Johann Jakob RIEGELHUTH 1815-1902

Konrad (1845-?), Katharina (1848-1861) & Jakob (1854-?) RIEGELHUTH

Johann Georg, son of Mayor Georg Henrich Riegelhuth and Katharina Elisabetha nee Lander, married Anna Margaretha Knipper in 1810. They had eight children, Johann Jakob born 24th November 1815 being the eldest of their three sons. Johann Georg supported his wife and children – all of who survived – by weaving; the cloth was sold to merchants in Butzbach.

Johann Jakob learned his father’s craft and, when his military obligations had been discharged, set up his own business. This enabled him to get the necessary permission from the authorities for his marriage to his fiancee Anna Elisabetha Lenz. The couple exchanged vows on 19th May 1844, without the banns being read because the bride was pregnant.

A son was born on 20th September but lived only two weeks. A second son arrived a year later and was named Konrad in memory of his brother. A daughter followed in 1848; she was called Katharina. On 21st December 1850, Anna Elisabetha gave birth to her third son, Jakob, but the birth was complicated and she died three weeks later; the baby did not survive.

On 28th August 1853, Johann Jakob was married a second time; his bride was Christina Lenz, 31, who was a second cousin to his previous wife. Christina had a son on 26th November 1854 and gave him the name of the little boy who had died. Johann Jakob had planned to join the increasing numbers of villagers going out to the Victorian goldfields and left with his wife and the three surviving children in 1856. On 21st October their ship “Star of the East” sailed out of Merseyside for Melbourne. Christina was again pregnant and she gave birth to a daughter as they neared Port Phillip; she named her Elizabeth. The journey ended on 12th January 1857 and they remained in Melbourne while Christina recuperated. Her child, however, was sickly and died a week later.

Johann Jakob spent some time on the goldfields at Ballarat before moving over to Smythesdale, where his brother Jakob was prospecting. Christina gave birth there to a son, Henry, in 1860 but the baby lived for only a year. Tragically, Johann Jakob’s eldest daughter Katharina, then 13, died at about the same time. The family moved back to Ballarat where they settled permanently; Christina had two more daughters to complete her family – Christina in 1861 and Wilhelmina in 1865; the step-daughter of Christina’s brother, Johann Konrad, sponsored the last-born. (He and two other brothers migrated at about the same time as the Riegelhuths, and lived nearby). Johann Jakob’s brother, Jakob, lost two children and decided to go back to Nieder-Weisel; it may be that one or both of Johann Jakob’s sons returned with them, as no further record has been found of either Konrad born 1845 or Jakob 1854. Alternatively, they may have emigrated; say to New Zealand, as some other migrants did.

The two girls stayed with their parents till they were married, Wilhelmina in 1889 and Christina in 1892. Several grandchildren were born before the death of Christina senior in 1898, just before their 45th wedding anniversary. Johann Jakob lived into his 87th year; he died in Ballarat on 3rd June 1902, and was buried with Christina in the New Cemetery in Ballarat.

(A Conrad Riegelhuth arrived in NSW in the early 1850s. He died there in 1871 aged 44. It is likely that he was a younger brother to Johann Jakob).

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