Johann Jakob BILL 1830-1870

One of the passengers on “Red Jacket” which arrived in Melbourne on 11th August 1856 was ‘Jacob Beille’, age 25. This was a not uncommon phonetic spelling of the surname Bill. His was the only name booked on Ticket No 3019 but there were nine people on 3018 (including two other Beilles) who are known to be from Nieder-Weisel, so there is little doubt that he was also from the village.

Jakob would have been confirmed in his 14th year, 1845, as was the practice at that time. The only Jakob Bill in the confirmation records within two years of that date was Johann Jakob Bill, born on 7th September 1830 to day-worker Johann Georg Bill IV and his wife Anna Katharina nee Lenz.

This branch of the Bill family had been bakers to the villagers since the 17th century; Anna Katharina was from a farming family. Johann Jakob was the last of the seven children in the family; his mother died when he was 12. Only one brother and two of his sisters reached adulthood and there is no evidence that any of these was involved in the mass migration.

There is no other record of Johann Jakob Bill in Victoria. His death was recorded in the official list of overseas events held by the Nieder-Weisel church authorities. This occurred on 27th August 1870, when he was living in San Francisco. No record of his departure from Victoria has not been found. The movements of other emigrants suggest that he would have returned to Nieder-Weisel before going on to North America.

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