Not every Wagga mayor has received a tea set worth a small fortune.
George Forsyth did.
Forsyth was one of Wagga’s most significant historical figures to literally leave their mark on the city.
His story was uncovered as part of The Daily Advertiser’s Memory Lane series, revealing the long-forgotten people behind the city’s streets and suburbs.
According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, the successful business owner and civil leader was described as “a man of integrity”.
Chairing a number of boards and meetings, he played a big part in the launch of the Mechanics’ Institute, the hospital, the national school, the Presbyterian Church and the building of the toll bridge across the river.
The father-of-one was a storekeeper at Tarcutta before he and his wife Margaret settled in Wagga, which was a small town of 300 residents in 1855.
Expanding on his ownership of the general store in Fitzmaurice Street, Forsyth became a wholesale distributor in 1868, opening a bonded store on Kincaid Street.
According to the archives, Forsyth & Co was a big store. Its lamps were arguably the first to assist with nighttime navigation across the village.
He also developed a stock and station agency and was the owner of a number of grazing properties, according to The Street Names of Wagga Wagga.
For about 20 years, he worked for the local government and between 1870 and 1874 he was the leader of about 3000 residents.
As the first mayor, Forsyth was presented with a silver tea set worth a small fortune.
The mould of the silver tea service, worth 200 pounds, was later destroyed to avoid copies.
Forsyth is believed to have built the original house on the corner of Kincaid and Trail Streets – now known as Edel Quinn in 1869.
It’s price was about 2000 pounds.
According to CSU regional archives, “the property contained ten rooms, a bathroom, three cellars, a wide verandah and magnificent gardens complete with two wells and three tanks”.
In 1876 Forsyth retired to land he owned, near Yarrangobilly and a few years later he moved to South West Rocks.
He died in Kempsey in 1887 at 70 years of age.