John Joseph Smyth was the sixth child and second son of Thomas Smyth and Ann O’Reilly. He was born on July 9. 1869, at Cattle Station Creek at Boorowa. Cattle Station Creek runs through the village of Murringo and crosses a property that was owned by James Smith, who was the brother of Thomas Smyth. James Smith arrived in Australia in 1856 onboard the “Phoebe Dunbar” and, as his County Longford heritage is engraved on his headstone, it is also likely, in the largely Irish immigrant population of Boorowa, that James acknowledged his heritage and named his property Longford Farm as shown on the birth certificate of Rose Anne Smyth.
Catherine Sarah McDonnell was the second child of nine children of Charles William McDonnell and Ann Byrne. She was born at Tichborne, a small village near Parkes. John and Catherine Smyth had 14 children, 7 sons, and 7 daughters. The family lived on a property called Leacliff, on the Grenfell Road in Young NSW. John, with the assistance of his sons, farmed the parcel of land in the Burrangong parish, growing wheat and managing sheep herds. John is shown in the photo below with his team of horses, hauling a load of produce.
The oldest Smyth children, Thomas, Horace, Frank, Annie, Ellen, and Ben were all enrolled in the Monteagle Public School on May 13, 1914. The school was able 9 kilometres from their home and thus they would probably have ridden horses or traveled in a sulky. School attendance at this time was compulsory for children aged between 7 and 14 years and so Ben is below the age limit and Frank, at 14, probably didn’t attend school for many years after this.
Adjacent to the Leacliff property was the Leakcliff Public School, also visible on the map above. The school was built by Horace and his father, John, and some of his siblings. The younger Smyth children, and their cousins, such as the Powderly’s, would likely have attended this school. The Leakcliff school opened in May 1917 and closed in 1941.
John and Catherine remained on Leacliff until their deaths, a week apart from each other, in June 1938. John’s cause of death was an aortic aneurysm while Catherine had stomach cancer and pneumonia. Their legacy, however, lives on as they have at least 52 grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the hundreds.