Obituaries - Dr George Bollen

The South Australian Register, Friday September 23, 1892




Early on Thursday morning Foot constable Radford, while on duty in Currie street, found lying near the offices of the South Australian Jockey Club the body of a man, which was afterwards identified as that of Dr. George Bollen, the well known medical practitioner of Port Adelaide. The constable was informed by Charles Irwin, night watchman at the Adelaide Steamship Company’s offices, and John Tester, a cabinetmaker, employed at Mayfield & Sons, that they observed the deceased stagger and fall only two minutes previously to the constable coming up. When the constable arrived the body was quite warm, and he noticed the mouth moved. He also noticed an abrasion on the back part of the head, evidently the result of a fall on the pavement. As soon as possible the police ambulance was procured, and the body was removed to the morgue at West terrace. Letters addressed to Dr. G. Bollen were found on the deceased, and evidently these were the first indication to the identity of the late doctor. The doctor left Port Adelaide by the first train on Thursday, intending to go to Mount Barker by the first south train with some friends. After having taken their seats it was discovered that the porter who had collected the tickets had taken the wrong halves. Thereupon Dr. Bollen got out of the train to look for the porter so as to get the right halves of the tickets. When on the platform looking for the porter the train moved off. The supposition is that the friends being in the train the doctor hurried up the street with the object of hiring a trap so as to catch the train at Mount Lofty. The hurry consequent upon such action, it is presumed, brought about his lamented death.


As soon as the news reached Port Adelaide the flags were half-masted from the Town Hall and other buildings in the Port, and there were many enquiries and expressions of regret.


The late Dr. Bollen, who conducted a medical practice at St. Vincent street, Port Adelaide, was born at Brighton, Sussex, England, in 1826. He arrived in the colony in the ship Albermarle during November 1854. He settled for a time at Mount Barker, and afterwards went abroad. Dr. Bollen obtained his medical degree in the United States, and returning to the colony settled at Port Adelaide, where he followed his profession, gaining much distinction as a homœopathist. About ten years ago a conflict with the Medical Board on the question of granting Dr. Bollen a diploma was begun, and on November 2 1882, Mr Mattinson, one of the members of the Assembly for Port Adelaide, moved in Parliament that the Doctor was entitled to a certificate as a legally qualified medical practitioner under the Medical Act of 1880. Dr. Bollen received a diploma from the Hahnemann College of Chicago, which entitled him to practice anywhere in the United States, and it was argued at the time that a diploma should not be refused for this colony. The motion was passed, but the matter did not end here, and after renewed correspondence Dr. Bollen took legal advice on the subject in 1886. Eventually the certificate was granted. The late Doctor was actively connected with public life. He contested the election for the District of Port Adelaide at the last House of Assembly elections, when the present members (Messrs. Rounsevell and Hopkins) were returned. Although there were eleven candidates the doctor was a warm favourite with a large number from the first, being placed fifth on the list with 527 votes to his credit. He had no organized committee. His utterances on the hustings were always intermingled with quaint and humorous sayings, and his prescriptions for the political ills of the times were listened to attentively and respectfully by a large section. He also contested the central District at the last Legislative Council elections, receiving 295 votes. Dr. Bollen was a candidate for the District of West Torrens in 1884, but was defeated. When speaking as a defeated candidate for Port Adelaide at the Assembly general elections in 1890, he said his object in standing was to give prominence to certain view, “and he expected some day his opinions would convert the political heathen.” In his manifesto to the electors of the Central District for the Legislative Council last year, when in the number of votes he was sixth on the list, the Doctor favoured a radical reform in the Constitution Acts. He proposed that “on the first day of the session each Minister should be elected by the House in which he is a member by ballot, not proposed or seconded, nor by any discussion, but the President or Speaker should call for a ballot for, say the Treasurer, and when any member got an absolute majority of votes he should be elected; should no absolute majority of the votes occur in the first ballot the President or Speaker should put the highest two or three again, so that every Minister would be selected by an absolute majority of the Parliament, and continue in their several offices until the first day of the next session, except he should die, resign, or his office be declared vacant by an absolute majority of the House in which he is; in that case his successor should be elected to complete his term in a similar manner.” If such a method were adopted the Parliament would, in the late Doctor’s idea, “be changed from an arena of struggling office seekers to a deliberate assembly.” The Doctor proposed also to increase the number of Ministers to the crown to twelve, one of the new Ministers to be Minister of Health. He desired to decrease the Ministerial salaries, so that the sum total should not be much above what it is at present. To prevent a deadlock between the two Houses he suggested that when any measure had been twice passed by either Chamber, and twice rejected by the other, both chambers should sit together as one House and either pass or reject it.


With the earlier history of municipal affairs at Port Adelaide Dr. Bollen’s name will always be associated. He was a Councillor in the Corporation for several years, and in 1883 was elected Mayor of Port Adelaide.


It was during the Doctor’s term in the Mayoral Chair that the Robinson Bridge was opened by His Excellency Sir W.C.F. Robinson, and upon this occasion he gave a banquet – a somewhat unique one – on temperance principles, the Doctor being a total abstainer. The deceased gentleman was a well-known preacher in the Wesleyan Methodist denomination. In addition to preaching at Port Adelaide and in the adjoining circuits he frequently filled the pulpit at the Dunn Memorial church at Mount Barker, where he had a residence. Some years ago the Doctor started to build a hospital or kind of infirmary in a prominent site at Mount Barker upon a design of his own. The structure was of an exceedingly novel style, one peculiarity being the entire absence of chimneys. The infirmary was recently completed, and the Doctor decided to permanently reside at the Mount.


Of the late doctor it might truly be said that his sympathies were ever with the “cause that needs assistance.” With two others his name appeared on a circular which was issued in September, 1878, which was the first step that was taken in the formation of the Port Adelaide Seamen’s Mission. On the successful formation of the Mission Dr. Bollen was elected president, a position which he continued to hold to the time of his death. He had been a consistent worker and supporter of the Mission ever since, and not long ago, offered to subscribe 500 pounds for a Sailors’ Rest at the Port if a similar amount could be raised by other means. His last Sunday evening was spent in addressing the Mission. Dr. Bollen was also President of the Port Branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society for several years, and all temperance and social works found a ready helper in the late gentleman. His charity was of a somewhat singular, though none the less substantial nature. In an unostentatious manner he relieved a large number of deserving cases. Mr. E. Hounslow, Missionary of the Seamen’s Mission, has sent us the following: -


“I have known the late Dr. G. Bollen for thirty-two years as an intimate friend. When I first knew him he was then living at Mount Barker. On his coming to Port Adelaide nineteen or twenty years ago he took a lively interest in Christian work. In 1879 we started the Seamen’s Mission. The Doctor was one of its first subscribers, was elected President, and continued so to the time of his death, taking great interest in the services, his last sermon at the Mission being on Sunday evening, September 18. I believe him to have been a true Christian, in not only preaching the gospel but practising Christianity. In my work as a missionary I have been brought in contact with many cases of his Christian charity to the poor, and I feel sure very many will miss his kindly help in time of need.”


Dr. Bollen was a widower, having lost his wife only a short while since. Messrs. C. Bollen, M.B., and P. Bollen, M.B., of St Vincent street, Port Adelaide, are sons of the deceased gentleman. The late Dr. Fred Bollen, who was much respected, was another son. Dr. George Bollen proved himself to be a useful colonist, and his sudden death, we feel sure, will be deeply regretted by a large number in the community.


The death of Dr. Bollen was referred to at the meeting of the Port Corporation on Thursday evening. The Mayor formally reported the occurrence. The news of the death of a former Mayor and councillor would be received by all Portonians with grief, for he had rendered valuable services. It was only right that they should express their sorrow at the doctor’s death, and also their sympathy with those bereaved. At a later stage Councillor Wright moved – “That a letter of condolence be forwarded to the family.” He felt sure the late doctor would be sadly missed. He was a man of sterling worth, and had done good service for Port Adelaide, both in the Council and in other ways. Councillor McPherson seconded.



The Christian Weekly & Methodist Journal, October 21, 1892





 George Bollen was born at Brighton, England, April 12th, 1826. He came to South Australia in 1854, and soon settled in Mount Barker. He commenced the study of medicine, and for some years practised as an amateur, until he had made such advancement in medical knowledge that he proceeded to America, studied there for a while, presented himself for examination before the medical college of Chicago, passed successfully, and obtained legal status as a medical practitioner. On his return to South Australia, he commenced practice at Port Adelaide, where he resided up to the time of his death. This occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, early on the morning of September 22nd, in a street in Adelaide, he having just missed the train to Mount Barker. Death was the result of a sudden stoppage in the action of the heart. The news of his death came as a great shock, not only to the members of his family, but to the public at large, by whom he was so well known and hightly respected. The funeral took place at the Woodville Cemetery, on the 24th, when a great crowd assembled to honor his memory.


He joined the Methodist Society at Mount Barker when the Rev. R. C. Flockart was superintendent, and having considerable natural abilities, began to preach, and took special pleasure in this work up to the time of his death. His last sermon, the Sunday before he died, was in connection with the Port Adelaide Seaman's Mission. Of this institution he was president, and also its most liberal supporter. His services as a preacher were in constant requisition, as he regularly visited the Brompton, Clarendon, and Mount Barker Circuits, and everywhere he was cordially received.


He was connected with temperance bodies, and advocated the principles. He set a good example when, during his term of office as Mayor of Port Adelaide, he gave a banquet and excluded intoxicating liquors from the table. During his practice he showed great consideration for the poor, often giving money or goods to meet their needs, as well as attending them in sickness without the usual fee. Widows and orphans especially were the objects of his kind solicitude. Many bear this testimony - "He was my friend, tender and kind to me." His sudden death illustrates and confirms the Saviour's utterance, "In such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh."


It was only a little more than three months previously that Mrs Bollen was called to her eternal home. She was a woman of delicate health for years, and for the last two or three quite an invalid. The severity of her physical pain every day made her life a weariness and burden to bear, and she often wondered that she should be spared so long, but she had a confiding childlike faith in God. She enjoyed conversation on spiritual things, and fervently responded when prayer was offered with her. Her end, too, came suddenly, when no one was in her room with her, though her husband was on the premises, and had conversed with her but a short time before. She died at Mount Barker on Sunday, June 19th, and her remains were buried in the Woodville Cemetery on the following Tuesday. Thus husband and wife, truly confiding in the Saviour, have, without a long interval of separation, entered into the "rest that remaineth for the people of God."