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He was a doctor in demand

At the turn of the 20th century, Dr Carlo Pio Ferdinando Baldassarre Franceschi reached Australian shores after attaining the rank of Major in the Italian army. He was born in Florence, Italy in 1865 and received and practiced his medical degree at 22 years of age.

In 1900 Dr Franceschi would have learnt many of the newest discoveries in the medical world. Vaccines for cholera, anthrax, rabies, tetanus and diphtheria were developed and a medical use for x-rays had been discovered.

Dr Carlo with wife Maria and daughters Emma and Nella. Photo public domain.

His first home in Australia, with his wife Maria, and daughters Emma and Nella, was in the outback NSW town of Walgett for a year, then he moved to Wee Waa for the next year. By 1902, Dr Franceschi finally arrived in Lismore where he stayed for the next 20 years. He would also go on to have three more daughters: Amalia, Margharita and Yolanda.

He was medical superintendent of the Lismore District Hospital but by 1919 he decided to move to Sydney and practice in Macquarie Street. But his time away from Lismore wasn’t to last long, as 18 months later and thanks to the solicitations of his many friends and patients, he returned to the Northern Rivers.

His obituary in the Northern Star described him as a doctor of ‘the deepest humanity and sympathy for suffering and an open-hearted generosity’. It is no wonder he was in high demand and requested many times over to return.

Even though he worked at the Lismore District Hospital, he was also a staunch supporter of St Vincent’s Hospital in East Lismore and he worked hard for the St Mary’s Association of Charity.

The impressive headstone that marks the final resting place of popular Dr Carlo Franceschi in East Lismore Cemetery. Photo Samantha Elley

It wasn’t all work though, as he was an avid member of the Lismore Bowling Club, even holding the position of president for a short while. At the news of the doctor’s death in 1922, the club flew its flag at half mast and the green was closed for a day as a mark of respect.

A devout Catholic, the doctor had a requiem mass held for him at St Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore and he was buried at East Lismore cemetery under an impressive cross headstone.


This story first appeared in the Lismore Northern Star 8th September, 2018

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