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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts]

Dr. John Gibson Smith

Dr. John Gibson Smith , sometime of Balclutha, was one of the most popular and best known men in Otago, and settled at Balclutha in 1862. He was the eldest son of the late Mr. Hugh Smith, of Westown, Petinain, Lanarkshire, where he was born on the 16th of June, 1837. Dr. Smith was educated at private schools, Dalkeith Academy, and at the Edinburgh University, where he qualified for the medical profession. He then joined the army Medical Staff Corps, as assistant surgeon, and was stationed at Aldershot, Curragh, Dublin and Kilkenny. In 1862 Dr. Smith sailed from Glasgow as surgeon in the ship “Pladda” (Captain Boyd), and notwithstanding the long voyage and the number of passengers, landed at Port Chalmers without loss of life. When Dr. Smith arrived at Dunedin everybody was, however, suffering from “gold fever,” which also attacked him. He accordingly tried his fortunes at the Shotover for some months, but soon decided to commence practice at the
The Late Dr. J. G. Smith.

The Late Dr. J. G. Smith.

Clutha Ferry, where he built a house—a portion of which is still attached to his later habitation. For several years Dr. Smith was the only medical practitioner residing in the widely scattered district extending from Clutha to Catlin's river on the south-east, and from Clinton to Tapanui in the opposite direction. The track to Owaka or Catlin's was simply a “blazed” surveyor's line and the creeks and rivers were subject to floods, and it was often hazardous work for Dr. Smith to attend his patients. These difficulties, however, led to many close friendships, and there was hardly a fireside in the Clutha district at which the doctor was not a cordially welcome guest. Dr. Smith was a thorough lover and generous patron of all British sports, and was one of the foundation members of Lodge Clutha, S.C., now working under the New Zealand Constitution. In February, 1869, he was married to Sarah Helen, daughter of Mr. Joseph Williams, of Boughurst, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, and had five sons and four daughters. Dr. Smith died in June, 1902.