Philipp Reinhard MULLER 1809-1864

Born on 13th March 1809 in the village of Usingem, 15 km south-west of Nieder-Weisel, Philipp Reinhard was the eldest son of the nail-smith Konrad Muller and Maria Elisabetha nee Buhlmann. In about 1818 his father took his family to Nieder-Weisel where he established a business. There were two younger sons by this time, Johann Konrad and Ludwig. Four daughters arrived in the next seven years but two died, as did another son born in 1828. Konrad was able to provide adequately for his family as they grew up and, when each boy was confirmed and left school at 14, he took him into the business as an apprentice nail-maker.

In time, each son married, Philipp Reinhard on 27th December 1834 to Katharina Bill, daughter of the mason Konrad Bill. It was a sad marriage as each of the four children born in the next seven years failed to live to school age. Soon after the loss of her second-born daughter just before her sixth birthday, the mother died. Six months later, on 10th September 1843, Philipp Reinhard married a second time, his bride being Elisabetha nee Haub, who had lost her husband the previous year. Elisabetha Hauser had two daughters from her previous marriage and five more were born in the next ten years, in addition to sons Jakob and Konrad; two of the girls failed to survive.

Frictions arose in the mixed family and, when the children became independent of their parents some made plans to leave the village; Katharina Hauser and the two Muller brothers put these plans into effect. Philipp Reinhard’s two brothers had taken their families to Victoria in 1857 and, although three of his daughters were under the age of six, Philipp Reinhard decided to follow them. He left Nieder-Weisel in June 1858 and embarked on “Carl” in the north German port of Hamburg, arriving in Melbourne on 1st October. From there he walked to the gold-mining centre of Ballarat, where many of his friends were working as miners.

Philipp Reinhard was nearly 50 years old when he got to Ballarat and he was not in good health. The rigours of prospecting and underground mining proved to be too great and he looked for work in his profession. His son Konrad worked in Ballarat as a dyer but the older brother Jakob went to the Smythesdale region as a carter. His step-daughter moved up into northern Victoria where she married and settled near Corryong. His two brothers opted to live in the township of Daylesford, which was too far away in the days of horse-drawn transport for regular contact to be maintained.

Part of the domestic problem in the Muller household had stemmed from Philipp Reinhard’s drinking to excess and it seems that he did not change his habits in his new environment. He had neither the money nor the inclination to bring his wife, with their younger children, to Victoria nor to return to them. He developed cirrhosis of the liver and was hospitalised in 1863; his sad and lonely life reached its end in a friendless ward in the Base Hospital in Ballarat on 18th February 1864; the next day he was buried in the Old Cemetery in an unmarked grave. His son Jakob died in an accident in 1865; Konrad returned to settle in Nieder-Weisel.

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