Montville’s First Settler – Thorvald Weitemeyer


AKA CHARLIE (nickname during his travels in Queensland) 

or Tom (English version of Thorvald)



 THORVALD PETER LUDWIG WEITEMEYER was a Danish immigrant and selected 160 acres of land in the Montville area on the Blackall Range in 1887.  He and his family were the first settlers in the area.  His first priority was to build a house for his wife and children being two sons and one daughter. Their third son, Henry George was born in 1888 and was the first white child born on the Blackall Range.  Their house was situated where the Montville Sportsground stands today.


The years prior to 1887 outline a brief history of Thorvald’s travels and experiences in Queensland, from his birthplace in Copenhagen, Denmark and how he came to Australia before settling in Montville.

 THORVALD PETER LUDWIG WEITEMEYER was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, 24 July 1850 to parents, CHRISTIAN WILLIAM METON WEITEMEYER and SOPHIA FREDERIKKE OVERBYE.  He was the third of eleven children. He was christened on 27 October 1850.

After he completed his education in 1865, he was apprenticed to his father in the family carpentry/joinery business.  Thorvald had an adventurous spirit and in 1871 at the age of 21 he travelled to Hamburg, Germany, and was employed as a carpenter/joiner.  Six months later he came across an advertisement in a shop window in Hamburg, proclaiming “Free Emigration to Queensland, Australia”. [1] Thorvald decided to try his luck and sailed from Hamburg, Germany to Australia on the ship “Humboldt”.   The journey took six months and in 1872 he arrived at Port Denison (now known as Bowen), Queensland where he immediately found employment as a cabinetmaker.  From here he travelled extensively throughout North Queensland exploring and finding work in Townsville, Ingham, Ravenswood, Cooktown and to the Palmer River goldfields.  He found the conditions on the goldfields to be very harsh and shortly after he returned to Cooktown where he wrote articles about the goldfields for the newspaper of the time, “The Queenslander”.

In 1875-76 he travelled to South-West Queensland where he commenced a six-month working contract at Jondaryan Sheep Station, near Toowoomba on the Darling Downs.  It is here he met his future wife, JANE BORTHWICK BELL, the daughter of JOHN BELL and MARTHA BEATTIE who were Scottish immigrants from Dumfries, Scotland.  Jane worked at Jondaryan Station as a governess.  When his contract finished he travelled throughout South-West Queensland before finding work at St George in South-West Queensland where he helped build the courthouse and other structures there.

1878, 4 July, Thorvald married Jane Borthwick Bell at the St George Courthouse.

1879, 2 May, their first child, THORVALD (AKA TOM) was born in St George.  In 1901 Tom married EDITH AMELIA DALTON (1869-1959), the daughter of EDMUND DALTON and SARAH ANN OLIVER of Baroon Pocket.  They lived in Dulong near Nambour and had two children, ERLE THORVALD (1902-1954) and ROLAND (1906-2004).  Tom died in 1910 from blood poisoning caused by a spider bite.  He is buried in the Nambour Cemetery.

1880, 6 January, Thorvald became an Australian citizen.

1881 Departed St George to lease farming land in the Bundaberg district.

1882, 14 June, their first daughter, COSETTE (AKA ETTA) was born in Bundaberg.  Cosette married WILLIAM GEORGE BURGUM in 1907 and they lived on their farm in Burgum Road, North Maleny.  William and their son WILLIAM FREDERICK (1909-1921) both died from drowning when crossing Obi Obi Creek in 1921.  Cosette continued to live on the property raising her other children, MARY ALICE (1910-1995), RAYMOND GEORGE (1912-2001), THOMAS EDWARD (1913-1987) and FRANCIS GLEN (1915-1998).  Cosette lived on the property until her death in 1972.  Cosette is buried with her husband William and son William at Witta Cemetery.

1884, 27 December, second son, CHRISTIAN ERNEST was born in South Kolan, Bundaberg.  Christian married ANASTASIA GOREY daughter of RICHARD GOREY and ELLEN BOURKE of Bundaberg in 1913 where they owned and managed the South Burnett Hotel, and later the Commercial Hotel.  They had three children, ROY JAMES (1913-1946)HENRY
WALLACE (1917-1943) 
and DORIS ANNA (b.1922).  They left Bundaberg in 1936 and resided in New Farm, Brisbane.  Anastasia died in 1969, and Christian in 1981.  They are both buried at Nudgee Cemetery.

1886, 14 July, Thorvald and Jane sold their property in Bundaberg and the family moved to Brisbane where Thorvald took a position at the Brisbane Technical College, then known as The School of Arts, as a Manual training teacher in carpentry and joinery.


1887, 5 May, Thorvald selected 160 acres of land in the MONTVILLE district where the family were known to be the first settlers.  As a selector, Thorvald fulfilled the conditions of “The Crown Lands Acts, 1884-1889” over the required five year period to make improvements by building the family home, clearing 7 acres of scrub and trees for land cultivation.  Thorvald and his family lived in Montville for 13 years.

1888, 15 March, their third son, HENRY GEORGE (AKA HARRY) was born. He was the first white child born in Montville.  Harry owned a dairy farm located in the Mooloolah Highlands before he went to WW1 in November 1916 and fought on the Western Front. He was honourably discharged the following year due to illness caused by gas in the trenches.  He returned home 27 July 1917.

1918, 23 January, Harry married CAROLINE (LENA) ELIZABETH DUHS eldest daughter of JOHN FREDERICK CASPER DUHS and EMMA KANOWSKY of Peachester at the Albert Street Uniting Church in Brisbane.  They resided on the dairy farm and had a son, EDWARD GEORGE born in late 1919 but he had brain damage from an accident at birth, he died at Goodna in 1940.  Their daughters EVELYN MAY (1923-2009) and IVY JANE (1925-2011) were born at the Maleny Hospital.


Because Harry’s health was declining the doctor at Maleny advised they move to Brisbane near the Windsor Soldiers Repatriation Hospital where they could better treat him.

Harry and his family sold their farm about 1926/27 and moved to their new residence in Red Hill.  JOHN WILLIAM was born in 1928 in Bundaberg but died in 1932 shortly before his fourth birthday from meningitis.  Harry succumbed to his illness and died in 1934.  He is buried at the war graves section of Toowong Cemetery.  His wife, Caroline died in 1960 at Chermside Hospital in Brisbane.

 Thorvald was known to be a talented writer and not long after settling in Montville he wrote a detailed manuscript of his travels and experiences throughout Queensland.  The story ends prior to arriving at Jondaryan Station.  His book “MISSING FRIENDS” 1871-1880 was published in 1890.[2]

1894, 4 August, sadly Jane Borthwick Weitemeyer died by poisoning.  Jane was buried on the property because there was no cemetery in the area at that time, her unmarked grave is believed to be under a mango tree by an old shed beside a property where Mill Hill Road is now situated.

1898 Cosette was 16 and went to live with a family friend in Bundaberg to finish her education, before returning to Maleny.

1900, 6 January, Thorvald married MARY ANN PHOEBE WYNNE (NEE REID), who had previously worked for him as a housekeeper after Jane’s death, but the marriage only lasted approximately twelve months.  After this, Thorvald sold his property in Montville.  Thorvald and his family lived in Montville for 13 years.

1901 – 1912 Thorvald travelled to Mata Mata, on the north island of New Zealand where he purchased and managed a dairy farm.  Because Harry was only 12 at this time he was sent to live with the Rose family in Montville, who lived on the adjoining property, to finish his education, then worked for them on their property for some years before moving to the Mooloolah Highlands.  Mrs Rose was Jane’s sister MARY GEORGINA MARTHA BELL who married THOMAS ROSE.

1913 Thorvald returned to the Blackall Range for a short time where he worked at his daughter Cosette’s property in Burgum Road, North Maleny.

1913-14 Thorvald travelled to Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland and opened a joinery shop.  He managed his business there until he became ill in late 1918.  His son Christian travelled to Herberton and brought him back to his home in Bundaberg.   Thorvald died on 6 June, 1919 shortly before his 70th birthday.  He is buried in the Bundaberg cemetery. His enduring contribution to early Queensland settlement is evidenced in his writing where he actively sought to improve conditions wherever he lived.

In Montville, Thorvald, as secretary of the School Building Committee, corresponded with the Department of Public Instruction and finally was able to inform authorities on 13 August 1896 that the school building was now ready for “the Inpector, a cheque and a good Teacher as soon as at all convenient”. His children, Henry and Christian are listed as Nos. 19 and 20 on the school register for the Razorback Provisional School.

Montville remembers the Weitemeyer Family as staunch community supporters who helped shape those early days of white settlement on the Range.

[1] The Australian Government at the time sought out skilled tradesmen and professionals from England and Europe to change the convict colonies into more progressive cities with the influx of new emigrants.  At the time Australia was experiencing success on the gold fields which enticed great numbers of new emigrants.  This contributed greatly to Australia’s economic growth.

[2] Missing Friends – Being the Adventures of a Danish Immigrant 1871– 1880 by Thorvald Peter Ludwig Weitemeyer.  Published by T. Fisher Unwin c. 1890 London.  A copy of this book is kept at the State Library in Brisbane.  It is now available online under The Project Gutenberg eBook, Missing Friends, by Thorvald Weitemeyer. A copy of the original manuscript is held by the Montville Historical Group.


  • Queensland Family Trees (Weitemeyer/Burgum)
  • Weitemeyer Family Documents (birth/marriage/death certificates)
  • “Missing Friends” 1871-1880 by Thorvald Weitemeyer
  • Photographs from Weitemeyer family records


Photo of Henry (Harry) George Weitemeyer in1905 when he was 17 years old.

The original portrait proudly hangs on the wall in Montville Village Hall.