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Konrad HILDEBRAND
1846-1922

The fourth son and child of the eight children in the family of Johann Georg Hildebrand and Anna nee Maas, Konrad was born on 27th February 1846 and baptised in the Nieder-Weisel Evangelical Church. Johann Georg worked as a casual farm labourer on the agricultural estates of Baron von Wiessenhutten. The family, like many others, lost its assets and status in the aftermath of the invasion of the area by Napoleon's armies.

The records show that Johann Georg left the village on 19th February 1857, taking with him his sons Philipp, Peter and Konrad. His wife remained in the village with their son Konrad Georg and their only surviving daughter Anna Elisabetha, 18 months old. Johann Georg and Philipp left England for Victoria later that year. Konrad did not follow until 1863; he and Peter may have stayed with relatives who had settled in Leeds. Konrad, with two other youngsters, made the journey on "British Trident", which cleared Liverpool on 21st March and reached Melbourne on 26th June.

No doubt Konrad made contact with his father on arriving. He began prospecting in the Happy Valley area near Ballarat. On 28th February 1870 he was married, in Saint Alipius Church Ballarat, to Margaret Ann Holland, the 18 year old daughter of the late Timothy Holland and Ellen nee Sullivan of County Cork. Their first child, born at Happy Valley on 15th July 1871, was named for his German grandfather. Two daughters, Anna Elisabetha in 1872 and Florence in 1874, were born at Springdallah.

Konrad and Philipp, who was also living at Springdallah with his family, agreed to go farming. Konrad took up land in 1876 at Millewa near the Murray River port of Echuca. In the same year Philipp selected land at Gunbower. As he had to get his supplies from Echuca, he maintained contact with his brother. Emma, Conrad, Grace and David were born in Millewa before the family moved further into New South Wales in 1866, to settle at Weedallion near the mining centre of Young. His daughters Mary Bertha, Ruby and Margaret were born there. Konrad took up about 500 ha of land in 1890 near Hiawatha, close to the present-day settlement of West Wyalong. It looked like gold-bearing country and, in 1898, Konrad triggered a brief rush when he found gold on his land. As well as farming he had a share in a mine in Central Wyalong which was worked down to 90 metres following an auriferous reef. After it was worked out, Konrad took over the licence of the Wyalong Hotel, and later of the Australia Hotel. Meanwhile, he disposed of the farming property and his son Conrad selected other land at Hiawatha.

Konrad lost his wife in tragic circumstances in 1906, when she died from terrible burns caused when her dress was set alight as she was warming herself by an open fireplace. The last few years of Konrad's life were spent in Sydney. After his death, on 22nd January 1922, he was taken back to Wyalong and buried with Margaret and their eldest son John George.

Konrad and Margaret's other children lived long and useful lives. Mary, the last survivor, died in 1984 at the age of 97. Fifty-seven grandchildren promulgated the Nieder-Weisel tradition.


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