Philipp BILL 1826-? & Johann Georg BILL 1823-1867
Twenty-three people who gave Nieder-Weisel as the place of birth arrived in Port Philipp on Friday, 23rd February 1855, on the 340 ton vessel “Luise”, 136 days out of Hamburg. Two of the passengers carried the surname Bill – J.G., who was 29 years of age, and a companion who was described by an initial which is not legible on the passenger list, age 31.
The only Johann Georg Bill born in the village in the period 1824-26 was a son of the linen-weaver Konrad Bill XI and his wife Anna Juliana Gerlach; he was born on 12th March 1826. This Johann Georg had an older brother, Philipp, who was born on 29th October 1823 and so was 31 when “Luise” sailed. These must have been the two Bills in this group.
Curiously, each of them had a wife and family who were left in the village. Philipp was married, on 2nd August 1846, to Elisabetha Reuter, born 8th February 1824 to Johann Jakob Reuter and Anna Juliana nee Marx. They had three children: Elisabetha, 2nd November 1846; Christoph, 27th December 1848, died 5th January 1849; Susanna, 2nd April 185O. Johann Jakob Reuter had a son Christoph, born on 5th August 1826, who was the right age for the Christoph Reuter, 28, also a passenger on “Luise”. The brother Johann Georg married, on 6th February 1848, Anna Margaretha Heinz, born 21st March 1827 to the carrier Johann Georg Heinz II and Katharina Hauser. This couple had four children – Konrad born on 30th October 1848; Anna Margaretha 3rd January 1851; twins Georg and Elisabetha born 5th December 1853.
The motivation for these young men to leave their wives and children for a minimum of two years was the desperation born of not having secure futures in the village and the lure of striking gold in a sufficient quantity to rectify this situation. We don’t know how it all panned out for Philipp, but he was back in his Gamaschengasse home in Nieder-Weisel by 1866 (known as ‘Worschtkonrads Philipp’). For brother Johann Georg, the story did not have a happy ending; he died at Christmastide in 1867. The informant for his death knew only that he was German and was 42 years of age.