WINDING the clock back 120 years ago lived a Polish prince.
His life was characterised as a "high-spirited" journey that took an abrupt turn in Wagga.
Prince Stefan Czertwertinski was remembered as a once-dashing and "luckless" man, who was known only to locals as Mr Jules in the early to mid-1890s.
Wagga cultural heritage conservator Robert Cooke began researching about six months ago after discovering a snippet of the lost prince in a 1964 Woman's Day magazine.
Mr Cooke drew much of his research from first-hand accounts by Charles Ryan, an Australian doctor and close friend of the prince, in his book: Under the Red Crescent, which was published in 1897.
"Stefan's whole life was one big adventure," Mr Cooke said.
"He had ups and downs, but he just kept getting back up on his feet and plodding along to the next challenge."
The Czertwertinskis were one of the oldest Russian-Polish families.
Prince Stefan was the head of his family, however most of the family's estates and wealth were taken by the Russian authorities.
The prince secured a position in the Turkish Army under the rank of private during the Serbian War between June 1876 and March 1878.
In a short period of time, he was awarded the Fifth Order of the Medjidie and received the rank of captain in 1876.
"He proved his excellent horsemanship and gained admiration from the Turks when he was able to ride a vicious black stallion that no one else in the Turkish Calvary could tame," Mr Cooke said.
"He befriended an Australian doctor Charles Ryan during this conflict, with the two sharing accommodation in Plevna during the more quiet times.
"Just prior to the Russians taking over Plevna, Dr Ryan was able to evacuate Stefan to Constantinople [now, Istanbul]."
The Russians took all the family's properties and with just three thousand pounds in his pocket, Prince Stefan headed to Monte Carlo in the hopes gambling would lead to fortune.
"But, at the end of third day he only had 25 pounds left and thought this is no good," Mr Cooke said.
"So, he made his way to London and then secured a passage to Australia to visit his doctor friend."
Prince Stefan arrived at Rockhampton in January 1879 and was able to speak five languages, but not English.
Mr Cooke said the prince was on the brink of starvation and after walking the street for a day, he started speaking French to an escaped communard from New Caledonia.
"Next minute, the prince took a position on this French fellow's ship, which worked along the east coast supplying provisions to plantation owners," the conservator said.
"He received only food for his wages, but at the same time learnt the English language from his employer."
Prince Stefan then worked as a tutor in an outback station for the owner's children, where he concealed his true identity and commenced using the name Stefan Jules.
The prince made many more travel stops: becoming a master at Jesuit College in Parramatta, then he returned to Europe where he stayed with his uncle, a cardinal in Rome, and met the Pope.
Prince Stefan then returned to Australia and held a position as master of language at St Xavier's College in Melbourne for three years, before uprooting again and moving to Bavaria.
"He got itchy feet ... he reopened a boys school that proved unsuccessful, which forced him to return to Australia again," Mr Cooke said.
Attempting to gain employment as a tutor once again, the prince had his application rejected by a Sydney butcher's wife as he was not wearing a collar.
"Here's this Polish prince, whose uncle is a cardinal, he has got on really well with the Pope, he's friends with the Austrian archduke, he is part of the oldest Polish families in the world - and he could not get a job training children in Sydney," Mr Cooke said.
Prince Stefan finally made his way to Wagga where he assumed the role as principal of the Wagga Grammar School, commencing in September 1893.
The grammar school was located in Tarcutta Street, adjacent to the Riverine Club, having relocated from the Temperance Hall in July earlier that year.
An advertisement dating back to September 16, 1893, in The Wagga Advertiser, stated the "object of the school is to afford a sound education".
One year later, Prince Stefan established his own school in Baylis Street called the Queens College.
An article by The Wagga Advertiser on September 22, 1894, stated Mr Jules had rented out a "large and central premises in Baylis Street, between Thompson and Forsyth streets".
The article said this premise was being transformed into a "first class" boarding school for boys and will be under the sole management of Mr Jules.
During his time in southern NSW, Prince Stefan joined the Wagga Chess Club and took part in numerous tournaments with success.
In late 1895 he contracted pneumonia and died just a week later, on December 19.
The prince's grave has never been found.
Wagga City Council were not responsible for cemeteries until 1968 and therefore, they do not have solid records prior to this date.
"His health was not as important to him as his job and that's what killed him," Mr Cooke said.
"When Stefan died there was insufficient funds to pay for a head stone, so a fund was arranged by students and parents of the school.
"As a result, a headstone inscribed with his name and date of death was erected."
An 1896 article in The Wagga Advertiser stated the headstone was "handsome, though perfectly plain stone".
Dr Ryan said his friend "died as noble, brave, and high-spirited a solder as ever drew the sword", upon hearing the news.
In 1897, another article stated that Prince Stefan was: "the luckless prince [who] will be remembered here as having been a school master in Wagga, where he was known as Mr Jules".