GJ and Bertha Rechner – A love story (part 1)

GJ and Bertha e1655090954681

What do we know about Bertha Rechner, GJ’s wife? Not as much as we would like! But she and GJ shared a partnership of over 50 years together. It was a partnership based on love, a shared faith and a shared devotion to their work.

It began quite romantically, back in Silesia, when GJ was 16 and she was almost 20. GJ had been apprenticed as a cloth cutter in his father’s factory at Neukirch. “There worked the daughter of the master machinist Joseph Bergmann. With her clear voice and mild, kind eyes she had attracted the young man, who had advanced to the position of clerk in the factory. How she must have blushed, when she, the much courted, one fine day – in the presence of her mother – was handed a little bouquet by the much younger man, who without saying a word gazed deeply into her eyes”.

They spent much time together discussing their faith, singing, and walking in the surrounding hills and cornfields.
However, at 17, GJ emigrated to Australia, leaving Bertha behind. He wrote her of the devastation he felt leaving her and how hard it was to look at “one who has become such a dear friend to me possibly for the last time..we shall, however, dearest, lay everything in His (God’s) eternally rich fatherly hands…for what he does is well done in heaven and on earth”. Even though he had professed to Bertha “I have often cherished the thought, what a delight it would be if I could one day obtain you as my companion through this life”, he did not think it possible, as she was a Catholic and he a staunch Lutheran, who had sworn never to enter a mixed marriage. He did not want Bertha to renounce her Catholocism simply to marry him – issues of faith were too important for that.

GJ had been in Australia for three years, and was by then working as the teacher at Light Pass School. He continued to write to Bertha, and was overjoyed to hear that she had been received into the Lutheran Church ‘out of the freest conviction”.

On the 9th August 1850, his friends told him there was an arrival of crates for him at Port Adelaide. We can imagine his joy when he found out it was in fact, Bertha! With his longer hair and beard she did not recognize him straight away, but once she did, their joy was complete. They were married by Pastor Kavel on the 23rd October, 1850.

to be continued….

(information taken from research done by Peter Rechner).