The Keefer Family

In 1855 Christina and Godfried Keefer and their son Johann sailed from Germany to Hobart, where they immediately embarked on a three day journey over rugged terrain to settle in Swansea, on Tasmania’s east coast.

Ruins of the old stables and shed

The family purchased a 10-acre plot and, using the abundance of volcanic stone on the land, built Keefer’s Cottage. With a few sheep and cattle they began the popular local practice of subsistence farming.

During the next decade the single bedroom Keefer’s Cottage became home to six more children: Hannah, Louisa, Christian, Karl, Christina, Alfred and George. At night year round the men camped under an awning, which is now the kitchen and bathroom, while the women slept inside.

In the Swansea township the Keefer’s earned a reputation for their hard working, community focused principles. In 1894 the family invited the entire Swansea community to celebrate Godfried & Christina’s golden wedding anniversary and the marriage of their youngest daughter, Christina.

…speeches were made by several gentlemen who expressed their gratification…

The sit down luncheon in the shed behind Keefer’s Cottage headlined in the district newspaper where it was hailed: “one of the largest and most enthusiastic gatherings known here for many years.”

The article continued: “…nearly 100 people set down to a luncheon in honour of the occasion (which was laid out in the large barn of their residence) and after partaking of the good things provided complimentary, speeches were made by several gentlemen who expressed their gratification at being present to do honour to the guests of the celebration.”

The day concluded with a ball at the Swansea Council Chambers: “which was kept up until the small hours of the morning”.

For more information about Swansea’s original settlers visit the Glamorgan Spring Bay Historical Society and the East Coast Heritage Museum located in Franklin Street, Swansea.

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