school house

school house

Abandoned - Bethany School House

1d ago
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Description

Around 8km North of Nuriootpa along the Sturt Highway is a rural township called Ebenezer. The school constructed in 1868 still stands, though now sadly a ruin. The school was known as The Bethany School House. According to a rusted old plaque still posted on the outer wall of the building, the information is as follows: 1871-1917 This School was built by the Saint John Lutheran Church at Ebenezer in 1871. The pupils were first taught in their Wendish language, then German and then English until 1917 - when all the Lutheran schools were closed by government decree. The teachers were: Johann Dallwitz : 1854-1863 Andreas Dallwitz : 1863-1908 Paul Berthold Wilksch : 1909-1917 With 43 pupils enrolled in 1890. From 1854 - 1871 the children were taught at the private residence of teacher Dallwitz. The first settlers arrived in this location in 1852, and one of the first things they did was develop a congregation around the building of the Lutheran church, and then a school house in 1858. During patterns of settlement in Germany, and a number of migrations and wars during the 12th to 14th century - Slavs adopted German customs and traditions. Even going as far back as the 8th century. During the middle ages Wendish lands were over-run by the Roman Empire. Later the lands were resettled by Germans - incorporating west slavic languages , and being known as Wends. This history is actually quite immense and really, the settlers that arrived on our rural shores were a mix of peoples, joining together along the Southern shores of the Baltic sea. Incorporating also a mix of Sorbian languages spoken in Germany around this time. A long and complicated story. This is also the only known school in South Australia to teach in the Wendish language. When I explored within this now sad shell, the building is constructed as a private residence with a room used for teaching. It would seem the original teacher lived in one part of the building, and the children attented the school room. Within there is left standing a beautiful old wood fire oven, in the area I would imagine used as a kitchen. I can only imagine the hardship of begining life in this remote rural colony. When you had arrived from the European winter, to be stifled by an unrelenting Australian sun. To form together a community and congregation, to plough the fields to sustain a newly formed group. All around the Barossa the German influence is evident, as is the influence of the Lutheran Church. I hope once more to visit this charming little reminder of how new settlers to our shores thrived, and left behind memories. The church is still there and is well preserved and attended. There is also a charming Cemetery, and the history within speaks volumes of a late 1800's rural pioneer community, the teachers of the school are buried there.