‘The Man From Merricumbene’ and Conscriptionitis – News from 14.10.1916

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Shire-wide news extracts from the Moruya Examiner of 14 October 1916, provided by the Moruya & District Historical Society:

REFERENDUM VOTE – During the remaining portion of this month up to the 28th, the date on which the Referendum vote will be taken, the whole of the Commonwealth will be canvassed by the best speakers for and against Conscription. As there are arguments in favour of both sides it is the duty of those having votes to record to give all the speakers a respectful and patient hearing, and when they have calmly weighed the arguments out, go to the poll and give a conscientious vote.

CONSCRIPTIONITIS – Thus the Braidwood “District News.” Numbers of eligibles are suffering from the new disease of Conscriptionitis and have been swallowing dangerous drugs, in order to ensure their rejection when examined by the doctors. It has been observed at several recruiting centres that many men rejected for heart trouble were great strapping fellows in the pink of condition. When inquiries were made, it was ascertained that the “weak-hearted” enlistees had been taking destructive drugs to ensure a slow and feeble pulse. The drugs used here consist generally of Epsom salts and excessive doses of calomel.

PUBLIC BATHS – The attention of our Shire Councillors is invited to the present state of the public baths, the western side having been smashed up by the late flood.

Moruya Swimming Pool, 1910

DEATH – On Friday last the Great Reaper garnered in another of this district’s old and respected residents in the person of Mr. Michael Francis Donovan, of Gundary, Moruya, in his 68th year. The late Mr. Donovan was a native of this district, and in his early years was as robust and athletic a young man as could be found on the South Coast.

As a horseman he had a reputation of being a champion, more especially as a rough rider and bush stockman, and Mr. W. McIntosh and the late Mr. James Mallon, both formerly of Merricumbene – who were champion bushriders themselves – frequently related most interesting and exciting episodes of his adventures on wild buck jumping outlaws, and over precipitous mountain passes, and through deep thickly timbered ravines, yarding bush scrubbers.



Our departed brother Australian led a very strenuous life, and being strong and good humoured would never turn his back on hard work, no matter what the hardship entailed. He enjoyed comparatively good health up to about twelve months ago, when he complained of an internal trouble. This insidious malady gradually increased in virulence which defied the best medical skill and careful nursing, until the end came as above stated.

Deceased leaves a widow, six sons, viz., Ernest (Wollongong), Edward, Michael, James, John, William and Timothy (Moruya), and four daughters viz., Mrs. Garrity (Sydney), Mrs. W. Flynn (Deua River), Pearl and Margaret (Moruya), besides one sister Mrs. Bishop (Glenduart).

MORUYA BAR – Captain Harwood, of the dredge Antleon which crossed in for coal on Tuesday, informs us that the recent flood has washed away the sand that has accumulated on the Mrouya Bar and that there is now 11ft of water there. This will be good news for our shippers, the Company, and especially Captain Basclain, who has had the risk and responsibility of crossing in and out in all weathers and at all times both day and night.

IMPROVED – We are pleased to report that Mrs. Leo Walker, who went to Sydney over two months ago for medical treatment, has returned home very much improved in health. Mrs. Walker brought back her little son, Lancelot, who had been taken to Sydney by his father some five or six weeks ago for special treatment of an eye which had been injured. The little lad, we are sorry to say, has completely lost the sight of the injured member.

Patriotic advertising from the Bega Budget of January, 1916


– That Milton reports over 30 inches of rain and Nelligen 31 inches; and
– That this phenomenal fall in such a short duration puts Moruya’s 19in. completely in the shade.
– That Burrill Lake, near Ulladulla was higher last week than it has been for the last 30 years.
– That Mr. A. L. Jeffery had a glorious time amongst bunny on his flats near Mynora during the flood; and
– That as the enemy was forced out of his dug-outs in battalions, “Freddy” slaughtered them to the last squeaker and disdained to take prisoners.



Seventeen 100 years ago booklets containing articles for the years 1899 to 1915 are available ($5 ea) from the Society’s rooms. Copies of local newspapers from the 1860s to date can be viewed at the Society’s Family History Research Centre (Ph 4474 3224) situated at the rear of the Museum in Campbell St. Moruya (www.mdhs.org.au).



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