THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
The family of the one-time court jurist, Johann Jakob Hildebrand, and Anna Elisabetha nee Reuter included four sons: Konrad (born 12th May 1809), Jakob (5th November 1814), Philipp (4th July 1817), and Johann Jakob (25th January 1823). There were two daughters - Anna Elisabetha (29th December 1806) and Anna Juliana (24th March 1820). Each of these six offspring would eventually be involved, either directly or through their families, in the exodus from the village during the 1850s.
Konrad married Anna Margaretha Bodenroeder in 1832, and in 1841 Jakob married Anna Elisabetha Reuter. Four years later Philipp married his sister-in-law Christina Reuter, several weeks after Johann Jakob had married Maria Elisabetha Schimpf, daughter of the village burgermeister. Two years later they lost both parents within three months of one another.
When the first reports of the fabulous gold strikes filtered through from Australia, the brothers were keen to get involved. Although each had at least five children, Jakob, Philipp and Johann Jakob decided to risk leaving their families for a while and try their luck on the diggings. With Friedrich Winter, husband of their sister, Anna Juliana, they booked their passages on "Luise", which sailed on 11th October 1854 from Hamburg on a 19 week voyage to Victoria.
The other Nieder-Weiselerns aboard included their niece, Juliana Hildebrand, daughter of Konrad. The four oldest sons of their sister, Anna Elisabetha, who had married Johann Georg Hauser I, followed in due course.
Anna Juliana died in Nieder-Weisel just over three weeks after Friedrich Winter reached Ballarat, and he decided not to go back to the village. Juliana married a Swiss immigrant and also remained in the colony. There is no record of the movements of the three brothers during their time in Victoria; this suggests that they moved around from rush to rush, remaining part of the anonymous crowds who flocked in their tens of thousands to each new field.
Philipp left Melbourne on "Donald Mackay" on 8th November 1858 - perhaps with some foreboding of the future, as he died in Nieder-Weisel on 29th March 1860. There is no record of the return of his brothers. Johann Jakob died in the village on 2nd October 1888, his wife having predeceased him by 17 years. Jakob died in January 1874, his wife surviving him by