Sarah Lo’vanberyl – A Pioneering Mother…..

As Australia moves to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May 2020, Ancestor Detective, writes about some of the Mother’s who feature in her family tree. Sarah Lo’vanberyl, an English migrant, is one such woman who gave birth to 11 children between 1844 – 1867. Left on her own, while her husband, William Slade, drove livestock, Sarah faced hardship, arson attacks on the family property, and the challenges faced by many colonists with large families and little income to support their families. However, through this adversity, Sarah showed her strength and resilience to raise a young family on her own and despite losing the family property to fire and having to sell up due to the financial strain, did raise a successful family whose children went on to be local farmers and parents of large families.

Sarah Lo’vanberyl was born in Chertsey, Surrey, England on 10 January 1825 the only daughter of John Lo’vanberyl (1800 – 1873), a chair maker, and Mary. Sarah was baptised on 11 February 1825 at St. Peter’s Church in Chertsey, Surrey. John was married three times and to confuse any genealogist, all were named Mary. Therefore, without a maiden name on any records to date, the exact name of John’s wife remains a mystery.

On 25 July 1839, John and Mary with daughter Sarah, aged 15 years, boarded the ship “Cleveland” in London, England and arrived in Port Adelaide, Australia on 15 December 1839. It was while waiting to board their ship to Australia that Sarah met her future husband, William Slade, who was boarding the ship “Rajasthan”.

Three years after the Lo’vanberyl’s settled in Little Adelaide, South Australia, Sarah married William Slade, a shepherd, on 25 August 1843 at the Church of Scotland in Pirie Street, Adelaide. A year later in Harrowgate, South Australia, Sarah gave birth to their first child, Mary on 7 November 1844. In Harrowgate, Sarah would go on to have four more children; William John (1846), Thomas (1848), Sarah (abt. 1850) and Hannah (ab. 1853).

In 1854 William purchased a land grant for 28 acres for 51 pounds (section 1795) in the parish of Kanmantoo, Harrowgate in the Adelaide Hills. Their first home was a small wattle and daub cottage built across the road from their section of land. It is here that Sarah would give birth to another six children; Jane (1855), Emma (1857), Friend Hedman Allgood (1859), George (1862), Harriet Matilda (abt. 1864) and Elizabeth (1867).

Life as a shepherd’s wife was not easy for Sarah who was left to raise their large family alone while William, and eventually the older sons, would be away for days at a time droving their sheep and cattle in search of feed. It is while he and the boys were away that the family property was targeted by arsonists on a Tuesday evening. Initially fires were started in the grass and stubble south of their barn and stables, and a second in the north west of the farm. Recent rain meant that the fires did not burn freely and fortunately Sarah and her daughter, Sarah, who were home alone were able to beat the fires out with their feet.

Adelaide Observer, 14 March 1868, p. 5

On the following evening the arsonists struck again, this time their attempts to light damaging fires succeeded, with the fire engulfing the barn, stable and pigsty. This would not be the end of these attacks upon the Slade family, when on 8 March 1868, arsonists lit a fire in the thatch roof of the family home. The noises of the fire alerted the family, however their attempts to put the fire out were unsuccessful. While they were able to salvage some of the homes effects, before help arrived, the home was destroyed, leaving the large young family without shelter, while William was away droving in the Murray South.

“Mr William Slade, was one of the oldest settlers in the neighborhood, and a man who is and has been so well liked that no one would have suspected that he had an enemy in the locality; but it seems otherwise.” (Adelaide Observer, 14 March 1868)

Eventually a larger home was built on their section of land opposite the burnt ruins of their cottage and farm outbuildings. However, the large family soon found the Slade family in financial trouble and they would sell their property and relocate to section 229, Hundred of Monarto.

Adelaide Observer, 20 September 1873, p. 8

On 15 December 1880 in Wentworth, William died, aged 65 years old, from rheumatic fever. One day later William was buried in Wentworth. His grave is a reflection of the hardship that the family were enduring, having been buried in a unmarked pauper grave. Following her husbands death, Sarah, would move to Murray Bridge and reside with her son and later her daughter, up until her death 23 years after the death of William.

Headstone of Sarah Slade (nee Lo’vanberyl), Murray Bridge Cemetary

The recognition of William and Sarah’s, like many other settlers of the early 1850’s, in South Australia was done so when Emanuel Solomon held a Old Colonists Banquet on the 35th anniversary of the founding of the colony of South Australia. Each member was displayed in portraits in at least three mosaics. Initially the mosaics would only feature the male colonists, but when the females complained about not being invited to the banquet and were told it was for ‘the Male Sex’!, a companion mosaic of women was created, partly in consolation.

State Library of South Australia, The Old Colonists Banquet, 1872.

The family would also be recognised in the Biographical Index of South Australia that commemorates those living in South Australia during the first 50 years of colonisation (1836 – 1885).

Slade, William – Biographical Index of South Australia (1836 – 1888)

Despite falling on hard times, as an early colonist in Adelaide, both Sarah and William were well respected in their rural communities of Harrowgate, Nairne and Monarto. Their many children went on to be successful farmers and they to would go on to have large families.


Surrey, England, Surrey Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1917, LOVENBURY, Sarah, 11 February 1825. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.

Cummings, Diane, (2010 – 2017), Cleveland 1839 – Passenger List, accessed 2 May 2020 at

Cummings, Diane, (2010 – 2017), Rajasthan 1840 – Passenger List, accessed 2 May 2020 at

Cummings, Diane, (2010 – 2017), Rajasthan 1840 – Passenger List, accessed 2 May 2020 at

Marriage Index, Australia (1788 – 1950). 28 August 1843. LOVENBERYL, Sarah and SLADE, William. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

Adelaide Observer (SA: 1843 – 1904), 14 March 1868, Country Letters, Harrowgate, March 9, p. 5.

Adelaide Observer (SA: 1843 – 1904), 7 March 1868, Country Letters, Harrowgate, March 3, p. 5.

Adelaide Observer (SA: 1843 – 1904), 20 September 1873, Notices, p. 8.

Death Index, Australia. 1880. SLADE, William. Australia, Death Index 1787 – 1985.

Registration of Death, William Slade, 15 December 1880, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.

Find A Grave,(4 April 1988), William Slade, accessed 3 May 2020 at

Find A Grave,(4 April 1988), Sarah Slade, accessed 3 May 2020 at

Gould Genealogy & History, (2017), Meet the Old Colonists: South Australia’s Pioneers, accessed on 2 May, 2020 at .

State Library of South Australia, (1873), The Old Colonists Banquet Group, accessed 2 May 2020 at

Gould Genealogy & History, (2007), Biographical Index of South Australia (1836 – 1888), accessed on 2 May 2020 at

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. 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.

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

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

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

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.