Angas Town, named after George Fife Angas, was first known as German Pass. Angas had heavily invested in the young colony of South Australia. The area, which is within his seven Special Surveys claimed for him by Charles Flaxman in 1839, was surveyed by Anthony Forster and James Smith in 1841. A year later it had one house and a number of dugouts. A hundred years later it had well over 3,500 residents and nearly seven hundred houses.
Angas encouraged German and British migrants to settle on his land by either leasing or selling it to them. By 1846 there were enough people living in the little town to have a weekly mail delivery. Some of the first settlers were William Hurn, Edwin Davey, Henry Holmes, Joseph Keynes, William Salter, Samuel Smith and James Trescowthick.
However it was Angas' nineteen year old son John Howard Angas, arriving in South Australia in 1843, who looked after his father's investments in South Australia and particularly those in the Barossa Valley. Angas himself came out in 1851, laid out the town and registered it as Angaston on 21 August 1857. By then it was already a proclaimed District Council with Horace Dean as Chairman. The first councillors were; William Salter, George Fife Angas, Captain Richard Rodda and William Coulthard.
The first church to be completed, in 1844 with money donated by Angas, was The Union Chapel at Penrice, to be used by all the different religions. The foundation stone was laid on 3 November 1843 by Mrs Evans, daughter of G.F. Angas. After the ceremony about thirty people had tea on the grass and had a very pleasant evening. When the population had increased to such an extent that this chapel became too small it was decided in 1854 by the Methodists to build their own. In 1855 the Union Congregation built a new and larger church in Angaston. When completed, the Reverend John Hannay, son-in-law of George Fife Angas, led its congregation for the next ten years. After the split of 1861 in the Lutheran Church, it became a Baptist Church until 1928. It is now known as the Zion Lutheran Church.
After the completion of the first church it only took two years for the first hotel to be constructed. This was the Angaston Hotel in 1846. A year later Doctor Horace Dean came to town and built Franklin House in 1847. The doctor was also a Stipendiary Magistrate and later a local Councillor. When the Angaston District Council was formed it held its first meeting at his house.
By 1849 a second hotel was built and licensed in 1851. This was the New Inn and built by William Doddridge. William arrived in South Australia in 1840 and first settled on Kangaroo Island. The hotel was later known as the Commercial Hotel and finally Barossa Hotel. Doddridge also built a blackmith's shop on land he had bought from J.G. Schilling in 1849. A second storey to the hotel was added in 1884 and it is now known as the Brauhaus Hotel.
All Angaston needed now was a police station. It was Angas, who had in 1836 already pushed for the establishment of a South Australian Police Force, who donated the land and materials and in 1856 the Barossa Valley's first police station was completed. But there were also many other improvements in the town. A library was founded in 1856 and within ten years both the number of books and customers had increased to such an extent that a much larger building was needed. In 1867 it was decided to cater for several interests of the town's residents and built an Institute, large enough to have room for a library, reading room, meeting room especially for the Masons, and a large meeting room for public gatherings. The building, on land donated by Angas, was opened in 1870 by Howard Angas.
Wheat growing, fruit production and the raising of cattle and sheep were for some time the main forms of employment until a start was made with the growing of grapes for the production of wine. One of the first to start growing grapes was William Salter. Born in 1804, he and his family arrived on the Caroline in 1839 and moved to Angaston in 1844. Samuel Smith arrived in South Australia in 1847 and established Yalumba in Angaston in 1849 and expanded it after having made a small fortune on the goldfields of Victoria.
The sheep industry was made famous by John Howard Angas who bought the first Merino sheep in 1845 for the Collingrove property where he built Lindsay House for his father George Fife Angas. While on a business trip in England, John married Suzanne Collins on 10 May 1855 and when returning to South Australia took a number of pedigree cows with him to establish a breeding programme which eventually evolved in the famous Collingrove Stud. In 1856 he also bought a cattle run at Mount Remarkable.
By the 1860s, Angaston had grown into a real town. The population had increased to 2,435 and was living in 406 houses. The District Council was still going, with James Jepson as Chairman. It now had a number of churches, hotels, a police station, a court house, a library, a Band, started by William Yates in 1856, a Masonic Lodge, a cemetery, blacksmith, an Institute and a large number of farms and many substantial private houses. In 1866 the town got its first banking facilities with the opening of the National Bank. The Bank of Adelaide opened its doors in January 1894.
During these years there were many births, marriages and deaths recorded in Angaston. On 10 May 1860, the wife of T.J. Hodges had a son, on 14 June the wife of George French Angas had a daughter at Collingrove and on 25 September Mrs J.H. Field had a daughter. On 5 February 1861, Mrs Robert Carter had a son, Mrs William Cameron also had a son on 29 May 1862 and Mrs E.P. Nesbit had a daughter on 5 December of that year. The Player family had an addition almost every year during most of the 1860s. On 23 August 1864 Mrs W. Clarke had a son and Mrs D.B. Adamson a son on 31 October.
On 20 February 1861, the Rev John Hannay married David Radford and Martha Smith, the eldest daughter of Samuel Smith of Yalumba. Sadly she died three years later on 14 May 1864 shortly after her confinement. She was only 25 years old. On 8 October 1862 it was Samuel Smith's eldest son Sidney who married Eleanor Caley at Gumeracha. On 13 June 1861, it were Gottleib Bohn, farmer of North Rhine and Eliza Smith, eldest daughter of David Smith to be married by Rev R. Coward. On 3 July 1862 the youngest daughter of Nicholas Player of Moorooroo House married and on 14 May 1863 Player's eldest son was married by Rev Hannay to Mary Jane Hall of Penrice. On 30 December 1863 Jacob Morgan and Maria Tagg were married by the Rev Colwell of Kapunda.
Naturally there were also the sad occasions when people died, particularly when they were young. On 1 September 1862, John and Rosetta Hannay lost their 14 year old son. Two weeks later, on 15 September Thomas Davey, aged 66, 'fell asleep in Jesus'. Nineteen year old Charles Valentine Jepson died on Christmas Day 1863 after a short illness. On 31 October 1864 James Bidgway lost his wife two hours after confinement leaving him with six young children. Visiting the cemetery at Angaston, or any other for that matter, it shows clearly the number of women who died during childbirth and also the large number of very young children who died.
From the 1870s onward Angaston expanded and some people even looked beyond the town for investment or living. On 24 September 1874, James Angas Johnson invested in three suburban sections at the newly opened town of Wirrabara. Industries had become firmly established and most of the town buildings, particularly those in the main street made use of marble, quarried from the 1870s onwards at the Angaston Marble Quarries, by William and James Sibley. In 1885 the Eureka flourmill was completed by Edwin Davey with money he had made on the Victorian goldfields.
By the turn of the century it were the settled families of Angas, Evans, Sage, Salter and Smith who enhanced the Valley's reputation for agriculture and wine. The railway arrived in 1911, once again with the help of the Angas Family who had tried for more than forty years to have the line from Gawler extended to Angaston, and a start was made with a proper Town Hall. By 1916 C.H. Angas of Lindsay Park used his Rolls Royce car to inspect the family's investments and show visitors around the town and valley.