Every death has a certain amount of grief and sadness attached to it, but it always seems that much keener when it is a child.
In 1909, parents Francis and Maria Gibson, newly arrived to the Northern Rivers, must have stood at the Alphadale graveside of their 11 year old son Samuel and mourned the loss of opportunity the young lad could have had. They would never see him grow to become an independent young man, with his own dreams, goals and family.
The small gravestone of Samuel Gibson. Photo: Samantha Elley
All this because he was being a typical boy of his age and had climbed a tree at his school at Pearce’s Creek.
The children were on their recess break, and the playground would have been filled with the sounds of playing, laughing and generally enjoying the Spring day before they had to go back into class. Young Sam was believed to be 20 feet from the ground of a tamarind tree when he clutched at, or stood on, a rotten branch that gave way causing him to fall heavily to the ground.
He didn’t die straight away but instead lingered for seven days. The local newspaper, The Northern Star reported continuously on his condition, mentioning the hard time Sam’s parents were having.
The local Sunday School prayed for him as the community waited to see if he would gain consciousness. The doctors, and obviously his parents, held out hope that he would recover but it was not to be.
Sam’s funeral was held on November 2, 1909 and a short service was held at Pearce’s Creek School before a very large funeral cortege made its way to the cemetery where his little grave lies next to those of his grandparents, Robert and Ann Trimble.
The inscription reads:
One less at home - a dear face missed from its accustomed place.
One more in heaven.
‘Fall from a tree’, The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, November 8, 1909, P.7
‘The Pearce’s Creek School Accident’, Northern Star, Friday October 29, 1909, P.2
‘Sad Accident’, Northern Star, Thursday, October 28, 1909, P.2
Death ‘Samuel Gibson’, bdm.nsw.gov.au, accessed June 16, 2018.
This article first appeared in The Northern Star, 23rd June, 2018.