Johann Jakob SCHIMPF 1833-1910

Johann Jakob was born 7th August 1833, when his mother Anna Juliana nee Reuter was 38 years of age. Only Elisabetha, born in 1837, would be younger in the family of five boys and four girls. Two boys and a girl died before their lives had really started and Johann Jakob and Elisabetha were separated by many years from the older siblings; this probably gave them a special empathy.Their father, Andreas Schimpf, was able to earn a steady but not large income from weaving linen to sell to the traders in nearby Butzbach; the older children helped as their schooling was completed, at least until they were married. Christoph, born in 1817, was the first to find a spouse and start a family but, though he had 3 small children, he decided to seek his fortune on the goldfields of Victoria in 1854. His reports of life in this new land prompted first Elisabetha, in 1856, then Johann Jakob to follow his example.

A party of 30 villagers planned to travel to Port Phillip via Hobart Town in 1857 – the only group who ever followed this route. Johann Jakob was on board with them as “Sir W F Williams” cleared the Liver Pool on 27th May and headed for what would be the most frightening voyage experienced by any of the immigrants from Nieder-Weisel. Cyclonic winds raised mountainous seas which took the life of an officer and kept the passengers in terror for day after day – and night after night. It was a very relieved group which took stock in the Derwent as they waited for a transfer to the Straits steamer “City of Hobart”. This got the party to Melbourne at the end of August.

Nearly all the new arrivals went to Ballarat, and from there some went on to the outlying fields at Smythes Creek, Happy Valley etc. Others went over to the other main provincial centre at Sandhurst.

Because Johann Jakob did not marry, it is hard to retrace his wanderings. His sister Elisabetha had arrived in Victoria 15 months before he did. She married in 1859 and settled in Sandhurst. Her husband died in 1863, after being run over by the dray he was manoeuvring; this left Elisabetha and 3 young children without means of support. It seems probable that Johann Jakob, who settled in the area, assumed the responsibility of providing for his sister and her children; Elisabetha seems not to have remarried though she was only 26 when she was widowed. Her son John was still living in Sandhurst in 1881, and Elisabetha eventually died in Bendigo in 1923.

Johann Jakob died at Huntly, 6 km north of Bendigo, in May 1910, a son of ‘Andrew Schimpf and Julia Reuder, age 70’. He was actually in his 67th year.

(It is not known if Johann Jakob met up with his brother before Christoph went back to his family in Nieder-Weisel in the late 1850s).

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