What a find!

It’s not often you find a new relative and there’s a treasure trove of information just waiting to be discovered.

I’m currently researching the lives of my grandfather, Seymour John HARRISON and his brother, Edward Toyler HARRISON. They served together in WWI and Edward died of gunshot wounds. In an endeavour to make my story as complete as possible, I have ordered a history of the 24th Battalion in which they served from an interstate library.

Whilst I wait, I am going back over information I found years ago and kept even though I wasn’t sure if it was about my lot or not. One of these led me to this discovery.

Edward and Seymour’s parents were John William Harrison and Harriet NORLEY. Harriet’s father and grandfather were both Thomas NORLEY. They all lived in the Beechworth/Bright goldfields area of Victoria Australia. My old finding was for the burial information of Alice Jane NORLEY, nee NEEDHAM. She died on 1 Mar 1944 and was buried in the Bright cemetery on 2 Mar 1944. She was married to a Thomas NORLEY. Now, this Thomas was Harriet’s brother so he is my GG uncle. And he was killed in the Great Boulder Mine disaster on 25 May 1904 at Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.

Four men, including Thomas, were killed in the bottom of the mine and the one man who was brought to the surface died in hospital. Here is a photo of the five. Thomas NORLEY is top right. The other men were Thomas Bates, John Robert Riseberry, Samuel Jones and James Caudwell Harper.

After such a disaster, there is of course an inquest and it found that it was accidental death but that the company had been careless in trying out a new method of lowering the gear without a test run when there were no men underneath it. It was found that the miner working at the top, Mr Reidle, was not to blame in any way.

The funeral was huge. The following is an extract from this article taken from Trove:

11/09/2019 31 May 1904 – THE FUNERALS. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/rendition/nla.news-article33126704.txt?print=true 1/2 Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 – 1916), Tuesday 31 May 1904, page 14

Shortly before 2 o’clock the funeral cortege was ready to start. The Masonic brethren, in regalia, to the number of about 160, were first to step slowly forward on the road that was to end in the departed men’s last long home. The I.O.O.F. and the M .U.I.O.O.F. in regalia, followed.

The mournful procession was headed by the combined Boulder and A.W.A. Bands, assisted by representatives from the Kalgoorlie Town Band, at a slow march, and as soon as the long array of vehicles behind had got in motion they struck up the grand though solemn strains of the “Dead March.”

The A.M.A. and the A.W.A. amalgamated for the day in the presence of Death in such a distressing form, and they, to the number of 300 or 400, marched behind the bands. The deceaseds’ late fellow-workers, and the various sporting clubs with which Bates had been associated came next, and then followed the Salvation Army Band, the members of which took their turn in playing on the route to the cemetery.

The crowd which lined the streets in thousands fell back sick and sad at heart as the five hearses came slowly through the human lane opened before them. By each hearse marched six pallbearers, chosen, from the different organisations to which the unfortunate deceased had belonged. The five mourning coaches, containing relatives, followed, and then came the vehicles belonging to the different mines and business people of Boulder and Kalgoorlie. There were in all over 90 conveyances, and the cortege, which took half an hour to pass any given point, was over a mile in length.

Apparently nearly every citizen of note was present, either as a member of some society or driving in the line of vehicles behind the hearses. The Mayor and Mrs. Rabbish represented the citizens of Boulder. and the Mayor of Kalgoorlie (Mr. Keenan) was in the next vehicle. Mr. R. Hamilton, the manager, and the Boulder mine officials, together with officials from the other mines on the belt,” were also present, so that the funeral was as representative of the community as it was possible to make it.

Thousands of people, after joining in or seeing the funeral to the Boulder town boundaries, went by tram to Kalgoorlie, and awaited the cortege at the cemetery. The Tram Co. had five single and six bogie cars on the Boulder loop, and as fast as one filled it was sent in to Kalgoorlie, and a fresh car took its place till the crush was relieved. The deep impression the awful nature of the catastrophe had made up on the imagination of the public was thoroughly evidenced by the large number of spectators who had gathered in the central portion of Kalgoorlie hours before the arrival of the procession of mourners, friends, and acquaintances from Boulder. Maritana Street was lined with men, women, and children for the whole of its great length. The bulk of the crush was at the intersection of that street with Hannan Street. As the procession passed along the numbers of those who followed were swelled by Kalgoorlie representatives of public bodies, friendly societies, and trades unions. All heads were either bowed or uncovered as the combined bands advanced, playing the mournful music of “The Dead March” in “Saul,” and as the hearses and mourning coaches came into view and passed on.

Long before the cortege reached the Kalgoorlie Cemetery the trams had been very busy landing passengers from town at a convenient point. They found their way to the place, and helped to swell the number of residents of the northern part of the town, who had patiently waited at the gravesides in the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist portions of the cemetery.

The combined bands ceased their rendering of “The Dead March” at the gates and the hearses, mourning coaches, Masonic brethren, and friendly societies’ members entered the sacred enclosure. The Freemasons and the Oddfellows ranged themselves round the open graves in the Anglican portion of the burying ground. The Rev. R. H. Moore, Rector of St. Matthew’s, Boulder, and the Rev. Cuthbert Hudleston, Rector of St. John’s, Kalgoorlie, who were attired in their priestly vestments: stood in readiness to take up their duties. The relatives of the deceased men, Thomas Bates, Thomas Norley, and John Risebery, took up positions at the foot of each grave. The graves were side by side. The vicinity was densely crowded. The beautiful service of the Church of England for the burial of the dead was begun by the Rev. R. H. Moore as the bearers brought the coffins and placed them on the trestles. The prayers were said by the Rev. Cuthbert Hudleston, and subsequently the Rev. Mr. Moore delivered an address to the assembled crowd from the lessons to be derived from the liturgy. He made reference to the touching incidents of the past two days, and remarked that whilst probably not one among them desired to die a lingering death, with all its painful episodes, yet he thought they would all agree in thinking it very hard to be hurried out of the world without preparation or without farewell to those who were left behind to mourn for departed ones. The present catastrophe had been terrible in its nature, but at the same time they ought to remember that the hand of God was in it.

The funeral procession

Thomas who was born 19 September 1863 and Alice had two small children, Violet Alice who would have turned 7 on the day after her father’s funeral and Geoffrey Maynell who was 3.

How sad would it all have been?

It looks as though Alice returned to the Bright area and her family as she was buried there on 2 Mar 1944.

So, as you can see, I’ve had a very interesting couple of days finding out about this branch of my family. A very distressing story though!

7 thoughts on “What a find!

  1. That is indeed an incredible find! So pleased for you. Trove is a fantastic resource, even if the misspellings etc can be a problem, you just have to have patience. I look forward to learning the new information you discover.

    Well done, Kay

    Like

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