Johann Heinrich Lührs was born in 1808 in Widingen, a village 7 kms west of Soltau, Germany.
He came to South Australia in 1843 as a self funded lay missionary for the Dresden Missionary Society to run a farm an teach the local aboriginies to farm. Being nomadic they were not at all interested in farming, so the plan failed. After working with Missionary Meyer at Encounter Bay he left the mission and came north to Loberthal, where he married Anna Rosina Scholz. He was appointed the first teacher for the Immanuel Church School at Light Pass. Teaching was poorly paid and his family was increasing, so he decided to leave teaching and buy 20 acres of land at Light Pass where he built the cottage. He farmed there until his death in 1863 at the age of 55. His widow continued to live in the cottage until her death, and her youngest son and his family lived there for several more years.
By his early 30's, in 1841, Hans Hienrich Luhrs was living in Lunaberg when he wrote to the Dresden Missionary Society offering to be a self funded Missionary to come to S.Aust. He planned to teach the aboriginals how to farm, thereby providing a source of funding for the S.A.Mission. There were four ordained missionaries here by then. Dresden accepted his generous offer and he came to S.A. arriving on New's Eve 1843. All this was reported in the Missionary Journals of the Society recently send to me by the Society. He was supprised by the conditions and no doubt heat, did not like it at all. I have a copy of his letterin an educated hand, to Dresden saying that it is impossible for him to do what he had hoped and the farm which one of the missionaries had already purchased was totally unsuitable. Anyway the natives being nomadic where not keen to farm or do any manual labour.
He was persuaded to stay and went to Victor Harbor to help one of the missionaries try to establish a farm. Missionary Meyer was at that time trying to support the Victor Harbor mission by carting loads of furniture and food between Adelaide and Victor Harbor about twenty miles, so a productive farm would have helped. However H.H.Luhrs was not a labourer, although he knew about farm management he was more used to directing the proceedings.
Family oral history has him teaching German at Oxford before coming to Australia and he well may have, probably not as a lecturer but more likely as a tutor, as there was a great exchange of young Germans and Englishmen with the royal courts being so closely associated then. Also at first it was reported in the Dresden Missionary Journal that two young men had offered themselves to come together to S.A., then one dropped out. As this young man's expected money hadn't come through from England, he couldn't afford Australia so he went to America instead. Perhaps he was an Oxford friend, of Hans Hinrich Luhrs. However I can't be sure as the almost 40 colleges then acted seperately in Oxford, and a tutor may not have been recorded on a payroll.
H.H.Luhrs became Johan Heinrich Luhrs when he married our Silesian g.g.grandmother called Anna Rosina Scholz in 1846. He also became school master at Light Pass with the Immanuel Congregation. Most of the people in the Barossa Valley were from Prussia, and had fled because of religious differences with their King. They also didn't all agree when they arrived in S.A. So J.H.Luhrs had some difficulty in fitting in because he came from the old type of Lutheran Church which didn't fit with either of the new Lutheran Groups.
He only taught full time for about four years, as it was so poorly paid he needed to farm as well, to feed his growing family. He died in 1863, and the cottage that he built after he has stopped teaching is now open as a museum to the early German speaking settlers in the area. Most of the Luhrs family migrated east when a long drought made farming too marginal.
The Luhrs Pioneer Settler's Cottage in Light Pass, Australia was built by Johann Heinrich Lührs in 1852. [Light Pass is near Angaston, about 40 miles NE of Adelaide, South Australia.] The cottage was restored and is now an historical site. Shown above is the 1984 opening of the restored cottage, including Mr. S.H. Klein, a descendant of the builder. It is constructed of pug and timber (Redgum) and fronted by a cottage garden. At the rear are agricultural machines. If you're traveling to Australia, you may wish to check out the Barossa Valley Regional Guide which provides further information about the Luhrs Cottage and other area attractions.
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