Christoph HEINZ 1843-1910

Christoph was the younger twin to Johann Peter, born 15th July 1843, the first child of Anna Elisabetha Knipper, wife of Nieder-Weisel farmer, Peter Heinz. A sister was born in 1844 and a brother in 1848, but soon after this the father died, still a comparatively young man. As they grew up, it was hard for the twins to get even an elementary education in the badly over-crowded parish school. Their mother, knowing that they had very limited prospects in the village, decided to take them to Australia.

For the teenage twins and their sister Katharina, the boat trip along the Rhine to the coast, the journey by steam packet to Hull and then by steam train and road coach to Liverpool, was an exciting prelude to the 86 day voyage to Port Phillip. They arrived there aboard their ship “Sunshine” on 29th January 1857.

Christoph’s family group went, via Ballarat, to Smythesdale where other Nieder-Weiselerns were prospecting. There, Anna Elisabetha took over a boarding house in Brooke Street, the busy main thoroughfare in the town. The boys worked for their neighbour, the butcher Gernand Bang, who was an immigrant from Butzbach near their home village. Christoph’s younger brother Johannes joined them in 1862. Gernand married their sister Katharina in 1867; later he helped the brothers to start their own butchery business on the outskirts of Ballarat.

In 1874 Christoph married Augusta Paulina Huchs, a daughter of German immigrants who went first to South Australia. The couple would be childless (although family lore has it that Christoph had fathered a child out of wedlock). In 1875, he was running the Hartford Street, Sebastopol branch of Heinz Bros operations, soon to expand into larger premises in the centre of Ballarat. In 1888, Peter died and Christoph opted out of the family business to go farming at Buninyong, near Ballarat. He found gold on this property and used the windfall to acquire interests in a butter factory and in hotels in the district. He diversified his farming to include pig breeding.

In 1887, Christoph’s cousin Peter Karl Hauser came out from Germany with his daughters Elisabetha and Anna Maria, after his wife died. Christoph and Augusta fostered the two girls whilst their father found employment in Ballarat – probably in one of Heinz Bros shops. Anna would live with the couple until she married.

Christoph built a magnificent Edwardian home on the higher slope of his property, which he called ‘Rosebank Villa’. It is still in marvellous condition almost 100 years later. He was interested in sporting activities and in civic affairs, serving with Buninyong Council for a number of years. He is remembered for his charity to the needy. Christoph’s sudden death occurred on 20th August 1910 when he was in his 68th year. He was buried in the New Cemetery at Ballarat on 23rd August. Augusta lived on for another twenty years; she died in hospital on 30th March 1930, after several years of poor health. She had inherited so much of Christoph’s wealth that, by the time she died, had accumulated to over £5,000. The bulk of this fortune was bequeathed to the heirs of Christoph’s nephews and nieces and to the children of Anna Maria nee Heinz.

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