Ambrosius WINTER 1816-1871

The Winters had been the premier tailoring family in Nieder-Weisel since Johann Georg Winter began to ply his needle in the 1720s. His great-grandson Ambrosius, born 4th April 1816, would have become apprenticed to his father but for one over-riding circumstance – he was the seventh son born to his parents, Ambrosius Winter and Maria Dorothea nee Bodenroeder. Forced to look for an alternative way of earning his living, Ambrosius learnt the trade of brick laying.

He left the village for his journeyman experience and, in Hochelheim near Giessen, he romanced Anna Elisabetha Schmidt who, in 1836, agreed to travel to Paris with him. Anna Elisabetha gave birth to a son in their home near the Seine in 1838 but he died that year. A second son, Louis Philippe, was born in 1840 and after he was baptised Ambrosius took his little family back to Germany.

Ambrosius married Anna Elisabetha on 29th November 1840, accepting parentage of the baby, who was thereby legitimised. They remained in Nieder-Weisel where Ambrosius found work as a daily-paid farmhand. No other children were born to the marriage. Several of his brothers decided to leave the village when conditions there worsened even more and Ambrosius followed their example. With Anna Elisabetha and their teenage son, he joined a group of 25 others migrating to Victoria in 1855. They departed from Liverpool on 5th December 1855, and the ship “Marco Polo” took them to Melbourne in just 12 weeks. With many of their companions from Nieder-Weisel, they went from Ballarat to the Smythe’s Creek diggings, and Anna Elisabetha made their home there. Ambrosius was an official witness at the wedding of Juliana Belloff of Nieder-Weisel at Smythes Creek in July 1859.

Ambrosius soon realised that carrying provisions to the miners was a more certain way of earning a living on the goldfields than was prospecting. He was disappointed when his son decided not to join him in the project, returning to Germany instead. Nevertheless he went on with his plan to take out citizenship papers so that he could own property. It could be that Christoph Knipper – who received his papers on the same day (14th October 1862) joined him in this business venture. However, within 2-3 months, Ambrosius had to reconstruct his affairs as his wife died suddenly. She was buried in the Lutheran section of the newly commissioned cemetery at Smythesdale.

The Knippers moved away from the area and Ambrose eventually did so also. He went onto the land and worked a selection at Whoroully, in the valley of the Ovens river. Early in 1871 he re-married, his second wife being Maria Theresa Hearaty from Mayo in Ireland; this marriage lasted less than 12 months. Four days before Christmas, Ambrosius was working in the fields when he suddenly collapsed; by the time his work-mates had carried him to his home, he was dead. The coroner questioned the men who had been working for Ambrosius and formed the incredible and insupportable opinion that he had died from sunstroke. Ambrosius Winter was buried in the local cemetery on Christmas Eve 1871, aged 54. The Curator of Deceased Estates helped Maria straighten out his financial affairs.

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