In 1854, Scottish Presbyterian missionaries, James and Christina Smith, moved to the Mount Gambier area and purchased a small farming property. James Smith established a school for local Aboriginal children. According to newspapers he 'maintained' and taught several 'half-caste' children for some time and was paid a subsidy by the government for their maintenance. After her husband's death in 1860 Christina Smith continued their missionary work with the local Aboriginal children.
In the mid 1860s the Bishop of Adelaide received a large donation of funds from an English philanthropist with the proviso that it was to be used for the 'improvement of the aborigines of the colony'. The funds were used to build a substantial stone building at Commercial Street West, Mount Gambier, to be operated as an Aboriginal Home and school. Christina Smith was given charge of the institution and the Mount Gambier Aborigines' Home, also known as the Mount Gambier Native School, opened in 1865.
Up to 16 Aboriginal children lived and were taught at the Home at one time. The children learned hymns and prayers and worked on religious exercises based on the text of the Bible. Mrs Smith received an allowance from the Government to assist with the upkeep of the Aboriginal children in her charge. In 1867 due to a decrease in funds available from the Bishop of Adelaide the Home was officially closed. However, according to the writings of Christina Smith, several Aboriginal children remained with her at the property, maintained through Government subsidies and charitable donations from local residents of Mount Gambier.
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05 December 2017
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE01400
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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