Anna Margaretha BILL 1831-1906

Anna Margaretha’s birth on 31st August 1831 ended a run of three consecutive sons born to the village baker, Johann Christoph Bill, and his wife, Maria Elisabetha Bodenroeder. Two sisters were among the six children who followed but the deaths of three of their brothers evened the scales considerably. The Bills had baked their loaves and cakes in the village for as long as anybody could remember, as indeed had the Bodenroeders, and the children grew up in a house, which was always full of the smells of yeast and browning crusts.

Their father died when Anna Margaretha was 15, and the eldest brother Bernhard took over the bakery. Maria Elisabetha worried about the future of her daughters and, in 1856, sent Anna Margaretha with Anna Maria to Victoria. They sailed with sixteen other villagers, only two of who were over 25 years of age. Their ship “Red Jacket” weighed anchor on 20th May and her 400 passengers experienced a pleasant voyage to Melbourne, which they reached on 11th August. Anna Margaretha and Anna Maria went initially to Ballarat.

Within a short time the sisters had gone into the northern part of Victoria; perhaps they went with the Klippels, who arrived from Nieder-Weisel some months later and went on to Yackandandah. In 1859 Anna Margaretha married Christian Frederick Backhaus, son of Friedrich Backhaus and Anna Neumicke (probably from Germany). Anna Maria quickly found a partner also, Robert Foster of London.

Anna Margaretha produced four children: Dorothea in 1860, Frederick William, 1862, George Henry in 1864, Albert Arnold 1867, and John Henry in 1872; all were born in Yackandandah where Backhaus both prospected and planted a vineyard. He applied for naturalisation in 1876, so that he could buy land for his farming. The application named Hadenstore as the place and 1828 as the year of his birth.

Anna Margaretha, as well as raising her children, worked hard in the vineyard. After Frederick died in 1890, she became naturalised in her own right, and carried on as the vigneron. Two of their sons had married and, with the financial help of their parents, established properties of their own. The eldest son, Frederick William, acquired a 2,000 ha property at Tallandoon on the Mitta Mitta. Arnold Albert later joined him in developing an orchard; they also established a piggery. They were 60 kms from Yackandandah, and it was a most arduous trip over the rough roads for Anna Margaratha, who was now in her sixties, to make in order to visit her grandchildren.

Anna Margaretha’s long and active life came to an end late in 1906 soon after her 75th birthday and she was interred with her husband in the cemetery at Yackandandah.

View Anna Margaretha's Family Chart

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