Ambrosius KLIPPEL 1836-1904

Ambrosius was a son of Ambrosius Klippel and Katharina nee Hildebrand. His mother was from one of the old families in the village and his father from a much more recent one. Their marriage in 1821 would produce twelve children, of whom some died in infancy. Following the deaths of the three youngest children, the father died in 1845 when young Ambrosius was 8. Understandably, their mother encouraged the older children to leave the village, and several did. Anna Margaretha, six years older than Ambrosius, married in England in 1853 and migrated to Victoria with her husband, Johannes Muller. Konrad Klippel accompanied the Mullers. Ambrosius, an apprentice shoemaker, joined the largest organised group ever to leave the village, sailing on “Sunshine” from Liverpool on 5th November 1856.

The party of Nieder-Weiselerns reached Port Phillip on 29th January 1857, shocked by the death at sea of one of their messmates, Konrad Belloff. They went on to Ballarat where many remained, but Ambrosius and the Mullers continued on to the mining town of Beechworth in north-east Victoria. The brothers prospected around Yackandandah for some time; they were still there when the news of their mother’s death reached them in 1863. In the same year, on 4th November, Ambrosius followed Konrad’s example and took a wife. His young bride was Mary Rae, a daughter of English immigrants Thomas and Anne Rae. The couple settled in Yackandandah, where Ambrosius was able to practise his trade, while augmenting his income by prospecting along the banks of the Kiewa River. Five children were born to Ambrosius and his wife in their timber home:- Frederick Ambrosius in 1864; Anna Katharina in 1866; Charles, 1868-1868; Mary Ellen in 1870 and Elizabeth Margaret in 1871. Other than Charles, all survived the primitive conditions of their childhood.

In 1871 Konrad Klippel obtained a licence to build a hotel at Toowong up in the high country and Ambrosius joined him in the venture. A son, Arnold Emil, was born to Mary there in 1875 – the year in which Anna Margaretha Muller died. Konrad planned to build a much bigger hotel at Berringama with help from his brother but this project ended abruptly when Konrad died in a drowning accident. Ambrosius acquired a selection of about 12 ha of grazing land near Corryong on which he ran cattle and horses. This did not wholly support his family, increased in 1877 by the arrival of Ethel, and he continued to make and repair footwear for his neighbours.

In 1879, whilst Mary was pregnant with their eighth and final child James Albert, Ambrosius was devastated by the death of his eldest daughter, Anna Katharina, scarcely into her teens. In a letter to a friend in Smythesdale, he described her as a perfect angel and commented “I hope that each of us will die as beautifully as this child met her death”. Ambrosius kept a deeply religious conviction throughout his lifetime. From his writing emerges a man of earthy philosophy and impish humour.

Ambrosius lost his wife in 1900. Their eldest son remained on the land and Mary saw their first grandchildren arrive before she died. Ambrosius lived on for four years longer and he saw two of their daughters married. Doubtless, he would have been pleased had he known that one of Mary Ellen’s sons would, one day, be the Head Master of one of the State’s largest grammar schools. Ambrosius Klippel died in Corryong, four days before his 68th birthday, on 13th September 1904. He was buried with Mary in the Cudgewa cemetery.

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