Katharina WILHELM 1834-1908

Katharina was born on 2nd July 1834 to the farm hand Johannes Wilhelm (previously Wilhelmi) and Anna Margaretha nee Jost of Nieder-Weisel. Six other children followed her in the next twenty-two years; one of the boys was still-born and two other boys died, leaving four children in the family. However her mother had three children from a previous marriage to Philipp Krausgrill III, who died in 1832, so the house was always full of the laughter and tears of children.

Katharina’s eldest half-sister Susanna married in 1855; she emigrated to Victoria with her husband, Christoph Adami, early the next year; her brother Konrad went with them. On 26th April 1857 Katharina married Johannes, a son of the butcher Johanm Konrad Heinz, who had been amongst the earliest to leave for the Victorian goldfields. The newly-weds left the village soon after the ceremony and were just in time to join a party of 30 others from Nieder-Weisel who sailed from Liverpool on 27th May aboard “Sir W F Williams”. If Katharina and Johannes had looked forward to a pleasant honeymoon they would have been disappointed – Captain Bentley took his vessel through the foulest weather encountered by any ship carrying emigrants from Nieder-Weisel.

The danger was not over until they reached Hobart Town on 19th August and the voyage did not end till the last day of that month when the steamer “City of Hobart” took them to Melbourne. From there they went to Ballarat with their companions – Hausers, Kisslers, Riegelhuths, Hildebrands, Kleins, Koch, Mullers, Dilges and Schimpfs – but they had to go immediately on to Castlemaine, where Johannes was to give away his sister Anna Juliana in marriage, their father having died of typhus fever.

Johannes went prospecting for a while around some of the diggings near Bendigo. Katharina had a son at Victoria Reef in January 1859 but he lived for only a few weeks. She quickly became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter in 1860 but she lost her in infancy also. A second son, Conrad, arrived in 1864 after the family had settled in Happy Valley where Johannes set up as a butcher. Another girl, Fransiska, was born in 1866 but, whilst Katharina was still nursing her, she suffered another loss: on New Years Day 1867 her son Conrad died; he was buried with his infant brother and sister in the cemetery at White Hills. Only one more child was born into the family and it was a girl, Catharina Maria, in 1869.

Three years later, Katharina lost her husband to cancer and faced a widowhood which lasted for 36 years. She was fortunate in that her brother-in-law Konrad Heinz, living only a few km away with his family, had made a great success of his butchering business and was able to help financially with the rearing of her three little girls.

Eva eventually moved away to Maryborough; she did not marry. Fransiska married in 1896 and her sons helped give Katharina a new interest in the final years of her life. This came to an end in 1908 in her 74th year in her home at Long Gully; she was buried with her husband in White Hills cemetery.

(Katharina’s sister Anna Margaretha, born in 1836, emigrated in 1856, settled in Sandhurst and lived at Long Gully in the years before her death in 1894).

View Katharina's Family Chart

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