Elsa Evers has a few different theories. One relates to a wild German pig. Another involves a rudderless boat and the Hamburg River.
Music: From Russia with Love by Huma-Huma.


Evers. E V E R S

There’s a few different theories. One is that it means wild boar in old German. So wild pig. That’s my dad’s theory. He quite likes that theory because I think he likes to think of himself as a wild boar. So I’m kind of hairy. He’s… he’s a little bit hairy. He is quite pink and our family’s quite pink. 

It’s definitely seems to be a family trait, the pink-skinned trait, so it’s possibly… (laughs)

But also I think my dad likes to think of himself as a little bit of a…. When you go to New York, you go to Wall Street, there’s a there’s …is it a bull. So I think my dad likes to think of himself as sort of the wild pig version of the big New York bull (laughs).

So it seems to have a German heritage. So the other German theory. So I met a guy… when I used to work at Greenpeace, I met a gentleman from Hamburg. And he said oh Evers, I know your family. I said, Okay. And he explained that Ewers, E W E R S, are the keel-less boats. So basically they have a keel that retracts. A keel is the thing that keeps the boat stable, I guess, or rudderless boat. Is it keel or rudder? I don’t know the thing that sticks down from a boat basically. Anyway, so the Hamburg river is tidal. So they need to be able to pull up the keel or the rudder as they come up into the river, because it could be very shallow, it could be very deep, depending on the tide. And so they developed this boat called the Ewer, which had this capacity. And then they say that the family that developed this boat potentially could be my forebears. 

My dad would be a great person to speak to because he is obsessed with ancestry.com. And he has done the entire ancestry of our family via the Lutheran Church, which is a very good record keeping church. My great grandpa got on a ship from Hamburg. And I don’t know, I assume he was poor or desperate or cheated on someone. So basically got on a boat that they were one of the first sort of free settlers to South Australia. So I’ve actually seen the records, the shipping records because I went to Germany. I called dad from Germany. I was a backpacker at the time and I was just kind of like trying to find something to do. So I called Dad and said, so what …what you know family comes from here and tell me about it. They have these amazing shipping records that have all the names and you can see who got on the boats, what they… so I actually looked and found the copy of the ship that my great grandpa got on, came out to South Australia. He went to Adelaide, and they bought a farm outside of Adelaide, in the Adelaide Hills. So Dad has now gone on this kind of epic ancestry journey back in time, and he has bought this farm ..sheep farm. And he’s done it up. But… But essentially, that’s where my grandparents met in that area. 

Yeah, absolutely. Like I really take pride in my German heritage. When I meet Germans I feel like some kind of connection even though I have no cultural sensitivity or idea about Germans at all. It’s actually kind of embarrassing, but I kind of meet Germans and I think I have some kind of connection to them. Despite having basically nothing in common with them culturally. I mean, I feel like to denounce your heritage is to denounce part of your identity. 

And, you know, I went to Mexico as a student, and I did an exchange in Mexico. One of the things I picked up from there and really loved was the celebrate Day of the Dead, which is about celebrating your ancestors, whether you knew them or met them or not. These your great great great, great grandparents and learning about them and what they love to eat and what they did and where they live. And that… I think that’s really important because it is about who you are a person, whether you recognize it or not, because whether you know it or not, there is something that is passed down from them through the food you eat, the culture, the alcoholism, their temperament, the…. whatever they passed to you that you may not even know about, but it’s actually really amazing when you learn about them. How much you actually have in common with their interests and their struggles. Even though you never knew then. I mean, they’re strangers, right? They’re related to you but they are strangers and you kind of can meet them in a way if you do the research.