THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
Johann Georg Hildebrand VIII was born at about 4am on Thursday, 30th January 1817 to Kaspar Hildebrand and the widow Elisabetha Haub nee Hauser, who had married on 6th October 1816. His birth occurred five hours after the arrival of a female child, Elisabetha (so that the twins had different birthdays). Their brother, Peter, was born in 1819 and a second sister, Maria Katharina, in 1821. All four siblings would die in countries remote from Germany.
The Hildebrands had been one of the town's leading families and Kaspar had taken over from his father the running of the oil mill. However, Johann Georg was deprived of the traditional inheritance by the organisational upheaval that took place whilst he was growing up and he had to work as a labourer on the estate now owned by Baron von Wiessenhutten.
Johann Georg married in 1840 and, during the next fifteen years, his wife Anna Elisabetha Maas gave birth to five sons and three daughters. Four of the sons survived and perhaps it was concern for their lack of prospects which caused their father to emigrate to Victoria. He left the village early in February 1857 with three of the boys, but only Philipp was with him when the "Sir W F Williams" sailed out of Liverpool in May. Peter and Konrad may have stayed in Leeds with their uncle Peter Hildebrand who had lived in that town for years. They followed later, independently.
The voyage was a turbulent one. In one of the very severe storms encountered a member of the crew was lost overboard. At Hobart, Johann Georg and his son trans-shipped to the steamer "City of Hobart", and reached Melbourne late in August. With many others from Nieder-Weisel they went on to the goldfields and set up their first miner's camp on the Smythes Creek diggings, west of Ballarat.
Nothing more is known of Johann Georg before 1877, when he helped Philipp clear his selection of land in northern Victoria. It was a lonely life for him with wandering aboriginals being the most frequent visitors. Unable to speak English, he communicated with his daughter-in-law in sign language when her husband was away on provisioning or working trips.
Later, he went to stay with Konrad, who was living with his family at Millewa, near Echuca. It was in this town that heart failure ended his life in his 68th year. He was buried in the Echuca cemetery on 2nd July 1884. In far-off Nieder-Weisel his widow was to survive him by only seven months.