Local Identities

Harry Smith (c1861-1937) – Mornington

Mr. Harry Smith, manager of Millars’ Timber and Trading Co., Ltd., at Mornington Mills, died in Perth on Thursday of last week after an illness of six weeks. The late Mr. Smith, who was 76 years of age, was one of the best-known identities in the milling trade in the State. He was a native of Norway and arrived in South Australia when 18 years of age.

After engaging in railway construction for some years he first became associated with the timber trade as an employee of Millars’ Bros., which later merged into the company now known as Millars’ Timber and Trading Co., Ltd. Transferred to Western Australia, Mr. Smith was engaged for several years in the erection of mills at Denmark, Torbay and Yarloop. He was responsible for the erection of the mill at Mornington 40 years ago and had resided there ever since. The mill was twice destroyed by fire. On the first occasion it was reconstructed under the supervision of the late Mr. Smith, but after the disastrous fire in January the company reconditioned an adjoining mill.

During the years of the Great War Mr. Smith was employed by the company in the Philippine Islands, and at Salonica, and before returning to the State he travelled through the United States and Canada on behalf of the firm for three years. He served as a member of the Harvey Road Board and was a justice of the peace for the district. He leaves a widow and three sons and three daughters.

The funeral took place in the Church of England Cemetery, Harvey, on Saturday in the presence of a very large gathering of friends and employees of the mills. Before the cortege proceeded to the cemetery a service was held in the Anglican Church, Harvey, conducted by the Rev. B. W. Earle, who also officiated at the graveside and in a few words paid tribute to one who had done his job well and had endeavoured to be fair and just.

The chief mourners were Messrs. H. W., Geo. C., and James M. Smith (sons), E. T. Loton (son-in-law), G. B. Lancaster and Morgan Smith (grandsons). The pall-bearers were Messrs. A. C. Munro, R. Briggs, B. Appleton, L. Clifton, J. Craig and C. Wilson. Among those present were: Dr. F. G. Stimson, Messrs J. Verschuer (Mayor of Bunbury), W. J. Fulton, president and L. Bunbury, secretary (Timber Workers’ Union), T. Morgan, C. K. Malcolm, E. A. Haslam, S. Woolley, C. E. Jenour, S. H, Bradshaw, L. B. Schism, E. Cooke, Horace Read, G. Balrd, M. Woods, D. Cameron, R. Cooke, W. Cooke, P. E. Staples, T. James, R. Staples, M. W. Logue, J. Lee, N. Hanbury, A. Morgan, W. Shalders, L. J. Wilkinson, C. H. Peterson, A. McMillan, W. Mincham, O. C. Rath, E. J. Ballard, W. Lamont, A. C. Barnes, W. K. Barnes, W. Wood, A. Day, L. M. Clifton. A. G. Day, G. Gibbs, R. E. Mattner, W. J. Mattner, E. Wilkins, J. E. Potter, D. Watt, R. Guest, J. Crack, L. G, Gibsone, R. Hayward, B. H. Bednall, H. Ireland, H. Reid, W. Guest, C. H. Dalby, T. Westwood, F. Donnelly. G. Horrocks, W. W. Middleton, A. Brown, H. Cross, A. Pollock, J. Drysdale, D. Childs, J. Read, W. Sheilds, W. F. Pearson, F. B. Davies, A W. Stanton, H. Lansdell, J. Hepple, R. Smith, R. Kernot, J. H. Evans, W. G. Evans, &. L. Cailes, W. Buck, E. G. Davis, D. L. Breen, T. Thomas, W. Henderson, E. G. Green, E. D. Eames, L. McDaniell, R. Chapman, K. Chapman, O. Conley, W. Matthews, J. L. Peacock, T. Westwood, R. Goodson, W. Goodson, V. Westwood, J. Kinsella, W. Johnston, B. H. Lofthouse, J. P. Hocart, C. Craig, A. Anderson, M. Papalea, D. Ferraro, D. Papalia, E. Dalbo, C. Gumina. T. W. Ormerod, T. Rova, T.Y. Rova, P. Heghenceeni, J. Iddenden, W. Odlum, J. Dalley, J. Carrello, P. Jurginson, J. Vadella, P. Soia, L. Soia, Seaini, Drysdale, J. Anderson, House, Penfold, W. S. Tennent, C. Anderson, Mesdames L. Parolo, A.G. Day, R. E. Mattner, B. Appleton, Cousens, Olum, Seaini, K. Chapman, Jurginson, C. Anderson, Tennent, Penfold, House, J. Anderson, Drysdale, Rova and Miss E. Day. The casket was borne to the graveside by Messrs L. Parolo, W. Lineham, H. D. Cousins and F. Murray. A very large number of beautiful wreaths and floral tributes were placed on the graveside. The funeral directors were Messrs Donald J. Chipper and Sons.

(Harvey Murray Times, 9 April 1937)

Assembling at Mornington for Big Smith’s funeral to be held in Harvey.


Sympathetic reference to the death of a former member was made at Monday’s meeting of the Harvey Road Board, when the chairman (Mr. J. Lowe) said that since the last meeting they mourned the death of Mr. H. Smith. He had been for many years an active member of the board and he had rendered great service in connection with the maintenance of the Mornington Mills road. He would be greatly missed throughout the district and his name would be honoured as one of the pioneers of the timber trade in the South-West. Mr. E. Manning moved that a letter of sympathy be forwarded to the relatives of the late Mr. Smith.

In seconding the motion Mr. A. H. Smith said that he had perhaps a longer acquaintance with the deceased than other members. The late Mr. Smith had arrived in the district 38 years ago and he had known him throughout the whole of that period. He was known as “Big” Smith and he had always proved himself as big in heart and mind as he was in stature. He doubted if there had ever been a more charitable man. By none would he be more missed than his employees whom he had always treated well and justly and no greater tribute to the esteem in which he was held could be required than that testified by the large attendance at his graveside.

He had rendered wonderful service as a board member in days when most of the engineering difficulties confronting the boards of those days were handed to the ward members for solution. With his expert knowledge of timber and bridge building the deceased had been able to render invaluable service. The late Mr. Smith was 76 years of age at the time of his death, but he had been an active and useful citizen till overtaken by his fateful illness. He had died in harness and Harvey had been the richer by his residence in the district and they were the poorer by his passing. As a small mark of respect the board had flown its flag at half-mast on the day of his death. The motion was carried by all members standing in silence for one minute.

(Harvey Murray Times, 16 April 1937)


MR. HARRY SMITH, TIMBER EXPERT, DEAD. The State’s timber industry has suffered a severe loss in the death of Mr. Harry Smith, manager of Millars’ Timber and Trading Co. Ltd., at Mornington Mills, W. A. Mr. Smith died at a private hospital yesterday after a short illness. As an expert in the timber industry, Mr. Smith ranked very high.

His experience of West Australian timber dates from 1884, when he came from Victoria and worked as chief bench-man with C. G. and E. F. Millar at Torbay. Later he went to Denmark whence he moved to Mornington. Mr. Smith was manager of the mill there for over 40 years.

Apart from his knowledge of Australian timber, he made trips to Salonika, Macedonia and America to study the industry. He was also a farmer in the Mornington district. Born in Norway in 1861, Mr. Smith came to Australia at an early age. He leaves a widow, three daughters and three sons. The funeral will take place tomorrow at noon at the Harvey cemetery.

(Daily News, 2 April 1937)



1917 Letters from the Front —

The following is a copy of a letter Mr. W. Balston has received from Mr. Harry Smith, who, as our readers will recollect, was formerly manager for Millars’ Timber and Trading Co., Ltd., at Mornington: —

Naoussa Mills, via Salonica, Macedonia, March 3th, 1917. Your letter of the 22nd December reached me on the 25th February, so you will see that it takes a long time to reach one in this part of the world. It was very good of you to write and let me know how things are in W.A., and to wonder if I reached Salonica safely.

The Morea is a very good boat to travel by, and we had very fine weather right through, though a bit warm at Colombo and Aden. We heard at Aden of the “Arabia” disaster in the Mediterranean, which made us rather anxious for the rest of the voyage, and after leaving Port Said we had to have life belts at our side all the time until we got to Marseilles. I left the boat there and got the train to Boulogne, arriving in London on the 20th November. I had five weeks in London, during which time our London office was trying to secure for me a passage to Salonica by transport of mail boat from Marseilles, but could do neither. I did not worry very much, as I thought there were plenty of worse places than London to spend Christmas in, despite the fact that it was in darkness at night, and sometimes all day as well, from the continuous fogs and smoke, which made it so dark that traffic had to be stopped for a day or two at a time. I think I saw London at the worst time of the year. The directors were very nice, and did all they could to give me a good time of it whilst in London, so I had a fairly good time, but as I had the worst part of the journey before me, I did not feel much inclined to go out.

Ultimately I left London on the 27th December, in company with a Mr. Campbell, who is the company’s agent in Salonica. We went to Paris in the hope of getting a French mail boat from Marseilles, but this could not be done; so we took the train for Rome and Naples, where we got an Italian steamer for Salonica. This was a very interesting trip through beautiful scenery, but it is no fun travelling in Europe at the present time, as one has to get their passports examined and filled in at every town one goes through. Luckily, Mr. Campbell could speak all the languages required as we went along, which was a great help. The Italian steamer was a small boat of about 1,000 tons, and it took six days from Naples to Salonica. We had three distinct warnings of submarines on the way, but luckily did not see any, and were glad when we got to Salonica, where we arrived on the 8th January. The mills are 50 miles by rail and 12 miles by road from Salonica towards Monastir, and we readied them on the 13th.They are situated on the side of a great mountain, which overlooks the plains of the Vardar, and there is a great view. The forest is in the mountains back from the mills, and they are very steep, being as much as 9,000 to 10,000 feet high. They have been and still are the homes of the brigands. We have to keep five men with rifles guarding the mill night and day, these men being paid by the company. Some of these men have been brigands, but are now alright.

There are also six Government police stationed at the mill. Most of the men working here live in the villages back from the mills, and when they go home once a month they have to have a police escort to their homes, I as they have been frequently robbed, so you will see that this is not the best place the world to live in. The timber here is beech, and the trees are very small, the principal cutting being sleepers. Some of the logs are so small that they only make one sleeper. The logs are brought to the line by manual labor, there being no horses or bullocks for log hauling. The sawn timber is carried to the main line by an overhead rope-way on trestles, which works by gravitation. The timber is carried on small hangers taking four sleepers each, the load going down on one side and the empties returning on the other. As the mill is 4,500 feet above the railway, this works fairly well. We can hear the guns night and day, but must not refer to military matters.

(South Western Times, 8 May 1917)