Early migrant settlement in the district:
The first detailed reference of the migrant settlers in the district was penned by the Fairfield mail boy-historian, Roger Morgan. He wrote at the turn of the century:
“…Visitors often mentioned the large number of foreign people living in Fairfield…There have always been a lot of Chinese working in the market garden along the creeks especially out towards Canley Vale and the creek near Mark Lodge. They always seem to be in the gardens, rain or sunshine and even at night you can see lanterns moving around and in the mist that hangs over the creeks in the cold winter morning, they are out tending the vegetables…The children of the district had their tales and fears about the Chinese and you could see them run past the gardens…You seldom saw them in town but people had a good opinion of them as hard workers who minded their own business…
Out of Smithfield are several Balkan families…they are quite reserved people and keep to themselves…They are said to be good farmers and hard workers…People said many foreigners came to the district when the gold rush petered out…”
Theodore Serovich arrived from Yugoslavia in late 1880s. He was born in the town of Boka Kotorska [Croatia] and had three daughters [Mary (Colja) , Joan (Martin) and Eileen (Kotlash)]. Initially, he moved around looking for work, eventually becoming a cane cutter in the Queensland cane fields. He was then able to use his savings in 1893 to buy 10 acres between Bulls and Burns Roads at St Johns Park where he established a vineyard, growing table and wine grapes. He was also an active member in community affairs.His brother Samuel arrived in Australia in 1885 via South Africa. Samuel originally came to work on the construction of the Cooma Railway where he remained for a year before coming to St. Johns Park. He later helped make improvements to the family property, including hand digging a dam. The brothers went on to construct a cellar located in what is now Melbourne Road. Theo’s daughter Joan and her husband Stan Martincich (known as Martin) later renovated the cellar after the Second World War and turned it into a family home.
Theodore’s contribution to the development of the area is recognised with the naming of the bridge that crosses Clear Paddock Creek on 22nd May 2004. It was officially dedicated by Mayor Nick Lalich and bears a sign showing a photo of Mr. Serovich .
” The German have…been part of Fairfield as long as anybody can remember. They are thorough and the local people seek their advice when they have troubles with their crops or animals…In the western part of the district there is a large Italian community and they seem to work in groups…The Italian can make a good garden out of the worst scrub land. They have cleared large areas by sweats and muscle power…”
The photograph above shows several members of the Jentsch family posing in the orchard surrounding their house. Their property was in the area bounded by Hamilton Road, Harris and Sackville Streets in Fairfield. The Jentsch family was one of many German families settling in the Fairfield City area in the 1800’s. Augustus was born in 1889 in the St George district. He later married Miss Lillian Emeline Critchley, the daughter of Alderman Samuel Critchley in 1903 and they had two children (Mervyn and Esme). Augustus was a school teacher who taught in the Hawkesbury area. The family was prominent in the local community for many years, Augustus Morris Jentsch was elected Mayor of Fairfield in 1926-27.
[Excerpt from “Fairfield: a history of the district” by Vance George and “A journey in time: a history of St Johns Park and its people by Vicki Movizio].