Johann Georg WETZEL 1839-1902

Henrich and Anna Margaretha Wetzel, who probably came to Nieder-Weisel from nearby Gambach, had two sons early in the 1700s. One of them, Anton, was the progenitor of all the later Wetzels. Henrich was skilled in the specialist craft of sieve-making and he passed on this knowledge to his male descendants. The family had limited citizenship rights and, like many newcomers, often married into non-Nieder-Weiselern families – Reinhardt, Giehl, Emmel etc. (The Emmel name was known in the time of Jesus Christ).

Konrad Wetzel, born in 1796, continued the tradition; he married Margaretha Arg (or Arch) from a very old Holzheim family. Two of their sons survived – Johannes born 1834, and Johann Georg born 16th June 1839. The dismal prospects that faced the boys deteriorated even more when their father, just in his fifties, died in 1848. Johannes decided that he would go to England to look for work as other Nieder-Weiselerns had done. However, he died in Gateshead on 11 Jun 1853 when he was only 19.

Johann Georg joined the gold rush to Victoria in 1857. He travelled with Christoph Krausgrill, also a teenager, on “Eagle Speed”. They reached Melbourne on 22nd July 1857, 97 days out of Liverpool, and walked to Ballarat to meet up with other villagers who had preceded them. Johann Georg worked as a miner around Ballarat before going on to the Rocky Lead fields to the northeast. It was here that he met Katharina nee Kissler from Nieder-Weisel; her husband had died suddenly the year before. Johann Georg proposed to her and they were married on May Day 1862.

Johann Georg and Katharina had fifteen children in the period to 1882, many of them born in their Langdon’s Hill home; four of them died as infants. In 1883, Katharina died in childbirth; she was buried in the Bullarook cemetery on 3rd March. This was the beginning of a disastrous year for Johann Georg – before the year was over, another five of his children had died and had been interred, one by one, with their mother, from nine months old Clara to the 6 year old Susanna, who died a day before her older sister Elizabeth; and finally Margaret Jane, just 21.

Johann Georg shifted with the remnants of his family to Daylesford; a tenth child died there in 1886. About two years after this, he married a second time. His wife was Sophia Kendall, a daughter of early settlers at Barker’s Creek; she was twelve years his junior. This union produced five children but only Alexander Theodore, born in 1892, reached adulthood. Johann Georg was 56 when the last of his twenty-one children was born. He was naturalised three years later and lived for another three years. He died from an apoplectic fit on 31st March 1902 in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote, and was buried in the Melbourne Cemetery.

Johann Georg’s sister Katharina married Severin Plough, from Denmark, and lived in the Mount Prospect area for a number of years.

View Johann Georg's Family Chart

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