Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tales from the Trunk # 8

A gruesome find

While casually browsing some historic papers online (doesn't everyone?) recently, I stumbled across the following story. It describes a gruesome find by a Mr Bryson. I don't yet know how or even if he is related to us, but he was from Otatara, where lived our original Bryson family, of whom all the males had died. I have encountered this person elsewhere in the newspaper archive, and am now endeavouring to find out more about him.

However, I digress - back to the newspaper report published in the Southland Times , Issue 2910, 23 October 1877, Page 2. It went like this:

An Unknown.— A rather extraordinary discovery was made on Sunday afternoon by Mr Bryson, of Otatara Peninsula, while walking in company with Mr David Anderson, of New River Heads, on the Riverton beach, near the wreck of the Hindu, and about three miles from the finger post. At about high water mark a well made coffin was found, constructed of baltic pine, with every indication of having been made by a tradesman, the shoulders being properly sawn, and the seams tarred. The lid had evidently been well screwed down, although when found it was hanging by one screw. The coffin was discovered in an isolated position and contained the body of a man of about 5 feet 6 inches in height, well formed, and apparently approaching middle age. The deceased had on a pair of merino socks, knitted flannel and a striped Crimean shirt, nearly new, with large white studs. The body was perfect, with the exception of the face which was completely gone. The head was in position, but detached at the neck from the trunk. A cursory examination disclosed no marks of violence. Mr Bryson immediately proceeded to the Invercargill Police Station, arriving there at 9.30 p.m., and he then accompanied Inspector Fox and Sergeant Tuohy to where the body lay. On Monday morning the police brought the remains to town, and deposited them in the Morgue at the Hospital, where an examination will be made to-day by Dr Jackson, and an inquest will be held this evening at 7 o'clock. It is a singular fact that the foot board of the coffin has been by some means carried away, and the feet of deceased protrude for about twelve inches and yet have sustained no damage.

If you're puzzled about the whereabouts of Riverton Beach, puzzle no more.