The latest episode of “Heenan in the News” comes from New Zealand about a young child who had an accident in a playground.
THAMES STAR, VOLUME XXXIX, ISSUE 9557, 26 JANUARY 1900
In case the clipping isn’t clear, I’ve made a transcript.
A Painful Accident
A little girl named Ida Heenan, about ten years old, who is spending her holidays with her grandmother Mrs Robinson, of Tararu, met with a serious accident about 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon. It appears that she went up to the picnic at Omahu and was riding on a merry-go-round, which had been erected by Mr Somervell for the amusement of the children. A number of boys suddenly rushed the merry-go-round with the result that it broke down and the little girl was thrown underneath. She sustained a simple fracture of the left thigh. Some of those present put her thigh in splints and took her to the railway station. She was brought to the Thames by train and taken to the hospital where she was attended to by Dr Aubin.
It sounds like she was lucky not to have had even more serious injuries. But the incident clearly put an end to her holiday adventures.
Who was Ida Heenan?
It didn’t take much research to find that she was born as Frances Ida Heenan in 1890, daughter of John Henry Heenan and Frances Robinson. She was their first child, born the year of their marriage. They had two further children: William Allen Heenan born in 1893 and Francis John Heenan born in 1896. Francis John did not survive very long – his death is recorded in Thames in 1897.
John Henry was the son of John Henry Heenan who seems to have resided in Sydney. Australia for a time but had died by 1890. Further information about John Henry Heenan (junior) is unclear.
There was a John Henry Heenan listed on the electoral register for Waikato, Thames, in 1890. He is resident at Tararu, Thames and is a miner . There is also a John Henry Heenan in the World War 1 New Zealand Army Reserve Rolls in 1916-17 for the 1st division at Hauraki. He is described as a farmer at Whitianga.
I can’t be sure these records relate to the same man or that either of them is definitely Ada’s father.
Tararu is a small community just north of Thames, which is the gateway to the Coramandel pensinsula, north island. European settlement began in 1867 when land was rented from the Maori inhabitants for mining purposes for the sum of £5,000 per year, a colossal sum in the mid 19th century.
The area experienced a gold rush, with the first major discovery of gold being made on 10 August 1867 by William Hunt, in the Kuranui Stream at the north end of Thames. The era from 1868 to 1871 were the bonanza years for the town with gold production topping one million pounds sterling at its peak.
After the gold began to diminish, so did the population of Thames. It is still the biggest town on the Coromandel with many of its inhabitants involved in the tourism business.
As for Ida Heenan, she married Adolphus Midwinter in 1907 . They seem to have moved around many times, between Te Aroha, to Hutt, Wellington and finally Aukland where her husband died in 1943. Of Ida’s death I can find no trace.