In her book A Child of Cave Hill, Charles daughter, Helen McPherson Smith provides us with information about her family and Cave Hill and its operations. Charlie, as he was called by all the family, was born at Doonside, Richmond on March 9, 1870.
He attended Brighton Grammar and Ballarat College and when he left school he was apprenticed to David Mitchell as a fitter. Later his father sent him to work at Dueran station near Mansfield for three years before he started managing Cave Hill.
Charlie married Blanche Blayney of Nagambie on February 7, 1898 and they had four children: David born 1901, Thomas 1903, Helen Melba Nesbitt born December 23, 1909 and Blanche Lillian (Billy) born 1913.
Charlie managed the Cave Hill works, the Holstein cattle and the cheese and bacon factories for David Mitchell.
The family lived at Cave Hill until 1917 when they moved to a property called Akarana at Lilydale.
Helen described her father as having fiery red hair. “He wasn’t plain, but was a nice-looking man. He never grew up! He did have a tremendous amount of fun and he adored children of all ages.”
“Dad was a scallywag. Dad wasn’t a bit interested in mining, but he did like farming and loved the land.”
Charlie was a keen horseman and a keen shot and entered clay pigeon and sparrow shoots.
His sons David and Thomas boarded at Geelong Grammar while Helen and Billy had a tutor for the first few years before becoming boarders at Ruyton School at Kew. After a stint jackarooing in Queensland David became a distributor for Colonial Oil Refineries (COR) in the Wimmera. He married Molly Marsden and had two children Peter and Barbara.
Set up his own successful business in Lilydale and later was on the board of David Mitchell Limited. He was very involved in the local community. Following in his grandfather David Mitchell’s footsteps, he was a Lillydale Councillor for North Riding from 1934 to1941 and was Shire President in 1940.
He was also involved in the Lilydale Football Club and the Lilydale Fire Brigade. While recovering from an accident, Thomas met and married nurse Helen Eugene Wood. They had two children Jennifer born in 1941 and John in 1944.
John’s eulogy at Tom’s funeral at St John’s Church Lilydale in February 1949 highlighted his strong commitment to his family, business and the Lilydale community. His obituary and Eulogy recounts a life lived to the full.
Billy went nursing in Melbourne when she finished school at Ruyton and became a triple certificated nurse after completing midwifery training. She enlisted in World War II as a driver in the Royal Australian Navy.
Helen met John McPherson Smith who had leased a dairy farm north of Chirnside Park. They were married at St John’s Church of England, Lilydale in June 1935.