Schwerkolt Family

August and Wilhelmina Schwerkolt
NP1230B August and Wilhelmina Schwerkolt

Johann August Schwerkolt (August) was born in Prussia in 1822. He was a brickmaker by trade and married his first wife Paulina Richter in 1849.

On the 11th September 1849 August and Pauline sailed to Australia. Their first child Emil August Paul was born in 1850. August was naturalized on the 14th February 1853, in July of the same year August purchased land in Northcote.

By 1861 the couple had 5 children. On the 14th December 1861 August acquired a parcel of sixty-three acres in Mitcham, a holding that had formerly been part of the estate of Patrick Riley, one of the first landowners in the district. By 1882, August had acquired 88 acres in total.

The first cottage was built in about 1864, near Deep Creek, it was constructed from materials found on the property. During construction August travelled on foot between Northcote and Mitcham, transporting his belongings on a pair of saplings which he tied to his waist and dragged behind him.

By the early 1870s, the whole family lived at Mitcham. During the next decade August built a larger timber cottage on his land, he also took on many different trades to support his family, including charcoal burner, farmer, orchardist, and winemaker.

In January 1884, Paulina died aged sixty. August remarried in 1885, his new wife was Maria Catharina Wilhelmina Oppel (Wilhelmina). Construction of the cottage which still stands today began in 1885. Wilhelmina gave birth to twins on 22 November 1885, only one survived.

On 17 January 1887 – about four months before the birth of another daughter, Mary Elizabeth – August died of complications resulting from a bout of pneumonia and enteritis. He was buried with Paulina, in the Church of England section of Box Hill Cemetery.

From Schwerkolt Cottage and Museum, The Legacy of Johann August Schwerkolt, Pioneer, by Ted Arrowsmith, 2004. Available for purchase for $5.00 from the Whitehorse Historical Society Inc.