Eliza Knell/Smith came to Australia as Eliza Band in 1854 from St Andrews, Scotland. Eliza lived in St Andrews, formerly known as Queenstown, (Shire of Eltham, County of Evelyn), for over fifty years. Eliza and her family owned the St Andrews Hotel and the Post Office for over sixty years. Eliza was a well respected woman in the town who was committed to the family business and the local Anglican church of St Andrews. Eliza married John Cork(e) Knell in 1856, age 22 and John was 31.
John was a gold miner and in 1856, they both came to the Caledonia Diggings (now St Andrews). These gold fields were only two years old when they came, so like many others, they came to make a living in ’The Wilds of Caledonia’.In 1857, John became Post Master of the St Andrews Post Office. Nine years later, John held the license for the St Andrews Hotel. Sadly, John died in 1867 and is buried at Queenstown Cemetery. After John’s death, Eliza continued on as Post Mistress of the St Andrews Post Office and licensee of the St Andrews Hotel. She was also the local Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Eliza and John had six children together.
In 1868, Eliza remarried to Robert Smith, who helped Eliza run the Post Office and the Hotel. Eliza had another three children with Robert. All of her children attended Queenstown State School. Eliza was a Christian woman, dedicated to her faith, for many years Eliza attended the local St Andrews Anglican Church. She worked very hard with the local community to raise funds for the minister’s stipend. Over many years ‘Anniversary Tea Party’s’ were held in the ‘Long Room’ at her hotel.
In 1911, Eliza died aged 74 years. At her funeral, Rev. E. Chase stated – ‘How many times had she bidden farewell to her parting guests, and they have looked forward to a renewal of their visit to this little village of Queenstown. Her genial disposition, hospitable nature, and tact made her an ideal hostess and gained her numerous friends.’ Eliza is buried at Queenstown Cemetery.
Eliza was acknowledged by the Nillumbik Women’s Network and the Nillumbik Shire Council in their publication
International Women’s Day launch of Celebratibg Nillumbik Women 2010 3rd ed
By Gaye Ponting St Andrews Queenstown Historical Society 2010