Rudolf Daniel and Maria Caroline WILKE nee SCHUETZE


Maria Caroline was the 2nd daughter born to Gottlieb Andreas and Maria Dorothea Schuetze nee Roediger. She was born in Hahndorf, South Australia on 7 June 1853 and married Rudolf Daniel Wilke on 3 Mar 1872 at St John's Church, Talunga, Mt Pleasant, South Australia.

Rudolf Daniel Wilke was born 25 December 1845 at Hamburg, Germany. He left Hamburg with his parents on 15 October 1849 on the ship “Livonia” which arrived at Holdfast Bay on 20 March 1850. The family arrived in 1876 and were pioneers of the Port MacDonnell District of South East South Australia. Rudolf and Maria's son Harold told his daughter Mary that Alfred Von Doussa was best man at his parents wedding. Rudolf and Maria had a large family - Leonard Julius (died as a baby), Mabel Louisa, Margaret Rose, Winifred Dora, Hermann Edward (died as a baby), Lily Mary, Maud Emma, Margaret (died as a baby), Florence, Rudolf (Roy) (died aged 3), Harold and Reginald Rudolf.

Rudolf Wilke was a Wattle Bark Mill Proprietor operating a mill that employed a number of the local men - he was also a farmer, and lived at Blumberg (now Birdwood), and Port MacDonnell, South Australia. The Bark Mill was erected in 1876 on the northern corner of Milstead and Standish streets and was operational for many years until sold and dismantled in March 1921. Portion of the structure had earlier been the grandstand of the Racing Club which operated for a number of years.

The bark for the mill came from the lower South East and Nelson areas - in the early days many bullock teams were seen on the roads to the mill.

NOTE: Part of the information on Rudolf Wilke's Bark Mill is from Les R. Hill's ‘History of Port MacDonnell in Pictures’

Rudolf served on the Port MacDonnell Council where he was Chairman for 14 years out of his total of over 20 years service.

Following are two excerpts from “The Border Watch ”, Mt Gambier, South Australia dated 1st and 5th October, 1880. (The newspaper story relates to Mary (Maria) Wilke nee Schuetze.)

Rudolf died 22 July 1926 at the age of 81 years and is buried in the cemetery at Port MacDonnell, South Australia - 3 of their children are buried in the same grave. His widow Maria continued on for another 15 years and died 28 August 1941 aged 88 in Adelaide. She is buried in the North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth, South Australia with their 3rd daughter Winifred Dora (never married) who died 20 September 1910 aged 32 years.


Inside Rudolf Wilke's Bark Mill

Outside the Mill

Rudolf Daniel Wilke

Maria Caroline Wilke (nee Schuetze)

Daughters of Rudolf and Maria Wilke
L-R: May (Mabel Louisa), Winifred Dora, Margaret Rose
Maud Emma (youngest daughter), Lily Mary in front
(Florence is missing from photo)

(from back of photo)
L-R: Florrie, Maud, May, Win
Front: Harold and Reg [NOTE: Harold pulling cart]
Outside “Livonia”
Sea Parade, Port MacDonnell, South Australia

Lily and Harold Wilke

Rudolf Harold (Roy) Wilke

Maria Wilke with her dog

Lily Mary Wilke

Winifred Dora Wilke

Reginald Rudolf Wilke

Ref. A Anderson

Born 19/9/1878 Port MacDonnell. Died 20/9/1910. Adelaide buried North Rd. Cemetery with Mother Mary Caroline Wilke nee Schuetze.

Win was very talented, she played piano brilliantly and was a wonderful seamstress. It was nothing for Win to make a dress or blouse for one of her sisters during the day if they had an important event in the evening. Rudolf gave the girls ‘Fig Tree’ cottage to use as a sewing house. It was situated behind “Livonia” the Wilke family home in Port MacDonnell. Two large fig trees stood in the yard [now long gone].
Win began to train as a nurse, but it was discovered she had consumption [TB] for which there was no cure in the early 1900's.
She was engaged to be married to a man from Melbourne and was to live in Mordialloc Vic. Her beautiful trousseau was passed to her sister Lil, the next to marry and by this time Lil herself was a trained nurse.
Lil named her first born after Winifred Dora i.e. Winifred Dora Nicholas.

Lily Mary Wilke and Herbert Thomas Nicholas
Taken prior to their marriage
(possibly engagement photo)

Herbert Nicholas
S.A. Superintendent of Telephones

Taken outside family home
Salisbury St., Unley, South Australia

In front of Wilke's old stables and buggy shed
L-R: (seated) Hugh Milstead, Margaret Rose Wilke (hidden)
Reg and Amy Wilke nee Dewing and (standing) Maria Caroline Wilke

L-R: Reg Wilke, Mary Caroline Wilke, Phyllis Robinson (nee Clifford)
and Amy Wilke (nee Dewing)
Photo c. 1939

Rudolf Daniel Wilke
(standing, 2nd from left)

Maria Caroline Wilke
nee Schuetze

Rudolf in buggy outside “Dingley Dell”
Home of Poet Adam Lindsay Gordon

Rudolf Daniel Wilke
Port MacDonnell Cemetery


The death occurred at his residence, Port MacDonnell on Thursday of Mr Rudolph Daniel Wilke, who had lived at Port MacDonnell since 1876. Mr Wilke was 81 years of age, and had led an active life, his chief business being that of a bark merchant. Mr Wilke possessed a retentive memory, and was an interesting conversationalist. Recounting his career a few days prior to the “Back to Mount Gambier” celebrations he told a representative of this paper that he left his native land with his family on October 15, 1849 and arrived in Holdfast Bay on March 23, 1850.

“I was awakened one morning by my parents”, said Mr Wilke, “to find a boat alongside our ship. There were two men in it, and they had bread and watermelons. We thought these made a great feast, especially after five months of ship's diet. It was good to taste fresh bread and the water melons, and we all thought we had arrived at the land of plenty, which I have found to be true since I have lived in Australia.

The morning we anchored in Port Adelaide the captain ordered out the boats, and the sailors got into these and pulled the 300-ton sailing vessel up the Port River. What a comparison with present day methods!

My family and another family at Port Adelaide hired a bullock waggon and drove to Ackland St. Adelaide, arriving there about ten o'clock the same night, after being about five hours on the trip.

We lived only about fifty yards from the “Old Seven Stars” in Angas Street and at the time there were only one or two places about Halifax Street in that neighbourhood. All about was timber. There was plenty of fire wood but a nuisance and expense was the fact that we had to purchase water from the Torrens at 1/- a cask. My father found employment as a wool classer at the firm of Taylor Bros. fellmongers, at Hindmarsh at a wage of 6/- a week, and we then removed to Hindmarsh, and lived close to All Saints Church.

In 1851, when the Torrens over-flowed its banks, all the gullies around Hindmarsh were deply filled with the flood waters. Our house, like many others, was built on the side of slopes, the back portion being two storeys.

In that year the whole of the back of the house was under water to the depth of ten feet, and for three months we could not use those rooms. In order to enable the men to go to their work, it was necessary to suspend ropes across the gully, and buckets were attached to these, in which the men pulled themselves over the flood waters. The people were chiefly engaged as tanners or fellmongers.

The wages as you have seen, were small. My father was the only wool classer in the colony at the time. He received 6/- a week during the summer and 5/- a week during winter. My parents had to pay 5/- a week for rent, and since four of the children went to school, the charge being 1/- a week it was not easy to make ends meet, but even so we kept out of debt.

I went to school at an institution conducted by a Mr Moody, the site now being that of Hindmarsh Oval, and after leaving that district, I went to Chamber's School at Bowden.

That school was closed for a time because the son of the principal was drowned at the wreck of the “Admella” in 1859.

I remember in 1852 and 1854 bands of Chinese landing at Port Adelaide preparatory to go to the gold fields (diggings) in Victoria. We used to go down to watch them fishing in the Port River. The fish were dried and packed prior to their overland trip to Forrest Creek Bendigo.

My father went to the gold diggings at Forrest Creek, and there he found an old friend, Betheridge, who had been a neighbour. Betheridge exhibited a pile of gold, and, saying that he had found enough gave the tools and transferred the claim to my father. Father did not know much about the business. He had never had a spade or pick in his hands before, and as he only scratched the surface, he found little gold. He made a little money at the diggings, and then returned home.

When we came to Hindmarsh we had as a neighbour old “Larry” Egan, who was at that time keeper of the Adelaide Gaol. He then became a school master, and subsequently a Crown Lands ranger, in which position he was transferred to the South East and established himself at Tarpeena.

Dr Wyatt kept a school at Hindmarsh, for which he charged 1/- a week for each scholar. He had abaout sixty on his roll and his living was therefore a very respectable one, for three pounds a week in those days was equal to about ten pounds today. As lads we used to walk from our home in Hindmarsh to a fruit garden in North Adelaide. This trip was three miles each way and was made on each Sunday. The old brick house is still standing. It faces the parade and is next to the Childrens Hospital.

I remember when the Hon. John Baker and others had hunting hounds at C.B. Fishers place at Reebeds. Arthur Malcolm and Billy Simpson were huntsmen. As boys we used to open the gates for them to pass through receiving “tips” for our self-imposed tasks.

Hindmarsh in the fifties depended for its milk supplies not upon cows, but on goats. There were only one or two dairies. Subsequently we lived at Tweedvale (Lobethal) and Birdwood, and from there I came to Port MacDonnell in 1876, and established a business as a bark merchant, which I conducted until a few years ago.

When I arrived in Port MacDonnell the potato shipping trade was at its height. Potatoes were so plentiful in the South East that the price ruling for them would not pay shipping charges. The District Council gave Captain French authority to bury hundreds of tons; previously many tons were tipped into the sea but they washed ashore. The carriers of Port MacDonnell who formed the majority of the community had extensive routes. They carted goods from Port MacDonnell as far as Naracoorte, where other carters took them to Bordertown. Beachport's railway did not affect Port MacDonnell. All the trade was with Melbourne from where goods could be obtained and forwarded without delay. In that city there were better markets both for purchasing and selling, and I believe that without a doubt the trade would still go there if a means were provided for quick trans-shipment of the goods. The decline of Port MacDonnell as a sea port was caused by the opening of Portland railwayline and the taking away of the trade between Melbourne and Port MacDonnell of the only two coastal steamers then trading. These two vessels started trading between Warnambool and Melbourne when Nestles Coy commenced operations. However, Port MacDonnell has now become one of the most useful sea side resorts between Adelaide and Melbourne. If it were in my power I would do everything to induce tourists to Port MacDonnell by making the place as attractive as possible and providing every facility for them.

In that lies Port MacDonnell's only chance. When I started business at Port MacDonnell I leased allotments 10 and 11 opposite the baths, for a rental of forty pounds a year.” (The Memorandum of Lease, dated 1874, was shown by Mr Wilke. It bears the signature of Johann Plate, a witness to the signature of Doughty the agent. The signature of James Mountain also appears, as well as that of Sir Josiah Symon). Mr Wilke said he had sold for J.B. Bruce an allotment in the main street of Port MacDonnell for 5 and a quarter of an acre of one of the allotments he had leased in 1874 for 40 a year, his son had sold recently for 170. That showed that Port MacDonnell was making much head way as a tourist resort, and he believed that in four or five years there would be a house on every allotment.

His surviving family comprises: Mesdames George Moore, Western Australia; T.M. Nicholas, Adelaide; E. Williams, Port MacDonnell; E.M. Milstead, Port MacDonnell; M. Bach, Port MacDonnell, and Messrs. Harold Wilke, Port MacDonnell and Reg Wilke, Adelaide.

Mr Wilke married Miss Maria Caroline Schuetze at Mount Pleasant, their best man being Mr. Alfred Von Doussa. Mr Wilke was prominently connected with local matters being a councillor for thirty years, and occupying the chair for most of that period. He was connected with various sporting bodies of the town and supported them generously. His work for the town and his open heartedness will long be remembered. Mr Wilke was a member of the Freemason's and Oddfellows' Lodges and an honorary member of the Justices Association.

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Maria Caroline Wilke
Nailsworth Cemetery
Main North Road, Adelaide

Winifred Dora & mother Mary Wilke
(nee Schuetze)
Wife of Rudolf Wilke


  • Click here for details and photos of the family of James Cottrell and Mary Jane Hudson nee Sale (parents of Mary Ann Hudson).
    • Click here for details and photos of the family of Gottlieb Wilhelm Schuetze and his wife Mary Ann nee Hudson.
      • Click here for details and photos of the family of Hugo (Schuetze) Hudson and his wife Alice nee Feast (son of Gottlieb Wilhelm and Mary Ann.)
      • Click here for details and photos of the family of Mabel Mary Moule nee Schuetze (daughter of Gottlieb Wilhelm and Mary Ann.)
    • Click here for details and photos of the family of Carl Friedrich Schuetze and his wife Emma nee Buermann.
    • Click here for photos of the family of Friedrich Eduard Schuetze and his wife Minnie nee Buermann.
    • Click here for details and photos of the family of Mona Dorothea (Marie Dorothy) Porter nee Schuetze.
    • Click here for details and photos of the family of Maria Caroline Wilke nee Schuetze.
    • Click here for details and photos of the family of Rosalia Louise Curson nee Schuetze.
    • Click here for details and photos of the family of Charles and Amy Jessy Curson nee Radford (2nd marriage of Rosa's husband).

Further information and photos relating to this family will be uploaded in due course.



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