03 October 2012

Charles Berndt Schade – My Paternal Grandfather


Charles Schade was the grandfather I never knew, it took some doing but I finally pinned him down! After I had found that he was the father of my grandmother’s three eldest children I wrote to all the people in the Auckland telephone book with the surname of Schade, explaining who I was, who I was looking for and if they were related please could they get in touch with me. I received three replies, one was from a Doctor whose family turned out to be a different one, one from a grandson of Charles and another from the wife of another grandson who was deceased. I arranged to meet up with them both, the grandson was my generation and he came to visit me one afternoon. He gave me a lot of information about the Schade family, told me about what he remembered about his grandfather and that Charles had married again in later life. Then I went to visit the wife of his brother who was able to tell me what she knew and also gave me copies of some lovely photos of Charles & his family. No one could tell me much about the family Charles had with my grandmother so it seems that grandma & her children had not kept in touch with Charles over the years. I never did find out why they never married although I do know that Charles didn’t divorce his first wife until long after he & grandma split up. So follows the story of Charles’ life as I know it, scant as it is.



Charles Berndt Schade was born in Chewton, Victoria, Australia in 1872, his parents were Berndt Christensen Schade and Jane Boots.

Then there’s a twenty-two year blank until he married Elizabeth Annie Peeler on Christmas Day 1894. They were married at her father’s residence in nearby Barkers Creek.





Gold was discovered in Barkers Creek in 1851 and over 30,000 diggers & prospectors from around the world arrived at Chewton over the next three months.

The Forest Creek diggings became the world’s richest shallow alluvial goldfield. The attraction of gold at Forest Creek led to the world's largest migration in the 19th Century.

By the 1860s the alluvial gold had been exhausted and efforts turned to underground shafts in search of gold bearing quartz reefs. Underground mining saw the immigration of Welsh and Cornish miners and some mines were very successful. The Wattle Gully mine founded in 1876 is still operating today.

By the time Charles & Elizabeth married the gold mining had wound down, the population declining to 1212 and by 1933 only 454 people were left.


Their three sons were born in quick succession over the next three years, first was Roy Wilhelm Charles Theodore in 1895, then Alfred Berndt in 1896 and finally Albert Edward Thomas in 1897. Second son Alfred Berndt died in 1898 aged 1. Sometime after 1898 Charles & Elizabeth & their two sons moved to Dunedin in New Zealand, then by 1905 they were in Christchurch where Charles was working as a Boilermaker.

On the 4 Nov 1908 Elizabeth walked out of their home, leaving Charles with their two children, never to return. As Charles says in his divorce petition ‘she wilfuly deserted me without just cause’, but I could have a good guess as to why she left! My grandmother, Olive Wilson Linklater, gave birth to a baby girl on 26 Dec 1907 in the Female Refuge for unmarried mothers in Linwood, Christchurch. That same baby girl, Marion Enid, would later say on her marriage certificate that Charles was her father.

It must have been soon after Elizabeth leaving that Olive went to live with Charles as his ‘housekeeper’, supposedly to look after his two sons. I don’t know how long they stayed in Christchurch but before 23 Oct 1910 they moved to Auckland where my father, Ronald Charles, was born in the suburb of Arch Hill (just before you reach Surrey Crescent coming from the city along Great North Rd). His brother, Raymond Stanley, was born at the same address 17 months later. At this stage Charles was still married to Elizabeth and as far as I know hadn’t tried to get a divorce.

I don’t know how long after that they were together, Charles is listed in 1914 as living at 1 Stanmore Rd, Grey Lynn but there is no sign of Olive living anywhere in that same electoral roll, at least under any surname I can think of. In 1917 Olive married George Edward Whitney in the Auckland Registry Office and before the end of the year they had a son, Gordon Robert Whitney, who was born in Hanson St, Wellington. By 1919 Olive & George were living in Christchurch although before too long they were all back living in Auckland once more.



On the 6 Sep 1930 Charles petitioned for a divorce from Elizabeth, a typical man, he gives his marriage date as 1893 instead of 1894!


Absolutely no mention of his three children or my grandmother, the first one being born while he was still with Elizabeth! I believe we all know why she walked out on him…..

<<<<< On the 1 Oct 1930 this appeared in the Auckland Weekly News. I don’t know if Elizabeth was ever found, I believe she later married Archibald Campbell. The divorce absolute was granted on the 14 Nov 1930 in the Supreme Court in Auckland (see date stamp on marriage certificate). In 1932 Charles married Ada Harling and on the 26 Feb 1932 they both departed on board the vessel “Maunganui” bound for Sydney.


On the 3rd Sep 1948 Charles passed away while living
at 16 Pompallier Tce, Ponsonby, Auckland, aged 76.

He was cremated at Waikumete Crematorium and his ashes were scattered.

I would have been nearly 8, it would have been nice to have known him I think, he looks like he’d mellowed somewhat in his old age.




The details given on his death certificate aren’t quite correct, probably given by his wife Ada who it seems didn’t know! His father was Berndt Christensen Schade not Hans Berndt and his mother was Jane Boots, no middle name. In fact Jane wasn’t a Boots at all, but that’s another story!


1 comment:

Laurenbavin said...

Very interesting Dawn .. I have several tricky ones like this still to research .