Anna Elisabetha WILHELMI 1811-?

Anna Elisabetha 1838-?, Johannes 1841-?, Katharina 1843-?, Margaretha 1845-?, & Konrad 1847-? HILDEBRAND

Anna Elisabetha was born 26th March 1811, the eldest of five daughters and the third of seven children in the family of Johannes Wilhelmi and his wife, Anna Elisabetha Hauser. Johannes (1780-1829) was, like his father and grandfather, a master cooper; Anna Elisabetha (1779-1853) was of a family which had operated an oil-milling plant for many years. Consequently, the family was shielded from almost all the hardships imposed on those in the village who relied on farming for a livelihood – at least until the premature death of Johannes in 1829.

The eldest son, Johann Georg, had been trained to carry on the family business but, when he married in 1834, the younger members of the family had to look to their own futures. Anna Elisabetha found a husband, the shoemaker Nikolaus Hildebrand, and they were married on 5th February 1837. The next younger sister, Anna Margaretha, was less fortunate – she was left with an illegitimate daughter by the man she hoped to marry. The third sister, Katharina, married a year after Anna Elisabetha.

The Hildebrands had four children during the next eight years: Anna Elisabetha 16th December 1838; Johannes 22nd March 1841; Katharina 24th May 1843; and Margaretha 21st March 1845. Nikolaus then decided to take his family to England to look for better work opportunities; they settled in Bristol. Here Anna Elisabetha had a second son, Konrad; he was baptised in St James Cathedral on Boxing Day 1847, which was a Sunday. Johannes Hildebrand, a brother of Nikolaus, lived nearby with his wife, Juliana Klippel, and family. The youngest Wilhelmi sister, Anna Katharina, was also in England. On 24th July 1849, she died from a bout of cholera in Brentwood, Middlesex. Probably the Hildebrands were helping to nurse her; in any event, Nikolaus died of cholera two days later in the same town.

Anna Elisabetha arranged for her husband’s burial and then returned to Nieder-Weisel to prepare for the birth of his sixth child seven months later. A daughter was born on 20th February 1850, but lived only a few hours.

Johannes and Juliana Hildebrand also went back to Nieder-Weisel, but they later migrated to Victoria in 1854 with the earliest organised group to leave the village. It may have been their influence that persuaded Anna Elisabetha to embark on the unusual step of taking her five children out to Australia. They left Liverpool on 5th December 1855 on board “Marco Polo”. All but Elisabetha were booked as children below the age of 12, although Johannes was 15. No other close relatives were with this group, which included members of the Winter, Bill, Haub, Heinz, Muller, Hauser, Klippel and Hildebrand families of Nieder-Weisel.

Anna Elisabetha and her children reached Melbourne on 27th February 1856. On 12th April 1857, Katharina made her first communion in the Lutheran Church, Melbourne. Some time after this both the Hildebrand families returned to Europe. Johannes married in Liverpool on 28th December 1862 and Margaretha married in this same town on 22nd December 1863. It is not known if these two remained in Liverpool after arriving from Victoria or went back to England after going back to the village. Certainly Konrad returned – he was married in Nieder-Weisel in June 1873.

Children of Juliana Hildebrand were married in the village in April 1861 and November 1862. It is not unlikely that the two families returned together – probably in 1861.

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