Hans Ditlev Petersen

Hans Ditlev Petersen, Mayor of Mackay 1912. (source: Jubilee of Mackay 1912)Born:       abt. 1859 (Denmark)
Died:        16 November 1939 (Mackay, Queensland) aged 81 years.  
Buried:    17 November 1939, (Mackay Cemetery, Lutheran Sect., Row 2, Plot 6) 
Marriage: 1 January 1884 (Queensland) to Augusta Louisa Wilhelmina FINGER 
Religion:   Lutheran

Congratulations to Mr. H. D. Petersen, one time Mayor of Mackay and for 12 years a useful member of the Mackay Harbour Board, who celebrates his 73rd birthday on Easter Saturday.  The 1st instant marked the 52nd anniversary of his arrival in Rockhampton from Hamburg in the sailing ship "Charles Dickens" after a four months' voyage.  

After a couple of years in Bundaberg during which time he worked on the line to Mt. Perry, Mr. Petersen came to Mackay and took up a position at Meadowlands Mill for its first season in 1881, sugar drying and even in those far back days making mill whites.  

After putting in the 1882 season there he left on account of the steam affecting him.  Thereafter he successively ran businesses s drayman, hansom cab proprietor, and a firewood depot.

In 1893 he entered into the grocery business with the late Mr. Jim Tait, and after 15 years left it in 1909.  During his nine years as an alderman he had the pleasure of piloting through the building of the present Town Hall, which was opened in 1912, during his term of Mayor  One of his mot treasured mementos is the dainty little gold key presented to him quite recently by the Mackay citizens in honour of the event.

Mr. Petersen joined the P.A.F.S.O.A. in 1880, and had the honour of opening Britannia Lodge in 1887 of which he was secretary for 41 years, relinquishing that office in 1929. 

On the old Pioneer Shire, Mr. Petersen put in seen years as a Councillor.  He has every reason to be proud of the service he rendered the town of Mackay and it is always a pleasure to hear his graphic remarks about the early days when Sydney Street was a jungle. 


The Canegrower, Volume 1, No.1; March 13, 1931

Late Mr. H. D. Petersen.

Widespread regret was expressed yesterday afternoon when it was learnt that Mr. H. D. Petersen, a very old and well-known citizen of Mackay, had passed quietly away at his residence, Gordon-street, at the ripe age of 81 years.

Arriving in Mackay from Denmark as a young man of about 20 years, he was shortly afterwards married in what was to become the present fine city, and of the family, besides Mrs. Petersen, who is enjoying remarkably good health, there remains, Mrs. F.J. Walker, of Townsville; Mrs. A.E. Griffiths, of Brisbane; Messrs. Eddie, Henry, and Frank, of Mackay.  There are five surviving out of eight grand-children.

Headstone of Hans Ditlev Petersen, Mackay Cemetery.
(Glen Hall Collection, March 2008)

Of the late Mr. Petersen it can be recorded that he was a man beloved by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance.  He was possessed of  most charitable disposition but while holding firmly to his own convictions was tolerant of the views of others.  He was one of those sterling pioneers whose heart and soul was in the development of Mackay, both from a commercial and civic point of view, and to his sustained and strenuous efforts may be ascribed much of the progress which has taken place in its development in many directions.

His first business effort in his adopted city was the opening of a cooperative general store, later entering into partnership with Mr. J. Tait on the site on which the Q.N. Bank now stands, subsequently removing to the premises at present occupied by Brown Pty. Ltd.  The partnership was dissolved several years ago, since when the late Mr. Petersen practically lived a retired life.

Notwithstanding that he had many interests claiming his attention, he devoted much time in other directions.  He was one of the early members of the Lutheran Church in Mackay, and was its first secretary when it was reorganised in 1883.  Throughout that lengthy period he maintained a keen interest in its welfare, and when he was able, his whole-hearted support could always be counted upon.

He was a foundation member of the Britannia Lodge, P.A.F.S.O.A., was a Past Master and also Grand Council representative for a long period, also lodge secretary for 41 years.  He relinquished this post some years ago, the duties of that office being taken over by his son Frank.  His fine friendly society spirit was displayed on the occasion of an Hibernian Conference in Mackay when he delivered  notable speech at the civic reception of the delegates upon the motives which should actuate all those engaged in the work of the alleviation of suffering and distress.

In political life the late Mr. Petersen was chairman of the then National Association, and was to be found in the forefront in the fight for what he considered was right and in the best interests of his adopted country.  He was an alderman of the Mackay City Council for several years and Mayor in 1912, when he opened the present Town Hall.  A souvenir which he greatly treasured - a gold replica of the key-was presented to him on that occasion.  He also was a member of the Pioneer Shire Council.

As a member of the Mackay Harbor (sic) Board, he was one of the early advocates of port facilities for Mackay , the necessity of which he stressed time and again.  In this connection one ardent ambition of his life was fulfilled when he was able to attend the official opening of the Outer Harbor (sic), in August last.

As a member of the Fire Brigade he rose to the position of deputy-superintendent.  He also took a keen interest in the Mackay Bowling Club, and was largely responsible for making possible the acquisition of the valuable land which is now used by it.

During the Great War he took a prominent part in the raising of patriotic funds and was secretary of the friendly societies' movement which raised the first 100 by a united sports gathering.

The funeral will take place this afternoon, the members of the Britannia Lodge being requested to attend.


The Mackay Daily Mercury; Friday, November 17, 1939; page 8.

Other Sources:

Mackay Cemetery Burial Register, Mackay Branch Genealogical Society of Qld.

Mackay Cemetery Monumental Inscriptions, Mackay Branch Genealogical Society of Qld.

Queensland Pioneers Index, 1829-1889

Queensland Federation Index 1890-1914.

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