THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
The Heinz families of Nieder-Weisel provided two separate groups to the Victorian emigration - one which settled in and around Ballarat and a second which went to the Castlemaine-Bendigo region. (By a curious coincidence, each would provide a mayor to the local administration).
Johann Konrad Heinz, born 1807, preceded his two sons and two daughters to Castlemaine. He was one of the earliest arrivals from the village, on "Luise" out of Hamburg, which reached Williamstown on 23rd February 1855. Among the 22 other passengers who were from Nieder-Weisel was Konrad Heinz, age 32. The only person of this name and age appearing in the church records was the son of Konrad Heinz (a butcher in the village) and his wife, Elisabetha Hildebrand. Konrad junior was their first child, born 12th April 1823. His father (born 1796) was the elder brother of Johann Konrad Heinz.
It must have taken a great deal of persuasion for Konrad to have left his young family to undertake an ocean voyage half-way around the world. He and his wife, Katharina Elisabetha Jung, were married on 13th October 1850, more than a year after their son, Christopher, had been born. They had a daughter, Juliana, in 1851 and a second son, Karl, in April 1854. It was only five months later that Konrad, in company with his uncle, set out on the journey that he must have hoped would solve the financial problems besetting him.
On their arrival, the Mount Alexander goldfields were being developed and Johann Konrad went there rather than to Ballarat; it is likely that Konrad accompanied him. However, his uncle died of fever only a year after their arrival and this may have frightened Konrad as he returned to Nieder-Weisel within the next year or so. There is no evidence that he was successful in his search for gold, as he worked as a casual farmhand on his return. His wife gave birth to twins in 1858 but each of them died within hours of birth; a daughter born about a year later did survive, but only into her 17th year. A fifth girl arrived in 1862 but it was the eighth child, Katharina Elisabetha born 1864, who would prove to be the exception to the absence of longevity in the family - her death did not occur until World War II was well into its 4th year!
Konrad died in his High Street home (on the site of
'Edelhof', the home of the very early village chieftains) on 4th July 1886. His wife died shortly after giving birth to her youngest child.