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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Eliza Smith [nee Stear] Southwell

Born: 1842; Died: 1939; Married: Samuel

The late Eliza Jane Southwell - Memorial service

A memorial service to the late Eliza Jane Southwell was held at the Wattle Park Methodist Church last Sunday, the preacher being the Rev. R. D. McKinnon, who took for his text, "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith," said that the late Mrs. Southwell, like Paul, had kept her faith to the end of her life.

The late Mrs. Southwell, who died at the age of 97 years, was one of the early pioneers of the Hall district in which she was one of the most respected residents. The daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. William Smith, of Gunning, she was born in Sydney in August 1842. Much of her early life was spent in and around Gunning and Collector. For some years she was a nurse girl in the home of the late Mr. Waddell, of Collector, when Constable Nelson was murdered by bush-rangers.

On another occasion, whilst staying with her sister in the Collector district, four of Ben Hall's gang arrived and ordered breakfast. Mrs. Southwell was forced to prepare the meal for them.

She belonged to a long-lived family, there being 32 members, seven of whom lived to the great age of over 90 years. Two of the brothers are still living, their ages being 91 and 93 years respectively. The five deceased members of the family over 90 make a great total of 479 years.

The late Mrs. Southwell was mar married at Gunning in the year 1867 to William John Stear at the age of 25 years, and for some years they lived at Dalton. Later they moved to Yass, where Mr. Stear died in 1875, leaving his widow with three sons, William (now residing in Merrylands), Henry (who died in 1904) and Oswald (now residing in Queanbeyan). Three years later she was married to Mr. Samuel Southwell, of Fairview, Hall, who also had a family of four daughters and two sons. From the second marriage there were two daughters and one son: Bertha (Mrs. J. A. Davis, of Yass), Ethel (Mrs. Pope, of Narrabeen) and Lindsay Southwell, of East Lynne, Hall, respectively.

The coming of Mrs. Southwell to the Hall district was a great boon to the neighbourhood, with her experience and willingness to render help to those in need. Her hospitality was proverbial and the Fairview home was a place of welcome. It has been known for 20 persons to sleep under its roof in one night and as many as 36 persons to partake of the midday meal on Sunday.

Her usefulness and real worth were borne out in quiet service to others. She was a loyal supporter of and a regular attendant at Church until infirmity and failing health prevented her from attending the place of worship. Although declining in health for some time, her last illness was short. She passed away peacefully at the home of her son, Mr. Lindsay Southwell, on November 10. Mr. Southwell pre-deceased her 11 years ago. She also has 30 grandchildren living (eight having pre-deceased her) and 51 great-grandchildren living (one deceased).

The internment took place on Sunday, November 12, in the Weetangerra Cemetery, after a service at the Wattle Park Methodist Church.

[Canberra Times, Thursday 14 December 1939, page 6]

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