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Day 289 +261/366 AND Day 2116: Judy with Dr. Eanes after Left Eye Surgery
doctor strange
Image by Old Shoe Woman
On Monday, September 17, 2012; Dr. Eanes removed the lens from my left eye and implanted a ReSTOR lens. Like many other patients, my brain remembered the circumstances from last Monday, and I woke up while he was doing the surgery. I felt no pain, but I could see the lights above and hear everyone talking in the OR. Unlike the first surgery, I was awake enough to move from the table to lounge chair for recovery. Like the other day, I drank some apple juice, got dressed, walked to the RR across the hall, and saw Dr. Eanes. We drove to his office, picked up a tray of food, and ate breakfast at Denny’s before Jim drove me back home.

Dr. Eanes says that I experienced what he calls "Second Eye Syndrome." He would like for a medical student to study this phenomenon. The patient stays asleep with the anesthesia during the surgery of the first eye. Using the same medicines, the brain seems to remember the circumstances and "wakes up" during the surgery on the second eye. There is no pain, but I could see through a blue covering on my face; see the lights on the ceiling, hear whirring noises of equipment, and hear the nurses conversing with Dr. Eanes. The doctor seemed to realize that I was awake because he spoke directly to me, "I’m going to move your head down." It was not a horrible situation….just strange. I can still hear the music that was playing in the OR before they started my IV with the sedative, a piano playing "The Old Rugged Cross." I almost sang along, but I didn’t want to distract the nurses. 😀

Jim was my human tripod. And….remember that Dr. Eanes was Jim’s Chemistry student years ago!
See the whole set here: www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/7996136318/

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Image by ohnochriso
Coming for you.

Comikaze 2014
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Image by V Threepio
Yellow Watermark = unedited
White Watermark = edited
Ping me if you’d like an edit, I will be happy to do so when I find the time! These photos have an attribution no derivatives license, be sure to link back to me if you’d like to share on another site! Thanks!

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Unknown boy and young woman, dated 1909
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Image by whatsthatpicture
Another discovery from The Hague. Lovely relaxed and quite intimate portrait, and she is a real beauty.

On the reverse (see below) it appears to say:
"Dear Dam(?)
I am sending you a photo of my boy – always yours …" and then I can’t make out the name, but I am wondering if it is along the lines of "Con S Ray". The S could be superscript. Possibly Constance? The date, 18 February 1909, is in another hand, and looks continental in style, so I am wondering if this was sent to Holland, and that’s how it ended up in a shop in The Hague over 100 years later? If that is so then it would have been the date that it was received, but it still suggests a date for the image of some time in 1909.

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A few nice doctor strange images I found:

Image from page 76 of “The story of Doctor Dolittle, being the history of his peculiar life at home and astonishing adventures in foreign parts” (1920)
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Image by Internet Archive Book Images
Identifier: storyofdoctordol00loft
Title: The story of Doctor Dolittle, being the history of his peculiar life at home and astonishing adventures in foreign parts
Year: 1920 (1920s)
Authors: Lofting, Hugh, 1886-1947
Subjects:
Publisher: New York : Frederick A. Stokes Company
Contributing Library: New York Public Library
Digitizing Sponsor: MSN

View Book Page: Book Viewer
About This Book: Catalog Entry
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Click here to view book online to see this illustration in context in a browseable online version of this book.

Text Appearing Before Image:
ke people well: and I can make people ill—just by raising my little finger. Send your sol-diers at once to open the dungeon door, or youshall have mumps before the morning sun hasrisen on the hills of Jolliginki. Then the King began to tremble and was verymuch afraid. Doctor, he cried, it shall be as you say.Do not raise your little finger, please! And hejumped out of bed and ran to tell the soldiersto open the prison door. As soon as he was gone, Polynesia crept down-stairs and left the palace by the pantry window. But the Queen, who was just letting herselfin at the backdoor with a latch-key, saw the par- 54 The Story of Doctor Dolittle rot getting out through the broken glass. Andwhen the King came back to bed she told himwhat she had seen. Then the King understood that he had beentricked, and he was dreadfully angry. He hur-ried back to the prison at once. But he was too late. The door stood open.The dungeon was empty. The Doctor and allhis animals were gone. THE SEVENTH CHAPTER

Text Appearing After Image:
THE BRIDGE OF APES UEEN ERMINTRUDE hadnever in her life seen her hus-band so terrible as he got thatnight. He gnashed his teethwith rage. He called every-body a fool. He threw histooth-brush at the palace cat. He rushed roundin his night-shirt and woke up all his army andsent them into the jungle to catch the Doctor.Then he made all his servants go too—his cooksand his gardeners and his barber and PrinceBumpos tutor—even the Queen, who was tiredfrom dancing in a pair of tight shoes, was packedoff to help the soldiers in their search. All this time the Doctor and his animals wererunning through the forest towards the Land ofthe Monkeys as fast as they could go. Gub-Gub, with his short legs, soon got tired;and the Doctor had to carry him—which made 55 56 The Story of Doctor Dolittle it pretty hard when they had the trunk and thehand-bag with them as well. The King of the Jolliginki thought it wouldbe easy for his army to find them, because theDoctor was in a strange land and would

Note About Images
Please note that these images are extracted from scanned page images that may have been digitally enhanced for readability – coloration and appearance of these illustrations may not perfectly resemble the original work.

Extraordinary Bodies
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Image by spike55151

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Huge chimney stack at Mt Isa Mines Xstrata Queensland.
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Image by denisbin
Mount Isa Township.
Like Broken Hill Mt Isa is an isolated outback town created because of a mineral discovery in 1923. It was part of the Cloncurry Shire council until it was declared a town with its own local government in 1963. Today it has a population of around 20,000 people but at its peak in the 1970s it had 34,000 people. The city area encompasses a huge unpopulated area making Mt Isa the second biggest city in Australia in land area! The town is basically a mining company town like Broken Hill but unlike Broken Hill and other mining centres in Australia it is such a long way from the coast and port facilities. No mining town is further from the nearest port than Mt Isa. The port of Townsville is almost 900 kms away and the capital Brisbane is over 1800 kms away.

Pastoralism came to the Mt Isa region in the 1860s and 1870s when much of outback QLD was occupied by graziers. The region was known for its mining as the Cloncurry copper and goldfields were not that far away and to the south of Mt Isa was the Duchess copper mine and township. (In 1966 the only major source of phosphate was discovered at Duchess mine.) The rocky outcrops and ranges of the area were attractive to prospectors hoping for another great mineral find after the great finds at Cloncurry in 1872.

An itinerant mineral prospector named John Campbell Miles was camped on the Leichhardt River looking at rock samples in late 1923. He found promising samples and took them to the government assayer in Cloncurry discovering that his samples were 50% to 78% pure lead with copper as well. The QLD government investigated the deposits further as Miles named the field Mt Isa. Businessmen in Cloncurry saw the potential of the area for mining. In January 1924 the Mount Isa Mines Ltd Company was floated beginning their search for investment capital to develop the site. Douglas McGillivray of Cloncurry was a major investor and his funds permitted the new company to acquire mining leases for the relevant areas. Miners flocked to the area and by the end of 1924 a small town had emerged with tents, and a few wooden buildings from other towns in the region. Mt Isa then had a school room, a water supply from the Leichhardt River and stores, hotels and an open air picture theatre!

But it was to take another 10 years before large scale mining began. MIM (Mt Isa Mines) continued to purchases additional mining leases and they searched overseas for capital as the first leases cost them £245,000. On top for this was the cost of underground explorations, drilling, metallurgical tests and plant construction. By 1932 MIM had spent around £4 million with no production, returns or profits. But the size and potential of this project was not underestimated by anyone. In 1929 the QLD government extended the railway from Cloncurry ( it reached there in 1910) via Duchess to Mt Isa. By this time the population was around 3,000 people. Mined ore was carted by road to the smelter in Cloncurry. The township had progressed too with a town planned by the Company with tree lined streets on the river, with a dam for a water supply on Rifle Creek. The mine operations were on the western side of the River and the town and businesses on the eastern side of the River. The Catholic Church opened in 1929 and the Company built a fine small hospital for the town. As the Great Depression hit MIM stopped spending on the development on the town and concentrated on the mines. By this time profits were repaying interest on the loans but the company did not return a dividend on investments until 1947.

The fortunes of Mt Isa Mines changed in the 1930s as Julius Kruttschnitt, a native of New Orleans was appointed mine manager in 1930. He obtained additional financial investment in MIM from the American Smelting and Refining Company and the first reruns on lead production occurred in 1931. By 1937 under Kruttschnitt’s guidance the almost bankrupt company of 1930 was returning profits by 1936. This manager was known for always wearing a collar, tie and suit regardless of the Mt Isa temperatures. He played sport with the miners, his wife contributed to town events and he worked on better housing for the workers. He retired from the MIM in 1953 but remained on the Company Board until 1967. At this time Mt Isa Mines became the largest single export earner for Australia and MIM was the largest mining company in Australia. Kruttschnitt died in 1974 in Brisbane. He received many Australiana and international awards for his work in mining engineering and metallurgy. He really put Mt Isa on the map.

During World War Two the mine concentrated on copper and ceased lead and silver operations as demanded by the war needs. Until this time the mine had concentrated on lead production. Labour shortages were crippling during the War years but the mine continued. Many American troops were stationed here too and the Mt Isa Hospital had an underground hospital built in case of air raids. No bombing attacks were experienced and the hospital was mainly used by nurses on night duty catching up on some sleep in the relative cool underground but the hospital still remains and is operated by the National Trust. It is unlikely that we will have free time when the underground hospital is open to visit it.
After World War Two the fortunes of Mt Isa changed remarkably. Lead prices trebled after the War from £25 per ton to £91 per ton and hence the MIM was able to pay its first dividends in 1947. Workers received a lead bonus to make their wages higher and about three times the amount of average wages in Brisbane. The population of the town doubled in the early 1950s just before Kruttschnitt retired from around 3,000 to over 7,000. It doubled again by 1961 when the population reached 13,000 and it doubled again by 1971 when it reached 26,000. New facilities came with the bigger population- an Olympic size swimming pool, some air conditioning in some buildings, bitumen roads, less dust, more hotels and employee clubs, including the Marie Kruttschnitt Ladies Club! Miners’ wages doubled during the Korean War. It was during this period the rail line from Mt Isa to Townsville became the profitable ever for the Queensland Railways. It was the profits from this line that led Queensland Rail to develop and rebuilt other lines and introduce the electric Tilt train etc. MIM discovered more and more ore deposits and firstly doubled and then trebled production in the 1950s. Mt Isa surpassed Broken Hill as Australia’s biggest and wealthiest mine.

New suburbs were built by MIM, the town became the centre of local government and the Company built a new dam for a water supply on Lake Moondarra with importer sand for a lake shore beach. As more stores opened in Mt Isa Mount Isa mines closed its cooperative store. A large new hospital was opened in 1960; the Royal Flying Doctor Service transferred its headquarters from Cloncurry to Mt Isa; and the town had a new air of prosperity and modernity. The calm soon broke. There was a major split between the Australian Workers Union, an Americana union agitator called Patrick Mackie and the Mine management over pay and profit sharing ideas. All work at the mine stopped during a bitter dispute that lasted eight months. The Liberal Country Party government which included Joh Bjelke Petersen (he was a minster and not premier in 1964) used the police to restrict the activities of the AWU and the Mackie Unionists. Many miners left the town as they could not survive without work and it took some time after the dispute resolution for the mine to restart full operations. Mining restarted in 1965.

Ten years (1974) later MIM financially assisted with the construction and opening of the new Civic Centre. Mt Isa’s population reached its maximum of around 34,000 and the future looked bright. As the ore quality declined the town population declined but MIM found new ways of extracting copper and lead from lower grade ore. The city continued to exist until MIM sold utu to Xstrata in 2003. Since the then town population has been slowly increasing. The local federal MP is Bob Katter who is proposing to create a new conservative party for the next federal election.

Mount Isa Mines Today.
In the 2001 Census over 20% of Mt Isa’s workforce was employed in mining. The town mainly survives because of the Xstrata Mines which took over the previous company, Mount Isa Mines (MIM) Ltd in 2003. Xstrata has invested 0 million in the mines since its takeover. Xstrata today employs over 3,000 staff and 1,000 contractors in the mine. Xstrata is a large multinational mining company with its headquarters in Switzerland and its head office in London. It has mines in Africa, Australia, Asia and the Americas. It miens coal, and copper primarily in Australia at places as far apart as Mt Isa, McArthur River zinc mine in the NT, Bulga coal mine and Anvil Hill coal mine in NSW and Cosmos nickel mine in WA.

Apart from the mines itself Mt Isa has other infrastructure: a power station (oil fired); an experimental mine dam; and various buildings and works such as the winding plant, shaft headframe etc. Most importantly for the township it also has the copper smelter works. The ore is further processed in the Townsville smelter after transportation to the coast. The Mt Isa smelter produced over 200,000 tons of copper in 2010 and smelted lead and the concentrator refines the ores of copper, zinc, lead and silver. Across all its mines in Australia Xstrata employs almost 10,000 people second only to its workforce in Africa. Xstrata also operates the Ernest Henry copper, gold and magnetite mines 38 kms north of Cloncurry. This group of mines is expected to employ around 500 people on a long term basis. All the ore from these mines is treated in the concentrator and the smelter in Mt Isa. The Isa smelter and concentrator also handles the silver, lead and zinc from the George Fisher( Hilton) mines 20 kms south of Mt Isa. The stack from the smelter, erected in 1978, stands 270 metres high and can be seen from 40 kms away.

Outback at Isa Discovery Centre and Riversleigh Fossil Centre.
This centre was opened in 2003. The Riversleigh Fossil Centre moved into the complex; a purpose built mine called the Hard Times mine was dug and opened to give visitors an underground mine experience; and the Isa Experience Gallery opened with an Outback Park outside. The complex also operates the Visitor Information Centre. The Isa Experience Gallery uses multimedia approaches to bring the history and Aboriginal culture and mining background of Mount Isa to life.

Riversleigh World Heritage fossil site is 250kms north of Mt Isa on the Gregory River on an isolated cattle station. The fossil site covers over 10,000 hectares and is now included in the Lawn Hill national Park. It has been a protected site since 1983 and was declared a World Heritage site of international significance in 1994. But why? Sir David Attenborough explains:

Riversleigh is the worlds’ richest mammal fossil site dating from 15-25 million years ago. The massive number of fossils discovered here are generally imbedded in hard limestone which was formed when freshwater pools solidified. This happened at time when this part of Australia was a rich rainforest area, rather than the semi-arid grassland that it is now. The fossils cover a period of 20 million years helping scientists understand how Australia, its climate and animal species changed. Most of what is known about Australia’s mammals over 20 million years was learnt from bone discoveries at Riversleigh, and the most significant ones were found in just one hour!

It is the mammals that we find the most fascinating today with large mega-fauna from prehistoric eras the most amazing. But there have also been finds of birds, frogs, fish, turtles and reptiles. The finds have included: the ancestors of Tasmanian Tigers (thylacines); large meat eating kangaroos; huge crocodiles; giant flightless birds; the ancestors of our platypus (monotreme); ancient koalas and wombats; diprotodon; giant marsupial moles and bandicoots; around 40 species of bats; and marsupial “lions”. The site has yielded a complete skull and teeth of a giant platypus and the various thylacines have added to our previous knowledge of just one- the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger.

Scientists have dug over 250 fossil rich sites at Riversleigh finding hundreds of new species. Who has heard of: dasyurids, cuscuses, ilariids and wynyardiids? I have no idea what they were. Other strange discoveries have been: ‘Thingodonta’ (Yalkaparidon) – an odd marsupial with skull and teeth like no other living marsupial; Fangaroo- a small grass eating kangaroo species with giant teeth; the Giant Rat-kangaroo, (Ekaltadeta) that ate meat( perhaps the Fangaroo); and the Emuary, (Emuarius) which was half emu and half cassowary in features. The Fossil Centre in Mt Isa has some reconstructions of some of these fossil animals of prehistoric times.

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A few nice doctor strange images I found:

Reno
doctor strange
Image by Curtis Gregory Perry

sa-20063renaultespacepointedesehar
doctor strange
Image by stephane ascoet
They love Renault Espace here on the Pointe of Séhar. Global warming threats this strange place. Just before shooting, we took a great vegan picnic in the wind 🙂 Then we watched ducks and other birds while walking around the "Étang du Vorlen" lake. This is a great break for them while they migrate.

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Brutal Murder in the Gloucestershire hamlet of Morton near Thornbury 1887
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Image by brizzle born and bred
Richard Rugman – was born on 7th February 1807 and baptised in Thornbury on 22nd March 1807. He was the son of Cornelius Rugman, a labourer and his wife, Rose (nee Baker). Richard never married but as the account of his death written below, he appeared to have a long close relationship with his housekeeper Eliza Smith. They were sharing a house in Morton Lane the 1861 census. A sale notice in 1877 shows him as the occupant of a farm opposite the Baptist Church in Lower Morton (Plot 2708 on the 1840 Tithe Map). The 1881 census shows him living in ‘Butt Lane’ listed between Mr Till at Park Farm and Gloucester Road. This may coincide with the move from the farm to the small cottage referred to in the account. This would imply that the cottage in which they lived at the time of Richard’s murder was in Butt Lane.

Eliza Smith – we think she was baptised on 19th September 1813. She was the daughter of Joseph Smith, a labourer and his wife, Ann who lived at Milbury Heath at the time of the baptism. We have been unable to trace Eliza in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. In 1861 she was living as the housekeeper of Richard Rugman in Morton Lane and she seems to have continued living with him until his murder. She survived the attack and she was living at Milbury Heath when she died aged 80. She was buried on 11th February 1890.

(information source www.thornburyroots.co.uk/ )

The riddle of Richard Rugman

It would seem that Gloucestershire was deemed a ‘ particularly dangerous place to live in the 1880s if the ‘local papers are to be believed.

Under the headline ‘Brutal Murder near Thornbury’ it announced that the county had again been ‘brought into notoriety by the commission of another murder equalling in daring and nearly surpassing in brutality one or two other outrages that have occurred within the past 18 months’.

This particular crime took place in a tiny hamlet called Morton and the victim was a man of 80 by the name of Richard Rugman. His housekeeper, Miss Eliza Smith, who was 76, was also beaten to within an inch of her life.

The April day in 1887, just prior to the Easter weekend, had been the usual sort of Thursday with a neighbour, Mrs Brown, calling in late afternoon for a chat, leaving them at around 6 o’clock to return to her own home. Another neighbour, James French, called in shortly afterwards and remained in conversation with them until a little after 7 o’clock.

Mr Rugman was sitting in his usual place by the kitchen fire and Miss Smith was seated on a settle nearby when they heard the latch on the kitchen door click and a man appeared in the room, looming over Mr Rugman and demanding he hand over £5. Miss Smith intervened at this point saying: ‘My good man, we’ve got no money to give you, we can’t afford it.’

The man, stated later by Miss Smith as being a total stranger to them, became extremely aggressive at her words and began to attack Mr Rugman with a large stick then turning to her and striking her as well.

The attack seemed little less than frenzied and the elderly couple were left lying on the floor where they remained in an unconscious state until the following morning when Miss Smith regained sufficient strength to crawl out of the front door and into the garden where she was discovered a little after nine by George Trayburn, a Thornbury trader who was calling to take their meat order.

With the help of a man called Horsman who was working nearby, Trayburn managed to carry the badly disfigured woman into the house where Mr Rugman was found lying on the floor, his head under the settle, still unconscious and having lost a great deal of blood.

Someone went to fetch a doctor and the police and everything possible was done to aid poor Mr Rugman but the prospect of his survival did not look hopeful as his injuries were appalling. He had five or six long wounds to the head and a terrible cut over the left eye and the whole of his face was covered in bruises.

His arm, with which he had attempted to protect his head, was broken above the wrist. The hat he always wore was completely smashed, the blows having broken right through the crown and the front part of the brim had, curiously enough, been cut cleanly away leading police to wonder if the bill-hook found in front of the house might have been used in the attack, although a heavy stick nearby had clearly dealt most of the blows.

Eliza Smith, too, was lucky to survive. She had been badly beaten, most of the force being directed at the left side of her body and her face was virtually unrecognisable with the right eye black and closed and a wound on top of her head. In the room itself were bloodstains over the clock case, the bellows and the mantelpiece.

The horrific incident shocked the local people to the core. Rugman and Eliza had always lived in the area and were known to everyone for miles around.

Many years ago they had both been servants but had determined to improve their lot and both of them had put aside part of their wages each week until, nearly 40 years ago, Rugman had rented a small farm, Eliza putting her savings into the venture as well. As time went by they both made wills leaving everything to the survivor.

After 29 years they decided to give up the farm and retire as Rugman had purchased a cottage years ago while still in service and a man called George Ball took over the farm. Apparently, Richard Rugman was a cheerful and popular man and was loved by all the local children who always ran to greet him when he passed by although latterly chronic rheumatism had prevented him going out much and he could only walk with the aid of crutches. He had family living in the vicinity, a sister and three brothers, one of whom was 90.

After the attack a bed was made up for him in the kitchen and he was able to recognise the many people who came to see him, including a niece who lived fairly close by. He repeatedly muttered I’m very bad; I’m going to die’, and then would lapse back into unconsciousness.

On the Saturday afternoon an old friend of his, by the name of Howell, was sitting by his bed when he suddenly said: ‘William, did a man come in and hit me with a stick? I suppose I dreamed it.’ His friend tried to establish what the attacker looked like but Rugman, who was rather deaf, made no reply and soon drifted into unconsciousness again. He finally died on the Tuesday.

The police had found it extremely difficult to piece together any sort of case. Accounts were confused and neither Rugman not Eliza Smith could give a clear picture of events because of the severity of their injuries. Robbery was the obvious motive.

Richard Rugman had been to the bank at Thornbury on the day in question and it was known throughout the neighbourhood that he had provided comfortably for his old age over the years.

However, this sort of knowledge pointed to someone in the neighbourhood familiar with Rugman’s affairs and habits and no supporting evidence backed up this theory. To the best of Eliza’s memory the intruder had only been in the house about 10 minutes and she did not believe he had gone up the kitchen stairs to her bedroom where £15 had been left in view on a table.

Neither did she recall him searching Rugman’s pockets although they were found empty.

It was thought that the man, frightened by his own violence, had fled the scene empty handed. On the Sunday word reached Sergeant Eyles that a man had left the town in the company of two others and that his shirt sleeve was spattered with blood.

Taking a trap and accompanied by constables Hemmings and Pledger, he set off in pursuit and caught up with the group at Berkeley. The man, when accosted, appeared agitated, perhaps understandably and when his shirt was examined the marks turned out to be red paint. He was a painter by trade and said he had left Bristol the night before.

The belief that the attacker was a local man gathered momentum. It was thought that a stranger would be unaware that anyone but the humblest cottager might be living in the Rugman dwelling as there were no outward trappings to indicate wealth and, inevitably, suspicions were aroused and fingers pointed at certain people in the community. Over a week passed, Richard Rugman was dead and the police were no nearer solving the crime. Eliza Smith had to be carried in to attend the adjourned inquest, wrapped in blankets and appeared extremely weak but was able to answer the questions put to her intelligibly. She was cautioned by the coroner Dr E M Grace (brother of the famous W.G. Grace) who asked her if she wished to give evidence. She replied: ‘I did not do it and I don’t know anyone who did.’

After being sworn she gave an account of the Thursday and mentioned the visits of Mrs Brown and Mr French. She said she heard someone at the door between 8 and 9 o’clock as she and Rugman sat opposite each other by the fireside. She got up from her chair to answer the knock but before she could reach the door it opened and a man entered, shutting it behind him. She could not see his face; he had his back to her then walked round the settle and stood before Rugman demanding £5. She realised he had a stick in his hand but did not see him actually strike Rugman because, she said, she was ‘so frightened.’ He then turned on her and began to deal with her in a like manner. At this stage she thought she must have passed out. All she could remember about the man was that he was tallish and wore a dark coat.

When she came to she found Rugman on the floor and tried to lift him up, without success. She spent the night in the kitchen and remembered little about those hours; and was not sure whether or not she replenished the fire, although she did recollect she should not go to her room and leave Rugman on his own. Because of his infirmities he always slept in the kitchen. She recalled leaving the house in the morning but by this time her face was so swollen she could hardly see. She remembered letting the fowls out then falling down outside and being carried in by someone whom she thought was the butcher.

She admitted that she usually kept the door locked at night and could not think why she had not done so on this occasion.

On being asked about the murder weapon she doubted whether she would recognise it although she had noticed a whitish stick with some ‘rind’ peeled off in the man’s hand when he came into the room.

She had been told it was one which had been in the garden of the cottage and picked up by the intruder before entering the cottage. Susan Brown, who had visited the couple earlier on the fateful Thursday, was then questioned, saying that she had enquired of Eliza on occasion whether she and Rugman ever quarrelled or assaulted one another and remembered Eliza saying that at the time of attack they ‘were on as good terms as they were at any time in their lives and no such thoughts entered their heads’.

Apparently, Mrs Brown had been helping Eliza after the incident, drawing water for her as she was too weak to do it herself or pour it from the well bucket. She did not believe that Rugman and Eliza ever fought.

Meanwhile, a suspect, a Francis Frederick Ponting, had been apprehended and charged with Rugman’s murder after he had made a statement implicating his guilt but it turned out he was a time waster and was nowhere near the scene of the crime on the night in question.

A week later the inquest was resumed and Dr Taylor who had examined the couple after the attack was called and cross-examined. He was asked how he thought Eliza’s injuries were produced and gave his opinion that those to the head, collar bone, neck and shoulders were caused by a blunt instrument ‘such as the stick produced’. He was then asked if he thought any of them could have been caused by a fall and he replied that the horizontal head wound was very likely caused by a fall but the blow to the collar bone he thought was sustained by direct violence.

He was then asked to speculate as to whether Eliza might have been struck by the deceased with a crutch as he sat opposite her by the fire and the doctor admitted that it was possible, adding ‘I should not like to say it is impossible’. He was then quizzed as to Eliza’s mental state and said he believed her memory to be affected by the blows administered to her and said: ‘I should not place any importance on any statements she made as regarded what happened soon after the injuries.’

Superintendent Critchley, who had taken charge of the case, had made an enquiry about the number of blows she had suffered and Dr Taylor thought at least six or seven. He was then asked by a juror if he thought Eliza could have launched an attack on Richard Rugman after having sustained these injuries and he replied that he did not think she could.

The coroner then posed the question: ‘Do you believe it possible that Richard Rugman could have inflicted the injuries on her before any injuries were received by him?’

Dr Taylor said he considered it possible he had sufficient strength before he was hurt. As to whether or not Eliza could have made the attack on Rugman before she was hurt the doctor said ‘I don’t think she could’. A neighbour from Lower Morton, Ada Howell, was then called. She described how she went to the cottage at about 9 o’clock on Good Friday morning and found both Rugman and Eliza Smith lying on the floor and George Trayburn there.

He told her that he had carried Eliza in and placed her in a chair but she had fainted, knocked over the table and slid on to the floor. She noticed that Eliza’s hands were covered with blood. Someone drew her attention to the fact that the soap was smeared with blood.

Sergeant Eyles then related his story of being called to the cottage and listening to Eliza Smith’s account of the intruder. In the room in which she was found, he said, there was a bureau but none of the drawers had been disturbed although the keys were in the top part and he had searched the bedrooms and had found nothing disturbed there. PC Hemming who had also been called to the scene testified that he had found a purse containing 13 sovereigns and there were 2 half-sovereigns, half a crown and sixpence in another purse. He called on the deceased, he said, every day until the day of his death but he never heard Rugman say anything about a man entering the cottage and attacking him.

Between 8 April and 2 May Eliza Smith had said she had met with some of her ‘accidents’ by falling down outside the house. She said she remembered perfectly well falling down twice and hurting her shoulders and head and she recollected ‘something running down her face’. Superintendent Critchley said that when he went to the house and saw Eliza Smith there was thick blood on the back of her right hand and there were also two or three grey hairs on it.

The back of the left hand was smeared with blood but the palms appeared to have been washed and he drew Sergeant Eyles attention to this fact. He mentioned it to Eliza who said: ‘Oh, I didn’t know.’ Apparently she sank back then and he did not question her further although he did elicit the information that she was certain the intruder did not go into the room where the bureau was, or upstairs.

The coroner then summed up, remarking that obviously the injuries which led to Richard Rugman’s death were not self inflicted and they had to consider what reason would lead to anyone going to the house to beat two old people.

There must have been some motive – either robbery or revenge and if that was the case was it likely they would have gone without carrying some weapon with them and it had been established the stick used was one which had already been in Rugman’s garden.

He asked the jury to consider the height of the kitchen and consider whether it was possible for a man to stand up and deliver the blows as Eliza had described.

They must either accept her evidence or disregard it entirely. He pointed out that Dr Taylor had said Eliza did not have the strength to administer the blows but they had to consider whether she could have done it when he was lying on the floor. If the jury believed that an intruder had entered the cottage and committed the crime then the verdict had to be wilful murder but if they decided Eliza and Rugman had quarrelled then the charge would be manslaughter because they would not consider in an ordinary way that Eliza Smith, using that stick, would be able to murder Richard Rugman.

The room was cleared at 8.45 to allow the jury to consider their verdict and an hour later they returned one of ‘Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown’.

So Eliza was given the benefit of the doubt. But what really happened in that firelit kitchen on the night before Good Friday in 1887? Did the elderly couple have a violent argument which led to such a vicious conclusion that one of them died?

Did Eliza concoct her story to cover up the true facts? Or did a passing stranger, perhaps someone who had kept a watch on the house and thought he would chance his luck, come in, make his demands then launch an attack through frustration in meeting resistance from a couple of old people, who refused to hand over their hard-earned cash to some ‘chancer’?

Alas, after all these years, we shall never know the truth.

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doctor strange
Image by fabola

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doctor strange
Image by fabola