James Walter Smart- So Far Away

I met a lady on my travels in England who asked why my family had moved so far away from home ( in this case, the village of Corby Glen where an ancestor had lived).The comment and its implications have stayed with me, and I have come to realise that although all my ancestors have a travel story that saw them leave England and America for New Zealand, mostly once they arrived there they tended to stay in one place again. Except for THAT one in every family- and it seems to be my branch that always leave. Even now, in my generation, I live the other side of the country to the rest of my family, so far away.
James Walter Smart was born in Lady Wood, Warwick Birmingham to parents George and Jemima ( nee Price) on the 24th April 1860. His parents had just arrived back from County of Brant , in Canada where his sister Hellen had been born. I wonder why they went there but returned to England, and then several years later decided to migrate to New Zealand.
In 1874 the family of George, Jemima and three children travelled on the Merope to Christchurch. At the time of departure, George was a carpenter.
:Hellen Elizabeth 1857-1927
: James Walter 1860-1926
: Emma Jane 1863-1928
George Arthur Smart 1853- 1927 married Ellen Jane Hancock in Gloucester in 1874 and appears to have travelled to Christchurch between 1875 and 1878.
In the English census documents, James is listed as a carpenter, but it was his career as an Engine driver with New Zealand railways that took him from 1875 through to his retirement after 1919.

His postings with the Railways were mainly around the Dunedin area, and can be seen by tracing the births,deaths, school records and marriages of 10 children.
1.Alice Eliza 1881, Oxford-1934, m Walter Adams,1899 Dunedin 5 of 6 children born in Dunedin
2.Ada Catherine Mary 1883, Dunedin-1968 m George Ashley,(2) George Fowler
3.Mima Matilda 1885-1971m Owen Davies 1908 Dunedin 3 sons, 2 daughters
4.Edwin Walter 1888 Invercargill-1961 m Catherine McFarlane 1914 Dunedin
5.James Wilfred born and died 1893 Dunedin
6.Emily May 1894 Popotunoa-1977 m Arthur Clearwater 1921
7.Herbert George 1897 Popotunoa-1952
8.Leslie Carter 1899 Heriot- 1956
9.Olive Iris 1901 Heriot-1962
10.Hazel Mavis 1903 Dunedin -1984 m Kenneth Wolland 1931

When James died in 1926, his will was specific in naming the children to inherit , and it is hard to understand why he left out Alice.

Her bachelor brother Leslie also failed to mention her in a family tree, her death earlier is not a reason as he lists a brother as “”obit”.

Neither is the distance between “home” and the 9 Smart children’s eventual place of settling a factor- at least three of them lived in Palmerston North,North Island as adults.

Fortunately, both records online for births and a recent DNA test prove beyond all doubt that Alice does belong to this family.


So far away in distance, but who can doubt the close family ties in looks? James descendants Mildred, Jill and Colleen, and Hellen his sisters descendant Florence :

top left: Jill- top right: her sister Colleen

bottom left: Florence, bottom right: Mildred.

Florence and Mildred are second cousins, Jill and Colleen are 2C once removed to Florence ( and are the daughters of Mildred).

Author: gorcat28

writing up my ancestors one week at a time

2 thoughts on “James Walter Smart- So Far Away”

  1. Yup. So far away.
    We are the ‘disconnected’ generation and I, at times, envy the relies in NZ being brought up together and knowing each other.

    1. Me too sometimes,but distance is still as much of a factor and I can’t see us being brought up in the areas our cousins lived- not enough work for Dad.Always too the divide between North and South Island in time, distance and journeying via ferry to get from one to the other.

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