HISTORY is a wonderful thing, and Russell Fredericks will recall some incredible stories from his family's past when he speaks at the Kiama Family History Centre this Saturday.
The Kiama resident is a fifth generation member of the Fredericks family, who has been involved in the dairying industry in the area, dating back to his great-great grandfather Peter Joseph Fredericks. Peter Fredericks, a Belgian, came to Australia with his second wife, Hannah, in 1827.
However, the Fredericks family have discovered that Peter had a colourful past before he arrived in Australia.
During that time he joined Napoleon's French troops for their ill-fated advance on Moscow.
A reported 600,000 troops took part, but only 250,000 returned, with the rest either being killed or deserting.
"He then took part in the famous Battle of Waterloo," Mr Fredericks said.
"However, by this time he and many of the Belgians had switched allegiances to the Duke of Wellington, as they repelled Napoleon's advances and sent the famous French leader into exile.
"It appears he then went to England where he married Elizabeth Wade in 1822, but unfortunately she died giving birth to his first child, also named Peter Joseph."
He then married Hannah Wade, who it is presumed was Elizabeth's sister.
They set sail for Australia in January 1, 1827, on a 300-tonne ship called The Harvey.
"There were 18 crew and nine passengers on board and Hannah gave birth to their first child, Louisa, who was born while they were rounding the Cape of Good Hope.
"We assume he was coming to Australia to work for a wealthy merchant and property owner J. B. Weller, who was also on-board. After their arrival in Sydney, they settled in Newcastle.
"While living there he was licensee of The Australia Hotel, with records showing that in 1833 he was fined £5 for 'selling a glass of beer to an ex-convict on a Sunday'."
A cabinet-maker by trade, he moved to Jamberoo about 1838, likely lured by the cedar industry, and settled on a property called Poplar Grove in the town of Woodstock, just outside Jamberoo.
Peter and Hannah's seven children produced an amazing 70 grandchildren for the couple; two of them having 13 children.
"Little wonder the family and their descendants became so prominent in the area," Mr Fredericks said.
People can find out more about the fascinating story, the dairy industry and Mr Fredericks' contribution to dairy co-operatives in the area at the presentation, which starts at 2.30pm.