Patrick Joseph Smyth (1876-1927) Patrick was born near Boorowa NSW around 1876 where his father Thomas Smyth was living with or near Thomas’ brother James, on Cattle Station Creek, now known as Yellow Waterhole creek, around 8 miles west of Boorowa. He was the third youngest of the 12 children of Thomas and Ann Smyth (nee O’Reilly).
Patrick took up his own selection of 540 acres at Thuddungra in 1909 aged 33. It was a nice block on a rise in the land on Quamby Road, about 10 miles north of Young, which he named ‘Box Ridge’, probably after the myriad of Box Gums which were known to densely inhabit the area back then before they were cleared for agriculture. He was the successful applicant for that land beating more than 60 others who attended the ballot including his elder brother John who later established his own property called Leacliff just a few miles up Quamby Road, across Cudgell Creek, near the intersection of the Young-Grenfell Road. Some additional title acquisitions by Patrick over the following years saw Box Ridge reach 621 acres.
Little is known of Patrick’s time since then other than this photo of him labelled Patrick with Baron’s Pride in the early 1900’s at some point. A framed version of this photo hung on the wall of Patrick’s son Tom’s home in Young and Tom said it was his father showing his prized horse either at the Young Show or the Royal Easter Show. Baron’s Pride was the name of a world-famous Scottish Stud Clydesdale at the time, recorded under its breeding reference of (9122 CSB) which lived between 1890 and 1913. That famous horse though, had white feet and face, so different to Patrick’s Baron’s Pride in the photo. Patrick’s horse however may have been another Clydesdale of the same name which was imported as a three-year-old from Scotland to Australia in 1903 under the breeding ref of (11265 CSB). Tom, Patrick’s son, had often said that Baron’s Pride was his father’s ‘Pride and Joy’ so it seems he may have been into breeding these mighty work horses which were an essential requirement on farms in the early 1900’s to pull the heavy ploughs and non-motorised farm implements and machinery.
Another neighbouring property to Box Ridge was ‘Greenbank’, owned by John Watson. Greenbank was listed as the share farming residence of brothers Tom and Michael O’Rourke in the 1915 Obituary of their father John O’Rourke. It seems then, that this might be how Patrick met the youngest sister of these two O’Rourke neighbours, a petite but resourceful lady who went by the name of Katherine at that point. They had in common their large Irish families with 3 of Patrick’s 11 siblings born in County Longford Ireland and all of Katherine’s 11 siblings born in County Limerick Ireland.
Patrick married Katherine Elizabeth O’Rourke at Lavender Bay, North Sydney on 24th April 1916 when he was 40 and Katherine was 30. It seems Katherine was nearly 7 months pregnant when they married as their first child, Ben, was born there in North Sydney a couple of months later, on 3rd June 1916. Perhaps they had re-located from Young to Sydney during their courtship to avoid the prying eyes the local community judging them on this out of wedlock pregnancy. Either way, they soon returned to Box Ridge which became their family home. Katherine was born at Coonamble NSW in 1886 to John and Catherine O’Rourke (nee Kirby), after John and Catherine had emigrated from County Limerick, Ireland in 1884 with their 10 other surviving children settling initially in that area. Katherine was born under the name of ‘Catherine’ after her mother, then married as ‘Katherine’ on her Marriage Certificate but adopted the name ‘Kathleen’ soon thereafter. She was also known to some as ‘Kitty’ but none of that mattered as everyone within the close family including her own children and grandchildren knew her simply as ‘Babe’. This was a pet name given to her by her large Irish family (who also called her ‘The Native’) being the youngest child and the only member of her family that was born in Australia.
Patrick and ‘Babe’ had three children… Benjamin Stephen Smyth being the eldest born 1916, Thomas Patrick Smyth, born 1919 and Josephine Mary Smyth being the youngest born in 1921. Over the Years, Patrick had developed the Box Ridge property to the point that it consisted of a weatherboard house of four rooms plus a kitchen, a garage, woolshed, machine and grain sheds, blacksmith’s shop and sheepyards, with 220 of its 621 acres fully cultivated for cropping. The O’Rourke’s and the Smyth’s appear to have been reasonably close after Patrick and Babe married, with a few visits to Moppity by the O’Rourke’s evident and many visits of the O’Rourke’s to visit Babe at 28 Campbell St.
After just 11 years married at Box Ridge, the little family was devastated when Patrick died there of a Gastric Carcinoma on the 16th of September 1927 at the age of 52, leaving Babe to raise her 3 children aged 11, 8 and 6 on her own. Babe sold the Box Ridge farm in 1928 shortly after Patrick’s death and moved her little family into town at Young where she purchased a house at 28 Campbell St. It was purchased from David Patrick Normoyle, who previously in 1903 sold land which he also owned near Box Ridge. The 28 Campbell St property was purchased under the names of Patrick’s brothers, John ‘Jack’ Smyth and William ‘Willie’ Smyth, possibly as Executors or due to Patrick’s Estate restrictions or perhaps simply the lack of income in Babe’s own name. 28 Campbell St was well situated for Babe as it was just up the street from 18 Campbell St which was earlier purchased in 1918 by her brother Tom O’Rourke who lived there with their spinster sister Fanny (Frances) when he was not share farming at Greenbank. Tom bequeathed that property to Babe after he died in 1938 following Fanny’s death in 1931, and it was then leased out by Babe and the family for nearly 40 years until it was renovated and occupied by Babes son Ben Smyth and his wife Kath when they retired to Young from Sydney in the mid 1970’s.
Box Ridge was also handed back to Babe after its 1928 sale as the purchaser could not afford the repayments during the Great Depression, so that property was also leased out from the early 1930’s as well to provide the family with an income. Box Ridge would later become the home of Tom and Patricia Smyth for about 10 years around 1949 with their first baby Sue after it became apparent that they needed more room for their own growing family.
Babe remained close with both her own O’Rourke siblings and her Smyth in-laws at Moppity, whilst raising her children, and Ben, Tom and Jo recalled many memories of regular visits to the Smyth farm at Moppity as well as regular visits by their O’Rourke aunts and uncles to Campbell St. Babe died in 1966 aged 80 and her grandson Terry has very clear and fond memories of her as a petite and gentle soul living with my Aunty Jo at their 28 Campbell St home. Patrick and Babe are buried together at the Young Cemetery along with their grandson Thomas Gregory Smyth who died as a baby from a heart defect aged just 3 months in 1959. Little Thomas was buried in an available space with his grandfather Patrick to be close to family and as other spaces and funds were limited at the time.