Christina BILL 1836-?

Konrad Bill XIII had to support his wife Katharina Krausgrill and ten children on his limited earnings as a farmhand. Even though four of the children lived for only a short time, it was difficult for him to maintain an acceptable standard of living for the others, and his decision to send two of the older girls away from Nieder-Weisel to Victoria was made on grounds that were as much financial as moral.

Christina, born 8th January 1836, was the third of four consecutive daughters produced by Katharina in the first six years of her marriage to Konrad. She left with the first sizeable contingent of villagers on “Glenmanna”, which sailed out of the Mersey on 28th October 1854 with 286 ‘diggers’ aboard – twenty of them with the familiar Nieder-Weisel names of Haub, Zimmer, Adami, Häuser, Hildebrand, Schimpf, Bill and Knipper.

“Glenmanna” reached Melbourne on 14th February 1855, and the group made its way to Ballarat, where previous emigrants from the village greeted them and advised them on their next moves. From this central point, the villagers spread out to other diggings. Some went east to Bendigo, others west to Ararat. Christoph and Margaretha Knipper followed this latter route and it is likely that the Bill sisters went with them.

By 1857, Christina had formed a permanent relationship with Heinrich Miechel. Heinrich’s parents, Heinrich Miechel and Anna Margaretha nee Schafer were originally from Ostheim, a short walk from Nieder-Weisel, but they settled in England, where their five children were born. The family had strong musical talents and had earned their passage on “Lightning” by providing musical entertainment for the passengers. The two sons went prospecting around the western goldfields and met Christina and her sister, Anna Margaretha, there.

Anna Margaretha and her partner, Philipp Miechel settled in Beaufort, midway between Ballarat and Ararat, but Heinrich went on further. During the period 1858 to 1871, Christina gave birth to seven children: Heinrich in 1858; Henry 1859; Rudolph 1861; Phillip Albert 1864; Clara ~1865 ; Edward Alfred 1867, and Augustus Ernest in 1871. The first two were born at Sinnot Diggings, after which Heinrich and Christina joined Philipp and Anna Margaretha for several years. Later they went on to Ararat and then Maldon, near Castlemaine.

On 4th November 1873, Christina married Heinrich Miechel at Christ Church, South Yarra. Heinrich called himself a musician of 40, normally resident in Sydney. Christina was a “spinster” of Francis Street Prahran, but she said her normal address was Mulgrave, where her in-laws had settled.

Heinrich Miechel senior died on 25th July 1873, leaving extensive properties in Mulgrave Shire. Philipp was appointed as sole living executor – even though Heinrich junior was nominated in the will as joint executor. A possible explanation of these anomalies is that Heinrich had left Christina to pursue his musical career in Sydney and had returned, after his father died, to legitimate his relationship with her so that their children could participate in the inheritance. None of the many Miechel relatives witnessed the marriage ceremony. The fact that Christina gave a temporary address in this parish suggests that the marriage was arranged clandestinely.

No record of Christina’s death has been found in Victorian statistics. Her daughter, Clara, died in childhood but the other children seem to have survived. As there is no other record of them either it seems that they must all have left the state, perhaps for Sydney, or changed their name.

View Christina's Family Chart

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