In 1871, Peter Oluff Carlsen had two major decisions to make. The first being whether he would take the leap and relocate his family from Denmark to Australia; the second regarding who would join them on the long journey to their new home.
The previous year, the Tasmanian Government had sent an Agent to Denmark and Germany to recruit new immigrants, mostly for farming and contract work. With the lure of employment and the possibility of owning farming land in Tasmania, it was very tempting indeed. Especially so for Peter, who had fallen on hard times. In 1864 at the age of 23, Peter served in the Danish military when German and Austrian armies occupied Schleswig. Losing his possessions in Schleswig by the war and later discharged from the army due to an injury, Peter’s economic situation never fully recovered.
Emigration provided a chance to turn things around, and Tasmania was an appealing destination to do so.
As he weighed up the options, Peter likely thought of his first wife, Maren, and infant son, Frederik, who had both sadly died four years earlier within months of each other. He no doubt also thought of young Oluf – his eldest son and remaining link to Maren.
But Peter had a bigger family to consider now. In the years since Maren and Frederick passed away, Ane Jensen had come into his and Oluf’s lives. Happily for them, the births of two more children closely followed – Frederikke in 1869 and Wilhelm in 1870. This little family of two had quickly grown to five.
Deciding that an opportunity to build a new life for his young family was the right one, Peter progressed plans for the Carlsen family to emigrate. Prior to leaving their home in Grenaa, Peter was farewelled by fellow members of the Danish Brothers-In-Arms, who presented him with a gift of money. Similarly, the Grenaa Rifle Club – which Peter had founded – gave him an inscribed silver cup as a parting gift.
As Peter and Ane Carlsen prepared to leave their homeland, the 2nd major decision was made; young Oluf would not be joining them. How this came about is unknown, and may never be known. Perhaps Oluf, now seven, was ill and unable to travel? Or maybe he stayed behind to help out Ane’s parents – Jens and Marie Mikkelsen. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where a young boy was not welcomed by his new stepmother, but that remains a possibility as well.
After a no doubt difficult goodbye – especially for father and son – Peter, Ane, Frererikke and Wilhelm made their way to Hamburg, Germany, where their immigrant ship was waiting.
Departing from Hamburg on 20 October 1871 with 362 passengers, the Eugenie sailed for Hobart Town, Tasmania, Australia. While some of the Danish and German families disembarked at various colonies in Brazil along the way, the others, like the Carlsens, were also bound for Tasmania. The Recruiting Agent, Frederick Buck, obviously did very well in drumming up interest, with many choosing this path rather than North America which was a popular destination at the time.
It was a long, hard voyage, with many illnesses and eleven deaths recorded. Sadly, one of these was Wilhelm Carlsen – Peter and Ane’s youngest child. Aged almost 18 months, little Wilhelm died and was buried at sea less than five weeks after the family had set sail. The remainder of their five-month journey was no doubt difficult following their tragic loss, but finally, on 24 March 1872, the Carlsen’s arrived in Hobart Town.
Peter was a skilled turner – mainly working with ivory and wood. While living in Denmark, he worked for The Paris Exhibition of 1866. With these skills, along with good recommendations from home, it didn’t take long for him to find work. Soon after arrival, Peter was employed by the Government at Port Arthur Prison on the Tasman Peninsula.
Settling into the area, Peter and Ane started to grow their little family. Pregnant on arrival, Ane gave birth to William Carlsen in Port Arthur six months later, followed by Peter Oluff Carlsen in 1874, and George Waldemar Carlsen in 1876.
By 1875 Peter was working at Port Arthur as a mechanic, and in 1876 this expanded to ‘Overseer of Mechanics’. He continued his turning work in his spare time, crafting items that were highly regarded and included in the Melbourne and Philadelphia Exhibitions held in 1875 and 1876.
From The Mercury newspaper, 24 June 1875:
SPECIMENS OF TURNERY. – A few exhibits for the Melbourne and Philadelphia Exhibitions have already been forwarded to the secretary of the commission, Mr. Hull, and are now in the committee room at the Parliamentary Buildings. Among them are two admirable specimens of workmanship which cannot fail to elicit admiration from all who see them. The first is a cruet stand and egg stand combined, made of turned myrtle wood, polished, and valued at £10. The various cups, salt cellars, and pepper-bottles are of carved whales teeth, in an exquisite tulip pattern. The handle is also of carved whale’s teeth, and representing leaves. The maker is a mechanic named P. O. Carlsen, a Danish immigrant, and he has executed the work in his leisure hours, or, as he terms it, “candle work,” after his day’s labour is over for the Government at Port Arthur, where he is employed. There is also a beautiful drawing-room ornament by the same maker in the shape of a spinning jenny, of carved polished myrtle wood, with carved brass wheels and treadle and turned pedestals, for working in silk, flax, or wool. Mr. Carlsen, who, we may mention, worked for the Paris Exhibition of 1866, when he was at home, is anxious that the jenny should be seen in Philadelphia, as he believes that it would be highly prized there.
Peter’s work on display at the Exhibitions saw several certificates awarded, including First Class for his spinning jenny.
By 1878 the Carlsen family had moved from Port Arthur to Hobart, with Peter continuing to work for the Tasmanian Government as a mechanic / overseer of mechanics at the Hobart Gaol. Over the next several years Ane and Peter had four more children – all born in the Hobart District; Anna Margaret Carlsen in 1878, Otto Albert Carlsen in 1880, Henrietta Elizabeth Carlsen in 1883, and Arthur Carlsen in 1886.
During this time Peter also continued his turning and carving ‘hobby’, and received a silver medal award at the Tasmanian Juvenile and Industrial Exhibition in 1883. He also had items accepted for inclusion at the Melbourne Exhibition of 1888; a cruet and egg stand made of wood, ivory and horn, ivory pipe with china bowl, and walking sticks made from Tasmanian woods.
Passengers from the Eugenie appear to have kept in touch after they arrived in Tasmania, with many families from the ship later establishing a new farming community in Bismarck (now Collinsvale), near Hobart. The Carlsens secured land at Bismarck sometime around 1884 that included three separate lots near the current site of Collins Cap; the largest of these being 149 acres. Peter’s land was then known as Collins Bonnet, on which he engaged in small-scale farming while continuing to work at the Hobart Gaol.
While life in Tasmania had been going well for the Carlsen family, their fortunes were about to change. Late in 1892 the Hobart Gaol made a number of cost-saving moves, including that the work undertaken by Peter was to be replaced by prison mechanics. After 20 years of employment by the government, and at the age of 50, he was now out of work.
The following year another tragedy hit the family – the death of Peter and Ane’s son, George Wildemar Carlsen, aged only 16. George was a Carpenter and died of ‘Influenza and acute diarrhoea’ on 1 January 1893 at his parents’ home at Williamson Street, Hobart.
Six weeks later – understandably – the property in Hobart was put up for sale. The Carlsens sold their 6-roomed house, workshop, 2-stall stable and coachhouse, and took up residence permanently in Bismarck where they already owned land and were well known.
By September 1893 Peter was active on the Council of Agriculture in Bismarck, and in later years was referred to as one of the early contemporary settlers of the area (along with families who had also emigrated in the early 1870’s from Denmark and Germany, including Appledorf and Todtenhöfer).
Peter Oluff Carlsen left Tasmania for the Murchison Goldfields (Western Australia) sometime during late-1893 or 1894, where he died. Exact dates are unclear, however in 1899, a Notice to Creditors calling for ‘proof of debt and claims to the estate of Peter Oluff Carlsen, of Bismarck in Tasmania, Farmer’ named him as deceased.
Also in Western Australia at this time was Peter and Ane’s eldest son, William Carlsen. William was living in Day Dawn in 1896 – perhaps father and son left Tasmania together?
With her husband now in Western Australia (and possibly deceased), Ane Carlsen was earning a small income by renting out one of the family’s properties in Bismarck for 16 shillings per week. It was listed for rent in 1894 and 1895, and described as a furnished 4-roomed verandah cottage, with a piano, books and every convenience including plenty of water and firewood.
In 1898, Ane Carlsen put her property in Bismarck up for sale, intending to leave the area. It did not sell immediately, therefore was rented out to a Mr. Arthur Southern for a period of time. Ane then moved to Queenstown on Tasmania’s West Coast, where she remained.
All three ‘lots’ of land / property owned by the Carlsens in Bismarck eventually sold during 1899-1900. In October 1899 Ane was granted Naturalisation, and five years later she purchased a small cottage of her own at Lyell Road, Queenstown.
By 1912, two more of Peter and Ane’s sons had also moved to Western Australia. Their youngest, Arthur, remained living with Ane in Queenstown before he too said goodbye to his mother, never to return. Embarking on the Port Lincoln on 1 April 1915, Arthur Carlsen served in the 15th Australian Infantry Battalion during the First World War before falling on the battlefields of Gallipoli a few short months later.
Now aged 70, Ane was not only a widow, but had sadly farewelled all six of her sons since leaving Denmark as a 24-year-old. While three sons were still living in Western Australia, it remained unlikely that she would see them again.
Ane moved from her cottage at Lyell Street to Sticht Street, Queenstown, and was there when she died on 24 July 1924 at the age of 79.
Notice from The Daily Telegraph, Friday 25 July 1924:
The death of Mrs A. Carlsen, one of Queenstown’s oldest pioneers, occurred at her residence, in Sticht-street, on Thursday afternoon. The deceased, who had been ailing for some time, was 79 years of age and a native of Denmark. She came to Australia fifty years ago, and has been a resident of Queenstown for 26 years. She leaves a family of six, two of whom are living at Queenstown. The funeral will take place on Saturday afternoon.
Ane died of ‘Cystitis and General Debility’, along with ‘Cardiac Failure’ and was buried in the Queenstown Cemetery two days later. With her remaining children now spread out between Tasmania and Western Australia, it was unlikely they could all attend her funeral, but it would be nice to think that her three girls still in Tasmania (and their families) were able to do so.
Peter and Ane were sometimes referred to as Peter Olaff Carlsen / Peter Ole Carlsen and Ane Jansen / Anne Gensen.
Oluf Carlsen (born Niels Oluf Martin Carlsen) remained living with Ane Jensen’s parents in Aalso, Denmark, until he married and had five children of his own.
For a full timeline of events, including details of sources click here.
Originally Posted: 31 May 2015