A Fateful Meeting

Having grown up in a country village the three young immigrants perhaps felt they would be able to settle into their new environment away from the town. Jes was offered a job at Coles Bay and they left Hobart in August. By a strange coincidence the master of the vessel taking them from Swansea was another Dane, Jacob Peter Madsen. The 32 year old Madsen had gone to sea when only thirteen and progressed to become a mate before leaving Denmark during the war with Prussia. He was born at Kathenstelle, a farm on Ketting Gammelgaard, a local Manor or Estate that used to own the land around Ketting. It was then in the parish of Kettingskov and is located 4km. east of Augustenborg and some 10 km southwest of Mjels in 1840. Jacob was the eldest son of Peter Mathiesen Madsen and Maria Caterine Hansen.

About 1862 Jacob found himself in Hobart where he was appointed pilot and marine surveyor for the Douglas River locality that stretched along the east coast from Swansea to Falmouth. His principal task was to pilot coastal ships between Swansea, Bicheno and Falmouth. (
There were also two jetties at Seymour used to load coal.) About the same time Jacob’s brother, Christen, moved to the island of Aero. He married Kirsten Rasmussen in Tranderup,some 4 km southwest of Aeroskobing, in 1870 and his descendants still live in the there.

Finding a virtual neighbour 12,000 miles from home must have lifted the spirits of the young emigrants. Jacob Madsen told Jes that the Coles Bay area was not a promising place and suggested they sail on to Seymour where he promised to find him something better. Jacob was living at Seymour and that evening he rode off to see his Scottish friend ‘Mr Wardlaw’. On that day three families formed a link that was later cemented by marriages. We must assume that the Swansea families were sufficiently different from the Prussians in the north for Jacob Madsen to put aside the well known antipathy between Danes and Prussians to marry Ann Rapp. They had their first, and only, child Charles Christen in Swansea in 1870. In the same year Jacob’s brother Christian married and later took over his father-in-law’s farm at Voderup.



In 1865 Jacob Madsen was granted three allotments in the township of Seymour. One small block faced the Esplanade and two others of just over one acre each were on the corner of Pedder and Forster Streets. (James Wardlaw and John Allen owned adjacent areas.) However it seems that he initially lived in Swansea for it was there, in 1869, aged 29 he married 26 year old Ann Marie Rapp. Ann had arrived in Hobart in August 1855 as a 13-year-old girl with her parents Christian and Federica and two sisters and two younger brothers. Her father had been a butcher but as non-English speaking bounty immigrants his best chance to find work was on the land. The Rapps were one of five families from the small kingdom of Wurtemburg who arrived in Tasmania in July and August 1855 and settled in Swansea. It is probable that they initially worked for Charles Meredith at Springvale for when he faced an election in November 1865 he used his position as Colonial Treasurer to speed the naturalisation of Christian Rapp, Christian Dilger, Michael Wagner, Jacob Hunn and Gottfried Keefer. (The coveted five new votes may have ensured Meredith’s re-election but his party lost government.) The Rapps came from the town of Strümpfelbach, near Stuttgart and had travelled from Hamburg on the vessel
Witlemsberg together with the Wagners and Dilgers. The Keefers and Jacob and Susannah Hunn travelled via Liverpool on the America. The families quickly settled in to the area, and remained close. When Christian Dilger’s wife died he married Ann’s eldest sister, Fredrica, in 1858. Christiana Rapp married Jacob Hunn in 1861; he had also arrived with his namesake on the America. We must assume that the Swansea families were sufficiently different from the Prussians in the north for Jacob Madsen to put aside the well known antipathy between Danes and Germans to marry Ann Rapp. .

The Rapp house in Swansea today. (This house replaced an earlier structure about 50 metres to the left.)

Jacob Madsen told Jes that the Coles Bay area was not a promising place and suggested they sail on to Seymour where he promised to find him something better. Jacob and Ann with their baby son Charles were living at Seymour and that evening Madsen rode off to see his friend ‘Mr Wardlaw’. On that day three families formed a link that was later cemented by marriages. Robert Wardlaw was born in Saline, near Dunfermiline, Fife shire in 1803 and arrived in Hobart as a bounty migrant on the Prince of Orange in January 1842 sponsored by the ship’s captain. Saline is now famous as the home of golf, St Andrews. He was described as a first class farm servant and brought with him his wife Marion, two sons Robert Junior and James and three daughters Catherine, Marion and Kate. He was bound for the first eight years to John Amos at Cranbrook. Two years later the Wardlaws had a daughter they named Elizabeth. In 1848 they moved to St Albans in the Apsley Valley and in 1852 they leased that property from Amos. They prospered and three years later were able to purchased 5000 acres at Chain of Lagoons, 20 km north of Bicheno at Seymour. As Robert Wardlaw Snr. grew older his sons gradually took over the running of Chain of Lagoons. As well as farming James Wardlaw was the customs clearing officer at Falmouth and thus had regular contact with Jacob Madsen.

James married Emma Jane Gibson in 1867, five years after his arrival in Tasmania, and his brother Robert Junior married Elizabeth Bennett a year later. In late 1872 when Jes, Peter and Ann Marie arrived the household at Chain of Lagoons consisted of Robert Wardlaw Snr. and Marion, Robert Jnr. and Elizabeth and their five children, Marion and her husband Olaf Hedburg and their two boys, and Elizabeth now 28. James and Jane were probably already living at Glencoe near Falmouth. Wardlaw offered Jes work as a ploughman and accepted the role of general adviser to the Danes. The new arrivals spent the next fourteen months living near Bicheno. When their first child, Margaret Victoria (Torie) was born in February 1874 Jes registered her birth by letter describing himself as a labourer and the place as Courland. It seems likely that he was referring to the Wardlaw’s property Glen Albyn at St Albans.

Soon after Torie’s birth the Jessens moved to Chain of Lagoons and the three other children were born there, Clara Eugenie in March 1876, Tasman Charles in 1878, and Hilmer Jes in 1881. In 1880 Peter, now 28, married Elizabeth Wardlaw the youngest daughter of Robert Wardlaw Snr. who was 8 years his senior. The next year he set off for the tin mines at Weldborough (then called Thomas Plains). Peter Jessen said in his application for naturalisation that he had spent five years tin mining. However he and Elizabeth Jessen had three daughters — Marion Victoria (Minnie) b. 1 August 1881 and twins born in April 1883 — Elizabeth Helen (Bessie) and Katherine Margaritha (Katie). All were registered as having been born at Kingston while Peter was a farmer. By 1890 his family were living in Lord St. Sandy Bay and in September 1894 he bought two adjoining blocks in Queen St., Sandy Bay and lived there until his death in 1913 aged sixty one. Peter was variously described as both a surveyor and a contractor but from about 1900 he was a foreman for the Queenborough Council and for the last few years of his life he was an inspector for the Council. The house was left to Elizabeth and the two older girls; in 1917 they sold it and moved to 31 Red Chapel Avenue Sandy Bay. Minnie and Elizabeth’s brother James, were executors of Peter’s estate and inherited seven other properties in Hobart. None of the girls married and, much later, Min and Bess were regular visitors to the Wright’s home in Albuera St. to chat and to play bridge. Elizabeth died in the Red Chapel Ave house in 1932 as did Minnie and Bessie in 1962 and 1967. Katie went to live with her cousins at Glencoe when her father died but towards the end of her life went to live with another cousin Marie Jessen, Hilmer’s daughter, in Longford and died there in 1972.

.Jessen House _Sandy Bay 2Jessen House _Sandy Bay
The Jessen house at 31 Red Chapel Ave. Sandy Bay


The Douglas


In August 1881 Jes and his family moved to the enlarged Allen Grove now called
The Douglas. (see photos below and map)The original Allen Grove had been originally granted to John Allen. It consisted of three titles on both banks of the river totalling 947 acres. Allen had taken up residence about 1838 and built a house for his wife Ann whom he married in 1842. The house was built from hand cut sandstone blocks with a simple thatched roof broken by two dormer windows that looked out over the river flats and sand dunes to the sea. As part of the marriage settlement Allen Grove was vested in trust for her life time. In 1853 the Allens moved home to another farm they owned at Bicheno. Life in this area changed markedly in 1849 with the development of coal mining and Bicheno was a busy port. However when whaling ended in 1860 and the hopes of coal mining faded Bicheno declined.

Jes was granted two small blocks of Crown land in October 1883 on the western edge of Chain of Lagoons amounting to 23 acres in all for the cost of £28.6.0. Although this provided the opportunity for him to farm in his own right instead of just being an employee it is likely Jes was running Allen Grove, that now covered 1292 acres, at first on behalf of the Wardlaws but soon after as the leaseholder. Life at
The Douglas was isolated and the work hard. With the failure of coal mining population numbers fell and by 1884 only two families lived at Bicheno but in the nearby Apsley Valley now known as Rosedale at the entrance to the Douglas Apsley National Park and then known as St. Albans, ‘there were tiny farms in every gully’. As a landowner and independent farmer Jes felt it time to become a citizen as well; he and Peter were naturalised in 1885. In recommending his naturalisation the Warden of Glamorgan John Lyne stated that Jes was ‘a respectable and well conducted man’. Peter was sponsored by his brother-in-law Olaf Hilmer Hedburg who had given up the land and now had a warehouse in Argyle Street selling Swedish oils and colours (paint).

In 1893 a third member of the Jessen family emigrated to Tasmania. Thora Jessen married Christian Chrisianson Bonde, of Uge, in Aabenraa in 1883. Tired of Prussian occupation of their homeland they also emigrated and settled on 200 acres of prime agricultural land inland from Ulverstone, at North Motton northwest Tasmania. Their three sons Christen Hansen (1 Oct 1884—30 Aug 1960), Jes Christen (1885-30 May 1964) and Hans Christin (1890-28 Jul 1927) and two daughters Thora and Marie came with them. C C Bonde died at home 26 May 1939 aged 85. His two surviving sons Chris and Jes were his chief mourners and his coffin was carried by four grandsons Reg, Maurice and Dudley Bonde and Frank Hodgman. He also left two daughters Marie Risby and Thora Hodgman. Thora Bonde (nee Jessen) died at North Motton on 27 December 1944 aged 88. The family prospered with the sons developing new farms and still live in the region.

Douglas mapDouglas site
Douglas House