Australia Day 2012 – Wealth for Toil

Shelley at Twigs of Yore has invited geneabloggers to participate in an Australia Day blog event: Australia Day 2012 – Wealth for Toil.

The requirements are:

To participate, choose someone who lived in Australia (preferably one of your ancestors) and tell us how they toiled. Your post should include:

  1. What was their occupation? 
  2. What information do you have about the individual’s work, or about the occupation in general?
  3. The story of the person, focussing on their occupation; or
    The story of the occupation, using the person as an example.

Responses may be as long or short as you like, and as narrow or broad as you wish.

My great grandfather George Thomas SMEDE was born on 26 July 1878 in Rylstone NSW, the 6th of David John SMEDE and Catherine PICKETT’s 11 children.

GT’s first occupation was as a soldier for the Boer War. He enlisted in 1900 and trained for the war but it ended before he left Australia.

Trained for the Boer War - 1900GT continued to be employed by the military forces of the NSW State Government, before it was taken over by the Commonwealth Government, until he was transferred to the NSW Police Force in 1906. His first appointment as a policeman was to Taralga, near Goulburn, where he was for around 2 years, and was where he met my great grandmother Edith GOODHEW. (Edith’s father was the local police sergeant, coincidentally also called George Thomas!)

He left Taralga for Broken Hill where he spent 6 months during the Broken Hill strike of 1909 and on his return was posted to Crookwell. GT remained at Crookwell for over 6 years, his longest time at any posts and was then appointed to Berridale. Whilst in Berridale in 1917 GT was declared bankrupt. I have not obtained a copy of his bankruptcy papers yet so do not know anything other than that. (I hope to have a copy of these papers soon as a friend has offered to get a copy when she goes to State Records of NSW.) Maybe a policeman’s salary was not sufficient to bring up 3 or 4 children.

Next he moved to Bungonia, Ariah Park and Grafton, (where I grew up). In Grafton he was promoted to the rank of sergeant third-class. During these years, 1909-1924, GT and Edith had 5 children: George Athol, Nola Ruth, Vida Jean, Edna Blanche (my grandmother) and Ivor Gregory.

GT, Edith and their first 4 children. My grandmother is the baby sitting on her mother’s lap.

Two years later GT moved to Byron Bay, (very close to where I now live), and stayed here for 5 years. During this time he was promoted to the rank of sergeant second-class. It was also here where an event, about dynamiting fish, occurred which was reported in The Brisbane Courier and is one of my favourite articles about any of my ancestors.

1929 ‘DYNAMITING FISH. PICNICKERS FINED.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 25 February, p. 14, viewed 25 January, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21379510

In the remaining years of GT’s 31-year career with the police force, the family moved twice more to Kempsey and finally to Taree where he was promoted to the rank of sergeant first class in 1935.

George Thomas retired in Taree in 1938 and was highly praised in the local press for “carrying out his duties with fine diplomacy and courtesy.” He was also presented with a clock that I am extremely proud to now own.

The Manning River Times (date unknown)

The clock occupies pride of place in our living room, a reminder of a hard-working and well-respected police officer.

George Thomas and Edith in 1959, a few years before he passed away.