Christina BILL 1840-?

Born on 18th August 1840, Christina was the first of the five children of Johann Georg Bill VII and Anna Elisabetha nee Haub. Christina was confirmed two years after the fifth child arrived in 1852; this would in earlier times have seen her sent to seek employment as a domestic help. However several of the young girls in the village had been assaulted by their employers and Christina’s father decided to send her out to Victoria in the company of her first cousin, Ambrosius Studt. He had returned to the village from Ballarat to marry his sweetheart Anna Maria Schimpf and take her to Victoria to settle. Christina and the Studts sailed from Liverpool on “Queen of the East” on 16th November 1857, with a Muller family and a number of others; they would be the last sizeable group to immigrate to Victoria from Nieder-Weisel. Their journey ended in Melbourne on 24th February 1858.

Christina remained for a time with her friends in Ballarat and then moved on to diggings at Smythes Creek to the west, where other emigrants from the village were living. It was here that she became friendly with Philipp Riegelhuth, who had arrived four months earlier. A romance blossomed, and Pastor J P Niquet married them on 26th July 1860 in the Lutheran Church in Ballarat. As a minor of 20, Christina needed the consent of her guardian, Karl Prieser. Her cousin Ambrosius Studt gave her away, and his friend Jakob Geibel, also living in Smythes Creek, was Philipp’s best man.

The young couple settled in Smythesdale where, in February 1862, Christina had their first child, a son whom they named Jacob. Philipp’s application for naturalisation was accepted in May that year, enabling him to establish a shoe-making business; he bought a property in Brook Street – a shop for his business and a dwelling-place for his family. It seemed that Christina’s life was settling down nicely but it was not to remain so – a disastrous year faced her in 1863.

Philipp decided to move back to Ballarat; he sold up in Smythesdale and established himself in East Ballarat. Christina had just become pregnant when her 13 month old son succumbed to infant cholera; he was laid to rest in one of the pitifully small graves which were so common in cemeteries in that period. Peter Hauser – himself soon to die – was a witness to the burial on 5th March. Seven months later, Christina produced a son to take the place of Jakob; he was baptised Georg by Pastor Niquet.

Although Christina was only 23 years of age, this is the last record in the Victorian statistics of any child being born to her. Moreover there is no further record of the child or of Christina. The death of Philipp is recorded, however – this took place on 16th December 1890.

The baptism record for Georg was transcribed from the Victorian certificate into the Family Book in Nieder-Weisel in November 1864; someone must have taken it back to the village. The baptism record of Juliana, daughter of Jakob Riegelhuth, who had been in Smythesdale as well, was entered at about the same time. Jakob and his wife, Dorothea Lenz, did go back to the village, and it seems probable that Christina and her son returned with them.

View Christina's Family Chart

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