Christoph REUTER 1842-1911

When Christopher Reuter, a resident in the Benevolent Home in North Melbourne, applied for letters of naturalisation in June 191O, he stated that he had been born in Frankfurt (several immigrants from Nieder-Weisel said Frankfurt was their place of birth, as it is the nearest well-known town) on 25th December 1842 and had arrived in Victoria aboard “Star of the East” in 1854. Since then, he lived in Ballarat for two years, Daylesford two, Bendigo one, Maryborough eleven, Creswick one, New Zealand five, Melbourne four, Newcastle four, and Melbourne several more years. This accounts for less than 4O of the 56 years since his arrival in Victoria. He stated that he was a widower, with daughters Mary Williams and Ada Carroll, living ‘somewhere in Footscray’. He had four sons whose whereabouts he did not not know. His occupation was miner; he was 68 years of age. As he could not sign his name he made his mark.

The church records in Nieder-Weisel prove that a Christoph Reuter was born in the village on 18th December 1842 and baptised on 26th. He was a son of the shoemaker Johann Jakob Reuter and Katharina nee Jung, who had an older son Jakob born in 1831 and a daughter, Elisabetha, born in Durham England in 1838. The father died in Nieder-Weisel in 1851. Jakob was married to Anna Elisabetha Klippel in Leeds in 1852. Their first child was baptised in the Lutheran Church, Melbourne in May 1854, getting the name Christoph, and their second was baptised in England in 1856. This seems to support the claims made by Christoph, although there is no record that any of the Reuters were on “Star of the East” when it made its first voyage to Melbourne in 1854. The fact that Jakob and his wife made a quick round trip suggests that he paid their way by signing on as the ship’s entertainer. Jakob’s occupation on his marriage certificate is “Musician”. This would explain why his name was not on the passengers list.

Christoph ‘Ryder’ married Agnes ‘Smith’ (probably Schmidt) from Germany in the first week of January 1868. (The birth of an unnamed child of Agnes Smith was registered in South Melbourne in February 1868). Records of the children born to this marriage are confusing because of the many variations in the spelling of his surname – being illiterate, he would not know that the registrar was getting it so wrong. Those found are: Cecilia, born in Happy Valley 1868; James Ernest, died in Heidelberg 1931 aged 59; Amelia Elizabeth, born in Maryborough 1873; Christopher, 1875, Ada,1878 and Agnes, 1881, all in Melbourne. Emily Elizabeth was born in West Melbourne in 1888, mother Agnes Leopold. No father is named in the birth record of Rudolph Reuter to Agnes Smith in Melbourne in 1893.

It seems that Christoph was, at the very best, confused in 191O. He was not widowed – Agnes died at Heidelberg, where Ernest had lived, in 1935; the son died four years before. Christoph lived, seemingly single, in West Melbourne until his death in 1915. It was Ada who married a Williams; none of the other girls whose marriage has been found married a Carroll – Amelia married a McHenry and Cecilia an Arneson; the latter couple had at least four children.

Christoph was in Melbourne from 1874 to 1881. He may then have gone to New Zealand and returned via Sydney, going to Newcastle before coming back to Victoria. This may explain the anomalies in the parentage of the later children. This was the only productive Reuter couple in Victoria from the early 186Os to the late 188Os. His time in Daylesford was no doubt connected with the fact that his sister Elizabeth (Tognini), who had migrated in 1854, lived with her family there from about 186O till her death in 1873. The siblings were probably together in their early years in Victoria.

Christoph Reuter died at Kew in Melbourne in February 1911 at the age of 69 – this was only eight months after he was naturalised. It would be impossible to understand the many discrepancies in this account of his life without personal family information being available.

View Christoph's Family Chart

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