Johann Konrad MULLER 1815-1901 & Elisabetha BROEK 1819-1868

Johann Konrad was the third of the four sons born to Konrad Muller and Maria Elisabetha Buhlmann. A younger brother died in infancy. There were also four daughters but two of these died. Johann Konrad was born on 15th July 1815 in Schmittem/Usingem, in the duchy of Nassau; Konrad moved his nail-making business to Nieder-Weisel soon after this event.

As each son – Philipp ReinhardLudwig and Johann Konrad – finished school he became apprenticed to his father and eventually became a qualified nail-smith. There were limited opportunities for this craft in the village and Ludwig sought employment in the industrial town of Leeds in England.

Johann Konrad returned to the village on completion of his journeyman tour and formed a relationship with Margaretha, daughter of the farmhand Johann Jakob Schimpf. In September 1837, Margaretha had an illegitimate son, named Ludwig. This child was legitimised on 12th November 1837 when the pair married and Johann Konrad accepted parentage. Over the next thirteen years they had seven children: Konrad Wilhelm, 1839-1842; Christina 1841; Philipp 1843; Anna Elisabetha 1846; Anna Margaretha 1848; Jakob 1850-51; and Juliana 1852. The strain of constant childbearing told on Margaretha’s health but unfortunately she became pregnant again late in 1854, at the age of 41. Johannes was born on 20th August 1855 but Margaretha succumbed to tuberculosis eleven months later and her baby son died five months after her.

As was customary Johann Konrad looked for another wife to help him raise the children, and on 5th June 1857 he married Elisabetha Broek from Schorstadt, the 49 year old widow of Konrad Schimpf VIII – there were no children to this marriage. (Elisabetha was born to Anna Margaretha nee Meister, wife of Wilhelm Broek of Marburg, in 1818).

Johann Konrad had decided to leave the village and, with his new wife and the five oldest children, he set off for Victoria, leaving Juliana with relatives. In Liverpool, they met up with his brother Ludwig and his wife Elisabetha, who had agreed to travel with them as additional minders for the children. By recording Christina and Elisabetha as children of Ludwig, they were able to have all five under the age of 12, so avoiding full fares and keeping the teenagers in the family quarters. They reached Port Phillip on 24th February 1858 aboard “Queen of the East” with fifteen other Nieder-Weiselerns.

Unlike most of his companions, Konrad chose to go to Daylesford, situated on the crest of the Great Dividing Range, to make his home. Like the others he tried prospecting but then invested in a farmlet. For reasons not known, his wife returned to Nieder-Weisel, where she died in 1868. Soon after this his daughter Juliana came out to Victoria; a few months later she married another migrant from Nieder-Weisel. Her elder sisters also married and settled near the farm; all had children excepting Christina. On the other hand, his sons moved away from the district – Ludwig to Echuca and Philipp to Queensland. Konrad’s brother died in 1881 and Konrad handled his estate.

Johann Konrad Muller lived into the 20th century; he died on 26th October 1901 in his 87th year, out-living Philipp and Christina. He was buried on 28th October in the Daylesford cemetery.

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