Monday, 2 April 2007

Chapter 2: Before the war

Albert Percival - Percy - Smith was born at Glenburn near Yea in Victoria on 3 August 1891. His parents were Sydney and Elizabeth (nee Johnson) Smith.

Sydney Smith was born on 10 July 1853 at Epping. Elizabeth Johnson was born 21 June 1855 at Epping. Both of their fathers were farmers.

Sydney and Elizabeth were married 11 April 1877 at St John's Church, Nillumbik (now Diamond Creek). Sydney was a farm labourer of Woodstock, Elizabeth was living at Hazel Glen (now Doreen).

Percy was one of 9 children born to Sydney and Elizabeth.

Sydney died in Heyfield on 26 June 1919, five months after Percy's return from war. Elizabeth died in Heyfield on 6 May 1940.

Here is a photo of Percy's father, Sydney. I do not have one of Percy's mother.

St John’s Church, Nillumbik

Sydney farmed in various places - Hazel Glen Glenburn, Strath Creek, Cowwaar and Heyfield. His father, also Sydney, had selected 320 acres at Diamond Creek / Hurstbridge area. It has now been subdivided and is called Midhurst - on the west side of Arthurs Creek. At the point of Haley's Gully and Arthur's Creek roads, the original Smith home was built. The family moved from the farm at Epping to their new home in 1874, and the children still at school attended Diamond Creek State School, a walk of 4 miles each way through the bush. Sydney was 21 by then.

Percy attended Glenburn and later Strath Creek State schools and moved with his family, in 1902, age 10 or 11, to Gippsland.

The Smiths farmed land at Cowwaar. It is unknown to me what became of the farm at Cowwaar, or the selection made by Sydney at Diamond Creek.

Percy mentioned a Mrs Roberts of Cowwaar in one letter home. He received letters and parcels from her. I suspect that the Smith farm bordered the Roberts', and from reports received, has fallen into disuse and reverted to scrub.

[Insert photo of Cowwaar]

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