John Joseph Gervasoni, known to many as J.J., was a second-generation Italian-Australian who served in the Australian infantry from 1915-1918. He married his wife Santina in 1905, and they had five children. After the war he and his brother Carlo took part in the Victorian soldier settlement scheme, purchasing blocks in Katandra close to Shepparton. In 1919, John leased 280 acres valued at ₤1995, 35 acres above the average soldier settlement block.
John Gervasoni was a popular character, often sharing wine from his vineyard with his fellow soldier settlers after church on Sundays. He was the president of the cricket club, and his sons formed one of Victoria’s longest-running family bands The Gervasoni Orchestra; the band provided much needed income during the depression.
John’s son Ken Gervasoni shares his memories of living through the depression.
Making The Most of It
It was very common for soldier settlers to buy blocks of land at reduced prices when their neighbours couldn’t make the lease repayments. From his initial block of 280 acres in 1919, Gervasoni built up a moderate estate. They survived the depression and by 1936 he and his brother acquired almost 140 acres from a fellow soldier settler who left the land, increasing his acreage to 419 acres. By 1937 his assets were valued at ₤4765.