Elisabetha ADAMI 1831-1915

Elisabetha was one of 4 children to survive in the family of 8 born to Christoph Adami I and Katharina Elisabetha nee Bill. Her father died in 1846 when Elisabetha was 14 and about to take her first communion. She found work as a domestic. On 24th May 1854 she gave birth to a daughter who was sponsored by the maternal grandmother. No father was named – he was probably her employer.

Elisabetha’s brother Philipp, though married and a father, decided to go out to Victoria. He left Liverpool in October 1856 and Elisabetha sailed a fortnight later with the largest group of Nieder-Weiselerns ever to leave the village. Members of the Bill, Häuser, Lenz, Belloff, Winter, Schimpf, Studt, Matthaus, Klippel, Hildebrand, Heinz, Lemp and Geibel families made up the 40-strong party.

Their ship “Sunshine” reached Melbourne on 29th January 1857, having gained only 4 days on the smaller “Merrie England”, which carried Philipp Adami and his friends. Elisabetha had little difficulty in finding a partner on the predominantly male goldfields; her choice fell on Johann Tonner, 27, son of Claus and Elisabetha Tonner of Germany. After their marriage in June 1858, the couple spent two or three years prospecting around the Ararat area before returning to Ballarat. By this time, there were four in the family – Mary Elizabeth was born in Ararat in 1859 and Catherine Christina in 1861 at Pleasant Creek, near Stawell. A third daughter arrived in 1863 in their Ballarat home; they gave her the names, Johanna Henrietta. Elisabetha gave her husband a son, John George, in 1865, followed by Henry Christopher in 1867. A fourth girl, born in 1873 when Elisabetha was 42, rounded out their family.

Philipp’s wife died in Nieder-Weisel in 1860 and he decided to stay in Victoria; he re-married and for a time lived with his family near the Tonners in Ballarat. Later they moved out to Bullarto but were able to remain in touch. Through the German Club, Johann also kept in contact with immigrants from their homeland, including many settlers from Nieder-Weisel. The latter included three brothers who established Heinz Bros meat-processing works. Elisabetha’s son John George joined their company as an accountant and, following the death of John Heinz, took over as manager.

Elisabetha lost her husband in January 1892, aged 61. She lived on to see her children established in their careers and lives. Mary married in 1881, Henrietta in 1894 and John in 1902. Her long life came to an end in 1915 and she was buried in the New Cemetery in Ballarat.

Elisabetha’s brother Philipp was widowed in 1888. He lived in the Creswick area, close enough to be in periodic touch with her, before moving to live with his son’s family in Daylesford; he died just a year after Elisabetha.

(On her death certificate, Elisabetha’s father was named as Martin Adami; this was really her youngest brother, who died in 1855. A Catharine Elizabeth Adami married Johann Georg Neubecker, in 1888 in Melbourne – perhaps she was Elisabetha’s illegitimate daughter.)

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