Family history repeats

MATTHEW GRAY
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014

A large crowd of Freemasons gathered at the Druids Hall in Mt Eden on July 6, 1926 to farewell one of their own.

The dead man was George Thomas Rollerson, a railway worker who was killed in a freak accident at Mokoia in South Taranaki.

It was the Masonic Lodge at nearby Hawera that arranged for the body to be transported to Auckland - yet another sign of respect for its late member.

George was a 49 year-old father of four when a workplace accident claimed his life four days earlier.

A train to Whanganui was pulling in to the station where he was based when he somehow stumbled and fell into a space between the carriages and the platform. No-one saw him go down and the train was still moving when one of its guards looked to the ground and noticed the mutilated body below.

George's widow Leah and their children accompanied the coffin back to Auckland for the funeral and burial in a family plot at Waikumete Cemetery.

History had repeated itself in a sense.

Already interred there was George's dad, who he was named after, who'd also died relatively young after a long illness back in 1887 at the age of 38.

Two generations of children were therefore left fatherless early on in their lives. Grandparents Elijah and Caroline were the first members of the family to emigrate from England during the mid 1860s. They lived in Auckland for five years before moving to Thames. George's father returned just prior to his death to run a boarding house at Newton.

- Western Leader

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