Armbruster, Johann Friedrich Martin - I19669

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First Class Passenger 
Johann Friedrich Martin Armbruster
1826 – Feb 1897
Other names Frederick
Nationality  German
Born 1826
Hamburg, Germany
Died Feb 1897
Norwood, South Australia
Genealogy Data
Person ID I19669
Birth Family
Armbruster Family - F19111
Father Nickolaus Armbruster
Marriage Family/Families
Armbruster Family - F19112
Spouse Maria Sophia Rosenheim 
(Abt 1836 – 1885)
Nationality Unknown
Married Mar 1860
Adelaide Registry Office

Armbruster Family - F19113
Spouse Emma Hermina Esselbach 
(1850 – 1929)
Nationality Unknown
Married c1893
Stepney, South Australia
Voyage Data
Voyage to London in 1867
Personal role First Class Passenger
Name on list Mr. Armbruster
Age on voyage Abt 41
Joined place Adelaide
Left place London

Frederick Armbruster spent the first three months of 1867 in the first-class saloon of the City of Adelaide on its voyage from Adelaide to London. This was the only visit he made back to his native country of Germany during the 46 years he lived in Adelaide.

On a very slow trip often lacking favourable winds, 15 years old Frederick W Bullock recorded in his diary: “It was proposed by some of the passengers that we should establish an Improvement Society the meetings to be held twice a week. The gentlemen to give readings lectures etc. and the ladies to sing.”

Among the several who contributed to the first meeting at the end of January “Mr Armbruster gave a lecture on the Germans in Adelaide after which he sang a German song.” At subsequent society meetings in March “Mr Armbruster sang a German song” and “Mr Armbruster gave a lecture on Hamburg including an account of the great fire at which he was present.”

Johann Friedrich Martin Armbruster (1826-1897), a son of Nickolaus Armbruster, was born at Hamburg in Germany, and migrated to South Australia about 1851. He found that the economy in Adelaide was decimated by the general exodus to the Victorian goldfields, so he made his own way overland to the diggings. Like so many others, he had no luck there and eventually he returned to Adelaide.

In 1855 he entered the tobacco trade when he took over the business of Mr A H Bartels, a former Mayor of Adelaide. Two years later he was joined in partnership by Heinrich Uhlmann, and for decades the firm traded as F Armbruster & Uhlmann, wholesale and retail tobacconists and cigar manufacturers. Their main shop was in Rundle Street, near Pulteney Street, but they opened a branch at 9 Rundle Street, and another at 82 King William Street. Their icon was a half-sized statuette of a nattily dressed American negro, which was purchased in 1859 and sat in the Rundle Street window for more than 100 years.

Cigar making was Frederick Armbruster’s specialty, and “he took a delight in the preparation of the soothing weed”. He was an expert in the art he had learned in Hamburg, and he introduced it to the colony.

He married Maria Sophia Rosenheim at the Adelaide Registry Office in March 1860. They had three sons and two daughters born between 1861 and 1870 while living in Wakefield Street East. Sophia died in 1885 aged 49, and Frederick was remarried at the age of 66 to 44 years old widow Emma Hermina Richardson née Esselbach (1850-1929) at her father’s home in Stepney.

Although he was often approached by ratepayers to represent them in Council or in Parliament, Frederick Armbruster always declined to nominate for public office. Instead he gave his time willingly to his community interests. He was one of the earliest members of the German Club in which he was prominent, and he was elected a Life Member for services rendered.

Music was his particular passion. Having belonged to a Liedertafel in Germany, he was a founder of the Adelaide Liedertafel in 1858, was its enthusiastic driving force for many years, and he held the office of President more often than anybody else. He introduced the ‘Herren Abend’, or gentlemen’s smoke social, which became a popular feature of the society’s meetings. He never missed a performance of an opera, he had a deep knowledge of the old Italian operas, and he would be consulted by entrepreneurs to advise them on the musical tastes of Adelaide.

Frederick Armbruster died at Norwood in February 1897 aged 70, leaving a widow, and the five children by his first marriage. He was buried in the Payneham Cemetery, and members of the Liedertafel sang a funeral hymn at his graveside.

Rudolph Buring, who had joined F Armbruster & Uhlmann as a 14 years old errand boy in 1858, had been admitted to the partnership in 1878. As Heinrich Uhlmann had already died in 1885, Buring now became the sole proprietor who carried on the business. He was also a successor to Frederick Armbruster as a President of the Liedertafel.