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Remembering Jean Schmaal, OAM: Clare Historian

To mark the 10th anniversary of Clare's National Trust Museum and the 25th anniversary of the National Trust in South Australia, Jean collaborated with John Haynes to produce 'Clare - A Backward Glance' (1980)

Above: National Trust Members viewing Large Prints at Leasingham Wines, Clare, in August 1987 Left to right — Ruth Zweck, Jean Schmaal, Joyce Telfer, Sylvia Telfer Print donated by L. Stevenson


Jean Schmaal was born in Glenelg, South Australia, and educated in Adelaide and Port Pirie. Jean spent many years in Clare and spent many hours on research for the Clare National Trust branch. She was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the community in 1993 and was a foundation member and the first Life Member of the South Australian Police Historical Society Inc. Although Jean saw much of her work published in various police journals, she was denied the pleasure of seeing Tales of the Troopers published in book form in 1999. She died in 1998 following a long illness.


Four Stories by Jean Schmaal at CRHG:



TO MOST of us the Christmas season means a happy time of year; a time of gifts received and given, a pulling together of family ties.

South Australia's first Christmas was celebrated nearly a century-and-a-half ago at Holdfast Bay (today's Glenelg).


It must have been a comfortless event, one far distant from home and a far cry from the traditional "white" Christmas . which had been so familiar to the new arrivals.

One of those first settlers has left a description of how the emigrants spent that first Christmas. In her diary she wrote:

"December 25, 1836 — This being Christmas Day and Sunday, divine service was held for the first time in the hut of the principal surveyor, a short distance from our huts. The signal for attendance was the firing of a gun.


The congregation numbered 250 persons, including the two gentlemen who conducted the service, the thermometer standing at over 100 degrees, and most of the assembly being in the open air.

We kept up the old customs of Christmas as far as having a plum pudding for dinner, likewise a ham and parrot pie." A far cry, indeed!"


Jean expands her Christmas musings with three ghoulish stories;


1. "Murder" Headstone at Burra

2. Payment Deferred

3 Elizabeth Woolcock hanged




The PAST few years have brought an upsurge of interest in the background history of South Australia, and one form this interest has taken has been the call to preserve at least some of our early public houses.

Certainly they had a colonial flavor all their own, in their day serving a useful purpose in the small communities which sprang up round them.

Many an old time pub was used as a place of worship, a meeting place for early councils, even, in some places, as a court house and a post office.

In Adelaide between 1837 and 1840 there were 63 pubs to a population of 6,657; in other words, one to every 105 residents.


The earliest appears to have been in 1838 when Deacon's Hotel and Coffee House opened on North terrace. The next year it was known as the Sydney, and the site was either near or on that now occupied by the Hotel Centralia (formerly the Black Cygnet).



The day of the wedding is the bride's day. though most bridegrooms get hot under the collar and squirm at the thought of all the fuss and bother.

For all that the fact remains - it's her day. Below: 1860 A German wedding party outside a thatched roof building.

The following little stories have come down the generations and have been flavoured to a large extent because of the great immigration to South Australia in early times of German Lutherans, who left their homeland because of religious persecution. Many of their customs influenced early bridal lore.

  • White was worn for mourning - so brides, naturally, chose the opposite colour - they wore black.

  • By the mid-seventies ideas were taking a different turn, and fashion, ever fickle, changed too, and golden colours began to make their appearance.

  • During the late 70's and early 80's browns and greys became popular for weddings.

  • The late 80's saw cream as the 'in' thing, and this, in the 90's, became white.

  • But, by this time, mourning colours were black. This was not a general Australian custom, but a 'trendy' South Australian one.


The Origin of South Australian Town Names by JEAN SCHMAAL

Many place names have been handed down to us to remind us that most of our forebears came from England, Ireland or Scotland.

  • Strange to say, though many ethnic groups other than German made South Australia their new home, they seem to have made little or no attempt to attach their names to places.

  • One exception is MARINO, from the Italian "marina," meaning seashore.

  • In many places European settlers retained Aboriginal names, much to the delight of later generations who can appreciate musical, rhythmic names.


Let's look at some Aboriginal place names which have survived. My favorite among them is YANKALILLA.

  • Governor Hindmarsh mentioned the word in an early dispatch.

  • He wrote: "There is a place with the sweetest sounding name I know. The Aborigines call it Yankalilla."

  • Though the native people left no written record of their language, we are fortunate that two Dresden Lutheran Missionary Pastors (Teichelmann and Schurmann) spent some years in the Encounter Bay area, and they compiled a short dictionary of the Raminjeri tribe which inhabited that area.

  • It seems that the words Nganka-alya-illa became corrupted over the years to Yankalilla, and the meaning of the word is far removed from the sweetness mentioned by Hindmarsh.

It relates to the sad old story of the native woman who, abducted from the Cape Jervis area (Raminjeri territory) and taken by degenerate European sealers to Kangaroo Island, swam Backstairs Passage, a baby tied to her back, only to die on re-reaching the mainland, where her body was later found.

  • Her tribesmen named the locality to mean "the place of the woman's tragedy."

The Origin of South Australian Town Names by JEAN SCHMAAL
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