In recent times the National Library of Australia has digitised and made available through its Trove project the newspaper The Great Southern Herald. This newspaper was, and still is today, published in Katanning just 26 miles from my home town of Kojonup. This is a fantastic development – the “Herald” commenced publication in 1901 and while other Perth based papers such as the West Australian might carry the family notice for a marriage or a funeral, the Herald may well carry a detailed story about the event. These stories often provide a lot of ammunition for the family history researcher by listing names from the family tree twigs and enabling the researcher to resolve research issues. This is a considerable help since the Births Deaths and Marriage records (in Western Australia) are not publicly available for births after 1932 and for marriages after 1936. But more importantly, local newspaper accounts allow you to add “flesh to the bones of your tree”.
This story is about my maternal grandmother Mary Alice (Buirchell) Muir (1909-1987) and the wonderful thing here is, my mother’s childhood memories of the accident add extra dimensions.
Mum remembers the accident well; partly because she did not get a mention in the newspaper story and was a bit peeved about this!
Having gotten her children ready for a trip to town, Mary Ann went out to harness “Nell’ to the sulky. Normally “Maud” was the favoured sulky horse as “Nell” tended to buck and pig-root and was a problem to handle, at least until you reached the bottom gate. Evidently ‘Maud” was with Norman who was working on my great uncle WH “Pat” Jones’ property. “Nell” rushed at the slip rail and sent it flying such that it struck Mary Ann on the forehead above the eyebrow.
Mary Ann sent June and Cliff off with a note to walk to Bill Wooldridge’s place to seek help. Mary Ann exhorted them to hurry but don’t run, don’t dawdle and don’t stop to play in the creeks. Getting to the Wooldridge place had another attraction – Bill had a car!
Mr and Mrs Wooldridge drove June and Cliff back home – a longer distance than the walk – and Mrs Wooldridge stayed with the kids while Bill took Mary Ann to hospital in Kojonup and contacted Norman.
Mum has a vivid memory of the enamel plate of plain flour which Mary Ann used to control the flow of blood.