Was the Smith Family Charity Founded by Freemasons at Christmas?
From WBro Damien of Lodge Devotion
The December 2015 Wikipedia page and official web site of the independent non-profit children's charity “The Smith Family” tell the same story:
“On Christmas eve 1922, five businessmen walked into a Sydney orphanage carrying armfuls of toys and sweets. When asked who the children could thank, one of the men, preferring to remain anonymous, said “Smith”. “What about the others?” the matron asked. “They’re Smiths too”, replied the man. “We’re all Smiths. We’re The Smith Family.” .. “A concept… and a family… was born.”
I had been told this same story by one of our Devotion members with one slight Masonic twist – “The Smiths” were Freemasons returning from a Lodge Meeting. I’ve since heard the story several times. Initially, I’d googled and indeed discovered a reference to this on a Smith Family’s official web but that is now gone. Researching a charity and the Freemasons in the one google search can be tricky due to the Freemasons wide financial support of the community, but I plan to try and solve the mystery; did Freemasons founded this charity?
Today (23 December 2015), with some blank space in Devotion News, I thought I would check further…
I’ve found the obituary of MR. A. W. FLEMING. (The Sydney Morning Herald Wed 18 March 1931, page 18). According to the same, Mr Fleming was indeed both a Brother and one of the Founding members of the Smith Family.
Reports on the funeral such as 19 March also mention the Freemasons.
Further, in “Philanthropy and Settler Colonialism” by Anne O'Brien (Palgrave Macmillan 2014 page 118); “The Smith Family was founded by a small group of business and professional men with Masonic Connections in Sydney in 1922…. “
The Smith Family added “Joyspreaders Unlimited” to their name in 1924, again becoming The Smith Family in the 1960’s. An undated Constitution of the Smith Family Joyspreaders Unlimited listed under its OBJECTS "To encourage and foster throughout the whole year the spirit of true charity letting not the right hand know what the left hand doeth”. Listing other "Objects" the next heading is OBLIGATIONS OF A SMITH.
This originally all male organization many not have been “a concept.. and a family.. was born” but rather a charitable lesson central to Freemasonry that was being lived ???
I would love to conclusively prove that the Smith Family was born by brothers, possibly on their way home from a lodge meeting.
Please contact Damien via editor AT lodgedevotion.net if you can help.
We will keep you updated on our progress through the below blog.