Strangers in life, neighbours in the after-life

It is unlikely Sydney Constantine Tolley and Edwin Poyner knew each other in life, but they shared more history than their bones decaying together in the dry Norseman cemetery in WA. They both came from Adelaide families, both were one of five sons and both died of bowel-related illnesses. Tolley was a successful barrister inContinue reading “Strangers in life, neighbours in the after-life”

Noongar woman a trailblazer

The headstone of half-Aboriginal woman Mary Cuper stands tall and proud, set apart from the simple white crosses and the myriad unmarked graves belonging to other Noongar inhabitants of the New Norcia cemetery. Intriguingly, the words “at her sorrowful husband’s expences (sic) are found at the bottom of a description of her achievements. The townContinue reading “Noongar woman a trailblazer”

Grim demise for Gaiety Girl

1906, Kalgoorlie – Lilian Harcourt, 34, died a barmaid, but she had packed some excitement into her short life. She ‘breathed her last’ at the Shamrock Hotel, one of two hotels she had worked in for the majority of the past five years. “Rheumatic gout, upon which supervened a wasting complaint, was the cause ofContinue reading “Grim demise for Gaiety Girl”

Tall policeman not strong enough

Coolgardie’s first-class constable William Ackerman Westrop died at midnight of consumption of the throat, a fairly popular way to die in the 1890s. The term usually referred to the wasting that accompanied tuberculosis. His illness was blamed on “turning out at all hours of the night in attending to the prisoners brought in’’ to the lock-up.Continue reading “Tall policeman not strong enough”

Typhoid takes down strong policeman

The scourge of typhoid ripped through mining camps across Western Australia, but it was not only miners who caught the disease. The  disease peaked over the 1890s and 1900s. The Western Australia gold fields boasted the” largest episode of epidemic typhoid in Australia’s history”, according to the Western Australia museum. “In the early years ofContinue reading “Typhoid takes down strong policeman”

Typhoid terrorised the nation

Epidemics of infectious diseases came and went in early Australian history – smallpox, measles, the plague, Asiatic and Spanish flu – but typhoid was considered endemic. Outbreaks in the goldfields were inevitable, with overcrowding, no sanitation, a limited water supply and co-existing gold fever. It tended to occur in healthy young men and showed noContinue reading “Typhoid terrorised the nation”