Sunday, November 16, 2008

The death of Maggie Brown: January 1876

From the Southern Cross, 7 January 1876.

On Wednesday afternoon, about half-past four o clock, a fine little girl, named Maggie Brown, aged 12 years (daughter of Mr. Brown, driver of the Whau and Mount Albut 'bus), came to her death by drowning in the Whau Creek. The particulars of the case are as follows ...

About noon, Maggie, with her little brother, went to the creek to play in a flat bottomed boat that had been washed up to the bridge by the late floods. Maggie put her brother in the bows of the boat, and then took off her own clothes and began to push the boat down the mud-flat to the water, and just as she got it to the water's edge (the bank of the channel being rather steep) it shot off into the water, pulling the unfortunate girl forward with such violence, that she fell face down into the water. The little fellow, seeing what had happened, began to shout and cry, which soon brought Mrs. Brown to the spot, who, seeing the cause of alarm, immediately rushed down to where the boat was with all her clothes on, the boat having drifted some little distance.

She was soon up to her neck in the water, but was unable to see anything of Maggie, and after looking about for some time, and thinking that she too might get drowned, encumbered as she was with her clothes, she began to make for the mud-flat again, when she saw her daughter once rise to the surface, face downwards, some distance down the creek.

By this time, assistance had arrived, and diligent search was made for the body all down the creek, but without success, until about five o'clock, when Mr. Woods, boatman, who happened to be up the creek at Mr. Archibald's brickyard, some miles below where the accident occurred, discovered it floating down, and secured it. Information was at once sent into town to the police, and Constable Clark, of Newton, was despatched to the spot.

The sad catastrophe has cast a gloom over all who knew her, as she was much liked. It is to be hoped that the sad end of Maggie Brown will act as a warning to all other boys and girls who are only too ready to play in boats on the water, or at the water edge. An inquest was held yesterday afternoon before Dr. Philson, when the above facts were stated in evidence, and a verdict of Found drowned returned.

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