The Sad Story of a Clyde Blacksmith

Alexander Stewart  Kennedy

Port Adelaide,1893 - Cranbourne 1922

Time in Clyde
Port Adelaide born Alex Stewart Kennedy, a farrier/blacksmith moved from Cranbourne to Clyde with his young wife, Nellie, to their new home on the corner of Ballarto and Twyford Roads, Clyde. Their house was right near the railway bridge (Now 1585 Ballarto Rd). It was about 1912. Nellie, born as Ellen Quinn Thorpe, came from a Cranbourne Presbyterian family her father being one the bakers in the town.

The young blacksmith showed interest in local events, the ANA in Cranbourne, was known in the Presbyterian church, met many farmers through his trade and was a member of the Tooradin Rifles Club. Twins, Alex junior and Jessie were born to them in 1914.

In March 1916, at 31, Alexander Stewart Kennedy, signed up for overseas military service and spent that time mostly in France. Both the Cranbourne Presbyterian Church and the Clyde North  School honor boards list his name as a WW1 soldier. Before embarkment he moved his family to Cranbourne. His Clyde residence was bought by another blacksmith.
If it was any comfort to him Henry Kennett (40),also from Clyde travelled overseas with him on the Wandilla that sailed on  June 6th 1916. After two years and nine months of active service he returned in January 1919, moved to
Cranbourne and in August that year, his 5 year old daughter Jessie died followed by the death of his mother-in-law, Mrs Thorpe.

During the war and afterwards it seems that his wife, Nellie, was overcome by stress and needed special psychiatric care. Nellie was committed to a mental asylum and her name was never again listed on the electoral roll. Her death was recorded as  having died in Ballarat in 1970, aged 87. Was Nellie shattered and unable to cope with the war absence of her husband followed by the death of her daughter and her mother?

Move to Cranbourne
Possibly due to war injury, gun shot wound to his right shoulder, Alex gave up his blacksmithing work and took up a Rangers job with the Cranbourne Shire Council.

In April 1922, the next year, Alexander Kennedy, was tragically killed in a riding accident leaving  Alex his  eight year old son, to live with his grandmother and Nellie's older sister, Miss Thorpe. Following the death of Alexander senior, Miss Sarah Thorpe, assumed to be his guardian, took up the challenge to obtain the war medals for her nephew Alexander Kennedy junior.

What happened to Alex junior?
Young Alex eventually trained as a baker a trade that he most likely learnt  from his uncle Jack (John Thomas) Thorpe. In 1938 Alex junior, 24,  married a very attractive young lady with notable musical skills also from Cranbourne, linked with the Presbyterian church. Her name was Annie Davida Joan Campbell. She was better known to all as Joan and was in demand to play the piano at concerts. About 6 years following her marriage to Alex Jnr we find Joan Kennedy running her own orchestra and doing the rounds of the local dance halls including Clyde until the late 1950’s.
Alex Kennedy died in 1988 aged about 74.

Editor’s Note
Much later in the 1950's, at dances in the Clyde Hall, as a primary school child I was intrigued by her piano skills, her flare and style. Often standing near her on the stage, I would look on adoringly at the way she played the keys. Alex and Joan Kennedy had two children, a  son and  daughter. The daughter  born in 1943 much later attended Dandenong High School.
Joan Kennedy died in 2012.
Does anyone recall Kennedy's Orchestra?

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