Olivia Ruth RUSSELL (nee Henschke)

Olivia Ruth Russell nee Henschke was born 28/07/1913 at Moculta at home. The neighbour's wife came and delivered me.
Mother: Ida Maria Magdalena Henschke (Stanitzki) Polish German
Father: Julius Philip Henschke
Children: Frieda, Frank, Mercedes, Lina, Olivia, Gladys and Rex
When I was 9 months old I was walking and at 92 I'm still walking.

My father and brothers

The boys were (Julius) Philip, my father (the eldest), Alfred (who got all the loot), Gustav, Julius(the monumental mason who carved the angel on the North Terrace War Memorial), and Otto (Victor's father). There was one girl who was older than Philip - Hulda.
Uncle Gus was very popular with everybody. He was a lay preacher in the Gnadenburg Church. His wife was Tilly (named Tilly's vineyard).

Henschke's Spit and Dribble Band!
Paul Gotthard Henschke, the boys' father was the conductor (not in photo) . Olivia's brother Frank reclining in the foreground. From left: Gus, Alfred, Philip. Otto(6th from left).

The Farm at Gnardenburg
We had chooks, turkeys and geese. Sometimes neighbours would come and buy a goose. We had cement floors with mats, papered walls but calsomine in the kitchen. Cooking was done on an open fire. There were iron pots and a stand over the fire. Later we got a stove. The kitchen had a brick oven where the bread was baked once a week. Also Streusel cake. The oven was fired with sheoak wood because it contained more heat.. Why I don't like bought bread to this day. We had a very big kitchen table.

Christmas Eve at Gnadenburg: 1918-19
I was five or six years old. In the morning the buggy would be washed and the horses' harness cleaned and polished. The buggy lamps were polished and fresh candles were put into the lamps which hung on either side of the buggy. I and my young sister and brother were put down to sleep in the afternoon ready for our trip to Gnadenburg Church Service that night. It was a very exciting time.

The ladies of the church had decorated a tree in the afternoon with baubles and tinsel. It was always a real pine tree and so tall that the tip touched the high ceiling and it had candles on it which were lit up. The church ceiling in those days was painted a heavenly blue with white stars all over. We would sing Christmas hymns like "Stille nacht, heilige nacht". In those days the service was conducetd in German and the german language was spoken in the home. After the evening service presents were given to all the children.

Back at home we saw our own Christmas tree for the first time.. Again it was a real tree decorated with baubles, tinsel and candles. Under the tree was a present for all the children. Then we had supper, lemonade, sweets, nuts and "Kuchen", German coffeee cake. The next day was Christmas Day and we all went to church again.

When Olivia went to school
Started school at 6˝years old after Christmas. Left home at quarter past seven every morning and in the winter it was dark when we left and dark when we came home, especially if we were kept in and the moon and the stars were shining. We walked 3˝ miles to school. Not kept in very much but it wasn't I who was kept in but my sister Lina. Then I would wait under the shop verandah where we used to pick up our mail. Mercy left school the year before I started, so it was only Lina and I. We were usually the first to school. We had these places all along the way where we had a little run. If you got some words wrong in Spelling and Dictation you had to write them out 10 times each. We had a spelling test first lesson every morning for the whole school. We were seven classes in one room. The head teacher had five classes, the assistant teacher had Grade One and Two. There were about 80 children in the whole school. My class had 14 children. I remember all their names and all except one, beside myself have passed on.

Class Names: Moculta Primary School
My class in 1927 — Girls

  • Olivia Henschke (called Olly at home)
  • Vera Matchoss
  • Minna Bartsch
  • Elsa Linke
  • Gerda Bartsch
  • Frieda Kubisch
  • Clara Linke
  • Hertha Schilling

                                    Boys —

  • Hugo Kurtzer
  • Martin Hahn
  • Jack Bartsch (still alive 2006; in Tanunda Lutheran Nursing Home)
  • Ted Rosenzweig
  • Ted Andretzki
  • Ben Wilksch

Each year we had a school picnic where we had races and each year I always won the flat race in my class. One year we had a combined schools picnic with Truro, Stockwell, Moculta and St Kitts(?) and I won the flat race that year as well for my age group. They used to say I was Olympic material.

When I got home I did my homework after tea on the kitchen table by lamplight.

Confirmation dress, age 14 years.

The Pony
Dad bought me a pony. I used to help him round up the sheep when he wanted to kill one. In the school holidays I used to ride to Moculta 3˝ miles away to pick up the mail. I also rode to Keyneton, 5 miles away, to take all the family footwear to be repaired. Mum used to bag up all the shoes in a sugar bag and we used to hang it on the saddle of the horse. The pony was called Nellie. She had a mind of her own and wouldn't come when called. Often she would run off in the opposite direction with her tail in the air. She was a very attractive horse. She was very attractive, brown and round and fat! I used to take her some hay with the grain still in the heads. Then she would come. She used to love that.

Dad bought another horse to match Nellie so he could double harness them to the buggy. I think Dad used a draught horse before that. He replaced the shafts with a single pole so he could harness a horse on each side. When he bought the new horse he kept it separate for quite a while. They were all in the paddock but there was a fence between the new horse and the rest. When the new horse was put with the rest of them and they were all in the corner ready to be let in to the stable for feeding, Nellie put her ears back and viciously kicked out her legs at the new horse. She broke his leg so he had to be put down. Dad was very fond of horses. I was sad too and I would have loved to have seen them together in harness.

Hung things on the flagpole
There was a man who was not popular in the district and each New Year Eve the young fellows would play pranks on him. His vehicles were moved in the paddock. One year he got the police and the boys had to put everything back where they found it. They made a real procession of it. Marching with all the things, they had a lovely time. Brother Frank and all the young lads in the district were all in on this.
I still remember the long procession past Parrot Hill. It wasn't all done to this man and they never damaged anything, it was all fun things. When we came out on New Years Day in the morning you would see all these things on the way to Church. On one occasion they put Mr Bob Rosensweig's buggy seats up in a gum tree and he had to get them down before they could go to church. He had three sons, one who was my age at school and he was a pretty bright cookie! People would giggle over these incidents for ages. New Years Eve pranks they called them.

How Uncle Alfred got "Hill of Grace" vineyard

Grape picking on Dad's farm. Left to Right August Rogasch, William Neudah, Harold Henschke, Paul Rosenzweig. Centre front: Phillip Henschke (Dad)

”Hill of Grace• was my father's farm where I grew up! My father worked the mixed farm right on until he died. It had cows, horses, sheep, wheat oats and barley and nine acres of vines. Shiraz was the main variety. Frank helped my father and then they got workmen in when it was needed. Afterwards Frank worked it on his own with occasional help until he wanted to get married. Mum said it wouldn't support two families so Frank decided to cop out. Then mum share farmed with Paul Rosensweig until Rex was old enough to take over. The sheep were shorn at Bradtkes because they had a shearing shed. Dick Bradtke also had a farm and Rex and Dick worked together helping each other as needed.

Later on mum decided to sell the farm. Uncle Alfred wanted it badly and Uncle Gus said that he would have given mum more money just to get it, but she was so mad about when Grandma died and Alfred had inherited everything. So she sold it to Alfred Thorn from Gawler Park, Angaston.

However a few years later it was up for sale and Uncle Alfred bought it. His son was Cyril Henscke who studied winemaking in Germany and our home farm became ”Hill of Grace•, so named because the vineyard went up to Gnadenburg Church. The vines next to the church were planted later, but the original shiraz over the hill, the really old grapes were planted by my father.

Alfred was married to mum's sister and mum's brothers all had land and farms mostly around Loxton and when they sold their farms Alfred bought every one of them.

Rex went to Loxton following Frank. They were mad about the river, fishing and stuff.

My father told me he had seen Halley's Comet and he said how beautiful it was and how huge the tail was. The stars were very bright. When Rex and I were riding our bicycles to Bradtke's one night we saw the aurora in the southern sky. Mandy, Dick's sister was visiting and we were invited to see the new baby. In earlier years I had walked to school with Mandy. She was about two years older than me. Bradtke's was about half a mile from our place. We (Gladys and I)used to wait for her but if we couldn't wait we would put a stone up on the gatepost to tell her we had been past. She would do the same. The last two years at school we went on bicycles. I donkeyed Rex on Frank's bike. Mum said if you see a snake crossing the road run back till it has passed. When it had gone we used to run like blazes.

Dad's Gun
My father had two shot guns, one was a breech loadert and one of which was a twin barrel muzzel loader . He used to load the muzzle loader, using a ramrod, in the cellar and always took it with him as he went to collect the horses from the paddock. He always used to shoot something, a rabbit, a hare, a crow or fox, always something early in the morning when it was still dark, near sunrise. The cellar was outside, away from the house, underground. There was a sloping ramp down to the door. There was a vent at the back. Hams, bacon, jams, preserves were kept. Also a meat safe. Bread was baked once a week and kept down there. Shelves on both sides were full of everything.

The kids were taught never to touch the guns. It was dad's. His mum, Granny Henschke, was reputed to be a great shot. She used to shoot birds that did damage to the fruit. It was lent to one of Uncle Alfred's sons, either Martin or Len to shoot birds and it never came back. Dad died and they hung on to it. When he was older Rex tried on a number of occasions to get Dad's gun back but was always fobbed off. Years later Mac and I visited Cyril's Winery and I saw the gun mounted on the wall in Cyril's office.

After School

At the Angas Residence holding Henry Angas.

I worked for Sir Keith and Lady Angas but when they were to take an overseas trip they needed to lay off some of the domestic staff and I was one of them.

Finding Work
I scanned the newspapers and answered an advertisement for kitchen staff from Mrs Scarfe in Adelaide. She was very wealthy and ran a large house with staff near where Maryatville High School now stands.I had a good reference from Lady Angas and was hired. I caught the bus to Adelaide and when I arrived was taken to the kitchen for some refreshments.

Mrs Scarfe's chauffeur was George Russell. He was sitting there in the kitchen when I walked in. I was offered a cup of tea. That is how we met.

(pages updated 21 June 2014)

If you are interested in this family please write to:

Peter Russell
21/7 Liberman Close
SA 5000