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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Bracker, Frederick John Henry (1798–1870)

by Sally O'Neill

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Frederick John Henry Bracker (1798?-1870), wool-grower, was born at Mecklenburg, Germany, son of John Bracker, farmer. He arrived in New South Wales from Hamburg on 17 January 1829 in the Diadem with about three hundred stud sheep chosen by him from Prince Esterhazy's Silesian flock for the Aberdeen Co. Instead of returning to Germany as he had planned he remained in the colonies and in 1843 the Aberdeen Co. gave him charge of a run (near Warwick) on the Darling Downs which he called Rosenthal. He managed Rosenthal until 1849. In 1848 he leased the 30,000-acre (12,140 ha) run, Waroo (later Warroo), which like Rosenthal soon won repute for its fine merinos.

Bracker had brought with him the first stud merino ram on the Darling Downs. Undoubtedly a very skilful wool-grower he was behind 'every plan to settle the area'. He suggested the introduction of Rambouillet sheep to improve the short stapled wool of the Negretti Spanish breeds. When scab broke out, squatters turned to him for advice and his suggestion of dipping sheep helped to combat the disease. He also ran a herd of Shorthorn cattle and experimented successfully with lucerne. A rebel against hand thrashing, he introduced the first steel roller mill which he drove by horse power; he was the first in Queensland to produce flour from his own wheat and for years supplied the needs of his station. With his reputation for hard work and drive, Rosenthal and Warroo became training places for many aspiring young squatters. Ludwig Leichhardt visited Rosenthal in 1846 and Bracker gave him a horse and twenty-five wethers to augment his supplies. He called in again in 1847 and in 1848 the mules which he took on his last ill-fated journey were broken in on the property. Like the Leslies Bracker maintained good relations with the Aboriginals.

In 1843 Bracker married Grace, daughter of Neil Ross of Gladfield, at St John's Church of England, Brisbane. He was naturalized in June 1850. He died aged 72 at Warroo on 7 May 1870, survived by his wife, four sons and five daughters. He left a property of 109,685 acres (44,388 ha) which the family held until 1912, and many legends of his hospitality, his quaint manners and habits of apparel, his workmanship, but most of all his expertness with wool; he used to say that he could grow wool even on rams' horns.

Select Bibliography

  • M. J. Fox (ed), The History of Queensland
  • Its Peoples and Industries, vol 1 (Brisb, 1909)
  • T. Hall, The Early History of the Warwick District (Toowoomba, 1923)
  • D. Gunn, Links with the Past (Brisb, 1937)
  • J. Bull, Historic Queensland Stations (Brisb, 1960)
  • B. Wynn, Anecdotes of Gooragooby (Warwick, 1964)
  • J. Cheshire (ed), Recollections of Life on the Darling Downs, 1844-1880 (State Library of Queensland).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Sally O'Neill, 'Bracker, Frederick John Henry (1798–1870)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 26 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

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