A farming life at Alma

Edward Smyth and Margaret Byrne of Alma

Early 1900s agricultural machinery made at Anders factory, Freeling
On 28th January 1859 the ship North, arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia from Liverpool after a journey of three months. Aboard that ship was Edward Smyth, listed as a 30 year old labourer from County Westmeath in Ireland.(1) His younger brother John had arrived in the colony 6 years earlier in 1853 as a recently ordained priest aged 29.(2) Edward was probably 36 years of age when he arrived as his marriage and death certificates indicate a likely year of birth as being 1822-1823.

On February 6th, 1862 (listed as 38 years old) Edward married (27 year old) Margaret Byrne, at St John's near Kapunda, South Australia.  Edward is listed as a farmer from Humphrey's Springs and Margaret Byrne is listed as a housekeeper of Kapunda. The witnesses to this marriage were Conner Clavan, a labourer of Kapunda and Catherine Grace, a spinster of Sheoak Log.(3)  Humphrey's Springs is located just 3 km from the small town of Alma in South Australia.

Edward and Margaret had at least 5 children over the next 10 years. Their birth dates have been calculated from marriage and death details as I have not yet been able to find birth registrations for the females in this family. It is possible that baptism records may provide further information.

1. Mary Christina  - c.1863 -1879 
SMYTH.—On the 23rd March, at Humphrey Springs, Mary Christina, aged 16 years, after six weeks' painful illness, of typhoid fever; the beloved daughter of Edward and Margaret Smyth, and niece of the late John Smyth, V.G..D.D. R.I.P (4)
2. Catherine - c.1865 - 1910
married John Callery on Sept 14th 1897 at St John and Pauls Church, Tarlee, South Australia
died October 7th 1910 (5)
3. Francis John  - Aug 26 1867 - May 28 1948
married Katherine Mary Fitzgerald in Marrabel, SA on Oct 19 1898
died in Gawler, SA May 28 1948 (6)
4. Elizabeth Agnes c.1870 - Mar 4 1934
married Andrew Horgan on Feb 6 1906 at St John and Pauls Church, Tarlee, South Australia
died at Alma on Mar 4 1934 (7)
5. Margaret c.1873 - 30 September 1936
married James Byrne at Norwood, SA on Jan 13 1898. She died at Lameroo, South Australia (8).

The deaths of Edward and Margaret 

Edward and Margaret remained on the farm for the rest of their lives. Edward's death at age 79 in 1901 was the result of  an accident.
The death of Mr. Edward Smyth, of Alma Plains, which occurred at the Kapunda Hospital on the 4th inst., removes from our midst one of the oldest and most respected residents. Mr. Smyth who had attained, the ripe age of 79 years, despite the protestations of his family and friends, persisted in taking charge of his team at ploughing and other work, and was never happier than when thus engaged. 
Whilst in the hay field, Mr. Smyth was thrown from his mowing machine, and sustained injuries of such a dangerous nature that Dr. R. Glynn, of Riverton, ordered his immediate removal to the Kapunda Hospital. It was here, about a fortnight after admission, and in the presence of his wife and family, and fortified with all the blessings of the Church, that Mr. Smyth succumbed to his injuries. 
The deceased gentleman was a brother of the late Rev. John Smyth, V.G., D.D., who arrived in South Australia in 1853. Mr. Smyth was of a generous nature, and happy disposition, and made troops of friends. Upwards of fifty vehicles followed his remains to their last resting place at Pinkerton's Plains. Fathers Lee and O'Reilly officiated at the grave, and besides the wife of the deceased, the other members of the family present were Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Smyth, son and daughter-in-law; Miss Smyth, daughter; Messrs. Jas. and Thos. Smyth, brothers; Messrs. P. and E. Smyth, nephews, and Mr. John Callery, son-in-law. Sincere sympathy is expressed for the family in their bereavement. R.I.P. (9)
Margaret survived her husband to see her daughter Elizabeth married to my grandfather Andrew but died in 1907, the following year. She had lived at Alma for more than 43 years.
Tarlee correspondent writes:—The death of Mrs. Edward Smyth., which occurred at Alma on the 8th inst, removes from amongst us one of our oldest and most respected residents. Although 75 years of age, the deceased lady had been hale and hearty up to a short time before her death, and attended Mass here ten days previously. Indeed, notwithstanding the long journey that had to be made, Mrs. Smyth never failed to be present at the Holy Sacrifice. Father Maher, though still suffering from the effects of his accident, visited the good lady and administered the last Sacraments. 
Mrs. Smyth's life was an exemplary one, and her cheery disposition and benevolent nature won for her the esteem and goodwill of her numerous acquaintances. Her remains were followed to their last resting place at Pinkerton Plains by about fifty vehicles. The Very Rev. T. F. O'Neill, assisted by the Revs. M. Maher and T. Lee, conducted the burial service. 
Mr. F. J. Smyth (son) and Mrs. J. Callary, Mrs. Andrew Horgan, and Mrs. Byrne (daughters), with several nephews and nieces, were at the graveside, and sincere sympathy for them, and regret in the loss of a dear friend, is felt on all hands. Mr. Edward Smyth, the deceased lady's husband, and brother of the late Rev. John Smyth, died about five and a-half years ago -R.I.P. (10)

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: Edward Smyth
Spouse: Margaret Byrne

Relationship to Carmel: Great-grandparents
  1. Edward Smyth 
  2. Elizabeth Smyth
  3. Edward John Horgan
  4. Carmel 


1. The Ship's list http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/north1859.shtml
1859 'SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 29 January, p. 5, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158125721

2. Byrne, Monsignor F. History of the Catholic Church in South Australia Archive CD books, Gould, p.83

3. Transcription of marriage certificate provided by Genealogy SA   http://www.genealogysa.org.au/ from the indices of South Australian Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Marriage index Book/Page: 49/232

4. 1879 'Family Notices.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 27 March, p. 4, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article29369557

5. 1910 'Family Notices.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 11 November, p. 10, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167021890

6. 1948 'Family Notices.', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 28 May, p. 10, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129900284

7. 1934 'Family Notices.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), 5 March, p. 14, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47541261 

8. 1936 'Family Notices.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), 2 October, p. 18, viewed 25 June, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article47748800

9. 1901 'Country News.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 20 December, p. 13, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166996247
1901 'THE COUNTRY.', Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), 14 December, p. 25, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161769544

10. 1907 'Obituary.', Southern Cross (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1954), 17 May, p. 12, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167038511 
1907 'ALMA PLAINS.', Kapunda Herald (SA : 1878 - 1951), 24 May, p. 3, viewed 23 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108440097


  1. What a wonderful blog site thank you. Conner Clavan is my GGG Grandfather and he and Edward Smyth were both cousins. Edward Smyth was a witness at Cornelius Clavin marriage to Margaret McGuire at Saint John’s Catholic Church at Kapunda in 1865. Furthermore, Edward Smyth acted as a sponsor at the baptism of Cornelius Clavin’s daughters Annie and Margaret Clavin. By tracing the Smyth brothers back to Ireland it has helped me to find out more about Cornelius Clavin. Thank you. Luke.

    1. Thanks for the kind comments, glad to have been of some help. Good luck with your research.


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