Katharina BILL 1833-?

Katharina was born on 24th August 1833 to linen-weaver Jakob Bill II and Anna Margaretha nee Kissler; she was their second child and second daughter. A set of twins, boy and girl, and another boy completed the small family as the father died in 1839, aged only 39, three months before this son was born.

With help from her father Konrad Kissler, and her sister Katharina (who was married to her brother-in-law, Konrad Bill), Anna Margaretha managed to raise her five children and to see each of them confirmed and starting off on their adult lives.

The first-born sister, Anna Elisabetha, married a distant cousin, Konrad Bill, in 1853; she invited Katharina to stand as sponsor to their first-born daughter in November 1854. Anna Elisabetha’s next child, also a girl, was born on New Year’s Day in 1857 in Melbourne. Katharina may again have been a sponsor because the child was baptised Eva Anna Margaretha Katharina. The parents had presumably arrived in Melbourne not long before this birth – perhaps after spending some time in England where the sisters’ brother, Christoph, is known to have lived for a time before his marriage. It is quite likely that Katharina was with the Bill couple on the voyage to Victoria, but this cannot be proven as the record of her journey has yet to be found.

Konrad and Anna Elisabetha Bill returned to their home village in 186O, but Katharina stayed in the colony. She made her way to the goldfields in the north of Victoria, where she met Wilhelm Lorentz, an immigrant from Hanover; he was a son of farmer Johann Friederich Lorenz and Sophia nee Pracht. A romance developed which led to their marriage, in Christ Church Beechworth, on 18th October 1859. The witnesses were Henrich Hein and his wife, Juliana Katharina (who curiously was nee Bill, but not of Nieder-Weisel), who had married earlier that year.

The couple made their way to the goldfields around Yackandandah, about 25 km to the east, where two other Nieder-Weisel migrants, Margaretha Bill and Maria Bill, had settled with their husbands. They were sisters but not closely related to Katharina or Juliana (although Margaretha Backhaus had been married on the same day as Juliana Hein!). Katharina Lorenz produced a son in May 186O; they named him for his father. A second son arrived in November and was named Henry Frederick – probably for his godfather, Henrich Hein, and his paternal grandfather Lorenz. And there the Lorenz trail in Victoria goes cold. There were no other children born to the couple, and there is no record of the marriage of either son. The only record of death which may be relevant is that of Friedrich Lorenz aged 42 at Wangaratta in 19O4 – this accords with the birth of Henry Frederick in 1861. It is known that some Lorenz immigrants anglicised their name to Lawrence; this confuses the search for present day descendants of Katharina Bill.

Katharina’s youngest brother, Jakob, also came to Victoria – probably at about the same time as she did. He settled near Daylesford, where he died in 1898. It is unlikely that the two would have met in later years. Christoph, the elder brother, is believed to have emigrated to North America.

View Katharina's Family Chart

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