Christoph SCHIMPF 1817-?

Christoph was the eldest of nine children born to Anna Juliana Reuter, wife of Andreas Schimpf, linen-weaver; he was born just a fortnight after the marriage of his parents on 3rd December 1817. Of the four boys and four girls who followed him in the next twenty years, two of the boys and one of the girls died, but the six who did survive missed out on many of the pleasures of childhood as an unwelcome new administration took over in the village which had been home to their family for centuries.

On 5th December 1841 Christoph married Maria Elisabetha Maas, the 26 year old daughter of Bernhard Maas and his wife Maria Elisabetha Bodenroeder. The bride had produced an illegitimate son, Philipp Maas, in August 1839 but, as was often the case, the infant died. She gave birth to a son, Johann Georg, 4 months after their marriage, followed by a daughter and three other sons during the next ten years; of these, the girl and one of the boys died.

By now, Christoph could find work only as a daily-paid farm labourer on one of the large leases; this was, of course, seasonal. Other men in similar straits talked of going out to the goldfields in Victoria (glowingly reported on by the local newspapers) in the hope that they might strike it rich. Although it meant that his wife would have to manage alone with the three boys he decided to join in the expedition. To save money, they took the new rail service up to Hamburg and bought passages on the tiny barque “Luise” which left harbour on 11th October 1854. With the fifteen other middle-aged men and several younger ones from Nieder-Weisel among the 131 crowded passengers, Christoph made the best he could of 136 days of rolling and pitching until their ship delivered them at their Port Phillip destination.

It is not known how profitable was the time that Christoph spent on prospecting, but he seems to have persuaded his youngest sister Elisabetha and his younger brother Jakob to follow his example and emigrate.

On returning to the village, Christoph took up linen weaving. He lost his youngest son, Christoph junior, in 1857 at the age of 4. A daughter, Maria, was born in March 1860.

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