Jewish History Australia
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Jews of Eureka
Sunday, 3 December 1854
A German-born Jew, Edward (Teddy) Thonen, was a leader of the goldfields uprising at Ballarat commonly called the Eureka Stockade
Rafaello Carboni recounts that in the meeting of the leadership group that determined on a militant strategy, Carboni nominated Peter Lalor as leader, and Thonen seconded the nomination. Recent research indicates that in 1851 the 23 year Edward Thonen of Elbertfeld, Prussia, was in Britain earning his living as a teacher of languages. Thonen, just five foot tall, travelled about the diggings with a keg as a 'lemonade seller'; Carboni stated that no digger could defeat him at chess. It makes sense to suggest that the 'lemonade' was a euphanism for alcohol, presumeably sly grog of some kind, which cost the thirsty diggers a whole shilling for a glass; Carboni tells of an incident when the silver shilling paid for a glass on the diggings dropped to the ground, and Thonen then drove off unpaid rather than scratch in the dust for the coin.

Quote from the eye-witness account written by Rafaello Carboni.

It was full dawn, not daylight. A discharge of musketry - then a round from the bugle - the command 'forward' - and another discharge of musketry was sharply kept on by the redcoats (some 300 strong) advancing on the gully west of the stockade, for a couple of minutes. The shots whizzed by my tent. I jumped out of the stretcher and rushed to my chimney facing the stockade. The forces within could not muster above 150 diggers. The shepherds' holes inside the lower part of the stockade had been turned into rifle-pits, and were now occupied by Californians of the I.C. Rangers' Brigade, some twenty or thirty in all, who had kept watch at the 'outposts' during the night. Ross and his division northward, Thonen and his division southward, and both in front of the gully, under cover of the slabs answered with such a smart fire, that the military who were now fully within range, did unmistakably appear to me to swerve from their ground: anyhow the command 'forward' from Sergeant Harris was put a stop to. Here a lad was really courageous with his bugle. He took up boldly his stand to the left of the gully and in front: the redcoats 'fell in' in their ranks to the right of this lad. The wounded on the ground behind must have numbered a dozen.

According to another eye-witness account, Thonen was the first miner killed when troops stormed the stockade on Sunday, 3 December 1854.

Thonen was not originally interred in the common grave where 22 miners were buried.
The Melbourne Herald of December 2, 1857 states,
'THE EUREKA VICTIMS - On Tuesday morning, about 7 o'clock, the bodies of Captain Ross, James Brown, Thonen, the lemonade seller, and Tom the blacksmith, who fell at the Eureka Stockade, and had been buried apart from the others, were removed from the grave and placed in that containing the bodies of the others who lost their lives on the memorable 3rd of December. The removal took place in the presence of Mr Superintendent Foster, Mr Salmon, trustees of the cemetery, and Mr Lessman. The coffins were in excellent preservation. We understand that no procession will take place on Thursday next, the anniversary of the Eureka affair, but the grave of the fallen will be decorated with chaplets and flowers.'

The Eureka Resolution Three days after the battle -- or should one say massacre of Eureka Stockade, there was a meeting of miners at Bakery hill, Ballarat, on Wednesday December 6 (1854). Charles Dyte, W. Levy and Henry Harris were involved in the drafting of resolutions passed by the meeting, including what is called "the Eureka Resolution." Henry Harris was the first president of the Ballarat Hebrew Congregation, to be succeeded by Charles Dyte in 1856. On January 25, 1861 Dyte laid the foundation stone for the historic Ballarat Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue on the Australian mainland.

Other Jewish Involvement in the Events of Eureka
Also directly involved in support of the "diggers" of Eureka was Manastra Flatow, (like Thonen, from Germany). Flatow was one of the ten "rioters" arrested in connection with the burning of the Eureka Hotel. However, only three members of this group were actually committed for trial, and the others, including Flatow, were dismissed.The other three were goaled.

Both Charles Dyte and the publican Henry Harris, mentioned above in relation to the drafting of resolutions of the miners at public meetings, were both involved in vital aspects of the Eureka Affair - but not as "diggers". The auctioneer/businessman Charles Dyte was a friend of James Benson, the proprietor of the Eureka Hotel, and had stored £145 of his property in the Hotel shortly before the Eureka was burned down; of his property, only a musical box survived. Dyte was in court in November to give character evidence for Benson prior to sentencing; Benson's acquital in the October hearing, followed by his mild sentence for manslaughter in the November retrial was one of the sparks that ignited the whole affair.

Front view of Digger's Memorial, Balaarat Cemetery Side view of Digger's Memorial, Balaarat Cemetery

"Those who fell on the memorable 3rd of December 1854 in resisting the unconstitutional proceedings of the Victorian Government"
Front and side view of the Digger's Memorial at the Ballaarat Cemetery, Ballarat, listing Edward Thonen as being from Elbertfeltdt, Prussia.
[Wuppertal is the current name of the German town based around Elberfeldt and Barmen].

© HAC 26/11/04