Trove Tuesday: Don’t Drink and Drive (even in 1885)

There’s enough crazy drivers on our road these days, let alone those that drink as well, but it would seem that it is not entirely new. When browsing around on Trove I came across this article in the South Australian Weekly Chronicle, Saturday, 19 December 1885:

Gumeracha, December 16.
Joseph Dugmore, a man in the employ of Mr. Rehn, of Houghton, was run over by a waggon loaded with hay near here this evening and killed. He leaves a widow and six children. No one but the driver of the waggon witnessed the accident. An inquest will be held tomorrow.

Now it’s not good to hear of anyone having an accident, let alone dying as well. And even harder when you realise that this happened just a few days before Christmas. But there is actually a whole lot more to the story than this article tells.

Gumeracha, haystacks

So thanks to other articles we find out a little more from the article in the South Australian Register, Friday, 18 December 1885

[By Telegraph.]
Gumeracha, December 17.
An inquest was held at the Courthouse to-day by Mr. W. Hicks, J.P., to enquire into the death of Joseph Dugmore. A number of witnesses were examined, whose evidence pointed to fact that deceased   had been drinking heavily during the day, and had colonial wine with him when he was killed. The only person near when the accident occurred was the driver of the team, who says that he and deceased were walking together at the near side of the team, when deceased went behind to look at the load. The driver proceeded on for about 150 yards, when on looking back he saw deceased lying across the road. He immediately stopped the team, and ran back, but found Dugmore quite dead, with two distinct wheelmarks across the chest. The wagon   had over 5 tons on, and death was instantaneous. The deceased leaves a widow and six children unprovided for. The Jury, witnesses, and Coroner returned their fees for her benefit. The verdict was— “That deceased was accidentally killed by being run over by a wagon while under the influence of drink; no blame is attached to the driver, W. Rehn.”

But it was the article from the South Australian Weekly Chronicle, Saturday, 26 December 1885, that really paints the picture …

An inquest was held by Mr. W. Hack at the courthouse, Gumeracha, on Dec. 17, on the body of Joseph Dudmore, who was killed the previous evening. Mr. Blue was foreman of the jury. W. Rehen, son of John Rehen, Houghton, said that deceased and he left Houghton about 6 o’clock on Wednesday morning. Called at Inglewood Hotel, but it was not open, and went on and called at the Millbrook Hotel.

Deceased had two pints of beer. Called at the Chain-of-Ponds, when he had another pint, and again at the District Hotel, Gumeracha, when he had another. Then went on to Forreston to Mr. Quinn’s haystack to load hay. Arrived there about 11.30. Deceased went from there to Mr. Forrest’s wine-cellar. Took a jar which would hold about a quart, and returned with it about half full. Be- lieved he was served by Mr. Forrest. He   went a second time, and brought some more liquor, which witness hid, considering deceased had had enough. On leaving deceased got the jar full again, and with witness left for home. Deceased rode on the front board of the shafts, and then laid down until they came to the junction, which was near the township, when he got off and walked. Deceased stopped at the District Hotel and had a pint of beer. Went from there to Mr. Blue’s, and was sent on to Mr. Monfries, Mr. Dawson showing him the way. He was gone about fifteen minutes. Witness went to Mr. Monfries, and left there with him and the team. Deceased walked behind, and then round to the off side to see if the lead was all right, as he thought it was slipping. After going about 150 yards missed deceased, and on looking back saw him lying on the road. Stopped the team, and went back and found him dead. Went immediately for the trooper. Considered deceased was a steady man. Believed he must have tried to get on the shafts and fell back, and the waggon passed over him. Could not see deceased from where he was if he had tried to get up. Mr. For- rest, living at Forreston, said he remembered the previous witness and deceased being at Quinn’s for hay. Deceased came for some wine in a jar, which he filled. Deceased said his master would pay for it. Had a vineyard and was allowed to sell wine by the quart. Did not see deceased come for any more. Mrs. Forrest, wife of the last witness, said she saw two men up at Quinn’s haystack. One came to her, and asked her to put some water in his jar. Did so, and it ran over. Then saw it had had wine in. A young man came and called him away and he went. Never served any wine to him. Could not say if any one else did. W. Kehen (recalled) said he saw Mrs. Forrest serve deceased with wine out of the same cask that Mr. Forrest had used. He went there three times during the day; the last time about 4 o’clock. C. Scheck, landlord of the District Hotel, said that about 5 o’clock deceased came to his place and called for a pint of beer. Supplied him, as he considered him to be quite sober. Mr. Dawson, who saw deceased in tbe township about 5.30, also con-   sidered he was perfectly sober. Mr. Monfries, jun., deposed — Was called into the shop about 5.30 to serve deceased with a whip for Mr. Rehen. While serving him Mr. Rehen came in, and they both went away together. Considered deceased was intoxicated, as he was unable to walk properly, and smelt strong of liquor. Dr. C. F. Burton said he was called to see deceased on the previous evening. The upper part of his body was contused and lacerated. Considered death was instantaneous, as both wheels had passed over his chest. P.C. A. L. Bluntish said about 5.45 he was called by W. Rehen, who informed him that a man named Joseph Dudmore had been run over by his waggon and killed. Proceeded to the scene of accident, and found deceased lying on his back with his feet towards Gumeracha. Right in the track of the off hind wheel there were two distinct marks across his chest, and the low part of bis face was crushed. The body had the appearance of having been run over by the waggon. There was blood on the off hind wheel, and the body had apparently been dragged about six yards. The jury found “that the deceased, Joseph Dudmore, was accidentally killed by being run over by a waggon while under the influence of drink, and tbat no blame is attachable to the driver, W. Rehen.” The jury and witnesses handed in their fees to the foreman for the benefit of deceased’s widow and family of six children, who are left totally unprovided for.

So even 128 years later, the message of don’t drink on the job, and don’t drink while driving are still trying to get through to people. Ok, I know the article said he wasn’t actually “driving” the waggon, but even so, you’d be pretty sure that his intoxication contributed to the accident, so in my books that still counts as drinking and driving.

hay waggon 510

[Note: I do apologise for the length of the article. Normally I’d put a portion in, and link to the original, but as this one had details the whole way though it was hard to work out where to break it, so I didn’t. I did opt to put the transcription in instead of the original, as it is far easier to read, and have included the links to each of the articles on Trove itself in case anyone wishes to see the original.]

6 Responses to “Trove Tuesday: Don’t Drink and Drive (even in 1885)”

  1. Deb Miller says:

    Yes, amazing how many accidents they had in those days. Also a lot of accidents with wood burning fires and burn related injuries.

  2. No wonder he couldn’t walk properly!

    • Alona says:

      I found it interesting reading the various accounts of the events – and to the vagueness of some of them. But since I actually found the long one first, I went looking for more.

  3. Jenni Piiroinen says:

    Thank you for this, the drinking session started very early for a working day, perhaps it was hot 🙂
    It seems that there was no hotel in Forreston and I’ve wondered about that as most every town and village in SA has one. Folklore suggests that there was a distillery under the bridge at Forreston and it was known as Cellar Bridge, but I guess if you couldn’t get to the bridge you just asked a local.

    • Alona says:

      Yes his drinking day seemed to start about as early as his day. So the fact that he lasted until later afternoon seems rather surprising. Love Trove for what it unearths, but also love the local folklore too. 😉

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