Towards the back of The Bight Cemetery is a headstone that seemingly identifies the deaths of four members of the Brown family in 1923. What is the story that lies behind this stone?
Arthur Manning Brown was born at The Bight near Wingham in 1884. He was a son of one of the region’s pioneering families Edward and Sarah Brown.1 Arthur worked as a farmer and in 1912 married Elizabeth Mary Weekes.2 The couple had four children Winsome, Marjorie, Wesley, and Marie.3
In 1923 pneumonia struck the Manning Valley with at least six deaths reported and many more people hospitalised with the illness.4 On 24 August after being ill for a month with pneumonia Elizabeth passed away. There was great mourning in the community for this woman who was highly regarded by all. The saddest aspect of her death was that her husband Arthur, who was also struck down with pneumonia, was so ill that he was unaware of his wife’s passing. There was a report that Arthur’s health was improving but he never regained consciousness and died 11 days later.5
The two children mentioned on the stone did not die at the same time as their parents. Marjorie died in 1918 aged 2 years and Wesley Kelvin died at 3 months old in 1921.6 The couple’s two daughters Winsome and Marie survived childhood with Winsome marrying William Griffith in 1934 and later living at Rawdon Vale, while Marie became a nurse starting her career at Orange Base Hospital.7
Author: Janine Roberts
1 NSW BDM, birth index No. 21538/1884.
2 NSW BDM, marriage index No. 5504, 1912.
3 NSW BDM, birth index No. 11504, 1913; birth index No. 22173, 1916; death index No. 15198, 1921, Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 18 May 1937, 2.
4 Search of articles in Northern Champion, Manning River Times and Wingham Chronicle, 1923.
5 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 7 September 1923, 4.
6 NSW BDM, death index No. 3690, 1918; death index No. 15198, 1921.
7 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 22 July 1938, 4.