THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
Like other young men in the village of Nieder-Weisel, Jakob Heinz was appalled at the prospect of being conscripted into military service for three years when he turned 20. Luckily his father, the wagon-builder Konrad Heinz II, was affluent enough to be able to buy an exemption for his son. This move cost Jakob his rights to full citizenship in the village and no doubt influenced his decision to emigrate.
Jakob joined a group of Nieder-Weiselerns who used the newly completed rail link north to the emigration port of Hamburg, where they took passage on the tiny sailing ship "Luise" for Victoria. Jakob, born on 18th January 1836, was among the youngest of the 131 passengers crowded into the 'tween-decks' quarters of the vessel as she left port on 11th October 1854 on her 136 day voyage to Melbourne, over 20,000 km away.
Disembarking on 15th January 1855, Jakob and his twenty-two companions set off for Ballarat, where previous migrants from Nieder-Weisel greeted them. Though trained by his father as a wheelwright, Jakob went prospecting for gold, moving from area to area as the news of new strikes circulated through the diggings. He spent some time on the gold-fields west of Ballarat, such as Smythes Creek. By 1859 Jakob was in Ballarat again and on 16th March of that year he was married here to Dorothea Giehl, the 22 year old daughter of Konrad Giehl and Maria Katharina nee Bill of Nieder-Weisel. The marriage was celebrated by Pastor John P Niquet in the Lutheran Church, in the presence of two other Nieder-Weiselerns, Johannes Winter and Peter Hauser.
Jakob and Dorothea settled in the area southwest of Ballarat known as Happy Valley (near Linton). The couple had seven children here during the next 17 years - Christina in 1860, Peter 1862, Jakob 1864, Hannah Katharina (Susanna) 1866, Frederick William 1869, Mary 1873, and Louisa 1875. Unexpectedly for those rough and ready times, all their children survived.
Jakob kept in touch with home through the periodic mails; he heard of the death of his only brother Peter in 1868, and of his mother, Katharina nee Kissler, in 1870, leaving only his father and a sister. In 1878 he considered taking his eldest sons to Mossgiel in central New South Wales to look for more lucrative work than the goldfields were now offering but his plans did not eventuate. Finally, he decided to try farming, and in the early 1869s he selected land at Geachville, north of Leongatha in Gippsland. To enable him to own real estate, Jakob applied for naturalisation; he submitted his papers in March 1891 (just a few weeks after his father, the last male member of the family in Nieder-Weisel, died in his 80s).
Jakob's sons went with him to Gippsland, and William married there. However he died in his early 30s, leaving a widow and several children; his sons were the only Heinz grandchildren who could perpetuate the name. Jakob junior also died in his thirties but in time all four daughters married.
Jakob and Dorothea lived in Geachville for over a quarter of a century. In March 1909 their descendants assembled to help them celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Soon after this, Jakob's health began to decline, but it was the death of Dorothea early in 1915 that brought this long partnership to its end. Jakob lingered on for a few more months till his death on Easter Sunday 1917; he was taken to join Dorothea in the Leongatha cemetery on 1st April - a colonist of 62 years.