Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Leidig, Georg Friedrich (1870–1925)

by H. F. W. Proeve

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

Georg Friedrich Leidig (1870-1925), Lutheran clergyman, was born on 16 December 1870 at Marktsteft, Bavaria, Germany, eldest son of Johann Michael Leidig, woodworker, and his wife Maria Philippina, née Enzenberger, who died when Friedrich was 12. Leidig was unhappy working in a bakery and, helped by an uncle, completed studies at the Neuendettelsau Mission Seminary, Bavaria (1887-91). He arrived in South Australia in 1891, was ordained at Light Pass by Rev. G. J. Rechner and proceeded to Bethesda Mission on Lake Killalpaninna, Cooper Creek. In 1892 Leidig went to Point Pass, near Eudunda, to serve a scattered rural parish, ultimately comprising eight churches.

Three years later he realized his vision of a boarding institution as a centre to instruct his confirmees, train teachers for Lutheran day schools and to offer higher education. Immanuel Preparatory School (later Evangelical Lutheran College) opened at Point Pass on 27 February, with Leidig as its head. Its facilities were extended in 1900 and 1914, and it educated some students to matriculation. Leidig's increasing duties precluded the development of his own pedagogical skills. A big, tall man, he was a strict disciplinarian whose vehemence could make him appear brusque and impatient in class; but in their troubles his students found him understanding and fatherly. He had married Maria Margaretha Regina Eckardt of Gunzenhausen, Bavaria, at Yorketown on 3 August 1892. She was the loved 'mother' of all students, as well as their own three sons, two of whom studied in Germany. Although Leidig resisted moves to relocate the school at Tanunda in 1910, it eventually moved to North Adelaide (1923) and Walkerville (1942); Immanuel College is now a co-educational boarding school at Novar Gardens.

In 1899 Leidig had become associate editor of the weekly periodical of the Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Synod in South Australia, the Kirchen und Missions-Zeitung. Sole editor from 1907, he resigned through pressure of duties in 1911.

After Rev. J. C. Auricht's death Leidig was elected in 1907 as president of the Immanuel Synod. He visited Germany, to arouse interest in the college, and Western Australia. Leidig guided his Church through difficult times, encouraging members to maintain activities for the welfare of Aborigines (Cooper Creek until 1915; Hermannsburg, Central Australia), diaspora work in Western Australia and Tasmania, and the college. The impossibility of conducting the Church's normal annual conventions during and after World War I caused the responsibility for far-reaching decisions to fall on him, including finance. His family savings provided substantial interim assistance. Leidig was deeply affected by the war; but although the college was listed for closure, following State legislation of 30 June 1917, it remained open.

The onset in late 1917 of a baffling nervous breakdown forced him to relinquish more and more work and to retire from Point Pass early, in 1921. Five Lutheran Church bodies, ranging from Queensland to South Australia, amalgamated on 8 March 1921, as the culmination of developments which he had largely initiated in 1910 and had fostered since. But he could only be a passive onlooker, not a guiding light of the new United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia. Leidig and his wife retired to Tanunda where, when he was 'totally helpless and bodily and mentally quite infirm', they received financial support from old scholars. He died from cerebral haemorrhage at Tanunda on 11 August 1925, and was buried in the Langmeil church cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • T. Hebart, The United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia (U.E.L.C.A.), J. J. Stolz translator and editor (Adel, 1938)
  • G. A. Keller (compiler), Immanuel College Jubilee Souvenir 1895-1970 (Adel, 1945)
  • Lutheran Herald, 31 Aug 1925
  • G. F. Leidig file (Lutheran Church Archives, North Adelaide).

Citation details

H. F. W. Proeve, 'Leidig, Georg Friedrich (1870–1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/leidig-georg-friedrich-7163/text12373, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 22 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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