9 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

machines were fed be

machines were fed be provided with rails in order to give the workers some protection from serious injury. There was a tragic accident at the railway station when a boy about fourteen years old attempted to board a moving train, slipped, and was so seriously injured that he died shortly after being admitted to hospital. To get medical attention as quickly as possible, the boy was put on the train which stopped at Tancreds Road to pick up Dr. Preston who lived nearby and who accompanied the boy to the hospital. 13 The doctors Accounts of events such as an accident or a sudden death were often presented as short paragraphs in the newspapers with little or no information about the doctors who may have attended the scene of an accident. Here we attempt an account of those pioneer doctors who used their skills to aid the injured, help the sick, and to maintain public health, under circumstances which are difficult to comprehend today. The names of those who attended patients in the first decade of Lincoln’s history are unknown, and the only doctor certainly associated with Lincoln is the coroner, Dr. Coward, who was based in Christchurch. In 1866 he found that young Betsy Rollo, whose family farmed in the district, had died of natural causes and four years later that Patsy Egan had died of “disease of the heart” whilst cutting flax in a paddock on Mackey’s farm at the corner of the Lincoln Tai Tapu Road and Ellesmere Road (Stoddart’s Corner). The primary school centenary booklet refers to a Dr. Pin who worked in the district, but his identity remains a mystery. However, a Dr. Prins was practising in Christchurch from about 1876 and the reference may well have been to him. 14 He attended Jemsina Sluis, entrepreneurial wife of Joseph Sluis, the first hotel keeper in Lincoln, in her last illness, and would have been known in the district although at the time the Sluis’s were were living in Christchurch. The first doctor to be certainly associated with the village was Dr. Patrick, who in 1871 was practising in Oxford Terrace, when he attended a Lincoln boy who had broken his leg. 15 Dr. Patrick came to New Zealand in 1866 for health reasons and soon established himself in Christchurch where he practised for some years before returning to England. Poor health forced his return to New Zealand where he remained until his death in 1894. 166

The first doctor to live reasonably close to Lincoln was Dr. W.H. Symes who settled in Prebbleton in 1873, 16 but he seems to have lived there for only a short time, because by 1875 Dr. J.C. Durham had replaced him. Dr. Durham was the first local doctor known to attend patients in Lincoln. In 1875 The Press reported that Dr. Durham of Prebbleton was called to attend a Lincoln man who had attempted suicide, and that he examined John Blair who drowned in a creek near his home in Lincoln. 17 Dr. Durham was born in India, trained in the United Kingdom, and moved to New Zealand about 1874 where he was registered as a medical practitioner. After registration he worked in Akaroa Hospital as Medical Officer before moving to the Prebbleton-Lincoln area in 1875 where he remained until about 1878 when T.O. Guthrie became the resident doctor. It was during Dr. Durham’s tenure that a public dispensary opened in Lincoln. It was run by a Mr. W.H. Brodrick who “could offer advice, provide medicine, and visit” patients as required, for a moderate price! 18 It is not known how long the dispensary was in business. Dr. Guthrie practised in Lincoln, but like all his colleagues he had a large district to serve and his health suffered as a consequence. Although not much is known of his activities in the district he was much respected and there was consternation when it was announced that indifferent health demanded that he took an extended break from his work. Because it was hoped that he would return within the year it was resolved at a public meeting that rather than sell his practice he should employ a locum tenens Any locum employed by Dr Guthrie would be welcomed. Dr A.C. Preston who was chosen to fill the gap was not so popular. An advertisement, placed by well known locals, advising the “inhabitants of Lincoln, Tai Tapu, Springston, and surrounding districts” that as Dr. Guthrie was “unable to resume his practice amongst us” a public meeting was called to consider the possibility of employing a second doctor in the district. 19 The well attended meeting generated heated debate and it seemed that a second doctor would satisfy most, until J.C. Tancred pointed out that such a decision, with its implications of incompetence on the part of Dr. Preston, would doubtless result in the departure of the incumbent doctor and was unlikely to encourage another to consider moving to the area. This argument carried the day and it was finally agreed that Lincoln and surrounding districts did not have the population to support two doctors. Dr. Guthrie, a Scot, did not return to Lincoln but instead practised in Timaru where the work load was lighter. About ten years later, in 1884, he moved to Lyttelton as Public Health Officer as well as holding a commission in the volunteers. He died in Wellington in December 1917 when he 167

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