Who lived here?….Part 1 – John Kelly

Ancestor Detective was asked to research the previous owners of a little cottage in Primrose Street, Violet Town after the current owner discovered that the cottage was built in 1895 and once owned by a German family. She became intrigued about how a German family came to be living in a small rural town. Ancestor Detective traces the families who owned the property and writes of their lives living in Violet Town.

Violet Town is 174 kilometers (or 108 miles) north east of Melbourne in Victoria and at the base of the Strathbogie Ranges. Originally names ‘Violet Creek’ the inland town was one of the first to be surveyed in 1838. The town is renowned for being a stop over for Major Thomas Mitchell who on his Australia Felix exploration camped on the banks of what was then called Violet Creek and became Honeysuckle Creek. At the time Major Mitchell noted that the swamps and marshes had a profusion of wild violets and he named the district Violet Ponds.

Settlement in Violet Town was slow initially but once the first hotel, the Royal Mail Hotel, was built by Thomas Clarke. With this development and the movement of people using Sydney Road, later called the Hume Highway, as a thoroughfare between Melbourne and Sydney that land started to sell.

John Kelly was born in about 1832 to Samuel Kelly and Jane Satermaite (Saterwaite) in Melbourne. In 1872, aged 30 years, John married Mary Jane Block, aged 18 years at the time and the daughter of Samuel Block and Margaret Kincaid. Not long after their marriage, John and Mary would settle in Violet Town where their first son, Samuel John Kelly, was born in 1873. Mary Jane would go onto have eight more children consisting of five sons and four daughters.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1882, Certificate of Title

Around this time on 10 December 1878, the notorious Kelly gang held up the bank in nearby Euroa. In the ensuing weeks that followed, local Police and residents scoured the land surrounding Euroa and Violet Town for the gang members but were unsuccessful in finding the bush ranges. I was during this time that newspaper articles were reporting that the Kelly gang were housed up in Violet Town, much to the disgust of locals who argued that Violet Town was one of the most honest communities in the colony and to accuse townsfolk of harboring the fugitives was outrages.

It makes you wonder with the Kelly gang in the local area and known to have stopped by in the town of Violet and nearby Euroa, whether there was an association with John Kelly. We may never know?

The Leader, 18 December 1880

In 1882 for fifteen pounds a local store keeper, John Kelly, became the first owner of the allotment 11, section 19 in Primrose Street, Violet Town. The block of land being two roods and eight perches (or half an acre). In his publication, What it was like then, Darryl Parker describes that bark huts were built to house the growing population and it is likely to be the first home to be built on the lot 11.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1875, Violet Town Parish Map

In the late 1880’s John Kelly became the local publican of the Traveller’s Rest Hotel in Sydney Road, Violet Town for some time. In February 1887, an advertisement instructing the offer for sale by auction two shops, dwelling houses, and allotments of land situated in Cowslip Street, Violet Town and the property of Mr Kelly.

Euroa Advertiser, 4 February 1887

Again in July 1898, John Kelly advertised for the let or sale of the Traveller’s Rest Hotel. The advertisement described the property to be located on Sydney Road near the railway station and consisting of a three parts furnished hotel, stablings and outbuildings, two and half acres to 12 and half acres of land.

Euroa Advertiser, 1 July 1898

While no advertisement of sale references lot 11 in Primrose Street, Violet Town a record of title the Certificate of Title for the property transferred ownership to Maria Tuckett on 1 October 1884.

The Kelly family remained in Violet Town until about 1894 when there youngest child, Theodore Phillip Kelly was born. Soon after the Australian electoral roll finds the Kelly family living on a farm in Boho not far from the township of Violet Town. Up until his death on 13 August 1911, John Kelly resided in his farm in Boho. In his final will and testament, John Kelly left considerable farming property along with stock, farming equipment and dwellings to his wife Mary Jane Kelly.

Mary Jane Kelly died in 1923 leaving her estate to her sons, Joseph Edward and Theodore Phillip.

In the next edition of Who lived here, Ancestor Detective introduces Albert and Maria Tuckett as the next owners of lot 11, Primrose Street, Violet Town.


Violet Town Centenary Celebrations Committee, 1949, Violet Town Centenary Celebrations, Matthews Publishing Company, Melbourne.

Parker, Darryl, n.d, What it was like then, Parker, Darryl.

Birth Index. Australia. Victoria. 1842.  KELLY, John. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Marriage Index. Australia. Victoria. 1872.  KELLY, John and BLOCK, Mary Jane. Australia, Marriage Index 1788 – 1950.

Birth Index. Australia. Victoria. 1854.  BLOCK, Mary Jane. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Euroa Advertiser, 26 February 1909, Sticking up the Euroa Bank, Euroa, p. 2.

The Leader, 18 December 1880, To The Editor of the Leader, p. 6.

Australia Birth Index. Victoria. 1873.  KELLY, Samuel John. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1875, Violet Township Map, County of Moira.

Euroa Advertiser, 4 February 1887, Fortnightly Stock Sale Day, Euroa, p. 3.

Euroa Advertiser, 1 July 1898, To be let or sale, p. 3.

Public Records Office Victoria, 1884, Certificate of Title Lot 11 Primrose Street, Violet Town, Melbourne.

Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1911.  KELLY, John. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985.

Public Record Office Victoria; North Melbourne, Victoria; Victorian Wills, Probate and Administration Records 1841-1925; KELLY, John.

Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1923.  KELLY, Mary Jane. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985

Public Record Office Victoria; North Melbourne, Victoria; Victorian Wills, Probate and Administration Records 1841-1925; KELLY, Mary Jane.

Trove Discoveries….Part 2: Little Girl Burnt to Death

Genealogy is more than just locating vital records to identify your ancestors.  This journey is also about bringing our ancestors to life through their stories, lifestyles, occupations, land and communities. 

For Australian genealogists, Trove, provides a valuable resource to uncover the stories of our ancestors.  This online platform has digitised archives from numerous sources, including newspaper articles, books and photographs.  As the name suggests, the more you trove through these archives, the more stories and records you can uncover, I call these little gems that without these, our ancestors just remain the vital events of their lives; births, deaths and marriages.

Ancestry.com and other online genealogical databases provide other records that can add more to your ancestors history, including immigration records, land titles, wills and probate records, criminal convictions, some family notices, and then there is the little gems that you find on other family trees with ancestors related to your own.

Ancestor Detective showcased the use of Trove while telling the life of Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith, you can read this narrative here.  While researching my 3rd great grandparents, William Slade and Sarah Lo’vanberyl, I came across some articles from Adelaide newspapers during the late 1880’s linked to their son, Thomas, and grand daughter, Elizabeth.  What you will read in this edition is not the gems you expect to find while delving into Trove, unfortunately they are not always good news stories, they are stories that despite being many years ago, will touch your heart and give you a different perspective on the lives your ancestors lived.  This was the case when I started reading about Thomas Slade and Mary Jane Talbot’s daughter Elizabeth.  These articles are not for the faint of heart, the details are somewhat gruesome, and you can only feel for young Elizabeth who suffered considerably in the lead up to her death.

Thomas Slade was born in about 1848, the third child of William Slade (1822 – 1880) and Sarah Lo’vanberyl (1825 – 1903) in Harrogate, South Australia.  In 1873, aged 25 years, Thomas married Mary Jane Talbot, aged 22 years, at Mount Pleasant in South Australia.  

Mary Jane Talbot (Reed) was baptised on 9 March 1851 in Kingsbury Epicoscopi in Somerset, England and was the daughter of Benjamin Talbot (1825 – 1901) and Delilah Reed (1829 – 1916).  Benjamin and Delilah immigrated to South Australia on 29 April 1855 on board the ship “Bermondsey” with their daughters Mary and Louisa.

On 25 December 1873, Mary Jane gave birth to a daughter, Martha at Tigers View in South Australia.  Two more daughters would follow; Elizabeth born 2 May 1875 and Hannah born 13 July 1876.  At the time of their births, Thomas was a farmer in Harrogate and by 1883 he was farming at Salt Creek near Monarto.  

On 31 May 1878, Mary Jane died at just 27 years of age leaving behind her young daughters aged 5, 3 and 2 years old.  Just one year later on 25 August 1879, Thomas married Mary Ann Dunn, aged 23 years, at her father’s home in Talunga, South Australia near Mount Torrens.  

Mary Ann Dunn was born on 15 October 1855, the daughter of George Dunn (abt. 1827 – 1906) and Mary Williams (abt. 1834 – 1915), in Adelaide, South Australia.  Step mother to Thomas’s three girls; Martha (1873 – 1959), Elizabeth (1875 – 1888) and Hannah (1876 – 1958), Mary Ann would give birth to three children; John (1881 – 1954), Ellen (1884 – 1965) and William (1886 – 1962).

Tragedy hits the Slade family

Nearly ten years after the death of her mother, Elizabeth was sent to the home of Wilhelm Kuchel and wife, Pauline, in Murray Bridge as a servant when her older sister Martha was unable to do so.  In May 1887, Elizabeth was in their home alone when her dress and undergarments caught fire while attending to the home’s fireplace.  Shortly after the fire started Mrs Kuchel returned to the home to find young Elizabeth’s clothes burning from the waist down, after rolling her in the sand outside, she placed Elizabeth on the couch and treated the burns with lard, starch and red precipitate powder. 

Despite pleas from Elizabeth to send for her father, the Kuchel family did not do so and it was not until Wilhelm passed Thomas on his farm on the 30 May that he mentioned that there was an accident and ‘clothes had caught fire’, but commented that she would be okay in a week or so.  Concerned for Elizabeth’s welfare Thomas and Mary Ann traveled to the Kuchel’s property in Murray Bridge and found Elizabeth lying on a couch with a cup of water beside her but out of reach of the young girl. 

Thomas and Mary Ann put Elizabeth in their cart and drove home to Mount Torrens where they removed the putrid bandages, which did not appear to have been changed since the 27 May.  They then telegraphed for Dr Esau who attended the following morning.  The doctor found Elizabeth to be in a ‘deplorable condition‘, with severe burns from the waist down and the start of gangrene on her back and abdomen ‘from being grossly neglected‘ and with no hope of recovery.   Elizabeth in incredible pain tragically died on 7 June, some ten days after the fire.

On the 8 June, an inquest began at the Mount Torrens Hotel before Mr Lauterbach, J.P and a jury who took statements from Thomas and Mary Ann Slade and Dr Esau.  The Kuchel family were called before the jury on the 13 June where they contradicted the statements of the family and doctor who attended to Elizabeth until her death.  They stated that Elizabeth was fine following the incident, did not require medical aid and was ‘walking about the house days after she was burnt‘ and denied that she had been neglected during that time and that they had treated her burns ‘as if they would treat their own child‘.  They also denied that they refused to send for Elizabeth’s father and that she had pleaded for them not to do so.

On the 13 June 1887, the jury found Mr Wilhelm Kuchel ‘guilty of gross and culpable neglect with respect to the treatment of the injuries‘.  Following the guilty verdict, pleas from jury members for Wilhelm’s actions to not go unpunished seemed to be ignored.  One juror stated in a letter to the editor of the local paper that “that for the honor of the community it is hoped that such another case may never be recorded.  With all expressing their sincere wish that the authorities will not allow the matter to pass without punishing those connected with such a piece of inhuman barbarity as the persons who had charge of the girl are guilt of“. 

Another member of the jury wrote “I trust in the interest of justice the papers relating to the above inquest will be carefully pursued by the authorities and not quietly shelved as there is reasons to believe is often done.  The evidence of the various witnessed under examination seems to me to have warranted a far strong verdict than that returned, and I am of opinion that just and humanity will not be satisfied if the Kuchel family are allowed to go scot-free owing to the many pressing questions engaging the attention of our public men at present“.  Despite this, it appears that no further action was taken and Wilhelm was allowed to continue living in the community. However, the family did sell their land and move to Dimboola where they went onto have six more children before moving to Murray Bridge.

Just a few months after Elizabeth’s death on 9 September 1888, the Slade family would again experience death when Thomas Slade would die from tuberculous.  Thomas would leave behind his wife, Mary Ann and their young family and a farm to operate.

As genealogists looking into the lives of our ancestors, we all recognise that the conditions in which they lived where hard times, often living in poverty and little access to medical help but we often do not expect to come across detailed accounts of how they died, particularly for children.  The circumstances leading to the death of Elizabeth Slade and the details written on the inquest proceedings into her death was hard to read and left me feeling sad for such a young girl who would have gone through incredible pain and for her family who would have felt helpless in seeing her dying in such an horrific way. 

It is these stories of our ancestors lives that move us, they certainly allow us to see our ancestors from a different perspective and while it is many years ago it still leaves you with a sense of loss and heartache.  While I do not know the circumstances for her father, Thomas’s death, I have no doubt that a broken heart after the death of Elizabeth contributed.

There are many newspaper articles on the inquest into Elizabeth Slade’s death that you may wish to read but they are hard to read, hence why some of the details have been left out of my account of what happened to little Elizabeth.


The Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885, Author: SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society, Year: (1986, 1990) 2007, Publisher: Archive Digital Books Australasia

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1851.  SLADE, Thomas. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Somerset, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1914. 1851.  TALBOT, Mary Jane. Somerset Heritage Service; Taunton, Somerset, England; Reference Number: D\P\K.EP/2/1/3

Marriage Index. Australia. South Australia. 1873.  SLADE, Thomas and TALBOT, Mary Jane. Australia, Marriage Index 1788 – 1950.

State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood New South Wales, Australia; Persons on bounty ships (Agent’s Immigrant Lists); Series: 5316; Reel: 2137; Item: [4/4792]

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1873.  SLADE, Martha. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1875.  SLADE, Elizabeth. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1876.  SLADE, Hannah. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Death Index. Australia. South Australia. 1878.  SLADE, Mary Jane. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985.

Marriage Index. Australia. South Australia. 1879.  SLADE, Thomas and Dunn, Mary Ann. Australia, Marriage Index 1788 – 1950.

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1855.  DUNN, Mary Ann. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1881.  SLADE, John. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1884.  SLADE, Ellen. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Birth Index. Australia. South Australia. 1886.  SLADE, William. Australia, Birth Index 1788 – 1922.

Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser. (1887, June 17). Girl Burnt to Death. Mount Barker, South Australia, Australia. (SA : 1880 – 1954), Friday 17 June 1887, page 3.

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), The recent Inquest at Mount Torrens on the body of Elizabeth Slade. To the Editor. Saturday 18 June 1887, page 6.

Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA : 1867 – 1922), General News, Saturday 18 June 1887, page 2.

Death Index. Australia. South Australia. 1888.  SLADE, Thomas. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985.

My 2nd Great Grandmother…Harriet Matilda Slade

One of the joys of genealogy, in addition to the addiction it brings with it, is finding out all about your ancestors and the lives they led. The greatest enjoyment is when after researching a family for so long and reading about them, finding vital records, newspaper articles and so much more, is when you can put a face to a name.

I started researching my Grandfather’s family about five years ago. I was intrigued by the story I was told growing up about my 2nd great grandfather, James Robinson, who it was told, came to Australia as a young child in the care of a relative (still unknown). It is said that the ship in which he was a passenger became shipwrecked close to Victoria and he was the only survivor. I am yet to find proof that this is true, as no record that I can find is about an immigrant ship that shipwrecked in Australian waters and where the only survivor was a young child. But it was this story that made me slightly obsessed in finding out about James and his family.

James Robinson was born in Liverpool, England on 11 August 1848 to Thomas Robinson and Ann Paterson. By 1873, James was a stockman at Gol Gol Station, not far from Wentworth in New South Wales, Australia. It is here that he met Hannah Slade and went on to marry her at Wentworth in New South Wales. Hannah Slade was born in about 1850 to William Slade and Sarah Lo’vanberyl and was one of 11 children.

James and Hannah went on to have six children between 1874 and 1885. Only days after giving birth, Hannah would pass away from adynamic puerperal fever a complication that occurs following childbirth. Her son, George, would pass away just six weeks later. Leaving behind her husband and young children, James went on to be supported by Hannah’s younger sister, Harriet Matilda.

Harriet Matilda Slade (1864 – 1946)

Harriet Matilda Slade was born on in about 1864, the second youngest of William and Sarah’s 11 children. James and Harriet Matilda married on 19 December 1886 in Wentworth, New South Wales and would have four children of their own. As was common during the 1800’s their first son John Albert would die at birth in 1887. Harriet would go on to have three more children; Issac John, George Frederick and May Emma Elizabeth.

James was well known in the district of Mildura, where they both lived for many years. As a bullock driver, James would work for the Chaffey brothers and be contracted to build the irrigation channels that support the agricultural farmlands surrounding Mildura to do this day. He was recognised as a pioneer of the district following his death on 14 October 1923 after an illness which resulted in blood poisoning and a partial amputation of his arm. Harriet would go on to live another 23 years after her husbands death.

Harriet and daughter May Emma Elizabeth would go on to support her son, George Frederick, in raising his young children; Hazel Frederena, Charles and John Edward, after their mother Elizabeth Cramp left the family home and her husband and children behind.

Harriet Matilda would pass away on 9 September 1946 in Mildura. In her obituary, like her husband, she was recognised as a pioneer of the Mallee district having resided in Mildura for over 60 years.

While researching her husband James, I came across a portrait of Harriet on My Heritage and felt a sense of pride and enjoyment in seeing her for the first time and thinking how beautiful she was. I have only found a small photograph of James from the book in which he is mentioned, Mildura Calling, so it was fulfilling to find a photograph of his wife. Having been in contact with a cousin who I found through Ancestry.com I hope between the two of us we can eventually find a portrait of James and be able to also put a face to his name.


England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Jacobus Robinson, 11 August 1848. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.

Registration of Marriage, James Robinson to Hannah Slade, 29 May 1873, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.

Registration of Death, Hannah Robinson, 2 January 1885, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.

Registration of Marriage, James Robinson to Harriet Matilda Slade, 19 December 1886, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.

Lapthorne, Alice, 1981, Mildura Calling, The Sunnyland Press, pg. 26

Registration of Death, Harriet Matilda Robinson, 9 September 1946, Mildura, VIC. Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Melbourne, VIC. Copy in possession of author.

Mildura Cultivator, 11 September 1946, Mrs Harriet Robinson.

Trove Discoveries….Part 1: The Family of Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith brought to life through the newspapers of years gone by….

Silas SMITH and Maria GOODING were pioneers in the community of Narrawong near Portland in Victoria. Originating from England where he was a Police Constable, Silas immigrated to Australia with wife Maria on board the ship the “Heather Bell” and arrived in Hobart, Australia on 27 August 1855. Under the indenture system, Silas was employed as a gardener and Maria a domestic servant, by James MACLANACHAN, a well-known grazier and politician, in return for free passage to Hobart.

After seeing out their agreement of employment with Mr MacLanachan, Silas and Maria with their first born son, Charles Morbeth, travelled to Portland in Victoria’s south west. It is here that Silas would settle and where Maria gives birth to ten children between 1856 and 1872.    Marwood Samuel Kingston SMITH was born on 12 August 1861 and the fifth child to Silas and Maria.  In 1884, aged 22 years, while employed as a labourer for Mr John McKellor at the Ardachy Homestead, Marwood and Mary WEST, who was employed as a servant at the homestead, married on 26 February 1884. It is likely that Marwood and Mary knew each other as children with Mary’s father, John West, owning property not far from the Smith property known as “Sunny Bank”.

The Ardachy Homestead is located eight kilometers north west of Branxholm, which today is recognised for its historical significance to the area as one of the earliest squatter runs and later on, the most successful Soldiers Settlement subdivision following World War 2.

Not long after their marriage, Marwood and Mary, moved and settled  in the Bundarramunjie parish. There property, known as “Bundara”after the river nearby, was nestled between the Cobungra and Bundara Rivers.  Their pastoral run was surrounded by the mountains of the Alpine National Park and in a remote rural part of the Omeo district approximately 15 miles from the small town.

Public Records Office Victoria, Bundarramunjie Parish Map, 1930

In her letter to Aunt Connie of the Weekly TImes on 24 August 1907, aged eight years old, Marwood and Mary’s daughter Olive described Bundara as “in the bush between two rivers, the Combungra and the Bundara (about a mile from each), and we have to cross the former to go to Omeo our nearest town, about 15 miles in distance. As the river rises very quickly, father has sometimes to hurry out of Omeo lest he should find it too high to cross going home…..we are miles away from any neighbours, and our home is surrounded by big hills. We can see the High Plains on which the snow lies for months at a time.

Weekly Times, Melbourne, 24 August 1907, p. 37

Olive’s younger sister Rosie would later write to Aunt Connie on 21 March 1908 saying “the roads are very rough and we cannot go into town very often. We have to drive through the river Cobungra, as there is no bridge over it, and sometimes it rises very quickly, and is too high to cross, and we have to wait until it goes down again…..we have a very dry season. There is very little grass for the sheep and cattle.

Weekly Times, Melbourne, 21 March 1907, p. 37

The writings of both Rosie and Olive illustrates a happy life at Bundara amongst the bush, mountains and their animals. It describes that despite their remoteness to Omeo, education must have been important to Marwood and Mary, with Olive telling Aunt Connie that they had a teacher living with them and that she had been at school for eleven months. She and sister Rosie tell of their love of reading and the titles of the books that they had both been enjoying.

While they lived in remote country, Marwood was a recognised grazier, with records of his shee and wool sales frequently listed in the local Omeo Standard and the national Weekly Times. He and his sons, Alfred and Harry, would also hold a mining licence for the local area where both gold and quartz could be found.

Omeo Standard and Mining Gazette, 14 June 1918, p. 2

To Fight for Country and Empire

On 4 August 1914, Britian declared war on Germany. Neither the Australian government nor the 324,000 who signed up to fight for their country would know at the time the human sacrifice and financial toll that World War 1 would have on Australia.

Like many young men in the Omeo district, Marwood and Mary’s only sons, Alfred and Harry would be farewelled. Seen by young men as an adventure and opportunity to travel the world, Alfred and Harry, would leave with pride in their eyes, a handshake from their Father and hug from their Mother with tears in her eyes. Marwood and Mary farwelled two beloved sons but sadly they would only welcome back one.

The Omeo Standard, 5 February 1918

Alfred SMITH was born in 1890, the third child and eldest son of Marwood and Mary. On 12 April 1915, aged 25 years, Alfred enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force in Liverpool, New South Wales and was assigned to the 18th Infantry Battalion, 5th Brigade. In early May the Brigade left Australian shores for Egypt where they trained until mid-August. On 22 August 1915 the Brigade landed on ANZAC Cove.

The Omeo Standard, 5 February 1918

Their first offensive was the attack on Hill 60 and lasted until 29 August 1915. They would then take up a defensive role holding Courtney’s Post until 20 December 1915 when they would leave for Egypt and then proceed to France. On 25 March 1916, they took part in their first major battle of Pozieres between 25 July and 5 August 1916. The retaliatory bombardment while seizing German positions would be costly for the Australians and between 29 July and 6 August 1916, they would suffer 6,848 causalities. Sadly, Private Alfred Smith would be one of those killed in action.

Pozieres British Cemetery Ovillers-La Boisselle, France

Private Alfred Smith was buried along with many other Australian soldiers in the Pozieres British Cemetery. Private Smith was awarded the 1914/1915 Military Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and a Memorial Scroll for his service and ultimate sacrifice to his country.

His parents would thank their local community for their expressions of sympathy following the loss of their beloved son.

The Omeo Standard and Mining Gazette, 14 August 1917, p, 2

Harry Smith was born on 13 May 1896 the sixth child and second son to Marwood and Mary. Like his brother, Alfred, Harry aged 20 years, would farewell his family and enlist in the Australian Imperial Force on 24 February 1916 in Melbourne, Victoria with the 3rd Pioneer Battalion.

The 3rd Pioneer Battalion was formed in Victoria in 1916 in the wake of the failed Gallopili campaign and while trained as infrantry men were tasked with light combat engineering functions. With the military focus shifting to the Western Front the 3rd Pioneer Battalion would be deployed there in late 1916 and would remain there until the end of World War 1.

Lieutenant Corporal Harry Smith would be wounded several times during his service on the Western Front. On the third occasion after been wounded in the back, neck and shoulder Harry was discharged from service on 9 March 1919 and returned to Australia.

The Omeo Standard, 5 February 1918

Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith would express his thoughts on the war efforts that claimed his son, Alfred, and wound his son Harry on repeated occasions in a poem, “March to the Rhine”, that was published on the 29 November 1918. It would read…..

Omeo Standard and Mining Gazette, 29 November 1918, p. 2

Four years after leaving Bundara to fight in World War 1 as a young man, Harry, returned home a Lieutenant Colonial, a man forever changed by the bloodshed of losing fellow soldiers and mates.  It was the loss of his older brother, Alfred, that would change his life forever.  

Smith, Harry – Soldiers Land Settlement Application, PROV

With the social and economic impacts of war impacting heavily on Australia, the government established the Victorian Soldiers Settlement scheme, known as Battle to Farm, in 1925.  The scheme aimed to repatriate Soldiers onto the land to support employment, family income and agriculture in Victoria. With over 1,000 days of active service in the Australian Imperial Force, Harry applied and was granted a lease for land in Dry Gully near Omeo.  In addition to the 23 acres Harry already owned and the 580 acres Ellen owned two miles from Harry’s property, Harry was granted a freehold lease of 1105 acres.

As a sheep and cattle grazier, Harry, worked hard and continued to increase the size of his farm with it becoming known as “Innisfail” in the Omeo district.

No long after returning from the war, Harry married Ellen Rose Faithful in 1919, they would go onto have four children; Lavinia Annie, Marwood Alfred, Lorna Rose and Charles.

On 31 December 1931 Mary Smith (West) passed away in Lindenow South aged 67 years. Following her death, Marwood resided with son, Harry, and his wife and children. Marwood would pass away 15 years later in Bairnsdale after living with his daughter. Both are buried at Coongulmerang Cemetery, Lindenow South.

The son and daughter of Victorian Pioneers in the western district of Victoria, Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith and wife Mary (West) settled on the fringe of the Alpine National Park near Omeo. There they raised their children, home schooled them, worked the land and instilled hard work into their family. Newspaper articles brought to life the lives of the Smith family and told of the conditions in which they lived for some time. The second son, Harry, would return from World War 1 without his older brother, Alfred, who was killed in action and buried and France. Through the soldier land settlement, Harry would go on to own his own land and earn a living from sheep and cattle grazing on his “Innisfail” property.

Trove is an online database of Australian archives from newspaper articles to books and photographs, some dating back to the mid-1800’s. While vital records provide the outline of an ancestors life and family, uncovering newspaper articles on their lives can add substance to their story.


Archive Office of Tasmania. (1829 – 1957). Tasmania, Australia, Passenger Arrivals. Tasmania, Australia.

Archives Office Tasmania. (1841 – 1884). Immigrant Lists. Tasmania, Australia.

Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies. (1808 – 2007). Australia Cemetery Index. Australia.

Departent of Crown Lands and Survey. (1890). Narrawong. County of Normanby. Victoria, Australia.

General Register Office, England. (1837-1915). England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915.

General Register Office, England. (1854, August 7). Certificate of Marriage between Silas Smith and Maria Gooding. Surrey, England.

Portland Guardian. (1896, November 6). Obituary Maria Smith. Portland, Victoria, Australia.

Portland Guardian. (1915, July 9). Death Notice Silas Smith. Portland, Victoria, Australia.

Portland Guardian. (1915, July 7). Silas Smith Obituary. Portland Guardian. Portland, Victoria, Australia.

Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser. (1866, March 22). Silas Smith 1866 Land Lease. Portland, Victoria, Australia.

Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria. (1884, February 26). Certificate of Marriage between Marwood Samuel Kingston Smith and Mary West. Victoria, Australia.

Public Records Office Victoria, (1930), Bundarramunjie Parish Map, Victoria.

Weekly Times, (24 August 1907), Letter to Aunt Connie by Olive Smith, Melbourne, p. 37.

Weekly Times, (21 March 1907), Letter to Aunt Connie by Rosie Smith, Melbourne, p. 37.

Omeo Standard and Mining Gazette, (14 June 1918), Omeo, Victoria, p. 2.

Australian War Memorial retrieved 25 February 2020 at https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/atwar/first-world-war

The Omeo Standard, (5 February 1918), Those Who Have Gone, Omeo, Victoria.

The Omeo Standard, (5 February 1918), Roll of Honour, Omeo, Victoria.

National Archives of Australia: Second Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1939-1947; B883, Army Personnel Files 1939 – 1948; B2458 for item number VX2063A.  16 January 2008.

Birth Index. Australia. Victoria. 1890.  SMITH, Alfred. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.

Australian War Memorial, 18th Australian Infantry Battalion, retrieved 25 February at https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51458

Birth Index. Australia. Victoria. 1896.  SMITH, Harry. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.

National Archives of Australia: Second Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1939-1947; B883, Army Personnel Files 1939 – 1948; B2458 for item number VX117.  16 January 2008.

Australian War Memorial, 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion, retrieved 25 February at https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/U51315/

The Omeo Standard, (5 February 1918), Wounded and Missing, Omeo, Victoria.

Omeo Standard and Mining Gazette, March to the Rhine, 29 November 1918, p. 2.

SMITH, Harry, Soldiers Land Settlement Application, Public Records of Victoria, Melbourne.

Marriage Index. Australia. Victoria. 1919.  SMITH, Harry and FAITHFUL, Ellen Rose. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.

Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1931.  SMITH, Mary. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.

Death Index. Australia. Victoria. 1946.  SMITH, Marwood Samuel Kingston. The Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Victoria, Australia, Marriage Records.

Bairnsdale Advertiser, (8 January 1931), Death Notice of SMITH, Mary, p. 3.

Bairnsdale Advertiser, (6 September 1946), Death Notice of SMITH, M.S.K, p. 1.