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Carl Rudolph Alexander Miethke, son of Gustavus Miethke,  was born on November 14, 1834 in Stargard, Prussia. Born in Prussia on the Baltic Sea, some sixty miles north of Berlin, religious persecution under the King of Prussia resulted in some 8,000 Lutheran’s migrating to South Australia in 1850. With them was the family of Carl Miethke, at a time when none spoke a word of English. Seeking work, Carl was paid 5 shillings a week plus his meals for a full days work threshing with a flail, from sun up to sun down every day.   Towards the end of his first summer, his wage was raised to the sum of 12 shillings a week.   Miethke arrived with his parents in South Australia in 1850, working on a farm until 1854. He then traveled to the Bendigo goldfields, when gold was discovered in Bendigo in 1854, joining some 10,000 others in the rush for gold. He and a former dairyman worked side by side in the goldfields for the next eleven months, making only a fair return from their efforts. Being unsuccessful there, they left and went to Sydney when the gold rush began there.

The two again joined the throng heading south and it being a cold and wet winter, the two stayed in lodging houses until they could no longer afford it. His mate left for the goldfields, while Carl signed aboard an English Clipper Ship, the “Star of the East” for a trip to Shanghai, China for a load of tea.   After arriving in Shanghai, the “Star of the East” departed for Liverpool, England, arriving there in June 1854. Upon arriving in England Carl was forced to accept work on any ship he could find, ending up on the “Columbus” which sailed to Accra, Ghana with a cargo of palm oil, arriving in September 1854, discharging her cargo at Lagos in the Blight of Benin on the North West Coast of Africa and at Bonny, Nigeria; after which Carl returned to Liverpool in April 1855.


He next sailed from Liverpool aboard the baroque “Levant” with a load of coal destined for Salonika, Greece; then on to Fredrikstad, Norway, arriving in December 1855. While there his ship became icebound and the ship did not arrive back in London, England until March 1856.  From London Carl sailed aboard the “Challanger” to Shields for a load of coa, then on to New York aboard the “Onward”. Leaving New York aboard the “Midnight”, Carl arrived in San Francisco, California in 1857. He next sailed around Mexican water on a number of ships in the remaining months of 1857, before developing his own “maize and bean farm” at Mazatlan, Mexico with Adolph Albrecht; a German immigrant. In October 1858, however, their farm was washed away by floods and Albert left for San Francisco while Carl signed aboard another baroque, the “Caesar”, loaded with dye wood and sailed to Bremem, Germany; arriving there in November 1858.

From Germany, Carl again signed aboard a baroque, the “Lina” and arrived in Callao, Peru in April 1859. Continuing on board Carl accompanied the crew to Trieste, Italy with a shipment of salt-petre. Leaving again, this time aboard the Dutch schooner “Nollina Jettina” Carl sailed to Bordeaux, France with puncheon staves and on to Antwerp with wine; arriving in the English Channel in early 1860. At Antwerp Carl signed aboard the Spanish baroque “Guerra Quaito” for Havana, Cuba, then on to Bristol, England. Upon arriving, he caught a passenger ship back to Liverpool and caught an English ship, “Annie Mary” back to San Francisco, California again. He related many on the ships crew got “scurvy” from the deplorable food and conditions aboard ship.

Finally arriving back in San Francisco, California, Carl was tired of his life, having spent 8 years at sea.  On November 18, 1861 he enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of “California Volunteers”, at Presidio, California; fighting on the side of the North for 3 years. He enlisted, however, not under his own name, but under the name of “Rudolph McKay”.


At that point, information provided by Miethke, or Rudolph McKay, differs dramatically from official records of his regiments movements. First I will provide McKay’s version, then that of official California and National Archives records regarding the movement of his regiment. We know that he enlisted in Company G, 2nd California Infantry, which was the California Volunteers Regiment and McKay, or Miethke, stated that Company G was transferred on December 20th from Praesidio (sic) to Alcatraz Island on the Bay of San Francisco. Then he said, it was sent on March 8th 1862 to Crescent City and later moved to Fort Ferwaw (sis). On June 10th 1863 he said it was moved to Benicia on the Sacramento and from there to Stockton by steamer, arriving on August 13th; stayed two days at Camp Stanford then moved again to Camp Babbitt near a town called Visalia. He stated that on January 8, 1864 Company G joined Company B under Captain Smith at Fort Tejon Pass, Sierra Nevada and that on November 18, 1864 he was discharged and paid off in San Francisco on November 19, 1864; “$156.00 in greenbacks”. He said he then rented a room in San Francisco, had an unsuccessful operation, paid $85 for passage, on December 20, 1864, to Australia on the ship “Ellen Southard” and was on board three weeks before she sailed.

Remembering all this, and the fact he was 96 years of age at the time he related it and only 13 days before he died, it leaves one to wonder about his state of mind and the accurateness of his memory.

The actual account of the organization of his regiment, his company and its movements during the years in question, is recorded in the California military archives, the regimental histories and can be found in the U.S. National Archives in Washington DC. It recorded that the California Volunteers regiment was organized under President Lincoln’s second call upon California for troops. The call was dated August 14, 1861 and the regiment was organized at Sacramento, Placerville and Auburn from September to October, 1861, mustered into the service and then attached to Department of the Pacific. The companies were first assembled at Camp Alert, San Francisco, which was located on the ground now enclosed by Mission, Folsom, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Streets, then known as the Pioneer Race Track.


The first Colonel of the regiment was Andrew J. Smith. Companies "A," "B," "C," "D" and "E" were moved from San Francisco to Fort Vancouver, Washington Territory from October 29th through November 4, 1861.

Company G, after its organization at Camp Alert, was sent to Camp Drum, Los Angeles on December 28, 1861, where it remained about a month before being sent to Camp Sigel, near Auburn; until January, 1862. It then moved to Camp Union at Sacramento, then to San Francisco on April 28, 1862 and on to Camp Latham, near Los Angeles. It made an expedition from Camp Latham to Owens River, California from March 19th through April 28, 1862 and participated in a skirmish at Bishop's Creek in Owens River Valley on April 9. It next made an expedition from Camp Latham to Owens River from June through October 8, 1862, participated in a  skirmish at Owens Lake on June 24th  and moved to Camp Independence at Owens Valley until July 1863.

During August 1863, the company moved to Camp Leonard, California where it remained for two months, from July 6th through August 17th, then went to Fort Tejon, remaining three months; then it went to Camp Babbitt near Visalia in December 1863, where it remained from January 1864 until August 1864; when it took up a march for San Francisco to be mustered out. The original members were mustered out during the months of September and October 1864 after which it was ordered to Camp Union, Sacramento, California on August 18, 1864. The company was again filled up and stationed at Camp Union from October 1864 until March 1865. After that it was in camp near Hornitos, Mariposa County for one month, then at Camp Union San Diego, California and served duty there until February 1, 1866 when it was finally mustered out.

After his release from service, Carl again returned to Australia in 1865, having not seen his family in many years, and began teaching in country schools; firstly at Gnadenberg in the Barossa Valley. In 1869 Carl  married Emma Caroline Schultze, aged 16, the daughter of Friedrich Schultze, on November 6, 1869, at the Anglican Christ Church in Kapunda.  She was said to have been the light of his life. Together they had nine children, seven daughters and two sons. Gustav Joseph born January 25, 1871 at St Kitts Creek, Emilia Louisa born February 14, 1873 at Dalkey, Emma Matilda bornJanuary 8, 1875 at Monarto, Ada Ella born January 24, 1877 at Burton, Hermann Hubert born February 22, 1879 at Burton, Adelaide Letitia born June 8, 1881 at Manoora, Edith Esther born July 31, 1883 at Port Victor (Victor Harbour),  Minna Octavia born May28, 1886 at Goolwa, Hilda Heloise born around 1889 and died  June30,  1913 at Woodville at age 24 (but not listed in birth register) and Sylvia Decima born November 18, 1891 at Goolwa. Carl was said to be a strict disciplinarian, discouraging unworthy suitors of his daughters with a stock whip and it is said that not one of his daughters ever married. Emma died shortly after their moving to Woodville and it left Carl devastated.

Miethke became head teacher at Victor Harbour in 1881, having previously taught at Manoora. In 1885 he transferred to the Goolwa School, where he remained until 1892 when he went to Woodville; where he retired in 1895. Carl had begun teaching at small schools, later moving to larger ones and eventually served under the Inspector General of Schools, a Mr. Hartley. Carl had received an education in Prussia and his teaching was usually connected with the Lutheran Church, during which he developed exceptional skills in almost every subject. It eventually led to positions as headmaster at Chinford, Port Victor, Goolwa and Woodville in 1892. When he finally retired from teaching, after some forty years, he was school master of some 300 students.

Emma Caroline Miethke died on August 8, 1892 at Woodville, at age 35, and was buried in the Cheltenham Cemetery.

Carl Miethke die at Woodville, South Australia on October 21, 1931 at the age of 97, still living in the same house he shared with his daughter Adelaide.  He was buried in the Cheltenham Cemetery with his wife and seven of his children. Four of his daughters also became teachers; Adelaide, Mathilde, Ella and Minnie.

His son Gustav, born in 1871, went on to serve in the Adelaide Rifles, 10th Battalion, in World War I and died in 1949 at 78 years of age. Emma, born in 1875, was a teacher for forty-four years, twenty-three as a headmistress of Le Febres Peninsula Infant School, dieing in 1958. Ella, born in 1877, was head of a Correspondence School and died in 1961. Hermann, born in 1879, the only child to get married and have children, became Deputy Director of Post & Telegraphs and was awarded the Silver Jubilee Medal by King George V in 1935, dieing in 1974. Adelaide, born in 1881, was fairly well known in education and the women's movement. In 1914, as secretary of the Women Teachers' Association, she proposed the appointment of headmistresses in high schools, and worked for better pay and conditions for women teachers. In 1936 she was president of the Women's Centenary Council, during the celebrations of the centenary of the European colonization of South Australia. She was headmistress of Woodville High School 1921-24, in 1924 became the first female Inspector of Schools, and was awarded the Order of the British Empire for public services in 1937. The OBE was established by King George V in June 1917. She too died, in 1962.

“A History of Woodville” Susan Marsden, Woodville, Corp. of the City of Woodville, 1977

Anne Dow, Descendant

Anthony Laube, State Library of South Australia - Beryl Schahinger, research coordinator

California GenWeb, Civil War Rosters, Transcription Project

“In her own name: a History of Women in South Australia from 1836”,

        Helen Jones, rev. ed., Adelaide, Wakefield Press, 1994

Lynn Dillon, Descendant - Brig.-Gen. Richard H. Orton, pub. 1890

“Register of California Men in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1867”        

Sandra Morton, Local History Officer, Port Adelaide Library - University of South Australia



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