary to the Kaurna, the Klose Letters, Friends of the Lutheran Archives Occasional Paper No.2, North Adelaide: Friends of the Lutheran Archives, 2002:18; Lord Stanley to Sir G Gibbs, 20 December 1842, in Edward John Eyre, 'Suggestions for the Improvement of the Aborigines', An account of the manners and customs of the Aborigines and the state of their relations with Europeans, eBooks@Adelaide, 2010:Chapter IX.

43 Stow & Giles, 1841, G24, Assorted Correspondence, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder G, LAA.

44 Teichelmann to DMS, 7 August 1841, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

45 Teichelmann to DMS, 27 August 1841, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

46 Teichelmann to Moorhouse, 1 March 1842, GRG24/90/302, State Records Office of South Australia (SRSA); Meyer to DMS 12 February 1842, H A E Meyer, Correspondence with the Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden 1839-1850, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) 2/Folder M, LAA.

47 Adelaide Observer, 16 Sept 1843: 6; Southern Australian, 8 Sept 1843: 2C.

48 George Grey, 'Report on the best means of promoting the civilization of the Aboriginal Inhabitants of Australia', ed. H. Hanson Turton, An Epitome of Official Documents Relative to Native Affairs and Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand, Wellington: George Didsbury, 1883.

49 Schürmann to Wermelskirch, 22 August 1842, Schürmann Correspondence 1838-1893, S159, LAA.

50 Southern Australian, 8 September 1843: 2C; Adelaide Observer, 16 September 1843: 6.

51 29 December 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

52 Section 502, survey B. Ebenezer now lies partially beneath the south-west corner of Happy Valley Reservoir. Teichelmann purchased 80 acres for £80, the price paid for crown land.

53 Teichelmann to DMS, 5 July 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

54 Teichelmann to DMS, 15 November 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

55 DMS to Teichelmann, 8 July 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA; DMS to Teichelmann and Klose, 31 May 1843, Correspondence from Dresden Mission Society to all missionaries as a group, 1839-1949, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA.

56 5 July 1843, Collected Letters from the Missionaries and Conference Reports, 1838-1846, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA. See also Missionaries’ Conference Report, 15 April 1844, Collected Letters the Missionaries and Conference Reports, 1838-1846, LAA.

57 Joyce Graetz, ed. Missionary to the Kaurna, the Klose Letters, Friends of the Lutheran Archives Occasional Paper No.2, North Adelaide: Friends of the Lutheran Archives, 2002: 32. Only Schürmann had a farming background.

58 Missionaries’ Conference Report, 15 April 1844, Collected Letters from the Missionaries and Conference Reports, 1838-1846, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA.

59 15 June 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

60 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

61 Teichelmann to DMS, 1 February 1845, Teichelmann Correspondence, LA; September 1844 and May 1845, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

62 17 December 1845, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

63 4 August 1845, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

64 Teichelmann to DMS, 4 January and 26 August 1844, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

65 Teichelmann to DMS, 1 February 1845, Teichelmann Correspondence, LA; 'Suggestions for the Improvement of the Aborigines of South Australia', Register, 26 November 1842.

66 Moorhouse to Teichelmann, 27 January 1845, GRG24/6/1845/115, SRSA.

67 Teichelmann to DMS, 4 January/ 7 February 1844 and 7 November 1844, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

68 10 November 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

69 Teichelmann to DMS, 1 February 1845, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

70 Teichelmann to DMS, 1 February 1845, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

71 ‘Plan for the Foundation of a South Australian Mission Station', Teichelmann Diaries, 4 April 1845, LAA.

72 Entries for 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA. Moorhouse reported an average of over one hundred attending in May 1844. Rations were given out. Letterbook of the Protector of Aborigines, 1840-1857:98, GRG52/7/1, SRSA.

73 July and August 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA; 'Mr Teichelmann's Report on the Natives, at the Wesleyan Missionary Meeting', Southern Australian, 29 January 1841, 4C; Joyce Graetz, ed. Missionary to the Kaurna, the Klose Letters, Friends of the Lutheran Archives Occasional Paper No.2, North Adelaide: Friends of the Lutheran Archives, 2002: 21.

75 July 1844 and 25 August 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

76 July 1844 and 25 August 1844, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

77 Teichelmann to DMS 4 January 1844, Teichelmann Correspondence, TB253-54, LAA.

78 Teichelmann to DMS, 4 January 1844, Teichelmann Correspondence, TB253-54, LAA.

79 Moorhouse to Teichelmann, 27 January 1845, GRG24/6/1845/115, SRSA.

80 Joyce Graetz, ed. Missionary to the Kaurna, the Klose Letters, Friends of the Lutheran Archives Occasional Paper No.2, North Adelaide: Friends of the Lutheran Archives, 2002: 32.

81 2 November 1845, Teichelmann Diaries, LAA.

82 ‘Plan for the Foundation of a South Australian Mission Station', Teichelmann Diaries, 4 April 1845: TA67-68, LAA.

83 ‘Plan for the Foundation of a South Australian Mission Station', Teichelmann Diaries, 4 April 1845: TA68, translated by G Lockwood, LAA.

84 Meyer and Schürmann to DMS, 22 January 1846, Collected letters from the missionaries and conference reports, 1838-1846, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA.

85 Encounter Bay Conference Report, 22 February 1846, Collected letters from the missionaries and conference reports, 1838-1846, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA.

86 Teichelmann to DMS, 5 January 1847, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

87 Teichelmann to DMS, 5 January 1847, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

88 DMS to Missionaries, 12 November 1844, Correspondence from Dresden Mission Society to all missionaries as a group, 1839-1949. Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) Letters 1/Folder A, LAA.

89 Teichelmann to DMS, 15 November 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

90 Teichelmann to DMS, 15 November 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

91 Teichelmann to DMS, 4 January 1844, Teichelmann Correspondence, LAA.

92 Teichelmann to DMS, 10 January 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, translated by Geoff Noller, LAA.

93 Teichelmann to DMS, 15 November 1843, Teichelmann Correspondence, translated by Geoff Noller, LAA.

94 Evangelisch-Lutherisches Missionsblatt, 1 July 1849:195 (Dresden: ELMS); Meyer to DMS, 29 August 1848, H A E Meyer, Correspondence with the Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society in Dresden 1839-1850, Adelaide Missionaries (Dresden) 2/Folder M, LAA.

95 Klose to Robe, 15 February 1848, GRG24/6/1848/207, SRSA.

96 C. G Teichelmann, 'Dictionary of the Adelaide dialect', Adelaide: 1857, SLSA; C G Teichelmann, 'Of the Verbs', South African Public Library, 1858.

97 Section 615, hundred of Noarlunga.

98 Schürmann to Meyer, 14 Sept 1852, Schürmann, C W 2/Correspondence file no. 2, LAA.

99 A Lodewyckx, 'Biographical Notes on Christian Gottlieb Teichelmann', 1935. D 8474 (Misc), Adelaide: SLSA.

100 Gawler to George Fife Angas, 10 July 1840, PRG 174/1/158-79, George Fife Angas Papers 1808-1880, PRG174, Adelaide: SLSA.

101 South Australian Register, 1 January 1841.

102 4 June 1838, Schürmann Diaries 1838-1845, C W Schürmann box 1, LAA.

103 The Kaurna called him Kartaman.