The Strange case of Frederick Smith

A telegraph was received at Cue from Burnakurra, stating that a trucker who was employed at the Wha GM at Errolls was killed. It also stated that the body was buried at Errolls, and that no inquest was opened. The newspaper three days later reported – “In the circumstances, it will be necessary, in order that the jury may view the body, to exhume the remains. The actions of those responsible for the premature burial is wholly inexplicable, in view of the fact that a police officer is stationed at Barrambie, a few miles distance.

It appeared the fatality was preceded by a very peculiar combination of circumstances. Smith, had a contract for hauling dirt from an open cut, which was completed on the day previous to his death. He however, at the request of the management, agreed to work another shift, and should, in the ordinary course, have gone to work at two o’clock, the usual hour, and ceasing at 10 p.m. For some reason however, he was unable to commence until two hours later, when his attention was drawn to the fretting of the ground by some Italians. Smith continued working, and at 11 p.m. about two hundred tons of earth fell away. Smith was killed, also a horse drawing the trucks, and his dog. Had Smith been able to commence work at the usual time, he would have knocked off at 10 p.m, an hour prior to the accident. It is thought the fall was due to the recent heavy rains percolating the ground.

Errolls near Sandstone-Frederick SMITH Photo by Tricia and Ian James 2006 (Flowers by Nature)

Frederick William Smith died 21.5.1908 aged 33yrs at the Wha Goldmine at Errolls in the Sandstone district. – buried at Errolls by John Pooley. Witness present at burial were Charles H Driver and John Looney. Death certified by Howard Bryden Smith (brother of the deceased) at Barrambie.
Smith was a miner who was accidentally killed by a fall of earth at the Wha Goldmine. Born at Fords, South Australia – son of Isabella (nee Graham) and James Neilson Smith (farmer).  At the inquest a verdict of accidental death was returned with no blame attached to any person.

Note:- Steve Rogers told that in the mine in which Smith was killed, Bluey Woinar from Menzies, had found a revolver under a mass of quartz with one shot fired and five bullets still in the gun. So doubts arise as to whether Smith was killed by a bullet or the quartz fall. It is thought that he may have been buried alive and had taken his own life rather than slowly perish.
In recent years Steve Rogers cleared up the grave site and repaired the headstone.

NOTE:  Errolls is sometimes referred to as Errols. It is along the Meekatharra Sandstone road.

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My name is Moya Sharp, I live in Kalgoorlie Western Australia and have worked most of my adult life in the history/museum industry. I have been passionate about history for as long as I can remember and in particular the history of my adopted home the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia. Through my website I am committed to providing as many records and photographs free to any one who is interested in the family and local history of the region.

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  1. Diana Boyd says:

    Thanks for another great read this morning. How wonderful to see such amazing photographs of the Dance family.

  2. R Heitmann says:

    Fascinating. He is a distant relative, The family if full of strange tales! His grandfather, John Smith was involved in the first Maori uprising in NZ, after which he settled in SA, and set up Fred and Howard’s father James Neilson Smith at Fords.

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