Jakob KRAUSGRILL 1843-1896

The Krausgrills had been farming in Nieder-Weisel for as long as the village existed – perhaps more than a thousand years. Members of the family held senior administrative positions in the village in the 1700s and 1800s, including that of burgermeister. Konrad Krausskroll 1717-1797, a great-grandfather of Jakob, broke with family tradition by becoming a tailor but the upsets caused by the Napoleonic Wars prevented his sons from taking any advantage of his craft skills. In any case, Jakob’s father, Johann Georg Krausgrill, was the youngest of 9 children in the family, including five sons, with very little chance of being anything but a daily-paid farm labourer.

In 1843, Johann Georg married Elisabetha Klippel, eldest of twelve children born to Katharina, wife of Ambrosius Klippel. Ambrosius was an unskilled worker, taking jobs as a plough hand or as a night watchman on the commons as they became available. To make matters worse for his unfortunate family, he died suddenly in 1845 and the family began to break up. Elisabetha’s sister, Katharina, became one of the many victims of the breakdown of moral values in the village and she went to Giessen with her illegitimate son. Anna Margaretha and two of her brothers began making plans to emigrate.

The reading of banns didn’t precede the marriage between Johann Georg Krausgrill and his bride, Elisabetha Klippel, because the bride was pregnant – she gave birth to their son Jakob on 25th June 1843, just ten weeks after the ceremony. The child was baptised a week later, with Elisabetha’s brother, Jakob Klippel, standing as godfather. In 1845 a second son, Ambrosius, was born. There were to be no more children to this union, as Jakob’s father dropped dead just before midday on 3rd September 1846.

Elisabetha turned to midwifery to support her two small sons. In 1854 she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter and six years later she produced a second girl. It was against this background that Jakob and Ambrosius grew up in their sad village. Jakob was confirmed on Whitsunday 1857 and began to learn the trade of shoemaking. He had no wish to stay in the village and determined to join his Klippel cousins in Victoria. The opportunity came in 1864 – he sailed from Liverpool on 16th April on board “Southern Empire”. His messmates were Eliza Schmidt, Wilhelmina Schmidt, and Andreas Muller. (Eliza married Johann Konrad Lenz from Nieder-Weisel soon after their arrival on 30th July).

The Klippels were living in Corryong, where Jakob joined them. He did some prospecting, but settled eventually in the town where, like his cousin, he made a living making and repairing shoes. In 1886 he married Priscilla Hawkins, whose parents Charles Hawkins and Caroline nee Rothwell had settled in the high country in the 1860s. Priscilla was only 17 and required the written consent of her father to her marriage. Jakob was 43 when they exchanged vows in the Corryong Church of England on 13th September 1886, but he reduced the age difference by stating that he was 35.

Jakob and Priscilla had three daughters and three sons during the ten years of their marriage: George William 1887; Charles Jacob Louis 1888; Wesley Harold 1890; Alice Elizabeth 1892; Anna Margaretha 1894 and Ethel Vera May 1895. All but the last-born girl, who died in her first year of life, survived to healthy adulthood; Anna Margaretha and Charles lived for 78 and 76 years, and Alice for 67. Their marriage ended 3 days before their 10th wedding anniversary, when Jakob died in his 54th year; he was interred on 12th September 1896. Priscilla remarried, and lived until 1947.

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