Johann Adam HEINZ 1817-1905

Johann Adam was from a family, which had lived in Nieder-Weisel for centuries. His father Konrad was the only son of Johann Henrich Heinz and Anna Juliana nee Maas. Konrad married Katharina Elisabetha nee Haffer in Nieder-Weisel in 1805 and Johann Adam was born on 3rd April 1817. He grew up in the turmoil which followed the Napoleonic Wars and, as a young man, moved to Butzbach to find employment. He worked as a groom and then as a postillion for Postmaster Bender there.

In 1843 Johann Adam married Anna Maria Wetz, the daughter of a citizen of Griedel, 3 km from his home village. Twin sons, Wilhelm and Philipp, were born soon after, and a daughter, Juliana, on 5th January 1854. At this time the rail link through Butzbach was completed and many of the workmen who found themselves out of work decided to emigrate. Concerned that road transport could be threatened by this development, Johann Adam joined them when they sailed out of Hamburg harbour on 12th September 1854, leaving his family in Griedel.

The sailing vessel “Undine” reached Port Philipp on 15th January 1855 and most of the hopeful “diggers” went to the Ballarat goldfields. Like others, Johann Adam’s hopes did not eventuate, and he had to accept work with a farmer at Dead Horse Gully, several km from Ballarat. He was there when Gabriel Wetz, a brother of his wife, brought the two boys to Victoria in 1858. They arrived in the New Year on “Tudor”, went by steamer to Geelong and then to Ballarat on foot – plodding for three days behind the wagons which carried their luggage! The boys boarded for a short time with Peter Hauser and Katharina Maas, and then went on to be reunited with their father. Wilhelm was apprenticed to a German plumber and Philipp to the German baker Meyer in Bendigo.

Johann Adam had a mining claim in Ballarat, which Gabriel worked for him part-time. This may have been gold bearing, as, in March 1862, Johann Adam was able to go back to his home in Germany, where he paid compensation to excuse his sons in Victoria from their military obligations. Gabriel Wetz returned with him.

Philipp went over to New Zealand temporarily but returned to Victoria before he finally emigrated to North America. Wilhelm also went to one of the goldfields in New Zealand but he made his money supplying the miners with tools and installing pipes on the diggings. He went back to Germany in 1867, where he married a girl from Griedel. The couple returned to settle in New Zealand, where many descendants live today.

After his wife died in 1882, Johann Adam moved to Butzbach to live with his daughter Juliana, now married to Andreas Troster, a manufacturer in that town. Johann Adam died on 2nd February 1905 in his 88th year.

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