Johannes MAAS 1819-1872

Born on 2nd October 1819, Johannes was the third son and the eighth of nine children of Jakob Maas II and his wife, Anna Juliana nee Haub. Jakob’s father had been a juror of the village court before the old order crumbled but his sons had to look for work as casual plough hands to support their families. Although two of their children died, there were still nine mouths to feed in Johannes’ family group and their lifestyle accordingly was very austere.

After eight months of primary education in the village school, Johannes also went out to work as a daily-paid labourer on one of the large farming estates whenever casual work was on offer during the busy seasons.

In his 25th year, on 14th April 1844, he married a second cousin, Anna Elisabetha Maas, who was just 21 years of age. Their son Bernhard, born a few months later, was the first of their four sons and seven children. When his wife was several months pregnant with the last of these children, Johannes decided to try to improve his straitened circumstances by joining the emigration to the Victorian goldfields.

Johannes left Nieder-Weisel with Philipp, a brother of his wife; he was also married but had no children. The two made their way to Liverpool, whence they sailed on board “Queen of the East” on 16th November 1857 with a number of other emigrants from the village, including a group of Mullers and members of the Hildebrand, Hauser, Bill and Haub families. They arrived at Melbourne on 24th February 1858 and made their way to Ballarat.

There is no record of the time that Johannes stayed in Victoria. However, as details of the death in Ballarat Hospital in 1865 of Philipp Maas reached Nieder-Weisel it is not unlikely that Johannes took the news back to the village when he rejoined his wife and children.

Johannes Maas V died at the comparatively early age of 52; he lost his life accidentally on 13th February 1872 as a result of a fall from the upper level of a barn. As he was still working as a farmhand it seems that his time on the goldfields had not been very rewarding. He was buried in the new cemetery just after noon on Thursday 15th February.

His eldest son Bernhard, who had been apprenticed to a tailor, left Nieder-Weisel seventeen years later and settled, with his wife and seven children, in San Francisco. A large number of his descendants live in California and other American states.

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