Posted in Stories

Ann Elizabeth Downey – A Dress in Flames

A Burning Fatality – The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 26 Oct 1903 – TROVE

Ann Elizabeth Downey was apparently widely know as Elizabeth.  She was the first child of Alice and George Downey and was born in 1895 in Tamworth, New South Wales.  It’s interesting to note that Alices’ mother’s name was Ann nee: Orman and George’s mother’s name was Elizabeth nee: Arney/Harney, but it is only speculation on my part to suggest this child had been named after her grandmothers.

Ann Elizabeth was simply putting the kettle on the fire when her life, and that of her parents , was changed for evermore when her dress caught alight.  Her burns must have been significant and treatment of severe burns in the early 1900’s would not have met her needs. Prior to the 1950’s it was expected that a person would not survive burns if they covered 20% or more of the body.  Ann Elizabeth may have been treated with topical medicines perhaps in the nature of lard, honey, butter, eggs and milk, flour, vinegar, turpentine or plant oils – general treatments that had been used for many years prior to her accident. She would almost certainly have succumbed to infection of her open wounds, as this was the common cause of death amongst burns victims of the era.

How terribly sad to loose a child.

I wonder if there are any surviving pictures of her amongst the family?



Treatment of Burns 1900’s:

Burns Care:



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