Johannes ADAMI 1829-1864

Although married in Nieder-Weisel, Johannes Adami was a native of Hausen, a tiny village about 5 km to the west in the foothills of the Taunus Mountains. He was born there on 28th October 1829 to Jakob Adami and his wife Katharina.

On 19th November 1854 Johannes was married to Katharina the younger daughter of Martin Worner and Anna Elisabetha nee Hildebrand in the Evengelist Church where she had been baptised 23 years earlier.

Johannes and Katharina left the village to be part of the largest group of Nieder-Weiselerns to immigrate to the colony of Victoria. They sailed aboard the “Sunshine” from Liverpool on 5th November 1856. After a journey lasting just over 12 weeks they disembarked at Melbourne on 29th January 1857, saddened by the death at sea of Konrad Belloff, one of the Adamis’ messmates.

Most of the 196 emigrants, including all the Germans, went to the town of Ballarat to meet up with friends. A few, including Johannes and Katharina, then went to the more recent fields at Creswick and Rocky Lead.

By 1861, Johannes was working as an engine driver for the You Know mining company at Rocky Lead; it is very likely that he was a part-shareholder in the venture. During this period Katharina had given birth to a son and a daughter, but the boy did not survive. A second daughter was born in their little home, just over 200 metres from the mineshaft, in January 1863.

Their decision to migrate seemed to have paid off but 5 days after their tenth wedding anniversary their luck ran out. After the evening meal Johannes went to the mine to take over for the afternoon shift. He was carried back home several hours later on a makeshift litter with both his legs irreparably shattered. Two hours into the shift he was being brought back to the surface after a brief inspection at the workface when he missed his footing climbing out of the bucket; he fell 30 metres down the mineshaft. He smashed through the 5cm thick well boards covering the sump; the impact drove the left leg bones through the ankle joint. His workmates, Nikolaus Hildebrand and Philipp Landvogt, got him back to the surface where he stayed conscious long enough to make a will, in the presence of the attending doctor.

On 26th November, doctors amputated Johannes’s left leg, and on 2nd December, his right leg. A further operation became necessary when the artery in this second stump had to be re-tied, but this final shock was more than Johannes could stand in his weakened condition and he died at 1.30 am on Thursday, 8th December 1864.

A coronial inquisition was convened the same day; the jury included his friends Christoph Reuter, Johannes Jung and George Krick. They concluded that the death was accidental – Johannes had previously confessed to Katharina that it was entirely his fault and that the winch operator, Philipp Landvogt, was blameless.

Katharina continued to live with her two little girls in the Rocky Lead house. She married Philipp Landvogt there 18 months later. Her elder daughter, Katharina, married Andrew Laird in Ballarat in 1890.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top