Friday, August 21, 2009

Death of Mrs Ellen Castle, Oakley Creek 1889

The creek where Mrs. Ellen Castle, aged 45, drowned is not named in the following piece from the Weekly News of 15 June 1889, but the description matches that of Oakley Creek, probably just down from the waterfall.
On Friday afternoon, June 7, between four and five o'clock, a telephone message was received at the police station to the effect that Mrs. Ellen Castle, wife of Mr. George Castle, settler, of Avondale, had been found drowned in the creek about a half mile past the Asylum. Mounted constable Kelly was despatched to ascertain the particulars. It appears that the creek runs past the back of Mr. Castle's orchard. Mrs. Castle, who was about 45 years of age, had been in a despondent state of mind for some time, suffering from religious mania, but her condition was not such as to require restraint, and when Mr. Castle left his home in the morning for town she was more than usually cheerful.

Her daughter last saw her alive about eleven o'clock, and being missing for some time after, the young woman and a neighbour, Mrs. Sansom, went to look for her. On going to the creek they found her body there, but life was extinct.

Mrs. Sansom went back to the house, and seeing Mr. Sansom, told him of the facts, and he at once went to the creek, got out the deceased, and aided by a young man named John Hill, removed the body to the residence.

The creek is 15 feet wide and six deep, with steep banks, where the body was found. About five feet higher up the creek was a plank across, which had formerly had a handrail, which was missing. It is possible that deceased was leaning against the rail which gave way, and she thus fell in and was drowned.

Mr. Castle was just returning to his home when he heard the painful tidings of his wife's death. A coroner's inquest was held on Saturday last, at the residence of Mr. George Castle. Mr. J. Bollard, J.P., officiated as coroner. Mr. Woolgar was foreman of the jury. The evidence of the following witnesses was taken:- Miss Castle, who found deceased, deposed to the circumstances under which the body was found; Mr. Castle, who gave evidence as to her state of mind, and Mr. and Mrs. Sansom, who gave corroborative evidence as to the recovery of the body. No additional facts were elicited to those given above. The jury returned an open verdict of "Found drowned."

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