Christina LENZ 1822-1898

Christina was born on 22nd July 1822, the first girl in a family of eight children. The two girls who followed her did not survive infancy but all five brothers did reach maturity. Their father, Jakob Lenz, was from a long line of peasant farmers but he had to rely on casual employment as a farmhand to support his increasing family during the early years of his marriage to Anna Margaretha Haub. In desperation, Jakob went across to England in 1831 to try to make money from selling handmade wooden utensils; it was while they were in London that a childhood malady claimed the life of the youngest daughter. Worse was in store for Anna Margaretha, as her husband died in London in 1833, two months before her fifth son was born; Christina was just eleven years of age.

After the family’s struggle to stay afloat during the next few years, it is little wonder that they should all decide to leave the village. Christina accepted an offer of marriage from a widower, Johann Jakob Riegelhuth, whose first wife was her second cousin. Their marriage took place on 23rd August 1853 and Christina took over responsibility for rearing her husband’s son and daughter. On 26th November 1854, a son, Jakob, was born to the union. Johann Jakob, who had been supporting his family by weaving, joined in the mass exodus from Nieder-Weisel in 1856.

In company with the widowed Anna Elisabetha Wilhelmi and her children, and the recently-married couple Johannes Zimmer IV and Anna Elisabetha Hauser, the Riegelhuths sailed from Liverpool on “Star of the East”, making her third trip to the antipodes, on 21st October. The voyage was exciting for the older children but a travail for Christina; she was six months pregnant when they sailed and her daughter Elisabetha, sponsored by Frau Zimmer, was born on 5th January under difficult shipboard conditions. A week later, “Star of the East” got to Port Phillip and the Riegelhuths stayed in Melbourne while the others made for Ballarat. Though Christina quickly recovered from her ordeal, her baby died.

Johann Jakob prospected for a time in Ballarat, then moved further west to Smythesdale, where Jakob, a younger brother, was working on the diggings. In 1860 Christina gave birth to a son, Henry, on the same day that Jakob’s wife, Dorothea (who was the younger sister of Johann Jakob’s first wife), had a daughter. Christina was disappointed once more as her son died soon after his first birthday. Even more of a shock was the premature death of the 13 year-old Katharina, her step-daughter, in 1861.

Johann Jakob took his family back to Ballarat, where living conditions were less primitive. Christina had a second daughter, Christianna, in 1861 and a third, Wilhelmina, in 1865, when she was 43 years of age. Three of her brothers had emigrated a few weeks after Christina left Nieder-Weisel and they were living with their families in Ballarat. Anna Elisabetha, wife of Johann Georg Riegelhuth, died in 1866; Christina and her sisters-in-law helped him raise his three sons until he married again.

There is no further record of Christina’s German-born son Jakob, but each of her daughters married: Wilhelmina to David Wilson and Christianna to William Whitelaw. The two families lived nearby, and this enabled Christina to share in the excitement when her grandchildren began to arrive.

Christina lost her brother Johann Georg in 1889; she was the next of the Lenz siblings to go. She died in her home in Lal Lal Street, Ballarat, on 3rd August 1898 and was buried two days later. Johann Jakob lived until 1902. Her other brothers Johann Konrad and Friedrich died in 1898 and 1907 respectively.

View Christina's Family Chart

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