30 March 2012

The end of the milling era in the Beringer family

In the information that Norbert Michel sent me about the mills that the various generations of the Beringer family ran in Niederwalluf (the Bugmühle - bug mill) and Rauenthal/Schlangenbad (the Lochmühle - loch mill), there was a list of owners/managers of the Lochmühle and the dates they had possession of it. It suddenly occurred to me last night to see how the dates of Adam and John Valentine (JV) Beringer's emigration to Australia matched with the next owner/manager taking over from their father Valtin.

Adam and JV arrived in Australia in December 1884. Before that they had travelled by unknown route and means from the Rhine Valley, Germany to Plymouth, England, where the Abergeldie, on which they sailed to Australia, left from. I can't imagine it would have taken them much more than a year to get from Rauenthal to Australia - it only took just over a month for the Abergeldie to get to Australia from England, and certainly they were well placed on the Rhine to travel at least part of the journey along the river. Their names have not turned up on any passenger lists exiting Germany but this is not surprising for it would seem that the vast majority of them were destroyed.

The owner/managers of the Lochmühle who took over from Valtin Beringer were Georg and Karoline Koch, and they assumed responsibility for the mill in 1871. However, Valtin, the previous owner or manager (I don't know which and the list doesn't specify) died in 1867. His second wife Elisabetha died before that, in 1864. Who looked after the mill until the Koch's took over?

In 1867 when their father Valtin died, Adam and JV were only 11 and 8 years old respectively, and were the only boys in the family alive at the time of their father's death. It is not hard to see why they didn't take over the mill - even if they could have worked in it they were too young to run it. The only other child in the family possibly alive at the time was their half sister Katharina - I have not been able to find a death record for her in the Rauenthal parish records. She was confirmed, aged 17, in Rauenthal in 1862, so she was definitely still alive five years before her father died. I imagine she may have married in another parish, which is why I have not been able to trace her. However, if she was still alive and unmarried in 1867 when her father died, it is possible that she may have run the mill, until the family was able to find another owner or manager in 1871.

And thus it was that the mill passed to the Kochs, and Adam and JV didn't become millers, and therefore were free from family obligation to emigrate to Australia. Adam was listed as a locksmith in his immigration records, and JV was a carpenter. I wonder who they learnt the skills from?

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