Brisbane & Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

Their wedding took place on 19 September 1882 in the United Methodist Church, Ann Street, Brisbane; they were the first couple to be married there.

(Theo and Emma's wedding was originally thought to have taken place at the Albert Street Uniting Church, (cnr. of Ann & Albert Streets, not far from King George Square) but this is now known to be incorrect.)

Their wedding was celebrated in the church pictured below, which is much further along Ann Street at No. 428 in Fortutude Valley.

United Methodist Free Church in Ann Street, Brisbane

(Now a Church of Christ)
Where Emma Gallagher and Theodore Johannes Geertz Were Married
- 19 September 1882 -
* Said to Have Been the First Wedding Celebrated in the Church *

Church Photos taken 2002

The Minister at their wedding was Rev. Samuel Isaac Alden, who twenty-nine years later in 1911 officiated at the marriage of their daughter Violet.

At the time of their wedding Theo's address was Arthur Street, Fortitude Valley, and Emma was living with her parents in Bowen Street, Spring Hill.

Albert Edward, Emma and Theo's first child, was born on 27 December 1882, a cute little boy with curls. Emma kept a blond strand of his hair in a mother-of-pearl box with her marriage certificate and other bits and pieces. This box was the first present given to her by Theo.

She is said to have named their first child after her father - whose name was James! (Yes, in my hunt for Emma's elusive father's arrival "down under" I've even looked for an Albert Gallagher...)

In 1883/84 Theo was working as a tailor in Park Road, South Brisbane.

The unexpected death in October 1884 of Emma's father at such a young age would have shocked and saddened everyone. Emma must have been so happy he was there for her wedding.

Theo and Emma's son Albert was now a toddler but although her mother was not far away, the widowed Eleanor, hands full trying to feed and clothe her own children, probably had little time to spare for her eldest daughter.

Theo and Emma's home
Rawlins Street, Kangaroo Point
Brisbane, Qld.
(Next door to the house is Raymond Park
previously known as Heaslop's Paddock).

By 1885/86 Theo and Emma were living in Rawlins Street, Kangaroo Point, just around the corner from Thomas Street where Emma's mother Eleanor ran a boarding house. At this time Emma's married sister and brother, Amelia and Edward, were also living in Thomas Street.

However, the details in the Post Office Directories are rather vague, so no particular house or houses can be identified. Emma and Theo's next baby, Violet Maud, was born 26 July 1885 at Eleanor's house in Thomas Street.

A lovely photo of Emma Geertz

Somewhere aound this time Theo, Emma and children went to live in Ipswich.

On 10 May 1888 Emma and Theo's little boy Albert who had contracted the dreaded diphtheria, died aged only 6. Three months later their next child Theodor Clifford was born on 21 August 1888. Another little cutie with curls. Hopefully his birth helped to ease the pain and sorrow of losing their first baby.

But not for long as eight and a half years later on 25 March 1897 they lost young Theodor in a tragic accident. He had climbed on a horse in the horse yards at Hanlon's in Ipswich and was thrown off and killed. When they picked him up, in his hand he still had part of the sandwich he had been eating. Another sad time for the Geertz family.

Theo and Emma's home in Ipswich at 17 Queen Street, Newtown
(Photo taken 13/8/2007 by new owners)

On 26 August 1891 Herbert Charles was born, followed by Arthur Andrew on 8 March 1894. Then along came a second daughter - Lily Frederica Hermina - this collection of names arising first of all from Emma's penchant for flower names, the Frederica for her Grandmother Brodina Friederica and the final name for her Aunt Johannah Helena Hermina.

A baby daughter Rose has been mentioned, but no record of her has come to light.

Theo and Emma, together with their children Violet, Herbert, Arthur and Lily, lived in Ipswich, and Theo continued his profession as a tailor.

For many years he was a leading cutter in the employ of the Queensland Woollen Manufacturing Co. in Ipswich. Eventually he severed his connection with this firm, joined the late Mr T H Parker, and in conjunction with him carried on a tailoring business for a considerable time. This establishment in Brisbane Street, Ipswich operated under the title of Parker and Geertz, Practical Tailors.

Emma and Theo's house in Warwick Street, Ipswich was named "Valetta". This is very interesting as a ship by that name docked in Brisbane at the same time the "Celinda" was said to have arrived bringing Theo's parents from America.

The name "Valetta" was carved in wood over the doorway of their house. Still on the nautical theme - there is a photo of Theo and his friends with a boat named "Celia". It could be a staged photograph, or perhaps he did at that time own a boat. There is also the similarity between the names "Celia" and "Celinda"... He and Emma had a holiday cottage at Redcliffe, so the idea of a boat is not unlikely. The name of the holiday house was "Heimat" - German for "home". (See copy of postcard below).

Theo and Emma on the verandah - "Heimat"

Theo is remembered by every-one as lovely, gentle and quiet. He used to have beehives from which he would steal the honey. Mum told me he had an Alsatian dog called Gretchen.

A photo of a Photo - Theo on left                      The Bowlers - Theo on left

He was an active member of the Cambrian Choir in Ipswich and during the time in Mt Kuring-gai he sang Christmas carols to Mum and taught her to count in German. He was one of the early members, and very active, of the Ipswich Lawn Bowls. Theo was a keen marksman, being a supporter of the Rifle Club until Federation and a foundation member of the RACQ. (Some of this detail is from his obituary). Aunty Winnie told me he was one of the first members of the community to have a car, and contributed to a fund to have electricity started.

Emma's niece Olga (born in 1900 and still living in August 2000) says "she remembers Emma being a 'bit of a gad-about', fond of company and leaving much of the housework to her youngest daughter Violet". (Postscript - Olga died in 2001 having reached the grand old age of 100+!).

In July 1908 Emma's mother died. This sad event was followed a few months later with a happy occasion when Theo's parents Hans and Brodina celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

In 1909 a daughter Aldyth Myrtle was born to their son Herb, and Edith Pond. Herb was only eighteen, Edie just seventeen. To relieve the financial burden on them, Theo and Emma took the baby into their home and cared for her as their own - once again a "flower" name - chosen by Emma?

A new sister for fifteen year old Lily.

4 February 1911 was an important day for Theo. According to an advertisement in The Queensland Times, it was the day he dissolved his partnership with Mr T Parker and began business on his own account as T J Geertz, Tailor. Theo's shop was located opposite St Paul's Anglican Church - the previous site of Bayards, now part of Ipswich City Square. (See notice from paper below).

The other (and very special) event on 4 February was the wedding of their daughter Violet to Fred Young which was celebrated at "Valetta", the family home of Theo and Emma in Queen Street, Newtown, Ipswich.

What must Theo and Emma have been feeling on that day? So long ago and far away from the thatched roofs, flat fields and dykes of Husum, the hunger and poverty of inner city Manchester. A wonderful new country, prosperous, enviable position in the community, friends and family gathered together for a joyous celebration.

So often a wonderful occasion is followed by sadness.

And thus it must have been when Theo's father Hans died - how wonderful for Violet that he was present at her wedding a few months before.

In January 1912 Theo and Emma's son Herb was married to Edith Pond.

Quite a few years later Herb met Cass, a lovely tailoress with whom he had worked, while Herb's younger brother Arthur who had followed in his father's footsteps to become a tailor, met and married Agnes Emily Harris.

Violet and Fred visited Ipswich from Sydney with their four children in 1922/1923, and Lily was also there awaiting the birth of her 3rd baby.

During the years Violet, Herb, Arthur and Lily presented their parents with quite a collection of grandchildren. An Australian Geertz dynasty.

At that stage Emma was a busy, bustling, quick tempered little body, much involved with family and Church affairs.

Tailoring was beginning to fade a little from popularity and with Arthur running the business in Ipswich, Theo retired in the early 1930's, sold up everything and he and Emma went to live in Mt Kuring-gai with their eldest daughter Violet.

They had an extension built on to "Thoreau" and enjoyed being with Violet and her daughters. Many visits were made to see his sister Lena and her daughters and grandchildren.

Theo with Grand-daughter Myrtle
Front gate of "Thoreau"
Chase Street
(now named Young Street
in honour of Grandma Violet Young)

Mt Kuring-gai, NSW

Theo & Emma, Freda Kennedy (nee Geertz) holding Myrtle's daughter Fay
other daughter Maureen in front of Myrtle
Malina Wenzel (nee Geertz) with
Freda's daughter Joan
Photo taken at "The Gap", Sydney, NSW.

While Theo loved being in Sydney, Emma, who from all accounts, was a bossy little lady, was impatient to get back to her family in Queensland. They were with Violet for their Golden Wedding Anniversary and Mum remembers hearing their congratulatory call over the radio. According to Myrtle there was a big family party in their honour when they came back to Ipswich, so possibly they left Mt Kuring-gai close to the actual date.

Theo and Emma
Golden Wedding Anniversary

Not many years later while living at Station Road, Silkstone, Ipswich, Theo died. He was staying with Myrtle and her husband and had gone into hospital to have some heart X-rays. He was worried he might knock his rimless spectacles off the bedside cabinet, and she and Jock had gone home to collect his spectacle case. While they were away Theo had a heart attack, and sadly, was dead when they returned.

He was cremated, being amongst the early cremations at the new Mt Thompson Memorial Gardens, Mt Gravatt, Brisbane. The Memorial Gardens are situated on top of Mt Thompson with sweeping views over the City of Brisbane.

Columbarium - Memorial Gardens of Mt Thompson
Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, Qld.,
Seated - Great Grand-daughter Barbara O'Neil (nee Kirchner)

Site of Niche - T J Geertz

Plaque - Theodore Johannes Geertz
Died June 7th 1938

What a good life! Theo had progressed from a young Danish lad born across the sea in Germany to a successful businessman and much-loved father, grandfather, and great grandfather in far-away Australia. He had experienced a lifetime beyond anything dreamed of in his early years.

Theodore Johannes was a very special part of this family.

Emma by this time had snow-white hair and it seems she stayed at various times with her different daughters.

In 1941 she was with her youngest daughter Lily at her home in Edgehill, Cairns when she died in Cairns Hospital on 25 July, aged 81.

Emma died in Cairns, but arrangements were made by Lily's husband David to see that she was brought back to Brisbane where she was cremated on 5 August.

Site of Niche - Emma Geertz

Plaque - Emma Geertz
Died 25th July 1941

Theo and Emma rest together in peace, far from the worries and cares of the world - tucked away in a special spot in the bush on a hill overlooking the part of Australia they had called home for so many years. Their separate niches are not far apart.

Their journey has ended a long way from home, but - they are home.


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