Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Correction & Victim of Two Accidents

Four days ago I included an Australian newspaper cutting from Sydney about 'Robert McIllhagga' being injured when a smoke stack collapsed. I made the assumption that this happened to Samuel Robert McIlhagger who had been working for Sydney Council for the previous two years. I'm afraid I was wrong! I've just heard from an Australian correspondent that the story of the accident had been passed down from father to son and that the Robert concerned was Robert James McIlhagga who went to sea as a boy from Ireland and eventually emigrated to Sydney. In the time of the Great Depression (it was 1928) maritime work was scarce and the 'chimney stack' demolition was a temporary job. Apparently Robert avoided being killed because he was working nearer the chimney than his fellow worker who was killed, and the bricks fell out at an angle and not straight down.

This gives me the opportunity of showing another cutting, this time from The Queenslander (Brisbane, Queensland) published on Saturday 20th June 1925.

This begins by referring to 'The body of Mrs. M'Illhagger'. I can (I think accurately this time) identify her as Isabella, formerly Humphreys, who was buried on 11th June, 1925. She lost her life in a rail smash the day before, this date I take from 'june 10' on the cutting. She was the second wife of John McIlhagger who survived her by two years. After his first wife, Mary Jane Hull, died in 1886, he sent 'back home' to Ireland for Isabella who had also been widowed. She came to Australia with the eight children she had had by her first husband and it must have been two of her grandchildren from that line who are also referred to in the cutting, Isabella and Mavis Gold. The whole cutting reads as follows:

VICTIM OF TWO ACCIDENTS, BUNDABERG, June 10. The body of Mrs. M'Illhagger, the aged lady [she was 80] who lost her life in the disaster, was brought to Bundaberg this evening for interment to-morrow. Her two granddaughters, Misses Isabella and Mavis Gold, from South Australia, whom the deceased lady went to Brisbane to meet, and who sustained serious injuries, arrived by the same train and were admitted to the Bundaberg Hospital. Miss Isabella Gold, who sustained a broken leg and other injuries, survived a railway accident at North Bundaberg 24 years ago. At the time she was an infant. 16 months old, and crawled out on to the line. She was run over by a passing train, having two fingers of the right hand and half of her right foot, cut off.

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