Tuesday, July 16, 2013

TROVE Tuesday

FOUNDER OF SMITHFIELD 

—Death of Mr. J. N. Smith.—

Mr J. N Smith, a colonial-born pioneer of 1839 died on Wednesday, at his residence Fords, near Kapunda.  At the time of his death he was the oldest-born male in the State.  Some months ago the old gentleman met with an accident, being thrown from his masher dray when crossing the ford over the River Light, and since then had not enjoyed good health.  Prior to the accident he carried his 85 years remarkably well, and was a well known landmark mounted on his old grey horse as he rode around his property.


Mr. Smith also took keen in terest in coursing, and a couple of seasons ago regularly rode across to the Freeling Plumpton meetings.  He could read without the aid of spectacles, and his memory was wonderfully preserved. 

Mr. Smith's parents came to South Australia in 1838, and he was born the following year in Hindley Street, Adelaide, close to where the West End Brewery now stands.  When he was a few weeks old his parents removed to New Zealand, where, they, stayed five or six years, and then returned to South Australia.  Mr. Smith's father settled at the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, and carried on the vocation of a provision merchant and baker, but during the first  Maori War in 1846, he was completely burnt out by the natives, in spite of the fact that he was highly respected by them. After having had his property destroyed, he and his family were taken on board a man-of-war, but he was forced to return and help in the fighting that was going on.  The family then went to Hobart, where Mr. Smith, sen., bought horses, and brought them and his family to South Australia.  The deceased often used to tell what a sickly child he had been, for, from an accident in New Zealand, he did not seem to rally, and on migration back to this State was carried on board in a blanket.  Little hopes were held for his recovery. 

Mr, Smith's father took over the hotel at Dry Creek for a year, and then, acting on the advice of the late Capt. Bagot, he moved further North and settled at Smithfield being the founder, of that township. That was in the year 1848; and the old homestead is still in the hands of the family. Mr J. N.Smith utilised his spare strength in the herding of cattle and horses on the plains between Gawler and Salisbury, his experience of the country being a mass of virgin timber, when the stock had to be belled to give warning of their location.  He stayed at Smithfield until he was 25 years, of age, and his health having changed to robust state, in 1865 he went to Fords, and until his death, resided there.  He bought his original farm of 400 acres from the late Mr. John Ford.  When he started there, ploughing was done with horses in a single-furrow plough, of , if a double-furrow plough was used, then it was necessary to use a team of six bullocks.

When the Northern areas were opened up, Mr. Smith inspected land there, but was not tempted to leave Fords.  He was a believer in mixed farming, and gained a reputation for a fine strain of merino sheep, securing several championships with them.  Until recently, Mr, Smith had never been out of the State, except as a child to New Zealand.  Some time ago he visited his sons in Western Australia, covering the journey by the East West express. 

A family of four sons and three daughters survive. They are— Messrs. Neilson (Jabbuk), William and Howard (Western Australia), Gordon M. (Fords), Mrs. H. C. Afford (Port Pirie), Mrs. F. F. Weaver (Bagot's Well), Mrs. A. S. Lewis (Kapunda). His brother, William, remained at Smithfield, and carried on the family place, and it is his sons who are continuing on the property.  Mr. J.N. Smith's sons used to travel from Fords to Gawler to receive their education at Mr. L. S. Burton's school.

The Bunyip 15 May 1925

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