GIBSON. — On Monday, 6th November, 1911. Elizabeth, fourth daughter of William and Sarah Gibson, Tay street, Invercargill; at the age of 20 years. Deeply regretted.
The funeral will take place at Dunedin. -Southland Times, 8/11/1911.
THE RAILWAY FATALITY.
INQUEST ON MISS GIBSON.
[Special to the Star] GORE, November 8. The inquest on Elizabeth Gibson, found dead on the railway line near Pukerau on Monday night, was opened at Gore this morning before Mr A. Martin, J P., and a jury of six, of whom Mr George Paterson was foreman. Mr Ennis watched the proceedings on behalf of the Railway Department.
William Gibson, father of the deceased, said he was a picture-framer, carrying on business in Invercargill. The body was that of his late daughter Elizabeth. She was 20 years of age. Deceased at the time of her death was a waitress at Hopkins's Tea Rooms, Dunedin. She was single. Witness last saw her alive at Clinton on Monday last. Witness remembered seeing her on the platform of the South express bound for Invercargill. Witness saw her on the platform several times, but did not see her after leaving Clinton. As far as witness knew, deceased stood on the platform from the time the train left Clinton until the accident occurred. The deceased joined the train at Dunedin, and seemed in her usual health and spirits. Witness admitted that he had liquor that day. In consequence of that liquor he was lying on the seat of the carriage part of the journey, and if deceased had come into the carriage he might not have seen her. Witness did not have any drink in the train. He had two bottles of beer with him, but did not open them. He had his last drink at Dunedin. He had a good many drinks shortly before he left Dunedin. Mrs Gibson was with witness. She also partook of liquid refreshment at Dunedin. As far as witness could see she was ''almost" sober. She might have been under the influence of liquor. Deceased was very much against drink, as were all witness's daughters. Witness had borrowed a pencil similar to the one produced from deceased, and had returned it on the morning of the accident. Witness could not assign any reason for suicide except that deceased had a set on drink. He did not think she would go that far. He knew of no reason whatever why deceased should take her life unless it was in consequence of the drinking. Witness could not say whether his daughter was first missed at Gore or Edendale. Continuing, witness said that the first he knew of the accident was Guard Williams asking him if he had seen his daughter. Witness replied that he had not seen her, unless she was on the platform.
Sergeant Burrowes: Do you remember hearing the deceased say to her mother "Father has had a drop of drink, and I feel like jumping off the train"?
Witness: I did not hear it.
In reply to Sergeant Burrowes, witness said that he could not say that the deceased jumped off the train because he was under the influence of drink.
To the Coroner: It was a cold night. Witness thought deceased was a bit quiet, but did not think there was anything the matter with her. He had not seen her previously for 12 months.
In reply to a juryman, witness said the deceased was of a cheerful disposition.
Dr McIlroy said the injuries would be consistent with a heavy fall on the feet. A fracture of the base of the skull could be produced indirectly by landing on one's feet from a height. There was not the slightest indication of the girl's condition being other than normal.
Sarah Gibson, mother of deceased, remembered meeting deceased in Dunedin on Monday last. Witness went into Hopkins's about 11 a.m. and had a cup of tea. One of witness's sons was very ill, and witness asked deceased to come home and see him. Deceased said: "Yes, I will come home, but I have not drawn my wages." Witness said not to trouble about that, and promised to make all arrangements. Witness gave deceased £1 on the station. Deceased asked whether she should get a return ticket, and witness advised her not to, as there was no concession. Deceased said she did not like Invercargill, and wanted to return to Dunedin. Deceased heard somebody on the train ask Mr Gibson to have a whisky, and said: "Mother, father has had some beer, and if he takes whisky you know how it will play up with him." Mr Gibson did not take any whisky, as far as witness knew. He had two bottles of beer with him, but when the train arrived at Invercargill the beer was missing. Deceased did not suggest throwing the beer off the train. She also said: "If dad takes any whisky I would think nothing of jumping off the train." Witness replied: "Lizzie, don't talk such rubbish." This conversation took place on the platform of the carriage. Witness went into the carriage, and left deceased on the platform. Witness did not know where this conversation ensued, but it was south of Balclutha and before the train arrived at Gore. Witness did not pay much attention to deceased's remark about jumping off the train, but regarded it as an empty threat. Witness did not see deceased after she left her on the platform. When the guard asked witness if she had seen her daughter witness suggested that she was in the lavatory, and Mr Gibson suggested that perhaps she had left the train at one of the stations in a huff.
In reply to the coroner witness said she was in ordinary good health that day, and understood what her daughter said. Mr Gibson was not drunk, but he was tired. Witness admitted having one or two glasses of beer at Duncdin. Witness was not affected by the drink at all. Deceased seemed in good health, but was quiet. Deceased did not remark that witness had been drinking. Witness remembered vomiting on the train, but she was always like that when travelling. Witness did not see deceased washing her father's face in the lavatory. Witness did not remember Mr Gibson being sick on the train.
In reply to Sergeant Burrowes witness said most emphatically that she was not under the influence of drink.
Mr Gibson here broke in with "What do you mean by under the influence of drink?"
Sergeant Burrowes: When a person is away from his normal condition.
Mr Gibson: It's a big question.
Mrs Gibson: Aye, it's a big question.
Sergeant Burrowes: Now that you have mentioned the matter, I'll prove that you were absolutely drunk, and that Mrs Gibson was under the inlluence of drink.
The witness was rigidly cross-examined as to her drinking on the day in question, but could only remember having "about three drinks." Witness knew her daughter's writing, but could not identify the writing on the note produced as her daughter's. Witness would not swear that the note was not written by her daughter. Her daughter always signed her letters "Liz." Witness did not see deceased with the pencil produced. Witness did not see deceased reading a magazine or book, but she might have had one with her.
Arthur Williams said he was guard on the train in question on Monday. Witness took charge of the train at Milton. The first intimation witness had of anything being' wrong was after the train left Gore, when Mr Jas. Robertson asked witness if he had seen the girl whose ticket he had checked after leaving Clinton. Witness asked what girl, and Robertson pointed out Mr Gibson. Witness spoke to the Gibsons, and asked Mrs Gibson where the girl was. Mrs Gibson pointed to the platform and witness informed her that deceased was not on the train. Mrs Gibson, in reply, said: "I wonder if she jumped off the train." For the moment witness made light of this, as he had no reason to think such a thing would happen When the train reached Mataura witness rang up the District Traffic Manager and informed him that a young woman was missing off the train. Both Mr and Mrs Gibson were certainly under the influence of drink when witness spoke to them. They did not seem to realise or appreciate what witness said. They were not sufficiently drunk to call for any interference on witness's part. They appeared to be muddled, but Mrs Gibson was the brighter of the two.
James Robertson said he was a passenger on the train in question. He joined it at Clinton. Witness saw the deceased throw some bottles of beer out of the carriage window. She then went on the platform. Witness later saw deceased wipe her father's mouth, and heard her say something about being disgusted. Shortly afterwards witness saw deceased give her ticket to the guard, and follow him from the carriages to the platform. That was the last witness saw of her. It was obvious to everyone that both Mr and Mrs Gibson had taken more than was good for them, though Mr Gibson was the worse of the two. Witness corroborated the guard's evidence as to searching the train and advising the district traffic superintendent. Witness examined the gates on the carriage, and they were fastened.
John T. Mitchell (photographer) was a passenger on the train in question from Clinton to Gore. Witness corroborated Robertson's evidence. When the train arrived at Gore Mrs Gibson made insulting remarks sotto voce while Sir Joseph Ward was speaking. Witness thought deceased looked all right, but appeared to be very worried over her parents' condition.
Thomas Wright was a ganger on the railway. On Monday night he received instructions at Waipahi to proceed to Pukerau and search for a passenger supposed to have fallen off the train. Witness proceeded along the line in a jigger, and just north of Pukerau discovered the body of a lady on the south side of the line. Deceased was lying on her back, with her head towards Pukerau, fully extended. Witness noticed abrasions on the face, and that the arm was injured. The body was removed to Pukerau. From marks which witness noticed, he came to the conclusion that deceased left the train about 40ft from where the body was found. Witness was satisfied that deceased was not dragged by the train. She had probably turned several somersaults.
Sergeant Burrowes said the matter was reported to him at midnight on Monday. Accompanied by Constable Schruffer, witness proceeded by motor car to Pukerau. On arrival at Pukerau the body of deceased was handed over to witness by the station master. The body was conveyed to Gore. Witness examined the body and clothing. From the right hand pocket of the jacket Constable Schruffer took a lead pencil and the following note, written in pencil, apparently on the title leaf of a magazine or novel:
Good-bye all. I am heartbroken. Forgive me for doing this, but I hope that this will let my mother know the curse drink is.—Lizz. God help my sisters and brother.
This pathetic note, which was handed to the jury, was badly written on a torn piece of paper, and was unpunctuated.
The Coroner characterised the case as a very bad one. After an absence of 10 minutes the jury returned a verdict "That deceased met her death by jumping from a train while in a state of mental depression."
The Coroner said he quite agreed with the verdict. -Evening Star, 8/11/1911.
The evidence produced at the inquest is intriguing. Was this a young woman at the end of her tether? The redoubtable champion of the ordinary citizen, the "Truth," had a different view on the matter.
ELIZABETH' GIBSON'S FEARFUL FATE.
Poor Parents' Pitiful Plight.
The Result of No-License Lies — Wowserism and Hysteria — The Girl's Written Message — The Tragedy of the Train — The Inquest — An Officious Policeman — The Bounce of Burrowes — A Cruel Cross-examination — Sergeant Burrowes's Threat — Parents very Respectable — A Protest from "Truth."
[From "Truth's" Dunedin Rep.]
With a shameless disregard of the common decencies of life, and displaying a blackguardly callousness over the sorrows of an unfortunate family, the narrow-minded benighted crowd of wowsers and No-license mob in sainted snufflesome Dunedin, and no doubt, in the most of New Zealand, are using the recent suicide of the unfortunate, misguided young woman, Elizabeth Gibson, who jumped off the South express in a fit of mental depression and thus ended a promising young life, to their alleged advantage.
The inquest was held at Gore on Wednesday of last week before Mr A Martin, J.P., and a jury of six.
Sergeant Burrows represented the police and Mr A. T. Ennis appeared on behalf of the Railway Department.
During the course of the examination of the girl's father and mother the great sergeant
ADOPTED A DICTATORIAL TONE which "Truth" will refer to later on.
The evidence of the father, William Gibson was taken first. Briefly it amounted to that she was 20 years of age and was a waitress in Hopkins tea-rooms in Dunedin. She travelled with witness and her mother on the South express on the previous Monday night. He saw her on the platform of the car several times during the journey, but not after leaving Clinton. He admitted that he had had liquor during the day, was lying on a seat in the carriage and might not have seen his daughter come through. He had a good many drinks that day, and his wife had one or two, and might have been under the influence. Witness could give no reason for the girl's action except that she had a "set" on drink. The first he knew of her being missing was when Guard Wi1liams asked him about her.
Sergeant Burrowes: Do you remember deceased saying to her mother, "Father has had a drop of drink, and I feel like jumping off the train"?
Witness: I did not hear it.
The kindly sergeant pressed the question about the girl's object; but witness said he could not say that the deceased jumped from the train because he was under the influence.
Dr. McIlroy gave evidence to the effect that death was due to a fracture of the base of the skull caused by landing heavily on the feet. There was not the slightest indication that deceased's condition was other than normal.
Sarah Gibson, wife of a former witness said that she went to Hopkin's tea-rooms on Monday, to see deceased as she wanted her to come to Invercargill to attend to a sick brother. Gave deceased £1 for her fare and met her on the station. On the train someone asked Mr Gibson to have some whisky, and deceased said, "Mother,
FATHER HAS HAD SOME BEER, and if he takes whisky you know how it will play up with him." Mr. Gibson did not have any whisky, as far as witness knew. He had two bottles of beer with him on the train but it was missing when they got to Invercargill. Deceased said, "If Dad takes any whisky I would think nothing of jumping off the train,'' and withess replied "Lizzie, don't talk such rubbish." This conversation took place on the platform of the carriage and witness did not see deceased any more after she went inside. When the guard asked her about her daughter she believed she was in the lavatory.
To the Coroner: Mr Gibson was not drunk. She had one or two beers in Dunedin, but they didn't effect her. She was sick on the train but that was usual with her on train journeys, on account of the motion.
Sergeant Burrowes once more asked witness if she wasn't drunk, and she firmly denied the allegation.
Mr Gibson (to the sergeant) What do you mean by under the influence of drink?
Sergeant Burrowes reckoned it was when a person was away from the normal condition.
Mr Gibson: It's a big question.
Sergeant Burrowes: Now that you have mentioned the matter, I will prove that you were absolutely drunk, and that Mrs Gibson was under the influence of drink.
The generous sergeant then subjected the obviously suffering old lady to a long and gruelling examination which only brought to light the fact that she had three drinks in Dunedin that day.
Guard Williams' evidence was to the effect that when he asked Mrs Gibson where her daughter was she said,
"I WONDER IF SHE HAS JUMPED off the train". Both Mr and Mrs Gibson were under the influence of drink and did not seem to realise what witness said. They were not sufficiently drunk to call for any interference on his part.
James Robertson, engine driver, who joined the train at Clinton, said he saw deceased throw some bottles of beer off the train. Mr and Mrs Gibson were both under the infuence but Mr Gibson was the worst.
Evidence was also given by John T. Mitchell, a passenger on the train, and Ganger Thomas Wright, who found the body at Pukerau, clear of the line.
Sergeant Burrowes gave evidence to having brought the body in, and having found on it a note written in pencil, apparently on the leaf of a magazine:
"Goodbye all, I am heartbroken, forgive me for doing this but I hope that this will let my mother know the curse drink is."
"God help nay sisters and brother."
The jury brought in a Verdict that deceased had met her death by jumping from the train when in a state of mental depression.
The whole affair is a very sad one, and the death of that misguided young woman can be laid at the door of
THE FANATICAL WOWSERS who term themselves the New Zealand Alliance. However, before stating its reasons for the above statement "Truth" would like to hand a few pointed remarks to brave, generous, kind-hearted, and sympathetic Boss Bobby Burrowes. How noble, how manly, how generous it was of burrowing Burrowes to get up in righteous indignation and bombastically say to a sorrowing parent, who was manifestly suffering the tortures of Hell over the unforseen results of a little over-indulgence. "I'll prove that you were absolutely drunk, and Mrs Gibson was under the influence of drink!"
"Truth" doesn't know who Burrowes is, and doesn't care, but hopes that he feels proud of himself over the above unnecessarily cruel and callous statement, and also over this brilliant cross-examination of a sorrowing mother. From his brutal bombast the reader can only assume that Burrowes is a wowser with as much bowels of compassion as there is in a paving stone.
However, he is suitable for such a red-nosed, sly-grog, keg-infested dirty village as Gore, and "Truth" wishes Gore joy of him. It is a well-known fact, and one that has been proved on innumerable occasions, that the perfervid oratory of wild-eyed wowsers creates a form of religious hystetia in women — especially young women of an impressionable age, such as Elizabeth Gibson.
The writer has visited the various Yankee Boodle missions which periodically infest these shores and return laden with the gold of the foolish and the hysterical, and leave behind them as payment a lot of religious maniacs who generally finish up either as non-church goers or in the lunatic asylum. At these meetings he has seen women — aye and things who call themselves men — reduced to a state of hysteria by the skillful playing on their weak brains which the so-called missionary knows so well how to do. "Truth" believes, and every circumstance seems to point to the fact, that this
UNFORTUNATE GIRL had been carried away by the rotten sentimental oratory of a lot of wild-eyed watery wowsers, who have painted to her drink as being one of the demons out of hell. The temporary lapse of her parents as a consequence, seemed in her poor deluded mind to be something horrible and abnormal, and hysteria gave place to reason and well, The End. Therefore, in all truth can the death of this young woman, whom the writer observed on many occasions, and who was a bright, healthy young woman, exceedingly popular with all those with whom she came into contact, be laid at the door of the Dunedin branch of the A-lie-ance of hypocrites and mud-slingers.
As regards the unfortunate parents, Burrowes and the New Zealand A-lie-ance will be surprised to learn that they have the widespread sympathy of the community, both in Dunedin and Invercargill. Of course, the A-lie-ance will weep a few crocodile tears over the Gibson family's loss, but they will be the tears of those who rejoice in the downfall of another. Mr and Mrs Gibson were for many years residents of Dunedin, and were well-known as
DECENT RESPECTABLE PEOPLE and were highly respected by a large circle of friends. Admitting that both Mr and Mrs Gibson were under the influence of liquor, what does the fact point to? They live in the dry area of Invercargill, where beer is, supposed to abide not. Coming from that area where the wowser has decreed that they shall not have any drink, and being honest people, to whom neither the plentiful slygrog shops nor the still more plentiful keg guzzles would appeal, what was more natural than that they should indulge a little, and, not knowing their, capacity, over-indulge? Can the honest, straightforward man or woman stand up and blame them? "Truth" thinks not.
Rather is the iniquitous, idiotic system which germinated in the brains of fanatics and was incubated by fools — the system, of No-license and guzzle, to be blamed, for the excess of this sorrowing old couple. They have a sorrow to bear now which will last to the grave. To the great thinking public "Truth" would merely, say: "Let him that is without sin cast the first stone." -NZ Truth, 18/11/1911.