In April 1896, some old prospectors came across the dead body of a man in the bush and immediately communicated with the police. Constable Mulkerin was sent out with a native and came across the body about 14 miles north-east of Siberia. The body was in an advanced stage of decomposition and the constable dug a grave and buried it. The unfortunate man had evidently died from thirst and his sufferings must have been fearful to contemplate. In his delerium, he had been walking round and round a salt bush and had worn a pad round the bush fully a foot deep, from continually circling it. From papers found on the deceased, it appears his name was James McHugh. One paper found on him showed that he had been discharged from the Parkside (South Australia) Lunatic Asylum. Near the corpse were lying a few specimens, which were of no value, and also some tea, sugar, rice and salt.
The deceased was about 5 feet 7 inches in height, with fair hair turning grey and a beard and moustache also turning grey. His brother, Bryan McHugh, and sister, Bell McHugh, both lived in Hope Valley, South Australia.
It all started with this contact from a listener to 100.1FM Curtin Radio:
Hi, I've just heard the segment about Outback Graves and headstones and stories about the person deceased.
In our family we have known that my Great-Great Uncle James McHUGH died from thirst near the Siberian Mine, which is apparently about 86 kms nw of Kalgoorlie. The family story that has been told is that he was ready to marry his fiancee in S.A., but sadly she died. After this loss, he became very depressed and was even labelled a lunatic. So, he came to W.A. looking for gold, but in April 1894 or 1896 he was found deceased laying on the pathway to the mine site. Apparently he was buried where he died.
James McHUGH was born on the: 15-2-1835 in London, England and came as a passenger to South Australia with his parents: John McHUGH & Sarah McHUGH (nee PORTNALL)
I've never heard that there is a marker or headstone for James, so my question is----do you also go to areas like the Siberian Mine Site, and if so, would you bee interested in making a plaque, or some recognition that James McHUGH died near the Mine Site? Is there an average cost for a plaque?
I look forward to your reply,
The email trail begins!!!
I can give you some more info on James McHugh. Yes, I can make a plaque for him and we have some blokes from the Toyota Landcruiser Club working that patch for us. We have already done some graves at Siberia, so will make sure we get this one done as well. That is as long as we can find the grave! If not, we can place a plaque for him close by some other graves and engrave on his plaque “NEAR HERE LIES”
I will send your email and this reply on to my colleagues and make sure he gets onto our list. Thanks for the extra info, we can include that in our database once we have a plaque made and a reference number for him.
The plaque is engraved on 3mm aluminium plate and is a half A4 size. You can see some of the ones I have made on our website. I make them myself ...
Hi Celeste and Trevor
I have just had a quick look in my Goldfields reference book, and couldn’t find an entry, but don’t despair just yet I will keep ferreting through my other material and contact Harry the Kalgoorlie historian who is helping me.
There unfortunately a possibility that he died on the way to Siberia, as recounted in David Carnegie Diary which related the road to Siberia being strewn with the Dead and Dying due to thirst.
So your Great Great Uncle may have a yet unmarked and found grave.
Hi Trevor-----here's a photo of my Great-Great Uncle James McHUGH.
Thank you for passing on the newspaper article about James death. How awful, and it brought tears to my eyes.
I have spoken with one of my brothers and he is willing to contribute to having a plaque made in memory of James. I will speak to my other brother when he gets home from work.
With heartfelt thanks,
And then the ultimate discovery by Celeste!!!!
Hi Trevor----I thought you may wish to read this letter written by the WA Police Commissioner to Brian McHugh (a brother of James) in September, 1896.
The State Library of S.A. generously emailed me the copy.
After reading this letter, I would say that James McHUGH died about February, 1896, and his deceased body was found in April, 1896.
Isn't it fantastic that this letter has been stored all this time, and that we can now read it!