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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Moller, Donat Eduard Wilhelm (Constable)

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1844
Place of birth Hamburg, Germany
Date of arrival 1848
Principal occupation Butcher, Farmer, Mounted Constable
Date of death 1922
Place of decease Adelaide

Donat Moller was born in 1844 in Hamburg, Germany. At the age of 4, he and his family emigrated on the ship, Leontine, which arrived in South Australia on July 31, 1848. His father, Franz Heinrich Moeller, a labourer, married Henrietta Friedericke Emilie Livonius. At the time of their journey, Franz and Henrietta had 6 children, of which Donat was the third son and fourth eldest. When the ship arrived, the South Australian Register (2/8/1848, p. 2) noted that “we are assured that the emigrants, several of whom are from Prussia, are, as a body, the finest set of people yet landed here from that part of Europe.

Franz became a respected storekeeper in Ackland Street and Donat grew up and became a butcher. Donat had brown hair and hazel eyes and was 5 ft 10in tall. On July 25, 1866, Donat Moller joined the Mounted Police. It seems that Donat was posted to the Western Division and was sent there by the steamer Royal Shepherd, although the exact date is unknown. From the records kept by the Police Commissioner, it seems that Donat was posted to Port Augusta and then to Three Lakes on the Eyre Peninsula. He then seems to have been transferred to Willunga with Michael McKeevor. There, Donat aroused the ire of Dr Mackintosh, who complained to the Police Commissioner about Donat’s “menacing and insulting words”. This may have been caused by Donat charging Dr Mackintosh for allowing horses to stray on the road. When the matter was brought to court, it was proven to the satsifaction of the other JPs that there was someone tending the horses and the case was dismissed. This may have created some bad feeling against Donat as he then applied for a transfer. It seems that he was then sent to Blinman, where another police constable, PT W. Gregory, complained about his conduct.

Donat Moller was discharged from the Police on November 30, 1869. His discharge may have been due to the complaints or due to him still owing money to Henry Goode of Willunga. It seems that Donat retained the habit of catching criminals after he left the police. In 1870, he is reported to have apprehended a housebreaker on the run from constables in Adelaide. According to the Express and Telegraph:

Not a little excitement was caused on Tuesday morning by a man named Henry Hebberman, arrested on a charge of housebreaking attempting to escape from the custody of the police. It appears that the charge had been entered on the sheet in the Police-station, and the prisoner was being escorted to the cells, when he suddenly stooped and bolted from the constables, running into Waymouth Street and across King Wiiliam-street into Pirie-street,-where he cut through Mr. Wm. King's timber yard and got into the Hotel Europe through one of the back windows. He there climbed up one of the chimneys, but possibly finding this an uncomfortable position he came down, and ran through some backyards into the yard of the Union Bank in Pirie Street, where he was caught by a young man named Donat Moller, and was escorted back to the station by two or three policemen. A large number of persons, and quite a mob of juveniles, were in attendance, and accompanied the prisoner to the doors of the station. (5/4/1870, p. 2)

Certainly Donat’s father, and probably some of his brothers and sisters, lived in Adelaide and it is likely that Donat spent some time as a butcher there. By 1873, he appears to have moved to Port Lincoln, perhaps living with his brother Gustav, when his name appeared in the newspapers for the worst of reasons. On January 28, 1873, Donat committed an indecent assault against a 15 year old girl. Mr Stowe QC, appearing for Donat, said that Donat pleaded guilty to having been drunk at the time. Mr Stowe produced various testimonials regarding Donat’s good character. The presiding judge said it was a sad thing to see a respectable man led away into crime while under the influence of drink. Donat was sentenced to six months hard labour. He served his sentence at Adelaide Gaol and was discharged on August 9, 1873.

After Donat’s release, he disappears from the record, perhaps to go prospecting, and then reappears, buying town blocks mostly owned by other butchers. The land is located in Adelaide, Carrieton and Lancelot and each time he bought the land only to sell it a few years later. In 1881, he moved to the Kingston area, buying land and probably farming and setting up as a butcher. In 1889, he and a colleague prospected around the Flinders Ranges, where they found copper.

Donat Edward (Ned) Moller died on July 4, 1922. He was buried in the West Terrace cemetery.

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