Elisabetha REUTER 1837-1904

Two of the daughters of Johann Georg Reuter II and Anna Margaretha born Maas received similar names from their baptism sponsors: Anna Elisabetha born 14th November 1834 and Elisabetha 10th January 1837, and their life patterns were to be similar also. They, with their older sister, Susanna, were left fatherless in 1839. Susanna had an illegitimate child at the age of 24 in 1854; the other two sisters left the village soon afterwards.

Elisabetha travelled with a group of villagers on “Mindoro” which left Liverpool on 22nd April 1856 and reached Melbourne on 14th July. Anna Elisabetha came out the next year in the company of Jakob Hauser, and using his surname. In that year, the sisters were with other Nieder-Weiselerns who joined tens of thousands of hopeful prospectors who converged on the diggings at Fryers Creek, south of Castlemaine. Elisabetha formed a romantic alliance with a German miner, Theodore Scherer, a son of Konrad Scherer and Anna Eva Sauer of Griesheim, and they were married in the Wesleyan chapel in Fryerstown on 30th December by the circuit minister, Nicholaus von Thun. Her sister formalised her relationship with Jakob Hauser at the same time, in a multiple ceremony involving their cousin Juliana Heinz.

The girls settled down to married life with their new husbands in Fryers Creek, where each produced her first child the following year. The Scherers’ child was a girl, named Elizabeth for her mother. A second daughter, Catherine, arrived in 1860 and then, in 1862, Elisabetha happily gave Theodore a son, Jakob. A third daughter, Hannah, was born in 1865, followed by a second boy, who took the name of his proud father; he was born early in 1867. A girl, Eva, was born in 1871, then there was a gap to Adelaide Alice in 1876; this second name was a corruption of Elisa, the mother’s pet name. This child lived for only a short time and Elisabetha named the next arrival Elizabeth Adelaide in her memory. This was not a happy choice, as the child died late in 1877 at an even younger age than her sister. Elisabetha persisted in spite of this and she named the ninth (and final) child Alice Adelaide; much to the relief of the parents, this one did survive. Living nearby to the Scherers, Anna Elisabetha Häuser also produced nine children and the sisters were able to give one another support as their families expanded.

Elisabetha suffered the disappointments, which all mothers have faced; her second daughter Catherine left home in her teens and became pregnant before she turned 18. Her sons had to go to Melbourne to look for the work that was no longer available in their shrinking hometown. There, Theodore junior died at the age of 21. His brother Jakob married at the end of 1890 but he died within months. Eva married in 1892; she and her husband Frank Banks had several children but she too died prematurely in her low thirties. This may have been the final straw for the ageing parents, who had moved to be near their children’s families – Theodore died in their North Fitzroy home in 1903 and Elisabetha a year later. She was buried with her husband on 18th August 1904 in Melbourne General Cemetery.

For reasons that are unknown, the Reuter sisters exchanged their given names. Anna Elisabetha used the name “Elisabetha” on her marriage certificate whereas the younger sister signed her name ‘Anna Elisabetha’. Her death certificate gave her name as ‘Alice Elizabeth’ – which was a common variation of Anna Elisabetha.

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