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Oscar Arnold (Sonnie) Sonneman (1881–1963)

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Oscar Arnold (Sonnie) Sonneman (1881-1963) blacksmith, miner, trade union official, sportsman 

Birth: 5 June 1881 at Allens Creek, Kapunda, South Australia, son of Otto Franz Sonnemann (or Sonneman) (c.1854-1888), engine driver, previously a shoemaker, born in Germany, and Cristiane Karoline Ernestine, née Schmidt or Fichtner (1858-1920). Both parents had been born in Prussia [Germany]. Marriages: (1) 12 March 1903 at Mt Morgans, Western Australia, with Methodist forms, to Maude Jane Pook Boundy (1876-1940), born in Victoria. (2) 17 December 1942 in the Court House at Broken Hill, New South Wales, to native-bon Rita Doris, née Templeton, late Uren, a divorced hotel assistant (1904-1957). They had one son. Death: 14 January 1963 in hospital at Broken Hill. Religion: Anglican. 

  • When Oscar was aged 7, with two surviving brothers, the younger aged 3, their father was killed when he fell down a well while working at Davey and Sons mill. The family then spent time in the district of the Murray and Darling rivers between Menindee and Wentworth in New South Wales.
  • In 1896 the Sonnemans moved to Silver City, Broken Hill, where his mother remarried in June 1898. In November that year his step-father Charles Lovelace Andrew [known as Charles Lovelace], a miner, was killed in a mining accident at the South mine. Mrs Lovelace became a prominent Labor supporter.
  • In his youth at the Barrier Oscar was interested in pedestrianism and cycling and worked as a blacksmith. From 1900 to about 1908 he was a miner at Mulline, in the Mount Morgans district, Western Australia, and was prominent in the Imperial and Mulline football clubs and the Mulline rifle shooting club.
  • Returning to Broken Hill, he worked as a blacksmith and was a member of the Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia. Also a member of Trades and Trade Laborers Association. In 1916 he was a tradesman on Junction North Mine.
  • He was an executive member of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) for 9-10 years, president of the ASE1 branch and secretary and president ASE, district branch.
  • Sonneman represented the ASE on the Political Labor League and Trades and Labor Council. He represented members at the Arbitration Court in Melbourne. In December 1926 he was appointed justice of the peace.
  • He was vice-president of the Trades Hall Trust (THT) 1920, president 1921 and secretary of the THT from 1924. Associated with the “boys” of hempen square, for many years he was a notably successful manager of all boxing and wrestling contests held on the Barrier.
  • Member, Eight Hours Committee. Chairman, Hospital Gala Committee, 1924. President of Broken Hill Sports Council. Sometime secretary of the Broken Hill Trades Hall Trust Greyhound Club. A “likeable personality”. For many years he took a personal interest in the Broken Hill Sports Council, dealing with pedestrianism. Was prominent in the erection of fencing around the Stephens Creek Ground.
  • For much of his time in Broken Hill he resided at 244 Blende Street. Cause of death: pneumonia and carcinoma of colon.
  • His brother Frank Arthur Sonneman (1885-1950), also a blacksmith, was an active Broken Hill trade union official. Another brother Carl Albert, was a drover and station manager.

Daily Truth (Broken Hill), 17 December 1926, 7 September 1933 [p 5].

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Sonneman, Oscar Arnold (Sonnie) (1881–1963)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Oscar Sonneman, 1928

Oscar Sonneman, 1928

Sport (Adelaide), 21 June 1928, p 28

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Sonnemann, Oscar Arnold

15 June, 1881
Kapunda, South Australia, Australia


14 January, 1963 (aged 81)
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (bowel)

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