Thursday, 22 May 2014

Snatched from view. (Annie Hainsworth, 1898 Paeroa and Child Dufaur, 1889.)


Paeroa 1901 - the sound of coaches and commerce,  missed by the Hainsworth family further out of town.
(Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19010829-5-5 ')


Although only one and a half miles from the town of Paeroa on the Thames Road, Jane Hainsworth and her 14 year old daughter, Annie, were anxious about being so isolated.  In September 1898, the head of the household, James, a carpenter, was away in Auckland.  Home alone with several of her children, Mrs Hainsworth was startled at 8 pm one evening by a sudden noise.

She thought someone was coming in the house and  hurriedly asked  Annie to lock the door.  The key was not in the lock, but had to be taken from a nail.  It took some fear-filled seconds  to fasten the door.
After locking the door, Annie  looked round to her mother appearing very pale, and instantly collapsed, falling on to a sofa and then on to the floor. Her mother carried her outside to the fresh air and sent for Dr Buckby. The doctor could do nothing on his arrival but pronounce life extinct.

At the inquest it was established mother and elder daughter had been "rather timid at living alone so far from town."    Dr Buckby said Anne was quite a delicate girl and was suffering from slight inflammation in the left lung.  The cause of her death was put down to syncope, caused by fright.  Newspapers, with mild surprise, reported Annie's sudden demise as  "death from  fright."

In 1903  the anniversary of Annie's death was remembered in the Evening Post.

"In loving memory of Annie, the dearly beloved daughter of James Henry and Jane Hainsworth who died suddenly of fright.
Five long years are passed today
Since our dear Annie was called away
The trial was hard, the shock severe
To part with one we loved so dear
Though cruel death has snatched from view
A dearly loved one kind and true
Death cannot from our hearts efface
Her tender smile, her loving face
Her words, her actions, are not dead
But in our hearts are daily read
Deeply Mourned
Inserted by her loving parents, sisters and brothers.

In August 1907  Annie's mother  Jane also died suddenly at her residence in Ellerslie, Auckland, aged 51.  Shortly after 5 am on a Saturday Mr Hainsworth was woken by the cries of his wife.  When he asked what the matter was, he got no reply.  A doctor was sent for, but before he could arrive Jane died.
An inquest found her death resulted from failure of the heart.

Quite possibly the Hainsworth's had an inherited heart condition on their mother's side.  Out of ten children four, including Annie, died fairly young.  One son died aged 8, another aged 45, and a daughter aged 51, the same age as her mother.


 Nine years before Annie died, in 1889, the young son of Edmund Thomas Dufaur, Solicitor, was playing at his grandfather's house in Parawai, Thames.  Edmund Dufaur specialised in Maori land settlements and his wife, Louisa, was Maori.  Edmund worked out of the Cosmopolitan Chambers in Queen Street, Auckland, while his wife and children resided in Thames.  Child minding appeared to be shared at the  busy household of Louisa's extended  family.  On the morning of 9 May, around 11,  Louisa left her young son at her father's house.   A 15 year old boy named Tata was in charge of the child.  Tata was partly deaf and, owing to this,  was  regarded as 'silly' and 'stupid.'   Tata was amusing the boy  by brushing his hair and putting on a hat.  While the child was looking in a looking glass,  Tata discovered a revolver and curiously picked it up, unaware it was loaded.   He turned round the revolver's chambers then heard an explosion and a cry from the child.
Tata became  frightened and picked the child up and ran to the veranda.   He smelt clothes burning so took him to the riverside.  He took the child's clothes off but didn't wash  him or take him into the river as it was too high.
Mira, the house help, had gone outside to perform some duties, taking some children with her.  She was not long gone before she returned and found the room full of smoke.  She then called Karaka, the child's great grandfather.  Tata appeared with the child in his arms and said he had been killed.  Mira gave the child to Karaka, who took him on his back  and started for town to look for Mrs Dafaur.

Mrs Dafaur chanced to meet  Karaka and Mira on the road and was told her the child had been accidentally shot by Tata.  They rushed to the hospital where Dr Williams told them the child was barely hurt.  After the wound had been dressed, they took him back home.

Tata had meanwhile disappeared - in the direction of Paeroa it was thought. The police wired there with a view to intercepting the boy.  He was later arrested at the residence of Mrs Wickcliffe, a relative, at Paeroa  "in connection with the shooting of the half caste child."

The little boy Dufuar meanwhile was put to bed.    He was given some milk and bread  but he threw it up.  To everyone's astonishment  he died at 10 that night.

At the inquest Tata said he was looking at the revolver and pressed something when it went off.  The revolver belonged to his father.  There were no others in the room except himself and the child.  He didn't point the gun at the child. He ran away because he was frightened he would be killed by his own people.

The Coroner pointed out contradictory evidence of Tata - he said the child was at the other end of the room, while Dr Williams evidence showed that the revolver was in close proximity to the child's chest when it fired.

Dr Williams, Resident Surgeon, Thames Hospital, said the child was pale, wet and cold with fright when brought in.  There was a small wound on the left side of his chest, a little below the apex of the heart.  There was little bleeding and the wound had not penetrated the chest.  There were no others marks on his body and before the wound was dressed it was ascertained that it was only superficial.  After the wound was dressed the child was well enough to be taken home.

The jury reached a verdict of accidental death - to which they added a rider that the parents were to blame for leaving firearms within the reach of  Tata  who was "known to be of weak intelligence."

The doctor's opinion was that death resulted from  fright, and not from the effect of the wound, which was a trifling one.  "In such circumstances as those occurring to the deceased, death is sometimes the result," noted the Thames Star.

Evidently dying from fright, or being scared to death, is medically possibly.  If a shock to the system is sufficient enough it can trigger a massive surge of adrenaline, stunning the heart so severely it ceases to beat.  This sudden cardiac event has several names.  Parasympathetic rebound is thought to be a reaction of the nervous system during intense fear.  In people with cardiovascular conditions it can trigger a heart attack or collapse. Stress cardiomyopathy  is  likely set into motion by an excessive, uncontrolled activation of the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the brain responsible for the control of the body's "flight or fight" response including increasing heart-rate, respiration and perspiration.

          ***************************************************************
 James Henry Hainsworth died in 1937, aged 87.
Annie Hainsworth is buried at Paeroa cemetery.
I was unable to discover the Dufaur child's name or where he was buried.
The New Zealand law firm now known as Cairns Slane was founded in 1874 by Edmund Thomas Dufuar.
Thames Advertiser, 1889
Edmund died in February 1901, aged 51, at his residence, Mt Albert.  He had been seriously indisposed for a year or so.  Death was due to spinal paralysis - the result of an accident.  He left a widow and family and was noted as being particularly well acquainted with the land laws affecting Maori and with native matters generally. 

(Source: Papers Past, Cairns Slane, Cyclopedia of NZ 1902, Wikipedia)


***LOOK OUT FOR MY NEW COLUMN 'PENINSULA PAST' IN THE MERCURY BAY INFORMER***


© Meghan Hawkes and Dead Cert 2014

Thursday, 1 May 2014

A most melancholy accident. (Hyam family) 1872, Shortland cemetery.




Tapu Creek, half a mile from the beach. 

"The first thing I remember was waking up wrapped in blankets, and upon asking where I was, I was told I was in Auckland," a bewildered George Hyam told concerned listeners.


The fisherman, of Tararu, Thames, had set out from Tapu Creek about 2 pm in a 12 foot dingy with his wife Alice  and their three children -  George, twelve and a half, Charles, four years, and Elizabeth, three months.  They were sailing to Grahamstown to visit some friends. 


It was mid-July and the cold winter  wind during the day had been blowing strong, but close to shore it wasn't too bad, so the family set sail.   They had a good stiff breeze up to Tararu, and once off Waiomo they took in the sprit.   Shortly after 4 pm,  on getting under the high land, the breeze lulled and George told George Jnr to put up the sprit again.   As he did this,  they came abreast of Tararu wharf and a sudden gust of wind from the hills struck the boat capsizing it.

The squall stopped but the boat kept turning over.  The mast dislodged  and together with the sail, broke adrift.    Alice had been sitting on the midship seats.   As the boat flipped, she managed to grab hold of it while the two smallest children clung to her.  George Snr was washed off the boat, but managed to swim back to it.    He tried to catch hold of his wife but failed to do so.  Alice, with the children still clutching her, was washed away. 

Young George had the sheet  in his hand at the time of the capsize and held fast to it.   His exhausted father  told his son to hang on to the boat for his life as he thought he was done for.  But George Snr managed to steady the boat while his son hauled himself up onto it. George Snr followed him and they cast the painter and kedge adrift  which kept the boat steadier.

The accident was witnessed by Captain Ellis of the steamer  Golden Crown, then lying at Tararu wharf, ready to start for Auckland.  He immediately had one of the steamer's boats manned with three hands row to the scene, about a quarter of a mile from the wharf.


About twenty minutes after the boat had capsized, Alice was pulled from the water with the infant Elizabeth  in her arms.  The little boy, Charles, was next picked up about 50 yards away.   The father and eldest lad were then picked up.  They were in a very feeble state. 

The steward of the Golden Crown had hot water and blankets ready.  Frantic attempts were at once taken to restore life to the mother and two youngest children.

 Dr Croft, who had been sent for from Grahamstown, arrived on board the Golden Crown about an hour after the accident.  After examination,  he pronounced life had been extinct for some time.  He ordered the removal of the  bodies of the Alice and her children to the Imperial Hotel, Tararu.

The father and eldest boy had been removed to a bunk and "every attention was there shown them."  Dr Croft decided it would be unsafe to move them in their present condition and Captain Ellis offered to allow them to remain on board promising they would be well attended to.


The Golden Crown left for Auckland; it's traumatised cargo taken with it for the night before being brought back to Thames the next morning.

"The occurrence has caused a  great sensation," reported the Daily Southern Cross of the  "most melancholy and fatal accident."


The inquest, which was to have been held at the Imperial Hotel, Tararu, at 3.30 pm, was delayed owing to a hold up in the arrival and departure of the train conveying the Coroner and  Inspector of Police  to Tararu.  It was nearly 5 pm before the officials arrived.  By then, the medical witness, Dr Croft, was not in attendance. The inquest was adjourned until the following morning.

A distraught George Hyman recounted "I saw my wife some six yards off but was so exhausted that I was helpless."  He remembered seeing all the bodies picked up, but after he got on board the steamer "I can remember nothing."


 A verdict was returned of  "accidental death, caused by the upsetting of a boat."

A few months later George Hyman Snr died from the effects of the tragedy.

This left only George Jnr of what was once a family of four.

 Sixteen months after the tragedy, in mid-November 1873,  George, now aged 14, was working for Mr Walker, milkman, minding his cows.  While George was crossing the Kauaeranga River on horseback,  the horse stumbled and they both fell into the deep water.  George was swept away by the current.  Two days later the Daily Southern Cross reported the body of George Hyam had not yet been recovered.  It was supposed he had been washed out to sea.
George was finally found by a native, near the end of December, caught in a snag.

The Daily Southern Cross noted this same boy narrowly escaped drowning previously when his family were capsized in a boat off Tararu.

The family are buried together at Shortland cemetery high above the waters that eventually claimed them all.


First on the scene - the Golden Crown paddle steamer, named after a gold mine in Thames.  Built in 1870, it was the fastest ship built in Auckland up to that time.


Surnames were variously spelt as Highman, Hyam and Hines in newspaper reports.

A sprit is a small pole or spar crossing a fore-and-aft sail diagonally.
In sailing,  a sheet is a line, cable, rope used to control the movable corners of a sail.
A kedge is a sea anchor thrown in the direction of progress and hauled in after it settles. 
A painter is a line attached to the bow of the boat for tying it up. 

Images: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3681A-47' and 4-8720'
Source:  Papers Past.


(The Dead Cert I promised about the irrepressible Mrs Schafer has  ballooned into a much larger story!  More later.) 

© Meghan Hawkes and Dead Cert 2014