The Hundred of Dalky, south of the Wakefield River, in the County of Gawler, was proclaimed by Governor MacDonnell on 22 May 1856. He named it after a seaside resort of his native city Dublin in Ireland. One of the first settlers, Charles Sainden was issued with a Pasturage Lease of 21 square miles at £16.15 rent per annum on 15 August 1856.
Two years later, in July 1858, the Bowman Brothers were issued with a similar licence to stock it with 353 head of cattle. Among some of the first settlers to buy a property were Green and Wadham who bought section 23 of 196 acres for £434.18 on 12 April 1860. Other settlers who soon followed were Schaeche and Traeger in 1865.
Ernst Gottlieb Traeger, born 18 September 1836, bought 600 acres and started growing wheat. He was very successful and eventually increased his holding to 1700 acres. After his harvest he was faced with the problem of carting his wheat all the way to Port Wakefield for further shipment. This was often done by horse or bullock teams.
680.000 bushels of wheat, valued at £135.000 on the Port
Wakefield wharf in 1933.
A post office was opened in December 1866, on section 297, about eight kilometres south of Balaklava. E.C. Beinke became the first postmaster. The office closed in June 1910. By 1867 several other pioneer settlers had started farming. Among them were Beinke, Hasse, Lange, Schoenberg, Winter and Zobel.
Slowly but surely a small community developed. Thomas Dalton became Pound keeper on section 145 in 1867. At Hope Farm Robert Shepherd’s wife gave birth to a daughter on 31 January 1867 and another one on 8 May 1868 followed by a third daughter, Rachel Hannah, on 7 August 1870. Sadly she died on 13 March 1871, aged only seven months.
On 23 April 1868 Agnes, only daughter of S. Mills of Metinga, Dalkey, married Albert Manly of Alma Plains at the Congregational Church at Alma. They were the first to be married in that church and were presented with a handsome Bible and Hymn Book. James Chaine was not so lucky. At age 23 he committed suicide by drinking acid as his affections for one of the local girls went unanswered.
By this time several German farmers of the Lutheran faith had also settled in an area which became known as Sichem. Among those were the Fuchs, Kruger, Kuchenmeister, Radick, Schultz, Stein, Steinwedel and Waegner families.
On Sunday 18 October 1868 the new school built by the Lutherans at Sichem was opened as a temporary place of worship when three services were held. The morning and evening services were conducted in German whereas the afternoon service was held in English. All three were well attended.
As more families settled there were many children who went without an education. Edward Straube applied for a licence in January 1869 to teach them. His application was referred to the Inspector of schools. Edward reapplied in May but was told that the school was to be reported on by a Magistrate before a licence could be issued.
The first anniversary of the Sichem chapel was celebrated on 10 September 1869 when both German and English adults had tea and Mr Price of Port Wakefield presided. Edward Straube, who had previously indicated that he would resign decided to stay on as the population had increased and resulted in more students attending his school, thus increasing his income. In November he even was assisted by O. Heard.
However on 11 December Straube did resign and was replaced by Rudolph Miethke. In October 1872 Miethke and his school were examined with pleasing results. Between 1872-1875 a building of pug and pine with a shingle roof was erected which became the centre of worship until 1899 when a new church was built at nearby Balaklava.
When student numbers declined again in September 1873 Miethke resigned and moved to Monarto. In October Elizabeth S. Spotwood obtained 26 signatures to support her application for a licence to teach at Sichem for three months until a German teacher could be found. This was accepted and she duly resigned in December 1873 when a German teacher took her place. The licence for the Sichem school was withdrawn in March 1875.
The first meeting of the Dalkey District Council was held at Traeger’s house on 7 April 1875. The Traeger family, who was much respected, soon became well known in the area and far beyond. Johann Gottlieb Traeger, son of E.G. Traeger gained recognition as a tradesman and manufacturer of agricultural implements with a business at Hamley Bridge. Another descendant of Johann was Alf Traeger, who spent most of his boyhood around Sichem before attending the School of Mines in Adelaide. He was the inventor of the Pedal Wireless, which was first used on Kidman’s station Augustus Downs in Queensland.
Dalkey District Council 1891.
l-r, EG Traeger, RD Laurie, J McLachlan, S Fisher, J Laurie, S Eyre.
During the 1870s farming provided the main income and in January 1876 farmers reaped as many as 12 bushels to the acre. By the mid-1870s even more farmers of German extraction had settled in the area. They included; Anders, Baum, Diekmann, Hoepner, Kraeft, Liersch, Neumann, Schnaars, Simon, Wandel, Zacher, Zanker and Zerk.
With the number of school-age children also increasing the licence for the school was reinstated and in October 1877 students of the Lutheran school were examined by their teacher, F.A.H. Klachin. Parents who were present ‘expressed themselves highly pleased with the progress’ achieved. In April 1880 Minna Klachin was appointed provisional teacher.
In 1877 the Cemetery was registered and many of the early settlers found their last resting place where they had toiled for so many years. It is still in use today. With the continuing increase of population another school was opened at Dalkey Hill on section 126 in 1883.
A new church was also badly needed and in August 1899 the Sichem Lutherans decided to build a new church at Balaklava. When the foundation stone was laid Pastor Kemp, who had donated the ground, addressed the large gathering of 300 people. In 1905 a new school was also completed and used until 1917 when it was closed by the government.
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