Konrad RIEGELHUTH 1827-1885

Born on 23rd September 1827, Konrad was the eldest of the five children of the forestry overseer Ambrosius Riegelhuth and Susanna nee Haub. Ambrosius died in 1838 soon after the birth of his second son, and Susanna had to rely on help from relatives in bringing up her young family.

Three of the four children who survived migrated: Konrad in 1854, Maria Elisabetha in 1856, Philipp in 1857. A new rail link through Butzbach made it easier to reach the seaport of Hamburg, and Konrad sailed from there on 11th August 1854 on “Victoria”, in a party of 14 young men from Nieder-Weisel. Their tiny barque reached Melbourne after 102 days at sea, her very relieved passengers disembarking there on 21st November and heading for the goldfields of Central Victoria in search of their fortunes.

On 27th January 1859, Konrad was married in Ballarat to Anna Elisabetha Hauser (known as Elisabetha), the daughter of Jakob and Susanna Hauser of Nieder-Weisel. The marriage was conducted by Pastor John Peter Niquet in the tiny Lutheran Church in the presence of two witnesses, each of whom was a Peter Hauser of Nieder-Weisel; one was Anna Elisabetha’s uncle, and the other was her brother. For the next two decades, Konrad supported his growing family as a prospector and miner in the Ballarat region. In Niven’s Ballarat directories of 1869 and 1875, Konrad is listed as a miner of Kent Street, Sebastopol, a suburb of Ballarat

The first two children were born at Smythesdale, west of Ballarat; the next one in nearby Springdallah; four in Sebastopol, and the last in Ballarat proper. Like most other pioneers, Konrad and Elisabetha had their periods of heartbreak – the eldest son Bernhard died when he was 2 and in 1873, when they were living in Kent Street, Sebastopol, two other children died of diphtheria within days of each other.

In 1880, as a pre-requisite to becoming a property owner, Konrad petitioned for naturalisation; this was granted and he became a citizen of his chosen homeland at a ceremony held in Ballarat on 23rd February 1880.

Konrad’s brother, Philipp, and their sister Maria Elisabetha had also come out to the colony. Maria had married Henrich Mathes and he assisted Konrad financially in acquiring the Phoenix Hotel at 177 Barkly Street, opposite the East Ballarat post office. Under Konrad’s management the Phoenix was a popular meeting place for the German community, and included the meeting rooms of the Deutscher Verain (German Club); it was also very profitable.

Konrad died of “chronic intestinal pneumonia” on 27th August 1885, aged 58. The Ballarat Courier reported that a cortege more than half a mile in length followed the casket as it was carried to Konrad’s final resting place in the Old Cemetery in Ballarat on 30 August. Among the mourners was the Mayor of Ballarat (Henry Mathes) and members of the Town Council. As a special tribute flags were flown at half-mast at the Town Hall and, on the day before the burial, at the Deutscher Verain of which Konrad was a foundation member.

Konrad was survived by Elisabetha, who lived for another 37 years; by a married daughter, Elisabetha Ehms and her son; by 2 other daughters; and by 2 sons. Elisabetha continued to run the Phoenix Hotel, although her son-in-law Christoph Hauser acquired the licence between 1894 and 1903. Several photos of this period show the Phoenix Hotel; one includes Christoph Hauser, his daughter Olga, and Franz Muller (another son-in-law of Konrad and Anna Elizabetha) in front of the hotel with Elisabetha in the shadows of her residence next door. The hotel was demolished following delicencing in about 1911.

Konrad’s sister Maria Elisabetha survived him by eight years and his brother Philipp by four.

Elisabetha’s long life ended in 1922; she died in the Errard Street home of her daughter Maria Elizabeth Ehms, survived by her five children.

View Konrad's Family Chart

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