Johannes RIEGELHUTH 1815-1860

Many members of the Riegelhuth families living in Nieder-Weisel after the reorganisation found that changes, and particularly the loss in status that so many had suffered, made it preferable for them to leave the village altogether. Most went in the first instance to England to earn enough money to fund their emigrations to the New World. Johannes Riegelhuth, born on 27th March 1815 to the cooper Johann Jakob and his wife Susanna nee Schimpf, was among the vanguard. He married Christina Katharina nee Stumpf (born 4th January 1818 in Burkhartfelden in the Giessen parish) on 26th December 1841. Christina was the widow of Johann Heinrich Kissler from Nieder-Weisel, whom she had met and married in England. At the time of the UK 1841 census, Johannes’s occupation was given as “musician”.

After the ceremony in the parish church, Johannes and his bride returned to England. A son, born on 19th October 1845, did not survive. Like many of his countrymen, Johannes moved around frequently. Another son, Jakob, was born in Gateshead, Durham in 1847; at Jakob’s baptism, Johannes’s occupation was given as “cooper”, the same as his father’s occupation. A third son, Peter (who lived only 18 months) was born in their shared dwelling in Scot’s Close, Cowgate, Edinburgh on 27th June 1849. Christina had two more boys, Franz in May 1851 and Georg a year and a half later, before Johannes decided that he should join the half a million people taking part in the Victorian gold rushes.

Johannes and Christina Katharina arrived at Melbourne on 23rd July 1854 on “Miles Barton”, out of Liverpool on 4th May 1854, together with ten other Germans, including Christina Katharina’s brother Peter and his wife Anna Elisabetha Jung and their two children, Christina and Konrad; most of the others were probably also from Nieder-Weisel.

Christina gave birth to her sixth son on 9th January 1855; he was baptised on 18th January in the Lutheran Church in Melbourne. Johannes and Christina were probably about to return to Europe as son number seven, Johann Jakob Henrich, was born in Nieder-Weisel in August 1857. He was followed, on Christmas Eve 1859, by Johannes.

There was not to be a ninth son, as Johannes died nine months later; he was buried with his parents in the Nieder-Weisel cemetery. Christina married again in 1863; her new husband was the widower Johann Jakob Lenz. She again left the village, this time for North America; her eldest son Jakob made his first communion in San Francisco in 1863. It is not known when Christina died.

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