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#1024936 - 28/10/2011 19:32 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: PDDave]
SBT Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 07/02/2007
Posts: 14224
Loc: Townsville Dry Tropics
Excellent work Boxey. Looks like a riveting read if you can wrap it up in novel form.
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#1024948 - 28/10/2011 20:01 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: SBT]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Yeah, nuh! I have neither the aptitude or the inclination to write a book.

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#1024958 - 28/10/2011 20:40 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
boxsey, from way down south, a truly marvelous but deeply moving and tragic yarn. Thank you for sharing.

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#1024961 - 28/10/2011 20:46 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: ROM]
boxsey Offline
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Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
I'm thrilled that anyone else thinks it's worth telling :-)
I'll try and get the next chapter happening tomorrow.

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#1024968 - 28/10/2011 21:06 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Just found a photo of the Customs House taken in 1904. It is referred to throughout the newspaper articles as being one of the only surviving buildings, and many would have sheltered in it from the storm.

And....the same building now...

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#1025076 - 29/10/2011 11:59 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Back to the story.
I'm not sure when Constable JF Higman manages to leave Burketown. There is a record of him being "Transferred by order Comm. of Police: a quiet steady constable. 31.3.87. (signed) Alex Douglas, Insp."

A note in his police file also gives this detail...
"Commissioner of Police,
Con Higman is on his way down from Cooktown on escort duty and expected hourly. (signature illegible) 21/5/87
"

From those dates, it's likely he had already left Burketown by the time the body of his youngest child was found. It maybe that the letter explaining the fact had reached Brisbane before him, and that is why the Commissioner was inquiring as to his whereabouts. It's likely that Higman didn't receive the news until late in May. Nice, how they kept him working regardless, giving him escort duty on his way back.

So, here it is, the letter detailing the finding of the childs body.

"G. Division
Burketown Station
13th April 1887

Sergeant John Ferguson G.6 reports that at 8pm the 11th instant Mr J Bradley, Divisional Board Clerk reported that when up the Albert river on that afternoon the remains of a child lying amongst the drift were pointed out to him by a black-fellow. The Sergeant accompanied by Mr. Bradley proceeded to the spot yesterday. The remains were lying about 300 yards from the river bank proper and partially enveloped in a little dress which has been identified by the Sergeants wife as one worn by “Frank” the youngest child of constable Higman.
The remains lay in the course of the flood which passed over this town on the night of the 5th (?illegible) and about 3 miles from Constable Higmans cottage. The sergeant buried the remains near where found.

John Fergusan
Sergeant Ref 76:418

Sub Insper. Brannelly/Normanton

forwarded for the information of Insp. Douglas.
? Brannelly
"


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#1025080 - 29/10/2011 12:12 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
boxsey Offline
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Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
He applies for 2 weeks leave, from 28/5/87 to 10/6/87 to "visit relations".

On the 16th of June, 1887, Constable Higman applies for compensation for loss of uniform and belongings totaling 120 pounds. A note on the side grants him some compensation...but I'm not sure of the amount...would appreciate anyone deciphering it who can read old time money!

The letter reads....
"I Bris Police Depart
Petrie Terrace
Morten District
Brisbane 16/6/87

Constable J.C.F. Higman Reg No. 339 most respectfully states for the information of His Inspector that during the floods and storm that passed over Burketown on the 5th of march past, the Const. lost all his uniform clothing and most all his private property and estimates his loss at about one hundred and twenty pounds. The Const. respectfully begs to ask his Inspector if the Const. will be allowed any compensation for his uniform clothes, he being away on duty at the time of the flood and his being left nearly destitute of clothes.

JF Higman
Const
Police Department

To the Inspector of Police Brisbane"

(Notes on the letter as follows....
I will see Mr Lewis about this 29.8.87
The Commissioner" Forwarded for favorable consideration (illegible ? 16.6 ???????)


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#1025082 - 29/10/2011 12:23 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Oh, forgot to put this telegram up in order.

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#1025088 - 29/10/2011 12:39 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: PDDave]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
That sums up the info I have that is most relevant to the cyclone. If anyone stumbles across this thread that is interested in the Higman or Huckins connection, feel free to contact me. My email is the same as my forum name,boxsey at gmail.com, or PM me.

I also have Julia's death certificate (somewhere...can't put my hands on it right now). Apparently, there would be an inquest into her death held in state archives...but when I was researching over a decade ago, I decided it probably wasn't going to tell me much more than I'd already found. There is plenty more of interest in Johns Police file, but it's not relevant to the cyclone.

For anyone interested in what happened to JCF Higman, he continued in the police force until the mid 1890's. He remarried in 1888 to a woman named Alice (and my grandmother was named Alice in her honour). After leaving the police force, he became a publican at Nanango, and later in Wondai. It seems he trained/owned at least a couple of racehorses as well.
In the early 1900's, his brother (my great great grandfather) died (Edward Alfred Higman) in Orange, NSW. John Higman and his second wife Alice invited his widow Anne Jane Higman and thier 4 children (Walter Horace, Naomi, Rebecca and Hilda) to join them in Wondai. Anne became the first medical person in the area, as a Nurse and Midwife (her daughters Naomi and Rebecca followed in her footsteps and they later owned and ran the first hospital in the Gold Coast area (Sandown Private Hospital). Walter died after being shot in the head in Messines.
Hilda Higman was her youngest child, and John CF and Alice took her in to live with them, above their pub. Hilda was well loved and looked after, and later became my Great Grandmother. So, although I'm not a direct descendant of John, he had no other children after the cyclone, so I'm the closest thing to it.

I'm sure that all the family history has bored the pants off of weatherzone members....I hope you forgive me! I want it all to show up in a google search :-)
If anyone stumbles across any other info on the cyclone, (or people involved in it) please feel free to add!

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#1025102 - 29/10/2011 13:54 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
Brett Guy Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2010
Posts: 5096
Loc: Bently Park, Cairns
Originally Posted By: boxsey
Anyone still with me? Helluva read, don't you think? I wish that newspapers today wrote in the same manner. I can picture the whole thing so clearly. I think it's pretty clear the eye passed directly over Burketown, would you all agree?

Still to come....a letter detailing the discovery of Constable Higmans youngest babys body. I'll wait till later to tackle that one. Tissues ready?



Actually boxey From What I have read there(bloody riveting read at that). I Would say the eye past just over the town-probably very close to the western eyewall.. My guess is the cyclone was tracking NE-SW with maybe a little kick to the west at the end.(very hard to be accurate with that though). From all reports about how long the severe winds blew it sounds as though it was a very large system. I would love to know just how big and what the central pressure was......

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#1025103 - 29/10/2011 14:02 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: Brett Guy]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Anyone able to decode the pressure reading at Normanton for me? Though, it's what, at least 150-200k east of Burketown, isn't it.

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#1025116 - 29/10/2011 15:08 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
boxsey Offline
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Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Adding links to additional newspaper articles. This one has additional info about which boat brought the news to Normanton from Burketown
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/52066119?searchTerm=cyclone%20normanton%20%20&searchLimits=fromyyyy=1887|||frommm|||fromdd|||toyyyy=1887|||tomm|||todd

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#1025118 - 29/10/2011 15:10 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
!SCHUMMY! Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 22/04/2008
Posts: 2915
Loc: Jimboomba, SEQ
WOW what a great read boxsey! thanks for compiling this and sharing it with us all, made me feel like i was there it is soo detailed! well done smile

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#1025122 - 29/10/2011 15:15 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: !SCHUMMY!]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
thanks! makes me feel like the effort was worth it!

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#1025136 - 29/10/2011 16:21 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: Brett Guy]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Originally Posted By: Brett Guy
Originally Posted By: boxsey
I think it's pretty clear the eye passed directly over Burketown, would you all agree?




Actually boxey From What I have read there(bloody riveting read at that). I Would say the eye past just over the town-probably very close to the western eyewall.. My guess is the cyclone was tracking NE-SW with maybe a little kick to the west at the end.(very hard to be accurate with that though). From all reports about how long the severe winds blew it sounds as though it was a very large system. I would love to know just how big and what the central pressure was......


I think it was pretty bloody big. As earlier in the thread, we allready know there was a gale at normanton, suffiencent to lose markers and pilot boats etc....and, just for you....look what I found....

From the "North Australian" (Darwin, April 2nd)
On tho 5th of last month, Burketown, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, was visited by " something like a cyclone and tidal wave" [i]and it is just probable that the remarkable high water and stiff blow which occurred here about the sama time were in some way connected with the destructive visitor to the other side of the Gulf. The fun appears to have lasted 12 hours, and by the end of that time every building in town was wrecked, excepting two invaluable institutions-the Custom House and Court House.[/i](continues with word for word stuff we've read in other papers)

(is that possible????)


Edited by boxsey (29/10/2011 16:22)

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#1025140 - 29/10/2011 16:50 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
Brett Guy Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2010
Posts: 5096
Loc: Bently Park, Cairns
Certainly is possible, although a cyclone of massive diameter I would think would be unusual in the gulf due to it's confined area. However depending on the actual direction the system was travelling it may also have been very slow moving and perhaps tracking from ENE to WSW thereby giving Normanton a passing blow on it's way to hit Burktown head on. As others have said though, we will never know for sure.

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#1025144 - 29/10/2011 16:56 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
SBT Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 07/02/2007
Posts: 14224
Loc: Townsville Dry Tropics
Sounds to me like a mid to high range Cat 2 at the very least with the Tidal Wave (Storm Surge of the height mentioned). You can't really tell from teh desriptions of teh damage to buildings but to my mind you would need a blow of at least cat 2 or higher to get that much water pushed up the river etc.

Excellent work Boxey. Could have the makings of a good historical novel. I know you don't want to write it but maybe you could get an Australian author interested in it.
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#1025289 - 30/10/2011 07:13 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: SBT]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
Ted was a 4 when he crossed and I think he had a tidal surge too, but it wasn't as high as the 1887 one. I guess the tide would have a lot to do with that...though, the gulf often only has one tide in and out a day. Or less.
I wonder if it came from the top end and down...then it would account for the stuff darwin had?

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#1025301 - 30/10/2011 08:43 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: boxsey]
FNQ Bunyip Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 31/12/2004
Posts: 1452
Loc: North bank river Daintree
this has been a great read smile
But with nothing weather wise on the horizon, what the hell are we going to do next week? ..Lol

You got any more family connections to past weather events to research Boxey ?

Cheers
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#1025430 - 30/10/2011 15:13 Re: Burketown Cyclone 1887 [Re: FNQ Bunyip]
boxsey Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 13/02/2011
Posts: 371
Loc: Aitkenvale, Townsville
LOL, not that I know of....but then, I didn't know of this either until I noticed the three of them on the register having died the same day. I assumed they'd been murdered or something.....got the death cert...which mentioned the flood and Burketown....and away I went!

You just never know what you will turn up :-).

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