Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Colemans & Dwyers: Further Statements

This is the fifth post in a series about my Coleman and Dwyer ancestors.

3 Church Street, South Melbourne

 In my last post, I wrote about the tragic suicide of my great-great grandmother, Mary Dwyer Coleman.  After her death, Mary's eldest daughter, Kathleen, gave a statement to the coroner.  Three others, including Mary's youngest daughter, Maggie, also made statements.  While these statements were not easy to read and are full of illegible words and confusing phrasing, I have transcribed them here as best as possible.

Statement by Charles Nolan to the Coroner:

This Deponent: Charles Nolan
On his oath saith, I am a constable of police at stationed at Burke St. West

Deceased was married to my step brother.  I saw her last Thursday she was at my place most of that day.  I spoke to her about the revolver.  I was at her house when her daughter gave me the revolver.  She told me that she bought it with the intention of shooting herself but had refunded it immediately after.  We took the revolver back to where she bought it.  From that time I thought she should have been looked after.  I intended to take steps to have her looked after.  I think she was depressed at times.  It put me off my guard when I saw her so well.

Charles Nolan
Taken and sworn before me the 30th day of October 1905 at Melbourne

This letter tells us that Andrew’s step-brother Charles had a relationship with Mary and her children, and may have even been looking after them in Andrew’s absence.  Charles certainly was aware of Mary’s troubled state prior to her death.

Statement by Mr. Brown to the Coroner:

This Deponent: William John Brown
On his oath saith, I am laborer residing at 3 Church St South Melbourne

I have seen the body of the deceased.  I last saw her alive last Friday evening about 6pm the 27th  (?).  She was in the bedroom.  I do not know if she was dead.  I saw her alive at a quarter to six(?) in the evening.  She was in the dining room.  She had very little to say.  I am not any relation to her.  She made a statement to me last Monday 23rd (?) that she would take her daughters’ life.

I said “How do you feel Mrs. Coleman” she said “I do not feel well at all.”  I told that to the girls on last Thursday.  I did not think she intended it.  I did not go with her to the Hospital.  She left the room where I last saw her alive.  I heard a noise like a shot.  We thought it was a latch.  The room she was in was upstairs.  She had left the room about ¼ of an hour before we heard the noise.  I went up into the room.  About 6.20pm one of the girls went up and called deceased to her.  She called out “mother” but got no answer.  She came down stairs again.

I went up to the bedroom.  The door was shut with a (?) behind it.  I had to shove the (?) to get in.  (?) the deceased on the floor with her head on the bed.  No one was with me.  I saw blood.  I went downstairs and told the (?) to go for the police.  I do not know if the window was open.  I left the deceased and the room as I found it till the constable came.  I did not believe that the deceased was in earnest when she said she would do away with the girls.

When I (?) the girls after Thursday was before the time she told me she would do away with them.  I do not know where she got the revolver (produced).  I did not see it before.  She seemed very funny at times.  I did not suspect she would take her life.  I did not think she wanted watching.  I could not say if she should have had medical advice.

William John Brown
Taken and sworn before me the 30th day of October 1905 at Melbourne

 We don't know how long Mr. Brown had known Mary Dwyer Coleman, but he hadn't been sharing a house with her for very long prior to the suicide.

Statement by Maggie Coleman to the Coroner:

This Deponent: Maggie Coleman
On her oath saith, I am residing at 3 Church St South Melbourne

I am a daughter of the deceased.  I have heard my sister’s(?).  It is correct as far as I know.
I went to (?) with my sister last Friday.  The house was divided.  The other people Mr. Brown and the two Mrs. Browns were in the other half of the house.  I am 17 years of age.

I got home at ½ past 6.  Mr. Brown told me that my mother was upstairs waiting for tea.  I was not home when deceased [took] her life.  I came home after.

Maggie Coleman
Taken and sworn before me the 30th day of October 1905 at Melbourne

It is not clear what happened to Kathleen and Maggie after their mother’s death.  They were 19 and 17, old enough to be working and earning their own money.  It is not known if they stayed on Church Street or moved elsewhere.  The next thing we know for sure about the family is that in 1919, at the age of 33, Kathleen Coleman boarded a ship headed to Vancouver with a group of her friends and left her homeland behind forever.  

In my next post, I'll talk about the fate of the absent Andrew Coleman.

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