THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
Anna Elisabetha was a product of two of the families in Nieder-Weisel that had provided the village with administrators and jurists. The Knippers had been in Nieder-Weisel since Michael Knibber arrived there in 1636; he became senior burgermeister in 1641. Johann Georg, Anna Elisabetha's father, married Anna Elisabetha Maas on 22nd November 1812. The Maas family had lived in the village for even longer than the Knippers and both her father and grandfather had sat on the bench of the Court of Jurors, a lifetime appointment given only to citizens of unimpeachable character.
In 1842 Anna Elisabetha Knipper married Peter Heinz, a farmer in the village. This marriage produced four children: twins Johann Peter and Christoph in 1843; a girl, Katharina, in 1846; and Johannes in 1848. Not long after Johannes was born her husband died suddenly. Left to determine the future of her young children, she made the courageous decision to join in the emigration to Victoria. Leaving Johannes with foster parents, Anna Elisabetha took the other three children to England, as part of the largest group ever to depart from the village. Members of the Studt, Adami, Bill, Schimpf, Winter, Geibel, Hauser and Lenz families made up the party of 39 Nieder-Weiselerns on board "Sunshine" as she sailed out of the Mersey on 5th November 1856. They reached Melbourne on 29th January 1857.
The Heinz family went to the bustling mining town of Smythesdale, west of Ballarat, where Anna Elisabetha established a boarding house. In the same street was Gerhard Bang, a butcher from Butzbach. He taught the boys his trade and the close friendship that formed between him and the Heinz family led to his marriage with Katharina in 1867. Johannes had joined the rest of the family in 1862 and the three boys established their own meat works in Ballarat. When Gerhard died suddenly in 1879, Katharina moved to Ballarat so her mother could help her with the four young children.
In 1888, Anna Elisabetha lost her eldest son after a long illness and then her daughter died unexpectedly in 1891. She continued to help with the fostering of her teenage grandchildren but her own death followed soon after. Her life ended on 5th March 1892 in her home in Webster Street Ballarat.
Anna Elisabetha Knipper-Heinz was put to rest in the New Cemetery. Many tributes came from her family but she would have been particularly proud had she known that one day her youngest son would wear the mayoral robes of the town of her adoption just as, centuries before, his forebears had done in the village of her birth.