Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tales from the trunk # 7

All at sea

I have previously told you the tale of the watery end of the Bryson males.

Until now I have only been able to speculate about just how Francis died.  But thanks to the clever folk at National Library, or more especially those responsible for the Papers Past facility, I now know.

You see, the Southland Times published the page 2 story below on 23 December 1868 under the heading "Local and General.":

On the 3rd ult., the town was thrown into a state of painful excitement by the report that a boat known to belong to Mr Edward Hart, Invercargill, and who had only a few days previously completed a contract for the supply of posts for the Agricultural and Pastoral Association's Show Yards, had been found on the beach near the Kew Railway Station. It being known that Hart was working on the opposite side of the estuary, fears were entertained that, with the daring for which he was remarkable, he had attempted to cross while the gale was raging, and the boat had upset, all on board being drowned. Messrs. Coutts and Campbell who first discovered the boat, having communicated with the police, steps were taken to ascertain if Hart had left Fraser's Saw Mills in his boat on the previous evening. A party proceeded to that locality, when the worst fears were confirmed. They learned that Hart and four others had left Mr Fraser's Jetty on the previous evening in the boat that had been found. The occupants of the boat were Messrs. E. Hart, Frank Bryson, Wm. McCulloch, Wm. Nelson, and Henry Tremore. Mr Fraser stated that previous to the boat leaving he had remarked, "It was overloaded," to which Hart replied, he "Would rather have seven than five in it." Mr W. Tait, who was present, stated that he had watched the boat from the time it started until it was opposite Capt. Thompson's, (ship builder) yard, up to which time all appeared safe. A heavy squall then came on, and the boat was lost to view. A careful search was then made by the police and volunteers for other evidence of the accident. Mr Coutts found the oars at the breakwater on the line of the Bluff Harbor and Invercargill Railway, and Mr H. Pierce found, at the far side of the breakwater, Hart's cap, together with a black felt hat, which has been identified by Mr Vale as that worn by one of the missing men. Yesterday morning a swag was found on the beach ticketed with the name of McCulloch, and another, which, as yet,is not identified. The search for the bodies was continued during the whole of yesterday by the police boat's crew, and three or four boats with volunteers, but without success. There can be now no doubt but that the whole five men have perished, and we regret to say that at least two were married men with families. The search for the bodies will be still prosecuted. This sad accident has thrown a gloomy cloud over the community.