Katharina REUTER 1835-1911

Johann Georg Reuter and Anna Elisabetha nee Bill, married 12th December 1821, had a son Jakob in 1823 and a second son Christoph in 1825. The next two died and it was not till 1832 that a girl, Margaretha, arrived, followed by a second girl, Katharina, on 30th September 1835. Their seventh child also died and no others followed. The two boys and their two much younger sisters inevitably formed two sub-groups, with Jakob and Margaretha being the leaders.

Katharina was only 15 when their father died and she was orphaned the following year. The boys had left the village and Katharina looked to her older sister for guidance in deciding her future: this was to follow the example set by the boys. A continuing deterioration in law and order made it increasingly hazardous for the girls to remain in the village and they made the break in 1856. They did not join in any of the large organised groups but made their own way to Liverpool and booked on “Arcadia”; there were no other Nieder-Weiselerns on the list of passengers. They sailed on Friday, 5th September 1856 and reached Melbourne two days before the New Year.

Although they had no near relatives in the colony, there were over 100 immigrants from Nieder-Weisel already there, mainly in and around Ballarat. The sisters elected to go with a group of prospectors who moved to the westerly diggings around Ararat. Margaretha found a partner there and was married in mid-1858 to German migrant Johannes Maibacher. Katharina stayed with her sister and she was also married there, just twelve months later. Her husband, Jakob Nothnagel, was also from Germany. Katharina was the first of the sisters to produce a child – Margaretha, sponsored by her sister, in 1860. She returned this compliment a year later by standing as godmother to her first niece in 1861.

The two couples moved back to the diggings around Beaufort, midway between Ararat and Ballarat, and settled in the township of Raglan, 8 km north of Beaufort. Katharina had a son, Valentine, here in 1864, the godfather being her brother-in-law. A second son, Michael, was born in 1866 to complete their small family. Margaretha also had only three children – but, in her case, because she lost her husband prematurely.

Both the Nothnagel and Maibach families stayed in the district, where Jakob worked as a miner until old age forced his retirement. Katharina had lost her daughter to a childhood malady, but she found compensation in watching her god-daughter growing to maturity and marrying Valentine Nothnagel, who was probably a cousin to Katharina’s husband. The family was from Hesse-Darmstadt, a grand duchy of which Nieder-Weisel was a part.

No evidence has been found that either of her two sons married. Michael may have moved away but the older son remained in the area. Katharina died in her home in Beaufort on 9th May 1911 and was buried in the local cemetery. Valentine died later that year at the age of only 47. Jakob Nothnagel lived on for another five years; he died on 21st May 1916 at the age of 81 in Beaufort.

View Katharina's Family Chart

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