LOOKING BACK: Silvio Monti and Rebecca May Fischer on their wedding day in 1925, and a drawing of the mud hut at New Italy where Silvio was born.
LOOKING BACK: Silvio Monti and Rebecca May Fischer on their wedding day in 1925, and a drawing of the mud hut at New Italy where Silvio was born. Blackwall Historical Society Inc

Tragedy struck this young family

SILVIO Monti was the first of six children born at New Italy to Dr Silvio Monti and Elizabeth Antoniolli.

Elizabeth's family had settled in the area when they survived the tragic Marquis de Rays expedition in 1881.

There was no state-of-the-art maternity ward for Elizabeth and her baby Silvio, as he entered the world in a small mud house.

These mud houses were characteristic of the New Italy settlement when the early Italian migrants arrived with no money, no English and only strong muscles and stout hearts.

In the thick bush they cut down trees and fashioned rough boards before setting them in position.

From there they poured mud and gravel between the boards, rammed tightly and left to set, and the mud house was born on the North Coast.

Despite his humble beginnings, Silvio was bright and ended up going off to study, firstly at Hawkesbury Agricultural College then the Wollongbar Agricultural Research Station where he achieved state dux in cheese and butter-making and herd testing.

A handsome young man, it wasn't long before he caught the attention of Rebecca May Fischer and they were married in 1925.

In that same year the couple moved to Bagotville, cleared a block and grew bananas.

It was tough times for the young family as it was shortly after the end of the Great War and the country was in economic turmoil as Australia had accumulated a large debt.

What this meant for the Monti family as they farmed their crops was their produce would not have been moved quickly, which translated into a meagre income.

To make matters worse, the newly introduced bunchy top virus damaged his banana crop and he had to burn his whole plantation.

Most likely drawing on the tenacity of his ancestors, he started again, this time dairy farming with a herd of 50 cattle.

Tragedy struck the family once more and in a very final way when Silvio fell very sick.

He was taken to the Coraki-Campbell Hospital but died two days later, leaving Rebecca May and their young family to run the farm.

He was only 38.

REFERENCES: Epic of the Bush - Tragic story recalled, Daily Examiner, April 18, 1931; NSW Births, Deaths, Marriages, www.bdm.nsw. gov.au; Silvio Monti, Work to Death, Blackwall Historical Society Inc.; Post war economies (Australia), encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/post-war_economies_australia



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