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Smallwood, Joseph (1857–1928)

Missing from his home at Pitt Town for nearly two days, the body of the late Joseph Smallwood, a well-known farmer, in that locality, was recovered from the waters of Longneck Lagoon shortly after noon on Saturday. The previous Thursday afternoon the deceased went down to Longneck on horseback in search of his cows, which graze in the vicinity of the lagoon. Though no-one actually witnessed what eventually transpired, it is surmised that he rode into the lagoon after a stray cow or two and got out of his depth and was drowned. When the mare he was riding was discovered near the water's edge later that night, its hind quarters were wet and the saddle saturated.

The late Joseph Smallwood was 71 years of age, and was born at Pitt Town where he lived all his life. He was highly respected and beloved by all who knew him, and there were many sincere expressions of regret when his death and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding it became known. He was in good health and in the best of spirits on the day of the sad event.

Forty-eight years ago he was married at Windsor to Susannah Riley, who survives him, together with a family of four sons and five daughters viz., James (Homebush), Joseph (Lidcombe), Lillian (Mrs. Brown, Melbourne), Alice (Mrs. Hurren, Glebe), George (Tamworth), Mary (Mrs. Sinclair (Dee Why), Annie (Mrs. Thompson, Cattai), Vioiet (Mrs. Rose (Abbotsford), and Andrew Mark (Pitt Town). One son pre-deceased his father.

The funeral took place on Sunday, the remains being laid to rest in the Pitt Town Church of England cemetery. Rev. Stanley Howard, M.A., conducted the last sad rites, and Mr. Chandler was the undertaker.

CORONER'S INQUIRY
An inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of the late Joseph Smallwood was conducted by the District Coroner (Mr. H. S. Johnston, J.P.) at the Court House, Windsor, on Wednesday.

Sergeant C. A. Morgan attended to assist the Coroner.

Constable Hitchcock was the first witness. He stated that from information received he proceeded to Longneck Lagoon, near Pitt Town, on Friday last and again on Saturday, to assist in the search for the body of the late Joseph Smallwood, who had been reported missing. He continued the search until 1 p.m. on Saturday, when he returned to Windsor for lunch, intending to revisit the scene in the afternoon. During his temporary absence he received a telephone message to the effect that the body had been found in the water at Longneck. He proceeded to the spot in company with the Coroner and Dr. Arnold, and saw the body at the water's edge. Deceased had a strap hitched around his left hand, which he apparently used as a riding whip. At the spot where the body was found the water deepened suddenly from the bank from five to nine feet. From police inquiries made, added witness, there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding the tragedy.

John Grono, a farmer, of Pitt Town, said he had known the deceased for upwards of 45 years. He was informed on Friday last that Mr. Smallwood was missing from his home, and with others assisted in a search of Longneck Lagoon. He was in a boat with grappling irons when he recovered the body in about nine feet of water shortly after noon on Saturday.

Andrew Mark Smallwood, farmer of Pitt Town, said he was a son of the deceased. He last saw his father alive at 7 a.m. on Thursday, 30th ultimo. He was then well and apparently in good health and spirits.

'I was away during the day,' proceeded witness, 'and when I returned home about 6 o'clock my father was not there. Mother told me that he left home on horseback at 4.30 p.m. to go for the cows, which were grazing at Longneck. When he did not return within a reasonable time I became alarmed and went to look for him. About 10 o'clock that night I discovered his horse at Longneck, about 50 yards from where the body was subsequently found. The horse still had the saddle and bridle on, the saddle being saturated with water. The hindquarters of the mare were also wet. Next day I identified the body after it had been taken from the lagoon.'

Witness said the lagoon was infested with weeds and logs, and, in his opinion, if a man got into deep water it would be difficult for him to get out. The horse his father rode was quiet, and the strap found around the deceased's hand was used as a whip. On former occasions, added witness, the deceased had gone into the lagoon on horseback to drive the cows out.

At this stage it was announced that there was only one more witness, the Government Medical Officer (Dr. Arnold), who was away on urgent business in the city.

The inquiry was thereupon adjourned until this Friday, September 1, at 11 a.m.

Original publication

Citation details

'Smallwood, Joseph (1857–1928)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/smallwood-joseph-27397/text34834, accessed 18 October 2018.

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