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Elizabeth Frances Bendell - Bardoc

Elizabeth Frances Sullivan was born in 1879 at Rathkeale, County Limerick, Ireland, the fifth of eleven children born to Johanna O’Sullivan and Edward Vaughan, a Clerk of the Petty Sessions, in Ireland.

Elizabeth’s siblings were

David John (1873 - 1919),

George Francis, (1875 - ?),

Edward Thomas (1877 – 1924),

Norah Isabelle (1878 – 1880),

Daniel Francis (1880 - ?),

Michael Joseph (1882 - ?),

Alice Mary ((1883 - ?),

John James (1885 – 1889),

William Charles (1886 – 1887)

Patrick Joseph (1889 – 1954).

In 1898, at the age of 19, Lizzie, as she was known, travelled to Australia with a group of 13 young girls.

She was 22 when she married Constable Norman Hall Bendell at Kalgoorlie in 1902[1]. The new Mrs Bendell was well-known at Kalgoorlie. The couple moved to Bardoc, north of Kalgoorlie, where Constable Bendell was Officer-in-Charge.

On 5 April 1904, Eva Roberts, a general servant, said she was washing and had already lit the copper. A little later, Mrs Bendell came to the copper and put some water from the kettle into the copper. A few minutes later, she came into the lockup where Eva Roberts was washing. Miss Roberts turned and saw that Mrs Bendell’s dress was on fire. She immediately called out to Mr Bendell. Then Mrs Bendell ran from the lock-up to the police-station, a distance of about 20 yards, with Miss Roberts running after her, trying to pull the burning dress off, but to no avail. Mrs Bendell ran into the office to her husband.

Meanwhile, Ralf Harris, a schoolboy aged about 10 years, was 15 yards from the police station gate. He saw Mrs Bendell with her dress on fire, running towards the station, screaming. She fell three times on the step.

When asked, Mrs Bendell could not say how the fire occurred. The wrapper she was wearing was of a very fine material. The copper was an ordinary portable washing copper. The weather was very windy.

Constable Norman Bendall, the police officer in charge at Bardoc, was in his office and had just closed his monthly returns when he heard a loud scream. On turning around on the office chair, he saw his wife standing in the doorway. In flames.  She was praying with her hands clasped, saying “Holy Mother of God, save me!" Bendell clasped her in his arms as she said, “Norman, save your poor Lizzie!"

Norman Bendell blocked the flames from her breast and snatched a blanket from an adjoining room and placed it around her. He carried her to the back verandah, where assistance then arrived, Mrs Smith coming quickly on the scene. Constable Bendell sent an urgent telegram for Dr Kelly, of Broad Arrow, who arrived three quarters of an hour after the accident. Dr Kelly did all that he possibly could do for Mrs Bendell, who was suffering from severe shock. Nine-tenths of her body was burned and she was crying out in pain. Even if she recovered from the shock, there was no hope of her recovering from the burns. Her dress was completely burned off. Sadly, conscious to the last, poor Lizzie died at sunset. She was just 24 years of age.

The funeral of Mrs Bendell took place on 6 April 1904 at the Bardoc Cemetery. The ceremony at the grave was conducted by the Rev. Canon Robinson. Mrs Bendell was highly respected in Bardoc and the neighbourhood and great sympathy was extended to Mr Bendell.

A plaque for Mrs Elizabeth Frances Bendell, was placed at the Bardoc Cemetery on 16 August.

References:

Trove - Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 - 1916) / Tue 19 Apr 1904 / Page 10 / BARDOC FATALITY.

Vaughan Family Tree

 

[1] Marriage Registration Number 1635/1902, Kalgoorlie, WA

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