THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
Wilhelm Bill arrived in Victoria with his parents Christoph Bill and Juliana nee Jung aboard "Sunshine" on 29th January 1857. Born on 25th May 1851, he was 5 years of age at the time but is on the passenger list as an infant - less than 12 months old. This meant that the eight adults in their group could share two four-person berths; it also allowed Wilhelm to travel free.
In addition to his parents there were three other young couples. One of these were actually brother and sister, and not a married couple; the brother was Konrad Belloff, a son of Wilhelm's godfather, Johann Wilhelm Belloff, the village shepherd. The deception came to notice when Konrad succumbed to food poisoning as "Sunshine" approached the coast of Australia; he was buried at sea.
Wilhelm's parents were married in Nieder-Weisel in June 1850. There was a younger boy in the family, but he had been left with foster parents as he was less than 3 years-old when the parents decided to go to the Victorian goldfields; the brothers were never to meet again.
The journey to Victoria, which began at Liverpool on 5th November 1856, was an exciting one for the little boy and his friends Katharina Heinz and Katharina Geibel, and the wagon trip to the gold-fields of Ballarat equally so. After a year or so there the family went on to Smythesdale, 20 km to the west. There were no schools at first, and Wilhelm spent his days playing with children of other emigrants from his village. In 1858 a sister arrived in the family, followed by a second one in 1861. A year later, his father moved the family into the hills west of Smythesdale, where his mother made a home for them in Happy Valley. The family increased in 1864 with the birth of Conrad George and again in 1867 when their sister Elizabeth arrived. Wilhelm was 16 by this time and worked with his father on the diggings.
When Wilhelm - now universally called Bill by the other miners - was about 20 the family moved east to the Gisborne area, and settled in the township of Bullengarook.
Wilhelm was left as the main breadwinner for the family when his father died in 1879 aged only 54; his brother Christoph was now 18 and also able to contribute. Wilhelm's sister Margaret was married in January 1883 to Geo. Harvey Wright; she raised her family in Bridgewater, northwest of Bendigo. Wilhelm delayed his marriage till 1892; his bride was Alice Reeves, from Gravesend in England. They settled in Bendigo, where a son was born early in 1894 - baptised Wilhelm for his father and George for his uncle, who was godfather. A girl, born in 1897, was named Winifred Rosabelle Bill. Wilhelm (and perhaps Alice) was now well into his 40s, so it is hardly surprising that this was the last of their family.
No record has been found of the death of Wilhelm, or of Alice, or of either of their children. It is believed that a descendant of Margaretha was a member of the Woady Yaloak Historical Society Inc in 1995 but attempts to make contact failed.