THE VILLAGE HISTORY:
Philipp Maas left Nieder-Weisel on 25th August 1856, breaking a continuous family link with the village which ran back for centuries - a Jakob Maas had been the village burgermeister and magistrate during the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648.
Philipp was the only son of Jakob Maas and his wife Anna Juliana Reuter. There were two older sisters and another was born when Philipp was 3 years of age. Less than a year after this event, Anna Juliana died and her baby survived for only three more months. Relatives fostered the other children.
Although Philipp's paternal grandfather was of burgermeister rank, the family's fortunes had suffered dramatically with the administrative changes of the early 19th century. He had learned cabinet making but as with other occupations few work opportunities were available, and Philipp joined the other migrants seeking their fortunes in Victoria.
It is probable that Philipp arrived on "Merrie England", 89 days out of Liverpool, on 16th January 1857. He was amongst many thousands of miners who swarmed to the Fryers Creek goldfields that year. There he married another emigrant from Nieder-Weisel, Anna Margaretha Hauser, daughter of Peter Hauser and Susanna nee Haub. The ceremony was held in the Lutheran chapel in Sandhurst on 17th September 1859, with Pastor Johannes Burkhardt as celebrant.
Philipp and Anna Margaretha settled in Yandoit, north of Daylesford. Philipp worked in the underground mines as a carpenter. Two of Anna Margaretha's sisters were living in the settlement with their families and for a time the three occupied adjoining properties, creating a closely-knit little community.
Philipp and Anna Margaretha had three boys and a girl: Heinrich born 1861, George in 1863, Conrad in 1865, and Anna Catherine in 1867. Though working as a rough form-maker, Philipp continued to practise his joinery skills by making furniture for his home. A high chair he made for his niece, Kate Fleischer, was used by children of that family for generations, and it now forms part of a display in the Museum of the Historical Society in the neighbouring town of Daylesford.
In the morning of 11th September 1868, Philipp and a work-mate, Louis Lang, were covered by a fall of earth in a drive they were working in the Daylesford Extension claim in Yandoit. They were dug out by their shift-mates, Konrad and Friedrich Pfeifer. Although Lang survived, Philipp, with his neck dislocated at its base, was dead when Dr McGregor reached the scene of the accident.
Philipp Maas was buried in the Franklinford Cemetery on 13th September 1868 in the presence of his two brothers-in-law, George Fleischer and John Zimmer. The wooden cross that once marked his grave was destroyed by a bushfire; its site is consequently unknown. His widow remarried; she is buried with her second husband, Johannes Uhl, in the same cemetery. Konrad Pfeifer later married the widowed Anna Elisabetha Zimmer, whose husband died in 1872.