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THE VILLAGE HISTORY:

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Kaspar KOCH
1827-1858

Kaspar Koch descended from families that had for many years provided the village with burgomasters and members of the Court of Jurors but his father was reduced to working as a farmhand. Philipp had married Susanna Maas early in 1822; they had only a small family of three boys, and the eldest died in infancy. Kaspar, born 18th June 1827, and Ambrosius, three years older, grew up amid the troubles of the 1830s and 1840s. Ambrosius married in 1847; he and his wife, Anna Maria Schimpf, decided that they would take their chances in the village, but Kaspar elected to join the large number of people who were leaving Nieder-Weisel for Victoria.

A large group of villagers from Nieder-Weisel and some nearby villages were booked aboard "Sir W.F. Williams", leaving Liverpool on 27th May 1857 to go to Hobart Town; theirs was the only group ever to use this indirect route. Kaspar was on board when the ship sailed and with him was Katharina Jung - probably from Hausen - whom he had married in the Lutheran Church in Liverpool shortly before going on board. There were several other newly married couples in the group, but they were all to suffer the same disappointment when their honeymoon trip turned out to be the roughest and most dangerous ever experienced by any of the emigrants. In one of several violent cyclones, a ship's officer was lost overboard.

Their battered ship reached its destination on 19th August, but the passengers for Melbourne were kept on board, in freezing conditions, for another ten days till berths were found for them on the "City of Hobart" which ferried them across Bass Strait. With the Dilges, Klein, Marx, Kissler, Riegelhuth and Hauser couples, Kaspar and Katharina went to the Ballarat goldfields. There was a Johann Koch with them but he was from Pohl-Gons; he died in a mine accident at Rocky Lead in 1865. With advice from earlier arrivals, Kaspar and the others went about learning the skills of mining, whilst their wives learned to cope with the strange customs of this new land as they established their homes.

Katharina became pregnant soon after reaching the gold capital and she and Kaspar looked forward to the arrival of their first child. However, after a few weeks on the diggings, Kaspar began to have breathing problems. He was taken to the Ballarat Hospital but died (probably of asthma) on Monday, 22nd February 1858. He was buried two days later in the Old Cemetery at Ballarat, in the presence of John Hildebrand, one of his shipmates. On 15th June, his infant son was baptised by Pastor John Niquet, in the Ballarat Lutheran Church; he took the name of his sponsor, Jost Jung of Hausen.

In December 1860, Katharina married Philipp Adami, another migrant from Nieder-Weisel. Jost grew up with the Adami children - in 1886 he married Klara Haintz (formerly Heinz - sister-in-law of Katharina Haub), and they had seven children in the Rocky Lead area 1887-1905. Jost died in Creswick in 1922.

View Kaspar's Family Chart or return to the top.