Hudson at Murtoa -- Past Links Revealed

The Wagner Family

Franz Ottomar WAGNER was born on the 13th of July 1859 at Osterfeld, a small town 45 km south of Halle in East Germany. He was the illegitimate son of Wilhelmine Pauline WAGNER. Wilhelmine was born on the 15th of July 1837 and christened on the 21st of July. She was the second child of Carl Friedrich WAGNER, a butcher at Osterfeld and his wife Johanne. Franz learnt his trade as a corklayer in Germany.

In 1866, he sailed from the port of Bremen aboard the Hapsburg and arrived in Victoria on the 24th of November 1886. He worked as a farm labourer for a while. In 1892 Franz established the Murtoa Implement Works. It was the largest in the district and provided work for 8 people. In those days if you didn't learn a trade or skill you were called a bum.

Franz was a good worker and like many of the settlers in Murtoa at that time, he had a strong German accent. E.g. crikey would come out as klikey. On the 10th of May 1893 at the age of 33, he married Mathilda Dorothea Ottilie (Tillie) UHE age 28, at St Johns Lutheran Church Murtoa.

Tillie UHE was born on the 19th of October 1864 at Mt. Gambier in South Australia to Johann Heinrich Martin UHE, a farmer and Anna Maria PAGEL. When Tillie was 8, her family and some other German settlers by the name of Degenhardt and Anders, came in wagons to Marma Gully, later called Murtoa. They arrived on the 16th of March 1872 and each pegged out 320 acres around Lake Marma.

The marriage of Franz and Tillie WAGNER was blessed with the birth at Murtoa of 5 daughters. Louise Marie was born on the 11th of April 1894, Annie Eugene on the 2nd of May 1896, Olga Pauline on the 29th of December 1897, Irene Ottilie on the 21st of May 1900 & Adelaide Clara on the 18th of April 1902.

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Franz WAGNER and Tillie (nee UHE) on
their wedding day, 10th of May 1893.

On the 27th of June 1895 at the age of 35, Franz was Naturalized after taking the Oath -


I DO sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, as lawful Sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the Colony of Victoria.


                                                                              Signature Franz Ottomar Wagner

The business at 48 McDonald Street, was well supported by the local farmers. In addition to being a blacksmith and wheelwright, Franz and his men made general agricultural implements and did repairs on just about everything, as you will note from the advertisement below, placed in the Dunmunkle Standard on Friday the 21st of May 1915.


General Blacksmith, Implement Maker and Coach Builder
Tires of every description cut
Every kind of Smiths work executed on
the Shortest Notice and at Moderate Rates
Buggies Built and Repaired
First Class Woodman
Horses Carefully Shod
Good Workmanship Guaranteed
Agent for McLean Bros & Rigg Ltd
Crown Cream Separators and similar requisites
Also Watson Bros Patent Bag-Filler,
McKays Sunshine Harvester and other Machinery.

They had a nice home called Verona, next door to his blacksmith shop. The home is still standing at 50 McDonald Street Murtoa. They had a lovely garden full of fruit trees, berries, flowers, vines, vegetables and poultry. Around the garden, Tillie always wore a bonnet, but if she went up the street she wore a hat. Apart from the bonnet, Tillie would have been in fashion today (1989) as she wore a lot of black and had black earrings in her pierced ears. She was always busy making something for her family and others in need. She was a good cook and would make several trays of kuchen a week.

In her early years she served the community as a member of the Benevolent Society and also as a member of the School Committee. She also took an active part in any movement for the welfare of the town and district and for charitable appeals.

The family went to St Johns Lutheran church every week and usually had visitors for Sunday lunch. Tillie had a contralto voice and sang in the choir, she was also a Sunday School teacher. Tillie was one of the foundation members of St Johns Ladies Guild and her favourite psalm was 103. She used to sew dresses for the New Guinea Lutheran Church women and crochet scarves for the lepers in Africa.

Before Christmas she would bake hundreds of animal shaped biscuits, ice them and send them to Melbourne orphanages to brighten up the lives of the children. For 40 years, Tillie collected and gave money to the British and Foreign Bible Society. She also gave money to the Mukti and Sudan United Missions.

In 1922 Franz developed cancer of the stomach, which he described as like rats gnawing at his tummy. He finally died on the 22nd of June 1922 and was buried 2 days later at Murtoa cemetery.

Tillie continued to live at her home in McDonald Street, but as she approached 90, her health began to fail and she became more reliant on her daughter Irene. Tillie died at her home on Sunday the 12th of September 1954. Her four brothers and four sisters predeceased her, so Tillie's death severed the last link with the original pioneers of Murtoa.

A large number of mourners attended St John's Lutheran Church on Monday afternoon, before heading for Murtoa Cemetery. Pastor W Stahl conducted services at the Church and graveside. Coffin bearers were - Messrs W. Hudson, R. Hudson, F. Koschmann, E. Holtkamp, M Uhe and E Wilton.

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The WAGNER Family in 1912, photo shows left to right;
Standing - Annie Eugene, Olga Pauline, Louise Marie,
Sitting - Mathilda Dorothea Ottilie, Franz Ottomar,
Kneeling - Adelaide Clara, Irene Ottilie.