Anna Margaretha KISSLER 1840-1875

Anna Margaretha was the eldest surviving daughter born into the family of nail-smith Johann Jakob Kissler and Susanna Maas. Her birth on 22nd February 1840 followed that of three boys, and a girl who died. The sixth child was her sister Katharina and then came a succession of brothers. Understandably, the two girls formed a close alliance.

Their father was of the fifth generation of the Kisslers who brought their specialist craft to the village in the 1700s, but advances in mechanisation were starting to threaten the privileged place of the craftsmen in the changed society of the 1800s. The eldest son, Konrad, opted to create a future for himself in Victoria and the parents sent the girls with him. They left the village early in 1856 with a group of sixteen emigrants and departed Liverpool on “Red Jacket” on 20th May. Konrad called himself a musician. Katharina’s age was given as 10½, enabling her to travel half-fare – she was actually 14 years of age. Most of the party was of their age group – only Georg Schmidt and his wife were past their twenties. An uneventful voyage across calm seas enabled the young people to enjoy the twelve weeks they spent aboard. No doubt Konrad contributed to the entertainment during the pleasant summery evenings in the tropics.

Disembarking at Melbourne on 11th August the group went up to Ballarat before dispersing to the other diggings throughout the Golden Triangle. Konrad chose to remain in Ballarat; he thought that his sisters should be more likely to find work easily as domestics in this large provincial town than they would in temporary mining camps. However, the two girls had to readjust their lives in 1858, when Konrad died suddenly. Anna Margaretha was friendly with Konrad Ratz* from Gambach, a sister village to Nieder-Weisel, and she married him soon after her brother’s death. Her husband had travelled out on “South Carolina” in the company of Johann Konrad Zoller and the two men joined forces in their search for gold. Zoller was a witness to the marriage of Anna Margaretha and Konrad on 14th November 1858 in the Lutheran Church in Ballarat. When the pair set up their home in Ballarat he stayed in touch. Anna Margaretha gave birth to a daughter in 1859; her sister was the sponsor at the baptism.

Konrad and Anna Margaretha were delighted when Johann Konrad became engaged to her sister Katharina; she gladly served as matron-of-honour when they married in June 1860.

The lives of the sisters seemed to be falling into a smooth pattern when it was shattered by the death of Johann Konrad Zoller in February 1861. Konrad, a shoemaker by profession, returned to this occupation after the death of his partner.

Anna Margaretha had three more children during the next six years: Harry in 1861, Anna Margaretha, 1863 and Eliza Margaretha, 1865. Harry lived for only a short time. Her sister married again and moved to Mount Prospect, but they kept in touch as Konrad’s brother also lived there with his family.

In about 1868, Konrad decided to expand his business and he moved his family to the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood. To their great satisfaction, a son was born in 1870 to replace the one they had lost; he was named Conrad Eberhard George. By this time, Katharina’s health was failing and she had no more children. She died in her Collingwood home in January 1875 at the age of only 34. Her two elder daughters died in their teens but Eliza Margaretha and Conrad Eberhard passed on Anna Margaretha’s Nieder-Weisel characteristics to some of her grandchildren in the fullness of time.

Her husband became a naturalised citizen, remarried and set up a successful footwear manufacturing operation in Greater Oxford Street, Collingwood. He died in 1888.

* Details of the Ratz family can be obtained from Bryony Allen at

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