Margaretha GIEHL 1835-1903

Margaretha was born in 1835, on 25th May; she was the second of three daughters born to the liaison between Konrad Giehl and Maria Katharina Bill. No marriage contract was ever made between this pair but the girls always carried the surname of their father, who himself was illegitimate. Konrad died when Margaretha was not quite two years of age. A few months later, her mother married her father’s second cousin, Johannes Gross from the village of Hoch-Weisel.

Margaretha was confirmed on 28th May 1849; she was described as the daughter of the day worker Konrad Giehl and his wife Maria Katharina nee Bill. This was incorrect as each sister was registered as an illegitimate child of Maria Katharina Bill.

Margaretha’s older sister, Katharina, migrated to England in 1847; she married there but later came back to the village to give birth to a child. She left Nieder-Weisel again early in 1858, and it may be that Margaretha accompanied her on the journey to Victoria to help with the baby – no record has been found of the voyage to Port Phillip of these two, nor of their sister, Maria Dorothea.

On the second last day of 1858 Margaretha married another German immigrant, Christian Schwab, a son of the farmer Johannes Schwab and Margaretha nee Lufth, born in 1836. The ceremony was held in the Lutheran Church in Ballarat, with Pastor J Niquet officiating. The main witness was another migrant from Nieder-Weisel, Ambrosius Winter.

Margaretha’s younger sister Maria Dorothea was in Ballarat by this time and she married Jakob Heinz from Nieder-Weisel there three months later. This couple decided to stay in Ballarat, but Christian took Margaretha to the rapidly growing settlement at Smythesdale, to the west of Ballarat, where he worked as a miner. There were many other migrants from Nieder-Weisel working on this field.

Late in January 1860, Margaretha gave birth to a daughter whom they named Susanna. There was a long gap, of more than nine years, before Margaretha presented her husband with a son, Peter Christian; by then, they were back in Ballarat. Later, they moved to Sandhurst, where Margaretha had the companionship of Katharina, whose husband had decided to settle there permanently. The arrival of Anna Christina in 1872 completed Margaretha’s smaller than usual family; Susanna, then 12 years of age, helped to mother her little sister. Nine years later, in the Schwab home in Golden Gully, Susanna married; the third Australian generation had begun.

When Christian became too old to continue to work as a miner, he and Margaretha moved to Melbourne, where Susanna and her family were already living. Christian died of asthma in 1902 in their home in Nelson Street Abbotsford. Margaretha survived him by less than a year; she died of heart failure on 18th August 1903 and was buried with her husband in Boroondara Cemetery the following day. All three children survived her. Her sister Katharina died in September 1902, but Maria Dorothea lived until 1915.

View Margaretha's Family Chart

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