04 Jul Australian & South American Rosentreters
History of the Australian & South American Rosentreter’s
The earliest known ancestors of the Australian and South American Rosentreters came from the small town of Seegenfeld (or Segenfelde) in Deutsch Krone, Prussia. The town is now named Tarnowo, Piła County, Poland.
I am now fairly certain that the family originally came from Heiligenbeil in East Prussia (now Mamonovo, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia).
Johann Rosentreter [ID I0101], born to as yet unknown parents in about 1826, owned land in Tarnowo and married Wilhelmine Dittman [ID I0111], born to August Dittman and Rosalie Kruznl in about 1815 in Deutsch Krone (now Walcz, Poland). She lived in the villiage of Wisulke (now Wiesiółka), a town only five km’s away from Seegenfelde and there is no doubt that this was a Protestant (most probably Lutheran) marriage.
They had four children, all born in Prussia:
August (possibly Julias August) Rosentreter [ID I0234], born about 1852,
Wilhelm Rosentreter [ID I0147], born Feb 1856,
Wilhelmine Otilie Rosentreter [ID I0113], born 7 Jun 1859, and
An un-named daughter who was stillborn.
Descendants of Johann & Wilhelmine now number over 200 Rosentreters who are largely based in Australia although I do know of some family members working in Thailand and the USA.
Leaving Prussia for Australia
The first Rosentreter in Australia was August Rosentreter who arrived on the 5th November 1870 on the ship ‘Humbolt’ from Hamburg.
The next year in December (1871), his father Johann and mother Wilhelmine with his brother and sister, Wilhelm and Wilhelmine, arrived on the ship ‘John Bertram’, also from Hamburg.
There is a record of Johann selling his land in Seegenfelde in 1871 which I am awaiting a copy of.
The family all came to Australia, landing in Moreton Bay Queensland, under the Assisted Immigration provision that provided free transportation.
Upon arriving in Australia, Johann put out a newspaper advertisement in January 1872 for his son August to contact him via the German Embassy.
Shortly after arriving, Johann was granted land at Toogoolawah, Queensland and the family moved there.
Johann & Wilhelmine
There can be no doubt that a family coming from Northern Europe must have found the Queensland climate difficult. Despite this, they seemed to prosper.
Wilhelmine passed away on 6 Nov 1886 from liver disease and was buried in Wivenhoe Lutheran Cemetery. (Note: this cemetery is now under water as part of the Wivenhoe Dam building and we are unsure where the remains may have been re-located to, if at all.)
After her death there were rumours that Johann had an affair with a married neighbour that caused a falling out between himself and his son Wilhelm.
In 1887, Johann re-wrote his Will leaving everything to his daughter Wilhelmine Otilie. He had previously sold/gifted the original farm to his son Wilhelm in 1873.
Shortly after this he wrote a long letter to his son which shows that he was very depressed. He lists problems and describes parts of his farm that he lost. He talks about money, fraud and lies. He speaks about the gravestone of his wife. One phrase can be deciphered as “your father is a murderer”, but we are unsure of the context. He accuses Wilhelm of ‘drinking’ all the farm income. It is a long letter and really quite disturbing.
He committed suicide (death by hanging was the Coroners verdict) on 29 Sep 1887 and is buried on the original Rosentreter Farm in Toogoolawah.
Wilhelm married Hulda Schiefelbein [ID I0132], born to Carl Ludwig Schiefelbein and Wilhelmina Planok in 1855 in Pommern, Germany. They married on 1 Nov 1875 and had (at least) twelve children. In addition, I have heard stories of two sets of twins that were stillborn and buried on the farm without registration or notification to the authorities.
All Rosentreters in Australia (apart from two that came from Germany) are descendants of Wilhelm & Hulda.
Wilhelm purchased the property to the East of, and directly across the road, from the original farm and the family lived there.
Hulda passed away 21 Aug 1897.
Wilhelm and his son August traveled to the USA in 1914 (as per Ellis Island, New York Immigration Records) for what reason I do not know however, it could have been to try and find his brother August, or possibly to visit relatives unknown, or maybe just for a holiday. They traveled with another Toogoolawah family, Gustav Kaddatz & his wife, whose daughters Louise Dorothea married Wilhelm’s son Ernest Christian and Elizabeth Anna (Elsie) married Wilhelm’s son Franz Joseph.
Wilhelm died of a broken neck after falling out of a tree on 26 Dec 1919 and is buried on the Rosentreter Farm. Interestingly his funeral was conducted by a Church of England minister.
Wilhelmina married Hermann Gerber [ID I0081] on the 14 Nov 1878.
She passed away on 6 Jan 1895 from a ruptured uterus (after 30 hours of labour and most likely a breach birth) and is buried at Walloon Lutheran Cemetery.
The South American Connection
Our South American cousins are descendants of August Rosentreter-Dittman (who adopted the Spanish naming of Fathers Surname-Mothers Surname – hence Rosentreter-Dittman) who emigrated from Australia to the USA and finally to Chile arriving there some time after 1880.
There are records in Galverston, Texas of him being there in 1880. Galverston was a shipping port and stepping off place for emigrants to South America. It is unconfirmed, but there is the possibility that when in Texas he stayed with an Aunt (Louisa Muller), who was born about the same time as his father Johann and who also came from Deutsch Krone.
After 1880 and his arrival in Chile, he married Bartola Amestica Rodrigeuz [ID I0315] and they had eight children.
The family mostly lives in the beautiful seaside city of Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Chile.
August and Bartola now have great-great grandchildren living in Chile, Argentina, Spain and Sweden.
(Last Update – 26 July 2020) This is a work in progress and more information will be added as it is discovered. If you have additional information, please email us.
Rog – Great Great Grandson of Johann Rosentreter & Wilhelmine Dittman
My sincere thanks to Heidi Heil for deciphering the general details of Johann’s letter to Wilhelm. She is a professional translator of old German scripts. Get in contact with her if you need anything.
Photo taken in 1930 of the Sandy Gully, Queensland, Australia school class.
Note the horse in the background that some of the children got to school on and that of the sixteen students, seven were Rosentreters…