Cured, Relieved, Died

Continuing the hospital theme, a certain large-sized volume in our collection was brought to our attention last week by a researcher which has been a source of endless fascination to us: a Register of Admissions, Discharges, &c. from the Wagga Wagga Hospital, 1881-1882.

The old Wagga Wagga Hospital with the Chisholm Fountain out the front.
The Wagga Wagga Hospital was located on the corner of Tarcutta and Johnston Streets until 1910; the police station now occupies this site. This photograph was taken circa 1900. [Image courtesy of the Wagga Wagga City Library, from the Keating Album].
The information recorded for each admission in the register is as follows:

  • Name
  • Date of Admission
  • Age
  • Male/Female
  • Marital Status
  • Religion
  • Native Place
  • Residence
  • Occupation
  • Medical Officer
  • Ward Number
  • Disease
  • Date of Discharge
  • Result – cured, relieved, died
  • Number of Days in Hospital
  • Received for Maintenance (£)
  • Cash found on Person on Admittance
  • How Disposed of
  • Remarks

Each person has their own interesting story but there are a few that have really stood out to us.  For example, on the following page are two gentlemen (Richard McCarthy and Samuel Lester) who were admitted to the Wagga Wagga Hospital on 14 and 16 May 1881:

A page from the Register of Admissions, Discharges, &c. at the Wagga Wagga Hospital, 1881-1882
Register of Admissions, Discharges, &c. at the Wagga Wagga Hospital, 1881-1882 [from the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital Collection, RW939/327]   Click on the image for a larger version
The register tells us that Richard McCarthy was a 23 year old single man, originally from Victoria; he was Catholic and employed as a labourer in Narrandera.  We couldn’t quite make out what the “disease” was that put him in hospital but it was something to do with fracturing both legs.  He was in hospital for 8 days, then died on 22 May 1881.

A quick search in Trove filled us in on some more details – poor Richard had been “accidentally dragged through a stone-breaking machine”, breaking both legs below the knees and his right arm almost torn off.  His limbs were amputated by Dr Taylor but, despite this, he died just days later.  Sadly, the newspaper article mentioned that Richard was to have been married that week.

Samuel Lester was a 73 year old unmarried hawker, who had been born in England but now resided in Wagga Wagga.  His disease on admittance to the hospital was Old Age.  The register records that he was in hospital for 22 days before passing away on 6 June 1881.

Trove found us an article in the Sydney Evening News that told us Samuel was known locally as “Old Sam”, that he was blind and that he sold matches in the streets of Wagga.  Apparently, Old Sam’s death had sparked discussion throughout the town about his relatives. Rumour said he was the parent of a “well-to-do person in town” and so the Hospital Committee resolved to ask that person to pay Old Sam’s hospital and funeral costs.  We’d love to know whether they claimed him…


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