Seeing Herman Rosler

Portrait of a German Pioneer

If it possible to ascribe personal characteristics based on a photograph this portrait of Julius Herman Rosler (1825-1914) – known as John – suggests a self-confident man determined to make his mark on the world, something he certainly did.

One obituary published upon Rosler’s death was subtitled ‘A Romantic Career’ which somewhat downplays a life that reads more like a Boys Own adventure. This included service in the Prussian Army and the Foreign Legion; big-game hunter in Africa; stoker and slipper-maker in London; emigration to South Australia in 1854; land-grubbing at Seppeltfields; and gold-mining in Victoria.

 After store-keeping in Greenock, South Australia, Herman (as he was known) and his wife Johanna (nee Zobel) returned to Victoria briefly before settling in Jindera with their five children, where in 1874 he opened a store with P C Wagner. This was not the end of Rosler’s adventures as only a decade later he moved his family to Doodle Cooma and established a store in what was to become the town of Henty. Rosler was not just a pioneer of Henty but its originator and was celebrated as such at celebrations marking his eightieth birthday.

Rosler was a substantial land-holder in Henty and a vocal  supporter of John McElhone and free selection, along with being an active Mason and a Justice of the Peace. In his later years Rosler became a regular correspondent to the local newspaper on an eclectic range of subjects: freemasonry; liquor regulations; divining rods; premature burials; England-Germany relations; archaeological finds in France; cremation; the NSW-Victoria border; and the Balkan war. This was certainly a full and varied life that left a permanent and visible mark.