Johann Bohlmann (1812-1901)

From Heimat Adelaide, the encyclopedia of Germans in the City of Adelaide

Johann Bohlmann (b.1812 Thedinghausen, French Kindom of Westphalia - d. 1901 North Adelaide, South Australia) was a master tin metal worker from Bremen who arrived in South Australia aboard the "Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee Patel" in 1846 and lived in South and North Adelaide until his death.

Johann Bohlmann
Johann Bohlmann.jpg
Johann Bohlmann and his granddaughter Kitty circa 1895
Johann Büssenschütt

1 March 1812
Thedinghausen, French Kingdom of Westphalia
Died10 December 1901
North Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Resting placeNorth Road Cemetery, South Australia
  • French (1812-1813)
  • Brunswicker (1813-?
  • Bremener (?-1846)
  • British(1846-1901
Other namesJohn Bohlmann; John Bohlman
OccupationTin metal worker (Blechenschläger)


Author: Benjamin Hollister. This text is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

In Germany

Extract from Thedinghausen civil birth register, 1812. Johann Büssenschütt entry bottom right.

Johann Bohlmann was born Johann Büssenschütt, the illegitimate son of Gesche Büssenschütt and Georg Friedrich Bohlmann, on 1 Mar 1812 in the village of Thedinghausen. At the time Thedinghausen was in the area under the control of Napoleon's Kingdom of Westphalia, but by 1813 it had reverted to the Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, before the Prinicipality was raised to the Duchy of Brunswick in 1815. These types of complexities continued to mark Bohlmann's life story before his migration to Australia.

By 1815, Johann and his mother moved to Bremen, where Gesche married the elderly widower Albert Wohlers. One child, son Heinrich in 1816, was born to the marriage, giving Johann his first half-brother. In his early teens, Johann was apprenticed as a Blechenschlager [tin metal worker] and by the time of his marriage at age 30 to Anna Louse Hartmann in 1841, he was listed as a Blechenschlageramtsmeister, or official with the guild. Johann's guild and apprentice records have not yet been identified, but a normal timeline would be for the apprenticeship to begin at age 15 for 7 years, followed by 3-4 years of journeying before a tradesperson would be considered for admission as a master to the guild. By the time of his marriage, Albert Wohlers had died (1829), Gesche had remarried (1830 to Franz Heinrich Carl Kohlwes) and her third child and son had been born (1833 Carl Kohlwes).

Johann and Anna had two children during their life in Bremen, living on the Papenstrasse. Franz Carl was born in 1842 but died at the age of one, and Anna Louisa was born in 1844.

Johann Bohlmann's House, Kermode Street [SLSA B-3130]

In Australia

In 1846, the entire extended family made the migration journey to South Australia. On the "Pauline" travelled Gesche, FHC and Carl Kohlwes, Heinrich Wohlers, his wife and children, and the eldest two children of Gesche's brother, Johanna and Albert Büssenschütt. Following a month later on the "Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee Patel" were Johann, Anna Louise and Anna Louisa.

On arrival the family split up, with those from the Pauline moving the German area of Hope Valley, along with a number of their shipmates, while Johann and his family settled in the city itself. This was probably an economic decision based on the likelihood of work in Johann's trade. Initially living in Gilbert street, then Currie street, the family purchased land on Kermode Street in North Adelaide in 1848 and built first a workshop and then a house. The family had increased with a son, Johann, born in 1848 and another son, Jacob Conrad, born in 1850, though Johann and Anna's daughter had died in 1847. Tragedy struck again when Anna Louise died in 1854, leaving Johann a widower with 2 young sons. In 1855 he married Catharina Seecamp, a recent arrival from Baden bei Achim, on the south east borders of Bremen. The couple had 7 children, six living to adulthood and the family continued to live at the Kermode Street residence until Catharina's death in 1920.

The last two children of Johann's first marriage also died young: Johann at 21 in 1869, and Jacob at 30 in 1880.

Two years after arriving in South Australia, Johann applied for naturalisation as a British Subject and this was granted.[1]

Johann worked as a tinsmith in his own business until mid 1860 when he joined the SA railways Construction Department at the yards between the River Torrens and North Terrace. Apart from a short break in 1864, Johann, or John as he was generally known by this time, was employed by the railways until 1888, when he retired aged 76. He lived the rest of his life comfortably at his Kermode residence, dying in 1901 at the age of 91.


Johann Bohlmann had a wide and extended family in South Australia. His mother was Gesche Kolwes of Hope Valley, and his two half brothers, Heinrich Wohlers and Carl Kolwes, and his uncle, Johann Hinrich Büssenschütt, also lived in that district. His nieces, Gesine Wohlers, Gesine Kolwes, and Maria Henrietta Kolwes married Håkan Linde, Wilhelm Kindermann, and Friedrich Wilhelm Paech MP respectively, while cousin Lucie Bothe married city gardener August Wilhelm Pelzer.

Johann married Anna Louise Hartmann in Bremen in 1841, prior to leaving for South Australia. The couple had the following children:

Name Birth Death Spouse
Franz Carl 11 Jul 1842 Bremen 1843 Bremen
Anna Louisa 25 Jul 1844 Bremen 22 Feb 1847 Adelaide
Johann 13 Feb 1848 Adelaide 2 Nov 1869 North Adelaide (unmarried)
Jacob Conrad 11 Mar 1850 North Adelaide 16 Jul 1880 Adelaide (unmarried)

Johann's wife Anna Louise died in 1854 and Johann married the recent arrival Catherine Seecamp in 1855. The following children were born from this second marriage:

Name Birth Death Spouse
Gesina 27 Nov 1855 North Adelaide 1 Sep 1858 North Adelaide
Julius 22 Jul 1857 North Adelaide 29 Oct 1933 Eleanor Jane Presgrave
Anna Catharina 9 Jul 1859 North Adelaide 15 Jul 1939 Adelaide (unmarried)
Adelheit 1 Oct 1861 North Adelaide 20 Dec 1952 Brooklyn Park William Moses Garlick
Gesiene 12 Aug 1865 North Adelaide 15 Sep 1939 (unmarried)
Henry 30 Nov 1867 North Adelaide 26 Jul 1949 Jane Lawson Dickson
George Albert 27 Apr 1870 North Adelaide 24 Dec 1938 Adelaide 1) Caroline Sophia Schell; 2) Bona Blanche Shaw

Residences in the City

Evidence of residence is limited before 1847 due to the lack of surviving assessment books. At the time of Bohlmann's daughter's death in 1846, his residence is recorded as Gilbert Street, and the 1847 assessment book has the family at Currie Street.

Dates Place Current Address Co-ordinates
October 1846 - March 1847 Gilbert Street, South Adelaide (exact location unknown)
April 1847 - March 1848 Solomon Buildings, Currie Street (Acre 114 near Rosina Street) -34.924456, 138.595763
March 1848 - 1852 Union Street, North Adelaide (Acre 710, near the corner of Kermode Street)
1852 - 1901 Kermode Street, North Adelaide (Acre 724) 152-154 Kermode Street -34.91114, 138.595408

Work in the City

Johann initially worked as a tinsmith in his own business, having a workshop on his Kermode Street property from 1848 - 1860. In 1860 he joined the SA Railways as a tin plate worker and, apart from a break between August 1863 and April 1864, worked for them at the Adelaide Construction Department until his retirement on 4 August 1888 at the age of 76.

Dates Place Current Address Co-ordinates
1848 - 1860 Kermode Street, North Adelaide (Acre 724) 152-154 Kermode Street -34.91114, 138.595408
1860 - 1888 City Locomotive Workshops Site of Intercontinental Adelaide and SkyCity Casino -34.920890, 138.596860

Published Obituary

From the Adelaide Observer, Saturday 21 December 1901:

Mr. John Bohlmann, a colonist of 55 years, died at his residence, Kermode street, North Adelaide, on Tuesday night, at the age of 90 years. The deceased gentleman was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1811, and arrived in South Australia by the ship Patell in 1846. Soon after coming to this state he joined the Locomotive Department, which was then established at Bowden. Mr. Bohlmann retired in 1888, having retained the respect and regard of his superior officers and fellow-workmen. He resided in North Adelaide for 51 years, and up to within a few days of his death he enjoyed fairly good health. He has left a widow, three sons—Messrs. H. Bohlmann, of H.M. Customs; J. Bohlmann, of Messrs. H. Muecke & Co., Port Adelaide; and Mr. G. Bohlmann—and three daughters.[2]

This obituary, and an abridged version, appeared in a number of South Australian newspapers.


  1. "Nauralization of Aliens". Adelaide Observer. Vol. VI, , no. 288. South Australia. 30 December 1848. p. 1. Retrieved 18 October 2021 – via National Library of Australia.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  2. "Concerning People". Adelaide Observer. Adelaide, South Australia. 21 Dec 1901.

External links