The K.M. Smith story – who was Kate Mary Farrell? - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views
Local History

Photo of Bay Terrace circa 1906 showing the newly built Guardian Angels Church on the right and the site of the current K.M.Smith office slightly down the road. Photos: Supplied.


Kate Mary Farrell was born in Dublin in 1846 and immigrated to Australia aboard the Fiery Star in 1864 at the age of 18. Also arriving in Australia the same year on the vessel the Salamander, sailing from London, was 20-year-old infantryman John Smith.

Kate and John met in the North Queensland town of Somerset, where they were married and reportedly went on to have the first white child born in the region.

After moving to Sydney due to ill health, John, Kate and their then six children moved to the thriving settlement of Brisbane.

In 1877 John set up shop as a cabinet maker, and as it was not uncommon for the time, he did work as a carpenter and coffin maker. In 1883 John purchased the undertaking business of William Walsh and thus the funeral business of K.M.Smith began.

Alas, John became ill and died a few months later in 1886 at just 42-years-of-age. At a time when it was often unusual for a woman to attend a funeral much less work in the industry, Kate learnt the necessary skills to continue the business and became Brisbane’s first female funeral director.

Kate continued to guide her business through a World War and the Great Depression. She died on June 13, 1932 and is buried in Toowong Cemetery with her husband.

More than a century later, the business is still trading as K.M.Smith Funeral Directors with her great- grandchildren directors and her great-great-grandchild chairman of the board.

With fourteen branches in Brisbane, Wynnum is one of the longest established sites having been in Bay Terrace since 1996.

We have records of every funeral we have conducted, right back to 1877. In most cases we can provide historical funeral details to family members. If we can be of assistance, please let us know.

K.M.Smith has always prided itself on family values and remains today one of the few funeral homes in Brisbane to be fully family and Queensland owned.

For you…we think of everything.

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