Tuesday, 28 November 2017

"Accidental Death or “Spontaneous Human Combustion” - Gawler

I thought this week we might return to a blog wrote on The Haunts of Adelaide back on Tuesday, 15 April 2014 titled Accidental Death or “Spontaneous Human Combustion” (found here: http://hauntedadelaide.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/accidental-death-or-spontaneous-human.html)

This was a story I uncovered whilst researching various stories in my hometown of Gawler, that I thought interesting enough to be made public. 

To sum up the story, it is about Mrs Margaret Nicholls, an elderly and feeble lady who took up residence in a small cottage in Gawler, owned by Mary Broderick. The cottage was situated on Finniss street in Gawler.

On June 30th, 1883 Mrs Nicholls was found dead and there was much speculation as to how she died…some believed she was smoking in bed, and caused her bed clothes to ignite, thus burning her to death, others believed that a candle she often had lit as she went to bed, caused a fire on a nearby chair, that then took hold of her bedding, burning the poor woman to death.
The official outcome by a jury after the inquest held in Mrs Nicholls Death:

"That the deceased was accidentally burnt to death, but there was no evidence to show how the fire originated." [1]

It would seem my research into the details of the case have come into question by a party that thinks they are above reproach in the local paranormal community, but, as many know, simply are not. My research on this case was criticised publically, with the accuser pointing fingers at me for publishing that it could POSSIBLY be a case of spontaneous human combustion.  With the above conclusion by the jury and evidence supplied by local Police Constable Doherty, one can speculate that the possibility of spontaneous human combustion is entirely possible! (please note, I have NEVER said it has been proven either way as to what caused the fire).

Evidence was given by Police Constable M. Doherty, Gawler Police, during the inquest. (printed in the South Australian Advertiser Mon 2nd July 1883.)

He was called at 7.30 a.m. on Saturday to deceased's house. He saw some feathers on the floor and in the back yard. Thos. Hutchins pointed out the remains of the deceased. A portion of the right foot was lying nearly under the front bar of the bedstead. The left foot was about a yard distant from the other. The whole of the trunk was consumed, as were also the legs and arms—in fact, everything but the head.
The head was burning when he arrived, and he put water upon it. There were some portions of flannel wrappers round the neck, and the head had been covered by calico pinned tightly round. There were no stockings on the feet, and there was about five or six inches of the shin attached to the left foot. A portion of the mattress had been burned.
There was no trace of any bedclothes on the floor besides those which were around the head.

What we DO know about Mrs Nicholls death. She was not smoking in bed at the time. The fire was not caused by a pipe that threw ashes into the bed, as speculated in one newspaper, there was no conclusive proof of a candle, or any other fire source being present in the room.

 The evidence of accidental death by fire was so inconclusive that a jury of police, doctors and other learned people could not find a conclusion for the fire, nor how Mrs Nicholls body could be so fire-ravaged that only sections of her remained. Yet, other furniture and rugs in the room had no damage from flames…with regard to the statements above, taken from the inquest report, one can speculate, as I did, that spontaneous human combustion is entirely possible in this situation!
 For any to make a comment that my research is incorrect or untruthful is pure arrogance. This does not surprise me, as the person concerned has long stolen my work as their own, and continues to make unfounded criticism of my work, and others in the field, all the stealing or using others hard work as their own.

We can all come to our own conclusions about what happened to Mrs Nicholls, but we cannot deny the jury’s outcome or the inquest outcome. We can also not deny the amazing similarities between the circumstances of Mrs Nicholls death, and the state of her body, against those of other spontaneous human combustion cases around the world. 

Was it spontaneous human combustion?
 We will never know…rest in peace Mrs Nicholls…

Researched & Written by Allen Tiller  - 2017 Emerging South Australian Historian of the Year.


More About Spontaneous Human Combustion.
Arnold, Larry E. Ablaze! The Mysterious Fires of Spontaneous Human Combustion. New York: M. Evans & Co., 1996.

Howard K, 2017. Spontaneous Human Combustion: Fact Or Fiction?. All That is Interesting, viewed 17 November 2017, http://all-that-is-interesting.com/spontaneous-human-combustion

1883 'DEATH BY BURNING.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 2 July, p. 6. , viewed 17 Nov 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33765005

[1] 1883 'DEATH BY BURNING.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 2 July, p. 6. , viewed 17 Nov 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33765005

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

A Haunted Doll: Emiri

Emiri came from the United States in 2010. I bought her from ebay, with little hope she was actually haunted, but with the thought of, if she might be, it would be interesting to experiment with her, and see if I could gather any data via experimentation.

The following letter came attached with Emiri:
“This doll belonged to my Mother, she used to take her everywhere. Emiri loves car rides, she has always been talkative, she also likes to draw with coloured pencils, especially red ones.
 She rode a lot when she was alive and still loves it, along with travel games.
She says she choked on some fast food and died, it seems like it was French fries.
 She is easily annoyed, and doesn’t like to be handled and cuddled a lot.
She likes to quietly play.
We have seen her move and our belt buckles in the car buckle on their own.
 When inside her host changes positions, or ends up flipped over.
She prefers to be away from other dolls.”

I ran countless experiments with different gadgets, but to no avail, nothing ever came from anything I tried. I did, on occasion ask psychics, who knew nothing about the dolls past, to hold her, and only one, a sensitive person, who claimed no special abilities, was able to deliver something very similar to the back story provided by the original owners.
 At the time that intrigued me, but In retrospect, it was much more likely to be coincidence, or they had seen the same doll for sale online!

Emiri travelled to a lot of locations that I investigated, including St Johns Cemetery near Kapunda, but her real claim to fame was on TV show Haunting: Australia, where she had a minor role in the Gledswood Homestead episode.

 I used Emiri on the show to see if myself and Ian Lawman could interact with the spirit of a small girl, that psychic Rayleen Kable had felt died in a small room just a little bit away from the main homestead, thought to be quarters set aside for convict workers.
 Whilst we were in the room, Ian and I noted temperature drops, and high EMF readings (the readings were cut from the episode), but no other equipment registered anything abnormal. Later it would be revealed that when Rayleen was investigating the room, she picked up on a young girl named Isabel.
 Isabel would reveal herself through an EVP, in which she clearly replies with the answer of “yes” to one of Rayleen’s questions.

I don’t believe Emiri to be haunted, but I am also not a psychic, and maybe she won’t reveal herself to me, but as many of you know, there are no strict answers in the spiritual realm, so could Emiri and Isabel have met on the spiritual plane, and interacted, thus giving the sensations of cold spots, breathing sounds and EMF readings, or was it just our imaginations being hyped out about investigating an allegedly haunted location, and with the tiredness that creeps in after running such a tight shooting/ investigation schedule (Gledswood was the third location we filmed after Woodford Academy and Australiana Pioneer Village).
Head on over to my facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AllenHauntingAustralia/ to watch a short video from the episode.

So what do you believe?
 Can a doll be a container for a spirit to dwell? 
Can an object be haunted?

Tell us your thoughts over on the Haunts of Adelaide Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheHauntsOfAdelaide/

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Lance Tiller: Credit Union Christmas Pageant


 Lance Tiller: Credit Union Christmas Pageant

Across 5 decades, and for 40 consecutive years, my uncle, Lance Tiller, rode his penny farthing bicycle in the historic John Martins Christmas Pageant, now known as the Credit Union Christmas Pageant.

 The Penny Farthing was invented in 1870 in England (also known as the High-wheel). The name Penny Farthing comes from two English coins, used to describe the bikes wheels, due to their size.
My uncles Penny Farthing once belonged to a gentleman at Middle Beach, named Samuel Temby. (as an interesting side-note, my Uncle owned the Middle Beach caravan park for several years during the late 1980’s early 1990’s, and I believe my grandfather’s pool table is still there!)

 Mr Temby’s son began to ride the bike around Middle Beach. Later he moved to Mallala, and the old bike was put in the shed, and mostly forgotten.

In the late 1950’s my uncle purchased the penny farthing from the Tenby’s and learned how to ride the bike. Its seat sat 1.5 metres in the air, and one had to run alongside the bike, and use a small step to jump up into the seat!

 It was in Gawler that Lance applied for a position in the John Martin’s Christmas Pageant. In a story shared with me by my uncle, he claims that the members of the pageant drive out to Gawler, and asked him to ride the penny farthing in traffic up and down the main street of Gawler, to prove he had control of the bicycle.
At my parents in Gawler, circa 1965

 It must’ve worked, as he rode in the pageant for many years afterwards, sometimes dressed as a clown, other times riding alongside the English bus.
 Lance only retied after a pageant in the early 2000’s in which a member of the large crowd, dressed in wolf costume, leaped from the audience and slammed into his bike, causing Lance to fall heavily from the height of the seat – an injury as a sixty something year old man at the time, he has never fully recovered from.

 The Credit Union Christmas Pageant has been one of the highlights of my Uncles life, and his face and eyes light up whenever he speaks of it, so I thought, I would share some of his story with you, before father time catches up with him, and his story is forgotten.

Perhaps, one day, I might take up a position with the Adelaide Credit Union Christmas Pageant, and continue my uncles tradition!

The Mallala Museum bought Uncle Lance’s Penny Farthing bicycle and it is still on display as an exhibit.

Mallala Museum, 2013, Penny Farthing Bicycle, Now and Then Mallala, viewed 5 Nov 2017, http://mallala.nowandthen.net.au/Penny_Farthing_Bicycle

Written by Allen Tiller  © 2017