People from many parts of Australia gathered in Kingscote last week to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the ship Solway. People from many parts of Germany gathered in Hamburg in June 1837 to board the Solway which was bound for South Australia.
Many of the 52 who boarded were Lutherans seeking to practise their faith freely in a new land. All were setting out with the hope of a better future. They were brought by the South Australian Company to help establish its new base at Kingscote.
The Solway, under Captain Robert Pearson, arrived at Reeves Point on October 16, 1837.
Their first duty on arrival was to conduct the funeral of Mrs Maria Kleemann who had died two days before arrival. Over the next years funerals followed for Mrs Pipkorn, Mrs Karoline Christian, Emma Milde, and other infants.
These deaths brought tears to the eyes of their descendants as they remembered them in the Pioneer Cemetery last week.
Over the weekend, 120 gathered for the celebratory dinner at the Ozone on Saturday, October 13. Introduced by MC Kevin Kleemann, Sue Pender told the story of the Solway’s only voyage to Australia and its untimely demise at Encounter Bay on December 21, 1837. Allen Clark, a descendent of crew member Louis Hansen, traced his ancestor from before joining the Solway crew, until he settled in SA and bought up much of the land in the Western suburbs of Adelaide. Evan Kleemann had all in fits of laughter with his old German-style story telling.
On Sunday, the Kingscote Town Hall was almost filled with worshippers for the Thanksgiving Service led by Solway descendant, Pastor David Christian, who is also the current pastor to Lutherans on Kangaroo Island. The remainder of Sunday was spent telling the stories of 12 of the Solway pioneers who were represented on the day.
On Tuesday morning at Reeves Point, the 175th anniversary plaque was unveiled by Colin Gramp, the oldest descendant present, and Deputy Mayor Peter Clements. Prayers were prayed, the plaque dedicated, the National Anthem sung and speeches made.
People thanked organisers, Jan Heppner and David Christian, for what they said was a most wonderful weekend. They left for home having made many new friends, having learnt much more about their ancestry, determined to put their stories into a book, looking forward to the 200th anniversary in 2037, all with indelible memories of their Kangaroo Island experience.