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Theodor Martin Peter Ziesemer (1899–1961)

by Brian F. Stevenson

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Ziesemer

Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Ziesemer (1897-1972) and Theodor Martin Peter Ziesemer (1899-1961), wheat-growers, were born on 8 August 1897 and 26 May 1899 at Pittsworth, Queensland, sons of August Friedrich Wilhelm Ziesemer, farmer, and his wife Wilhelmina, née Mundt, both German born. Reared on a dairy farm at Rosevale, near Dalby, as young men they went north, cutting cane to finance their first farm; Friedrich also worked as a drover and horse-breaker.

Forming a partnership, in 1921 they bought 640 acres (259 ha) of rich black soil at Bongeen, near Pittsworth, for £1920. The land was considered suitable only for grazing, but the brothers broke up 120 acres (49 ha) during their first year of operation and planted wheat, a crop that had previously been restricted on the Darling Downs to small-farming. Breaking up another 350 acres (142 ha) for wheat in their second year, they doubled their property's size in 1923 by purchasing an adjoining block. The Ziesemers' successful example attracted other wheat-growers to the district.

Prepared to experiment with mechanized farming, in 1923 Ziesemer Bros bought their first tractor. In 1931 their 2800-acre (1133 ha) Bongeen holding was serviced by a plant of three Twin-City tractors, six headers and—the pride of their fleet—a Sunshine auto-header (named White Nose after the 1931 Melbourne Cup winner). By 1935 they owned ten Sunshines: it was claimed that no wheat farm in Australia was as well equipped. At their peak, Ziesemer Bros had 4000 acres (1619 ha) under cultivation and chartered special trains to carry their harvest. In the late 1920s they branched into dairy-farming. Purchasing Tosari, a 2000-acre (809 ha) farm at Yandilla, they used the first electric milking machines in the district and developed the property into a model dairy-farm.

The brothers had married sisters: on 4 October 1922 Theodor married with Anglican rites Elsie Elizabeth Naumann at St Andrew's Church, Pittsworth; on 30 December 1926 Friedrich married Grace May Naumann at the Lutheran parsonage, Toowoomba. The fruitful partnership was dissolved in the 1940s and the brothers then helped to establish their respective sons on the land. Friedrich bought Khamoo in the Condamine district, partially clearing and cultivating it before disposing of it in 1963; he later jointly purchased a Taroom cattle property with a son. Theodor retired in 1951, but in 1955 he and his sons bought 1250 acres (506 ha) of virgin brigalow country in the Condamine, on which they produced wheat that won awards at Toowoomba only two years later.

Survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons, Ted died of uraemia and cancer on 28 November 1961 at St Vincent's Hospital, Toowoomba, and was cremated; his estate was sworn for probate at £59,464. Fred died at Toowoomba on 3 October 1972 and was cremated with Anglican rites; he was survived by his wife and three sons; his estate was valued at $116,109. As agricultural entrepreneurs the Ziesemers had experimented with crops and equipment, and played a significant part in developing the Darling Downs into the granary of Queensland.

Select Bibliography

  • Pittsworth Sentinel, 30 Nov 1961, 12 Oct 1972
  • History—Wheat Development—Ziesemer family (transcript from newspaper cuttings, State Library of Queensland).

Citation details

Brian F. Stevenson, 'Ziesemer, Theodor Martin Peter (1899–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 18 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 May, 1899
Pittsworth, Queensland, Australia


28 November, 1961 (aged 62)
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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