Evlampia HOLTZE nee Mesinzoff
Russians in Australia – Holtze family is a well known family who came to Northern Territory in early 1870s. They are considered the Pioneers of NT. At least five places in Northern Territory are called after their names– suburb Ludmilla, suburb Holtze, Ludmilla Creek, Holtze Crescent and Wallaby Holtze Road.
“They had come as aliens seeking refuge, they were leaving [for Adelaide] beloved, respected citizens of Australia”, wrote their granddaughter in 1891 .
The story goes that Ludmilla Creek in Darwin was originally named after Ludmilla Holtze by her eldest brother. The first reference to suburb Ludmilla happened in 1890 when the surveyor Gustav Sabine named the suburb using the creek’s name. Ludmilla was the daughter of Maurice Holtze, curator of Darwin Botanical Gardens, and his wife Evlampia Holtze.
Maurice William Holtze (1840 – 1923) was born in Hannover to C. Holtze, son of a chief inspector of orphan houses and French mother. He received an appropriate education in his country and became a landscape gardener. At the age of 22 in 1862 he migrated to St Petersburg. Not much is known about his life in Russia. Only that he worked at Imperial Gardens in St Petersburg and married to a Russian woman.
Imperial Gardens of St Petersburg in 19th century were known as Botanical Gardens. The gardens, the oldest Botanical gardens in Russia, were founded in 1714 by order of Peter the Great as the Apothecary’s Garden and soon became the center for horticultural research. The majority of the staff were hired from overseas.
Within 3 years of his uneventful life in St Petersburg he married Evlampia (1848 –6 July 1937), a daughter of Surgeon-Captain Semen Mesinzoff and Sophia Ivanovna.
Evlampia and Maurice had 3 kids born in St Petersburg – Nicholas/Nicolai (1866-1913, Darwin), Wladimir/Vladimir (1867-1961) and Ludmilla (1871-1971). Youngest son Alexis was born in Australia (1883 -1938).
Maurice “lived for ten years among the Slavs” and migrated to Australia with the family in September 1872. You can learn the full story of his migration in the book written by the descendant of Evlampia and Maurice- “The Holtze saga“ by Wynnis Ruediger. The book gives a full account on how Maurice and Evlampia met, their early life in Russia, migration and life in Australia.
When Holtze family arrived to Australia in 1872, Palmerston (the original name for Darwin) just started developing. The town was officially founded in 1869 with a small settlement of 135 men and women at Port Darwin. The construction of Australian Overland Telegraph Line in early 1870s and the discovery of gold at Pine Creek in 1871 accelerated the growth of the town.
Holtze family was amongst the first Darwin pioneers. Maurice leased the 180 miles piece of land in 1876 and “for some years there was a struggle for existence against adverse circumstances, in which he and his wife displayed signs of courage and patient industry”.
When the family arrived to the country they did not know English. “Maurice Holtze was excused on an account of being a foreigner and not understanding English” notes Northern Territory Times and Gazette on 13 February 1875. They could not communicate with neighbors or be employed. They felt complete strangers in a new settlement.
Elena Govor writes in her book-
“Evlampia’s Russian origin still manifested itself in her Russian Orthodox religion, some Russian dishes in her cuisine, a Russian peasant costume for her daughter for a fancy dress ball, a subscription to a Russian newspaper, her tales to children and grandchildren about her life in Russia and hospitality to occasional Russian travelers.”
Maurice Holtze became a Government Gardener at the Palmerston Botanic Gardens (1878-1891), director of Experimental Gardens in Darwin and a curator of Botanical Gardens in Adelaide, South Australia from 1891 until his retirement in 1917.
His son Alexis Holtze was an editor at various Australian newspapers and radio manager in his later career.
Daughter Ludmilla Holtze lived a long life – up to 100 years. She went to study arts at School of Design in Adelaide, married Charles William Hughes in 1889 and had a big family.
Holtze Crescent was named after son Waldemar (‘Wallaby’) Holtze, who joined the construction party of the O.T. Line when he was sixteen. In 1930’s he became assistant postmaster at Katherine Telegraph Office in 1930’s.
Son Nicholas Holtze was a curator of Darwin Botanical Gardens and was the only member of Holtze family who died in Northern Territory.
 Elena Govor, “Australia in the Russian mirror”, page 124
 Elena Govor “Australia in the Russian mirror”