Drowned learning to swim

Image: Sharyn Moodie

The evening of February 18, 1909, a number of women and children went to one of the Great Cobar mine tanks to “bathe’’, something they enjoyed regularly.

Cobar, in mid central New South Wales, was a stronghold of copper and gold mines, starting from the 1870s. By 1909, the hot, dry town had hit its peak population of 10,000.

Twenty-five-year old Hannah Harris was there, along with other women and children.

She was in the water when her brother-in-law, William Harris, came down.

He was known to be a good swimmer and she asked him to teach her.

They were out in the centre in about eight feet of water when others noticed they were in trouble.

Bystander Richard Kerr went in to help, but the distressed couple dragged him under.

“He had to struggle to get away and reached the bank in an exhausted condition,” newspapers reported.

Hannah’s husband, hearing the screams, “rushed down and attempted to effect a rescue, but was unable to do so, and he was taken out of the water in an exhausted condition, being insensible when brought ashore.’’

Mr and Mrs Harrisses bodies were recovered. Their tombstone is at the Cobar cemetery.

Source: The Age (Melbourne, Vic.1854 – 1954) Thursday 18 February 1909 p 8

Cobar NSW

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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