Monday, 7 September 2015

Queensland #1

Migrants with origins in Lithuania started settling in Queensland in the second half of the nineteenth century.  However it was not until after World War 2 that larger numbers were located there; for example, several hundred Lithuanian DPs (displaced persons) were brought to Queensland in 1948 and 1949 to cut sugar cane.  While most of these workers did not stay on the cane fields for longer than required, some settled further south and helped establish a Lithuanian community in Brisbane.

Probably one of the earliest migrants was Lewis FLEGELTAUB.  Born in the Suvalkija region in a Jewish family, he became a successful Australian businessman and died in Brisbane in 1897.  Trove and Ancestry.com contain more details of the Flegeltaub family.

Previous posts have noted men with origins in Lithuania who enlisted in Queensland during World War I:
  • P. KALINAUSKAS/ William KALINOVSKY/KALIN from Žagarė who enlisted at Cloncurry and served on the Western Front.  After the war he eventually settled in Brisbane and died there in 1937;
  • Sigismund ROMASZKIEWICZ, a Russian Pole from Krekenava who enlisted in Brisbane and also served on the Western Front.  He lived in Brisbane until his death in 1949;
  • Gerard SKUGAR, a Pole from Vilnius, who enlisted at Rockhampton and also served on the Western Front.  
In addition the following Queensland ANZACS who are listed on the russiananzacs.net site appear likely to have had Lithuanian origins:
  • Jack/Ivan TRINKOON (TRINKŪNAS?) from Brisbane.  Although born in Riga (Latvia), his service records show that his father was from Vilnius;
  • Charles Anton GEDGAWD (GEDGAUDAS?) from Charters Towers, born in Libau/Liepaja (Latvia) is associated with very Lithuanian names; his mother Domicelė referred to him as Kasimir (Kazimieras). 

The interwar years saw small numbers settling in Brisbane and regional Queensland.  In contrast to other Australian ports, arrivals at Brisbane often came from China or the Russian Far East.  Most of these settlers had Jewish, Polish, Russian or Prussian heritage, for example:

  • Chane MILERIS, known as Noel Miller, had arrived in 1930 as a Lithuanian national and was living in Brisbane in 1938;
  • Abraham WEINER/Alfred WYNER, a Lithuanian national born in Courland (Latvia) arrived in Australia around 1913 and was living in Brisbane in 1939;
  • Jan/John DAPKEWITCH from Vilkaviškis had married in Harbin, China, in 1905. He died in Ipswich in 1941 aged 63;
  • Josephine RUCKMAN, a Pole from Kaunas with Lithuanian citizenship, arrived in Brisbane on the Yoshina Maru in 1923 with her two sons and daughter; in 1943, aged 77, she was living in Mackay and one son was farming at Alligator Creek near Mackay;
  • Anton YUSKAN (from Lithuania but birth location not stated) married in Proserpine and died there in 1973 aged 84;
  • Veniamin SAMOLLOFF, a Lithuanian national from Kaunas, had arrived around 1925 and was living at Victoria Point, near Brisbane, in 1932;
  • Bruno GREITSCHUS, a Lithuanian national from Memel (Klaipėda), had arrived around 1925 and was working at Goolburra Station, Offham Siding (western Queensland) in 1937;
  • Frederich WEDRAT, also from Memel, had arrived in 1910 and was living at Chinchilla when he died in 1963, aged 73.
The 1933 Australian Census recorded 12 males and 3 females who had been born in Lithuania and were then living in Queensland; 4 of the men were living in 'tropical Queensland'.

Prior to World War 2 there was only a handful of ethnic Lithuanians living in Queensland at any one time.  Metrastis No. 1 (p10) records that Edward Charles PHILLULE (PILIULIS) wrote in 1938 that there had been five Lithuanians in Brisbane but two had died, one had returned to Lithuania, and there there were only two left.  The other Lithuanian referred to in that correspondence was probably RUZGYS (Australian Lithuanians, p25).

The first significant influx of Lithuanians to Queensland occurred in 1940 when 30 Lithuanian refugees with British citizenship arrived from Vladivostok aboard the Haitan.

Next week's post will look at one of the few ethnic Lithuanians living in Queensland at that time, E. C. Phillule. 

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