Konrad Philipp BILL 1839-1906

In his application for Letters of Naturalisation, dated 25th August 1879, Conrad Bill, a miner at Chinaman’s Creek near Maryborough, claimed that he came to Victoria on board “Sunshine” in January 1857, when he was 18 years of age, i.e born about 1839.

The manifest of “Sunshine” shows that Conrad, age 44, his wife Ann, 21, and two children Conrad, 11 and Cath, 10, travelled on ticket 353, sailing on 5th November 1856 from Liverpool. There were 35 migrants from Nieder-Weisel on tickets 350-359. When these bookings were made Konrad was nearly 17 but there are other instances of ages being lowered by this amount to ensure that the teenager was allowed to travel in the family quarters.

Johann Konrad Bill and his wife, Elisabetha nee Haub, were one of many couples that decided to get their children out of Nieder-Weisel after the breakdown of the administration in the 1840s. They arranged that the youngest child, Jakob, would stay in the village with his mother while Johann Konrad took the two girls and Konrad Philipp to Ballarat, in the hope of establishing a more secure future. To keep the group together, Anna posed as Konrad’s wife.

In a community with a preponderance of males, the two sisters had no difficulty in finding husbands in a very short time, whereupon their father went back to Nieder-Weisel. Konrad Philipp had no such advantage and it was not until 1869 that he found a bride, Margaret Strachan from Ireland. The pair lived for a while in Chiltern, near Albury on the River Murray, where Konrad was prospecting. Here, Margaret gave birth in 1870 to a son, to whom she gave the name William Alfred. They moved later to Bungaree near Ballarat where, in 1871, twins were born: two girls who were named Anna Elizabeth and Margaret Jane. This birth cost Margaret her life; she died soon after it and was buried in Ballarat Cemetery. Fortunately Konrad’s sister, Katherina, was living nearby and was able to help him during this difficult period of readjustment.

Konrad married again in 1877; his wife was Helene Matilda Beyer, ten years his junior. After their marriage, the couple moved to Maryborough; it was here that Konrad’s naturalisation was approved in 1879, on 12th December. Although she was relatively young, Helene did not have children; possibly she raised the three children born to Konrad’s first marriage. No marriage records have been found for any of these children so it may be that they were fostered out soon after their mother’s death, and had used the family name of the foster parents.

Konrad eventually settled in Melbourne, where his life ended on 10th March 1906 at his residence in the oddly named Christmas Street, in the inner suburb of Northcote. Like many retired miners, his death was caused by a tubercular lung infection, in his case, of only eight weeks’ duration. The certificate of death records that his three children survived him. He was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery.

His widow took out letters of naturalisation just before the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-1918 when she was 63 years of age.

Konrad’s sister Katharina died a few weeks before he did; their other sister, Anna Elisabetha, went back to Germany with her family in 1869.

View Konrad Philipp's Family Chart

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