THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
Anna Margaretha was the fourth daughter born to Konrad Bill XIII and Katharina nee Krausgrill; she was to be followed by four boys, three of whom died in infancy, and another girl. Anna Margaretha and her next older sister, Christina, born 18 months earlier in 1836, were two of the high percentage of teenage girls who were sent away from the village during the unsettled days of the 1850s. In this case, their father took the unusual step of accompanying them, whilst his wife stayed with the younger daughter and son in Nieder-Weisel.
Travel agents had booked a block of 23 passages on the ship "Glenmanna" due to leave Liverpool on 28th October 1854 and, with members of the Adami, Hauser, Knipper, Schimpf, Hildebrand, Zimmer and Haub families, Konrad and his two daughters left the Mersey and faced the 110 days at sea which lay ahead of them. It was the first time that Captain Rogers had taken his vessel to the antipodes and perhaps this accounted for the slow progress the ship made before eventually sailing into Port Phillip Bay on 14th February 1855. Two small barques from Hamburg reached Melbourne at about the same time with another 25 villagers so it was a large party which made its way to Ballarat in Central Victoria.
Some of the new arrivals, including the Knippers, went west to Ararat; Konrad and his daughters did likewise. There the two sisters formed liaisons with two brothers, Heinrich and Philipp Miechel, who had arrived in the colony a few months before they did. The elder brother and Christina paired off whilst Philipp and Anna Margaretha became partners. Philipp went first to Maryborough, where Anna Margaretha gave birth to a son, Philipp, in May 1858. Their first daughter, Margaret, was born in Avoca in 1860 and the couple then settled at Beaufort, midway between Ararat and Ballarat, where they would spend the next quarter of a century. Philipp already had invested some of his savings in land in the town and he bought a great deal more as time went by. A major purchase was that of the Stringy Bark Hotel, quickly renamed Miechel Hotel, which became the family home. Anna Margaretha's life was fully devoted to the raising of the fourteen children she and Philipp produced. After Margaret there was Amelia in 1862; Eleanor 1864; Anna Margaretha 1865; Caroline 1868; Wilhelmina 1869; Elizabeth Philippa 1871; Florence May 1873; Mabel Nicola 1874; Henry Lewis 1876; Mabel Caroline 1879; Ernest Wilhelm 1884.
The Miechels were a musically gifted family, and Anna Margaretha also had the German's love of music, so it was to be expected that their children would inherit these gifts. For a short time, Heinrich and Christina lived in Beaufort, but then they moved to Maldon, north of Castlemaine, and so the two families began to drift apart.
The Miechel family was a respected one in Beaufort; Philipp founded and ran a municipal band and a juvenile Fife & Drum band - in which some of their children played.
This busy but pleasant existence was shattered in 1884 when their hotel and home were destroyed by fire. Philipp seemed to lose interest in life generally, and the family began to disintegrate. He took Anna Margaretha to live on a farm in Tallygaroopna near Shepparton that their eldest son Philipp was establishing. They took some of the children with them, but the two youngest girls went with their oldest sister to live at Yarrawonga, while others married or moved away from the district.
Perhaps Anna Margaretha also became dispirited; in any case she lived for only six more years, dying of bronchial pneumonia at her son's farm on 17th August 1891, aged 53. Philipp survived her by 27 years.