Anna Margaretha MAAS 1841-1928

Anna Margaretha traced her lineage back to the Jakob Maas who served the village as Mayor during the frightening days of the Thirty Years War. Her father, a son of Court Juror Jakob Maas I, was born a few days after the pillaging of the village by the rabble of Napoleon’s army in July 1796. The changes that followed the Napoleonic Wars continued to influence the lives of Johann Georg Maas and his family, finally prompting him to move to England in the mid 1840s to start a new life.

And so, at the age of 5, his only daughter, Anna Margaretha, found herself living in the unfamiliar but exciting surroundings of the industrial town of Hull, with her three full-brothers and a half-brother from her father’s first marriage. The arrival of a baby sister the next year gave Anna Margaretha a second, and even more interesting, focus of attention. In about 1855, her half-brother Konrad emigrated, probably to North America, but Margaretha and her older brother Christoph decided to go to Australia to join the many Nieder-Weisel migrants digging for gold in Victoria.

They booked passage aboard “Red Jacket” and sailed out of Liverpool on the rising tide of Friday, 20th November 1857. Anna Margaretha was only three weeks past her 16th birthday and Christoph was barely 21. “Red Jacket”, named for the coat adorning the effigy of the Indian Chief on her prow, reached Port Phillip Bay in February 1858. Philipp, the older brother, followed later that year, and their parents and younger sister eventually returned to Nieder-Weisel.

Unfortunately, the adventure that Anna Margaretha embarked on so excitedly began disastrously – Christoph fell victim to a virulent and unknown infection and died five months after their arrival. A Philip Wilson was the informant for the death certificate. It was soon after this that the other brother arrived – no doubt to his sister’s great relief. They moved up to the goldfields where Anna Margaretha met George Wilson, son of George Wilson and Elizabeth nee Hill of Cumberland. He was seven years older than Anna Margaretha but the difference in ages did not deter the blossoming of a romance that led to an exchange of vows in July 1861 in All Saints Church, Sandhurst.

The newly-weds began their married life on the diggings west of Ballarat. Anna Margaretha gave birth to their first child, Elizabeth, at Linton in July 1862, but she died at the age of 15 months. Another girl was born at Rokewood Junction and was named Christina for her German grandmother. George then took his family to Heathcote, about 50 kms east of Bendigo. A third girl, Mary Ann, was born there in 1866 and two years later their first son arrived, named (as expected) George. He was to be their only boy as four more girls followed: another Elizabeth in 1871; Margaret Jane in 1873; Bridget in 1875 and Clara in 1879. By this time, the family was at Lyal, between Castlemaine and Heathcote, where several gold mines had been opened up. George later had a hotel there.

In 1886 Christina married and, a year later, the first of her children began the next generation. In the depressed economic conditions of the nineties, George junior went to Kalgoorlie but later came back. All the other children married except Clara, who succumbed to tuberculosis when she was 21. George died in 1903 and Anna Margaretha began 25 years of widowhood. Luckily her children did not move far from Lyal and she was there to greet her many grandchildren and watch their development. Her life ended on Monday, 4th June 1928, when her 86 year old heart stopped beating. She was buried in the peaceful cemetery at Sutton Grange with her husband and daughters.

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