This photograph from the 1960s shows the headstone of William Baird at the Angel Close Historic Cemetery in Forster. William Baird was born in 1851 in Sydney1 and moved to the Manning River district where he married Jane Croker in 1872.2 William was working as a ship carpenter for Mr Breckenridge at Cape Hawke in 1874 when tragedy struck. According to newspapers William suddenly died after drinking a large quantity of water “while heated with violent exercise”.3 Perhaps what is known today as heat stroke. The coroner’s inquest held at Bulahdelah found that William died of natural causes.4 His death left his wife Jane with a one year old daughter Mary and heavily pregnant with her yet to be born son William.5
Following William’s death Jane remarried in 1877 to Felix Emanuel Mead.6 Felix worked as a shipwright for Henry Miles at Forster and lived on a property at Darawank opposite what is today (2021) called Manns Road.7 Felix and Jane had another four children Robert, Muriel, Harold and Grace.8
Jane died in 1909 at the Darawank property from an incurable internal ailment aged 58 years.9 Felix died in 1933 aged 79 after he had a seizure while working at Forster slip.10 Jane and Felix are both buried in the Failford Cemetery.
In 2021 there is no longer a remnant of William Baird’s headstone at the Angel Close Historic Cemetery.
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 NSW BDM, birth index for William J Baird, No. 40/1851 V18514051.
2 NSW BDM, marriage index for William Bavid [sic] and Jane Croker, No. 2605/1872.
3 Armidale Express and New England Advertiser, 8 May 1874, 4.
4 Ancestry.com.au, Register of Coroners’ Inquests, 20 April 1874.
5 NSW BDM birth indexes for Mary Baird, No. 17397/1873 and William Baird, No. 17968/1874.
6 NSW BDM, marriage index No. 3458/1877.
7 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 2660-150.
8 NSW BDM, birth indexes for Robert No. 18362/1882, Muriel No. 21564/1884, Harold No. 24159/1888 and Grace No. 23242/1889.
9 Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, 19 November 1909, 2.
10 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 16 December 1933, 6.