Elisabetha SCHIMPF 1821-1909

Elisabetha was born in Nieder-Weisel on 9th April 1821, first-born of the ten children of Ambrosius Schimpf III and his second wife Anna Elisabetha nee Häuser. Ambrosius had been of burgermeister rank in the administration of the Grand Duchy, but was reduced to working as a farm labourer in the new order. Elisabetha had a half-brother and a half-sister from his previous marriage to Anna Elisabetha Maas. A third child had died in its ninth week of life, a few days after the mother died.

Four of the children born to the second marriage died in early childhood, but there were still eight children in their little home as Elisabetha grew to adolescence. The youngest girl, the fourth to bear the name Katharina, was born in 1840 and in the same year Elisabetha herself became pregnant. Her marriage was arranged eleven days after her father died and two weeks prior to the birth of her child. As her mother gave her approval, it seems that her father had vetoed the marriage. The supervising clergyman from Butzbach, Pastor Steinburger, consecrated their union on 28 March 1841. The bridegroom was Johannes Kissler II, scion of a family that had provided blacksmithing services to the village for at least four generations.

Elisabetha lost her child shortly after its birth and a second one also died. The next three survived – Anna Margaretha, born in 1846, Johannes in 1849, Peter in 1854. By that time all the grand-parents were dead and Elisabetha and Johannes decided to follow many of the villagers, including some Schimpfs, to the goldfields of Victoria. They left Nieder-Weisel on 9th March 1857 and sailed out of Liverpool on 27th May on the clipper ship “Sir W F Williams”, with friends from the Heinz, Hildebrand, Müller and Riegelhuth families. Although the trip was relatively fast Elisabetha must have had a trying time with her three small children to care for, especially during periods of rough weather. They ran into a terrific storm in the Indian Ocean, which swept the purser over-board. They reached Hobart Town on 19th August 1857, 85 days out of Liverpool, and completed their journey on “City of Hobart”, which disembarked them at Melbourne on 31st August.

Johannes settled his family in Invermay, a few km north of the goldmining centre of Ballarat. They lived there for five years and then moved to Scarsdale and finally to Ballarat East, in 1865. Both of Elisabetha’s brothers had migrated to Victoria and were living in the region. Ambrosius married before leaving Nieder-Weisel but Georg remained single. The two brothers ran a cartage business until Ambrosius died prematurely of tubercular pneumonia in 1870. Georg then joined John Kisler, as he became known, in operating a black-smithing business in Ballarat.

Elisabetha was widowed in 1872 but, by then, her sons were able to help support her. All her children married – Anna Margaretha in 1874 to Philipp Maas, a migrant from Nieder-Weisel; Johannes to Margaret Bennett in 1876; Peter to Emily Thomas in 1881. She lived to see all twenty-five of her grandchildren and some of her great-grandchildren. She is remembered by some of them as a tall lady who always wore a bonnet and often smoked a pipe. In her later years Elisabetha lived with Peter and his family in Geelong Rd, Ballarat East. She died of senile decay at the age of 87 years. Four of her grandsons carried her to her final resting place in the Lutheran section of the New Cemetery at Ballarat on 5th March 1909.

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