Johannes KISSLER 1849-1918

Johannes Kissler was born in Nieder-Weisel on 22nd June 1849. He was the first son, and the fourth of five children, born to Johannes Kissler II, blacksmith, and Elisabetha Schimpf; two older sisters had died before Johannes was born.

In 1857, the Kisslers joined in the mass migration from the village; they left Nieder-Weisel on 9th March with their sons Johannes and Peter, and daughter Anna Margaretha. They left the port of Liverpool on 27th May on board the ship “Sir W F Williams”. The elder children must have been excited at the prospect of the long ocean voyage on the large and graceful clipper ship, but frightening experiences were in store for them. Johannes celebrated his 8th birthday in the summer heat of the tropics but, as Captain Rees took the ship into higher latitudes, they encountered severe weather. With the 338 passengers battened below deck the ship ran with close-hauled sails before hurricane-force winds. Mountainous seas broke repeatedly on her deck, washing away rigging and one luckless member of her crew. The cyclones moderated as they reached the shelter of the Australian continent but, as the family helped to celebrate Anna Margaretha’s 11th birthday, another cyclonic disturbance was encountered. Doubtless all the passengers were relieved when the ship reached the port of Hobart Town on 19th August 1857 and disembarked the bounty passengers there.

The Melbourne-bound travellers, mainly from Switzerland and Germany, transferred to the coastal packet “City of Hobart” and reached their destination on the last day of August. In company with their friends from the Dilges, Hildebrand and Heinz families, the Kisslers went to the central Victorian goldfields to join those who had preceded them. They lived for several years in Invermay, north of Ballarat, and later in Scarsdale, to the south. In 1868 Johannes senior went into business in Ballarat as a carter. His sons were by then old enough to have worked with him, and may have taken over the business when Johannes died prematurely in 1872 – certainly Johannes junior was following this occupation when he married in 1876. His bride was Margaret Jane Bennetts, born in 1854 in St Just in Penwith, Cornwall to William Bennetts and his wife Eliza nee Andrews. Margaret was working as a domestic. The marriage was celebrated by Rev John Green of the United Methodist Free Church at Rowe Street Ballarat on 19th August 1876.

At the time, Margaret Jane had a son, Henry; a daughter had died in infancy. The pair had nine further children in the next 19 years: Elizabeth in 1878, John in 1880, Eliza 1881, Emily (Alice May) 1883, William 1884, Arthur Herbert 1887, Florence 1889, Albert G. 1892 and Ethel Jane 1896.

Johannes was a skilled carpenter and as his family grew he added more rooms to the miner’s cottage they lived in. Some of the furniture he made is still in use 100 years later in the homes of his descendants. The couple moved from English Street to 3 Clayton Street Ballarat East in later years.

In the closing years of his life, Johannes was employed as a shift boss at Llanberris Mine No 25, East Ballarat. During the war years he had to endure the anti-German feeling said to have been encouraged by the Government to aid recruiting for the AIF. Although he took out naturalisation papers on the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, the men working the mine went on strike in protest against his German ancestry. His brother’s son, William, died in action in France shortly after this.

Johannes retired not long after this incident. He died from the miners’ disease, phthisis, on 17th September 1918 and was buried in the Lutheran section of the Ballarat Old Cemetery two days later with the three sons who predeceased him. His widow died on 26th December 1921 and was buried with Johannes and their sons. Their resting place and its memorial marker were restored during the 1980s at the instigation of one of their grandchildren.

View Johannes's Family Chart

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