THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
Anna Katharina was the only girl of the four children born to Anna Elisabetha Knipper and her husband, Peter Heinz of Nieder-Weisel. She was born in 1844, 18 months after her twin brothers Peter and Christoph. The birth in 1849 of Johannes completed the family - small by comparison with most because the father died soon afterwards.
Recognising that there was little opportunity for the three boys in the unhappy village, Anna Elisabetha decided to emigrate. Under-stating the age of each child by 2-3 years, so as to avoid paying full adult fares, she took Anna Katharina and her twin brothers to join a very big contingent of Nieder-Weiselerns who left Liverpool on 5th November 1856 aboard "Sunshine"; Johannes stayed with foster parents. After 82 days at sea, Katharina saw the cliffs of Cape Otway and four days later she was in Melbourne.
The Heinz family made its way to Smythesdale, just past Ballarat, where Anna Elisabetha opened a boarding house. Soon after this, Gernand Bang (son of Gernand Bang and Margaretha Dorothea Emmel of Butzbach) established a butcher shop near them in Brooke Street. He had arrived in 1855, and had traded around the southern gold-fields for several years; he took out naturalisation papers in 1862 so that he could buy property for business use. Gernand put Katharina's brothers through an apprenticeship and later helped them set up their own meat supply business.
As Katharina reached adulthood he courted her and they were married in Smythesdale in 1867. The first of their seven children, Johannes, was born in 1868 and a second son, Christoph Otto, in 1870; the next year, a daughter, Annie Christina, arrived. Gernand Bang took a very keen interest in community affairs; in 1871 he was appointed Mayor of the Municipality of Smythesdale, and in March 1872 he was re-elected for a full second term. For Katharina, the thrill of being First Lady was to be negated by personal tragedy - she was nearing full term with another child when an epidemic swept the town and she lost Chris and Annie on consecutive days. Less than two months after the two little ones were buried, Louisa Kathleen was born in May 1873. Another daughter, named Dorothea Alice for her maternal grandmother, arrived in 1875 but she died just after her second birthday, again when Katharina was heavily pregnant. In May 1877, eight weeks after her sister died, Lily Augusta was born, and a fifth daughter followed just as the year 1878 ended.
Katharina was surely entitled to hope that the New Year would see an end to her misfortunes, but only 6 months into 1879 her husband died suddenly, aged only 42. When their affairs were straightened out, Katharina took her family to Ballarat. The family group was able to assist financially and she ensured that her children were well educated - Johannes was to become company secretary for the Heinz Bros enterprise. Katharina died in 1891, when she was only 46; her mother died the following year.