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Georg Adam Heidenreich (1828–1910)

by H. F. W. Proeve

This article was published:

Georg Adam Heidenreich (1828-1910), Lutheran minister, was born on 25 September 1828 at Tiefenort in the duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the eldest son of Johann Georg Heidenreich and his wife Veronika, née Blaufuss. Influenced by the preaching of Dr L. A. Petri in Hanover, he resigned his post in the mint and in 1862 entered the Mission Seminary in Hermannsburg, Hanover, an institution which trained Lutheran missionaries and pastors for service overseas and sent a total of forty-five ordained men to Australia and New Zealand.

Heidenreich was in the first group of four clergy sent to Australia. With twenty-four others he was ordained on 19 March 1866 at Hanover in the presence of George V of Hanover and the royal family. With his wife Anna, née Meyer, whom he married on 19 April at Scheessel, he arrived at Port Adelaide on 24 August in the Sophia. He was sent to the parish of Bethany, near Tanunda in the Barossa valley, where he served for forty-four years. His most notable contribution was in Aboriginal mission work for which he had a consuming zeal. Enjoying the highest respect of Theodor Harms, director of the Hermannsburg Mission Society, he was superintendent of its mission work in Australia in 1875-94 and in New Zealand in 1875-77 and 1889-92. In conjunction with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia, he guided the establishment of the Hermannsburg Mission in Central Australia. The long trek with some 3000 sheep from October 1875 to June 1877 was mostly under drought conditions but he tirelessly travelled between the various sections of the caravan, arranged all stages of the journey and selected the site for the station. He continued to support the mission after the church body to which he belonged had withdrawn. This created intra-church tensions which led to the establishment in 1902 of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia on the Old Basis. Heidenreich served as its president until he died on 8 August 1910, survived by six sons and three daughters.

His second son, Johannes Heinrich Siegfried, was born on 28 July 1868, trained in the Hermannsburg Mission Seminary and the University of Erlangen in 1888-94 and ordained at Bethany on 14 October 1894. As assistant to his father and then pastor in Freeling, he covered great distances in South Australia in pastoral service. His forthright leadership exerted a deep influence. He succeeded his father as president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Australia on the Old Basis from 1910 to 1926 when it amalgamated with the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Australia. In 1928-45 he was vice-president of the united body and president of its South Australian district in 1933-43. His active ministry continued until 1953 and he died on 5 June 1959.

The fifth son, Franz Theodor Paul, was born on 1 March 1874 and became a flour-miller at Salisbury, South Australia. He was well known in football circles as president of the Norwood Football Club from 1940 until his death on 6 December 1962.

Select Bibliography

  • P. A. Scherer, Venture of Faith (Hermannsburg, NT, 1963)
  • Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Australia reports, 1904-26, and Heidenreich files (Lutheran Church Archives, Adelaide).

Citation details

H. F. W. Proeve, 'Heidenreich, Georg Adam (1828–1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 19 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


25 September, 1828
Tiefenort, Thuringian, Germany


8 August, 1910 (aged 81)

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