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Ray, George Henry (1829–1899)

The cabman George Ray, who was severely hurt in the accident at Marshall's Creek bridge on Friday night, in circumstances briefly related in our last issue, died on Saturday afternoon from internal injuries as a result of being thrown down the deep embankment at the place mentioned. At the time of the accident Ray was driving two passengers, Messrs. Heffernan and Edghill, on their return to Wagga from a visit to a training track near the Royal George Hotel. The particulars of the occurrence are fully set forth in the report of the magisterial inquiry which was held yesterday. The deceased was a very old resident of the district, having come to Wagga from Campbelltown as a boy some 56 years ago. In early manhood he was attracted to the diggings and at Bendigo and other gold fields he was so successful that upon his return to the district he was in a position to purchase the well-known Wardry station, near Hay. Subsequently he became a hotel-keeper in Wagga, and was at different times in occupation of the Albion Hotel (now known as the Club House Hotel), the Farmers' Home Hotel, and the Dewdrop Inn on the Urana Road. Like many another worthy man in the ups and downs of pioneer life, Mr. Ray in later years became reduced in fortune, but he never forfeited the esteem and respect of those who had been acquainted with him in all his various situations. He had a family of twelve children, of whom three daughters and three sons survive. During the time he occupied the Farmers' Home Hotel scarlet fever invaded his home, robbing him of four children all within the space of a week. Two of them died within a few hours of each other, and another child dying the next day the sad spectacle was presented of a triple interment.

The funeral of the deceased took place on Sunday afternoon, the service at the grave being conducted by the Rev. Father Dwyer. The ceremony was very numerously attended, and the family were the recipients of a large number of wreaths and messages of condolences. The pall bearers were Messrs. J. Wild, F. Stearman, W. Rushton and M. Ryan. The funeral arrangements were directed by Messrs. Hoye and Colbeck.

A magisterial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the accident was held yesterday before Mr. W. Purtell, J.P.

The following witnesses were called by Senior Constable Blackburn:—

Patrick J. Heffernan, articled clerk, said that on Friday afternoon he engaged Ray about 5 o'clock to drive witness and Mr. W. A. Walsh to Murray's Globe Hotel; they went round to the stables to give directions for two horses to be taken to the ploughed track on the Tarcutta road: Edghill, who had just come up, said that he would go out to the ploughed track; they had only one drink each at the Globe Hotel, Ray being asked by witness to join them; Ray got off his cab and had a drink at the bar; they then drove to Beaver's Hotel and as the horses had not arrived they had another drink; the horses arrived while they were having their drinks; after the horses had been exercised on the ploughed track they were attended to and sent home; it was then about 6 o'clock; witness "shouted" again and Ray also had a drink, and after remaining in the hotel for some time in conversation Edghill shouted; before finally taking their departure witness again shouted, he himself taking a cigar; he could not give exactly the time they left Beaver's, but it was quite daylight; Edghill, Walsh, and witness went in the cab, Mr. Walsh leaving it at the lane opposite his own residence and about 20 yards from the Marshall's Creek bridge; just as they reached the bridge the horse stopped and commenced to back; as the reins were very tightly held by Ray, witness called out to him to loosen them; witness and Edghill jumped out, witness going to the horse's head; Ray said,"He's all right Mr. Heffernan, its only from standing; don't worry him;" the reins were still tightly held by Ray, and witness led the horse across the bridge, and in response to Ray, who said, "He is all right now," they both got into the vehicle again; the horse moved forward quickly before witness was properly seated, and Ray seemed to pull the animal to a standstill and the horse began to back; Edghill jumped out; witness thought they were clear of the bridge; he called on deceased to loosen the reigns which were pulled tight; before springing out Edghill who was standing up in the cab, sang out "there is an embankment: for God's sake jump out;" witness immediately placed his hand on the splash board but was unable to alight; the cab seemed to be toppling on the top of him and a moment later he was struck by something; he believed it was the wheel or the shaft and was thrown 14 yards into the bottom of the ditch; he remembered nothing more for some little time; he was a bit dazed but not unconscious; he thought he was killed; he heard a man call out "they are both dead;" when he came to he saw the cab and horse at the bottom of the embankment, the vehicle remaining upright; deceased was lying slightly huddled up, and witness straightened his head, parallel with the embankment with his head away from the cab; witness asked him if he were hurt, and the deceased replied that he was very badly hurt; Mr. Brunskill came up in the meantime and helped witness to carry Ray on to the road; they lifted Ray up, but they found he could not stand; they took the horse out of the cab; Ray was placed in Mr. Brunskill's sulky and removed to his home, Edghill remaining behind to see after the horse and cab; deceased was able to speak, but was in great pain; it was proposed to take Ray to the Wagga Hospital, but he refused to go there and demanded to be taken home; he also declined to have a doctor, saying "he would be all right tomorrow"; witness went for Dr. Leahy after he had assisted to place Ray in bed; he told Ray after witness had led the horse across the bridge, that the horse would have been all right if he (Ray) had not pulled so tight on the reins; witness and Edghill did not interfere with the horse or the reins; they did not do anything to make it back; witness did not catch hold of the reins nor did he see Edghill do so; the embankment was very dangerous and the place should be filled up, as there was a straight drop of 12 or 14 feet almost flush with the bridge; a person on a dark night would be very apt to drive over the embankment; Ray was a careful driver.

Dr. Leahy said when he was called to see the deceased on Friday night he found him in bed partly undressed and in great pain; witness discovered a large discoloration on the left side of the spine in the small of the back about 4 inches in length and about 3 inches across; there was also laceration of the spinal muscles on the same side; on making a further examination of the back bone he found it intact, but the legs were paralysed, showing that the spinal column had sustained serious injury; his attention was drawn to the abdomen and on placing his hand over the part mentioned Ray complained of intense pain; he was of opinion that the abdomenal organs had been severely crushed and he was also of opinion that much internal hemorrhage had resulted; on his second visit the patient was in a state of collapse; death was due to severe injury to the abdomenal organs accompanied by internal bleeding; deceased was rational and did not appear to have been drinking: witness questioned Ray as to the cause of the accident but deceased made no complaint attaching blame to anyone in the matter.

Anthony Brunskill, farmer, Forest Hill, said that on Friday he saw Edghill standing on the edge of the bridge; Edghill said "Help me to get the cab out, there are two men down the embankment hurt or killed;" as witness went down the embankment he saw Heffernan go towards Ray, and heard him say "are you hurt George;" he did not hear the deceased make any reply; they carried Ray to the top of the bank, placed him in witness' sulky and drove deceased home with Mr. Heffernan; when they were lifting deceased up, deceased said "is that my cab down there, how did it get down there, is the cab all right:" deceased did not seem to be aware how it happened; Ray did not attach blame to anyone for what had happened; Heffernan was quite sober, but Edghill appeared to be under the influence of drink; he would not say that Edghill was drunk; it would be about 7.15 when he came up to Edghill on the bridge; if a horse commenced to play up at the place where the accident occurred it would be very dangerous; the bank was 8ft. or 9ft. high, and if a horse began to back it could not stop once it got over the bank, which was almost straight at the place named.

Albert Edghill, landholder, Albury Road, also gave evidence. They had two or three drinks, small ones, and all the members of the party were perfectly sober; witness only had four drinks that day, and Ray took "Tommy Dodd" beers; he did not remember how the horse got over the bridge; he could not say what caused the horse to stop and commence to prop on the other side; witness never touched the horse or reins; he had no idea how the accident occurred.

Frederick Ray, son of the deceased, said he arrived home from Albury by the express on Saturday morning and saw his father about 1.30 a.m; in conversation as to how the accident occurred, his father said it happened so quickly that he could hardly say how it took place; his father said "they jerked the reins and aggravated him, and you know, he (meaning the horse) wont stand that," witness asked who did it, and his father replied, "I don't know but Edghill had a whip;" about half an hour before his death witness asked his father again how it happened, and he said, "They jerked the reins and aggravated the horse;" the deceased said the wheel had not gone over him, and on witness saying it must have done so, said, "It was done so quick I don't know what happened;" his father bought the horse in 1890 or 1891, and it had been in his possession since; at the first conversation no one else was present, but on the second occasion a third person was present; his father was conscious throughout.

W. A. Walsh, law clerk, said that no tricks were played while he was in the cab; when witness got out of the cab at his own gate Edghill and Heffernan also got down, when he saw Edghill with the small whip in his hand; it was not the whip belonging to the cab because he saw Ray's whip in its usual socket beside the driver; he did not see Edghill use the whip on the horse; he did not know the whip was in the cab until Edghill got down.

F. V. Ray, recalled, said that three or four persons were in constant attendance upon his father between the time of the accident and his death.

By Senior Constable Blackburn: Witness' step mother told him that his father had never said anything to her about anyone having jerked his reins.

William Beaver, licensee of the Royal George Hotel, corroborated Heffernan's evidence as to the events at the hotel; the whole of the party were perfectly sober with the exception of Edghill, who appeared to be slightly under the influence of liquor; immediately before leaving the horse appeared restless and anxious to get away.

P. B. Heffernan, recalled, said when the horse stopped on the bridge he got out after Edghill and took hold of the reins to relieve the tight hold which deceased had on them; deceased said "don't worry him," and witness led the horse until he thought they were clear of the bridge, deceased remarking as they entered the cab again that there was a straight run home; the accident took place immediately after.

Isabel Juppenlatz, residing at the Viaduct Hotel, said that she saw Ray about 10 o'clock on the night of the accident; she did not hear Ray say that night how the accident happened, but next day she heard his son Fred question his father, and the latter said, "they must have pulled the reins;" deceased appeared quite sensible.

A. Edghill stated positively that neither he nor Heffernan pulled the reins of the horse while they were in the cab; the whip spoken of by a previous witness belonged to witness, but neither he nor Heffernan used it on the horse.

A finding of accidental death was recorded.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Wagga Wagga Express (NSW), 28 March 1899, p 3

Citation details

'Ray, George Henry (1829–1899)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/ray-george-henry-25836/text34006, accessed 23 March 2019.

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