Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Children of Sarah Ann Abbott- Part one- Walter

In a previous post I showed a layout I had done using the obituary of Sarah Ann Abbott. In the obituary it mentioned she had outlived 8 of her children. How sad her live must have been to be so filled with grief.

She intrigues me greatly and so I decided to start researching those children who predeceased her.

Today I started with her youngest( that Ive found so far) – Walter James.

Walter James ABBOTT was born in around 1884, 7 years after the Abbott family had emigrated to New Zealand from Warwickshire England.

It seems from the small amount of information Ive managed to find about Walter today that he was a good scholar – Coming Second in Aggregate  marks, and second in  Arithmatic for Standard 3 boys, and  at Oamaru North School in 1894 .

He received the John Richardson  medal for proficiency in drill and physical exercise inat the Otago Normal School in 1897, and he was also listed as receiving certificates in the list of prizes reported for the Scholars examinations by the Otago Sunday School Teachers Urnion in 1896 and 1898.

In approximately 1904 Walter must have moved from Oamaru to Nelson, and lived with his mother Sarah Ann. He was employed ( probably by his brother in law William Grant) as a carpenter in the building of the St Marys Orphanage.

In November 1904, Walter was involved in a display of gymnastics in conjunction with the All Saints Institute.( A Gymnasium and institute for health and moral wellbeing of the youth of Nelson)

The following article taken from the Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XXXIX, Issue 215, 2 November 1904, Page 2 describes  one of  Walter’s last exhibitions


The members of the All Saints' Institute are to be heartily congratulated on the success of their  gymnastic exhibition given before a large and appreciative audience at the Theatre last evening, [he All Saints' Institute was founded in 1891 (and is at present the only public gymnasium in the city), and although connected with the AU Saints' Church, membership is open to both sexes of any I denomination. Since its commencement a large number of people hare received physical and moral benefit, and the recent large increase of members necessitates the enlargement of the gymnasium, to which purpose the proceeds of the present display are to be devoted. The feats gone through last evening by both sexes were particularly clever and daring, and reflects great credit on the instructor (Mr A. Stephens). The programme included a maypole dance dumb bells, trapeze, parallel bars, horizontal bar, Roman rings, wands, tumbling, vaulting, blindfold boxing, crocodile march, pyramids. club swinging and a musical march. The club swinging exhibition by Mr W. Abbott was decidedly clever, and he in conjunction with Mr C. Lay ton went through some daring feats, which met with prolonged applause. These two residents are not members of the Institute, but have helped the Society along considerably by giving exhibitions in public.
Mr Oakley, junior, caused a simmer of merriment  as a clown. ……….


From numerous newspaper reports though, it appears this may have been Walter’s last performance.


This from the Bush Advocate, Volume XVI Issue 561 November 8 1904

Walter Abbott, formerly of Oamaru, a carpenter, and a well-known athlete, died at the Nelson Hospital yesterday morning. He probably strained his heart. A post mortem is likely to be held. Abbott took a leading part in an athletic display in connection with All Saints' Institute gymnasium on Thursday night, and next day he complained of a tired feeling. He was no better on Thursday evening and went to the hospital, where he died.

A later article describes how Walter, feeing fatigued after the performance,”took to his bed and seemed to get gradually worse, so that he had to be removed to the Hospital where he was delerious and death came”.


Here is another article regarding Walters death



Apparently Malignant endocarditits is a form of bacterial infection of the heart.


malignant endocarditis
Acute bacterial endocarditis, usually secondary to suppuration elsewhere and running a fulminating course. ... Synonym: septic endocarditis. ...


So it appears poor Walter had some other infection that spread to his heart, and it was not the efforts from the gymnastic display that caused his death at all.


Walter died on November 7th 1904 , aged 21 and is  buried at Wakapuaka Cemetery in Nelson NZ.

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