The Micro-cremator Part 2 and So Much More.

Today is the 30th of May 2022, and it is about 14 months since we last discussed the Micro-cremator, Kate or George. Sorry for the delay, but if you have checked out this blog recently, you will have seen that I have tried to keep up with the family stories and have created a number of new posts in that time.

I just go with where the stories take me and don’t put any expectation on myself that turns this into a chore. Apart from being a husband and a dad, this is my purpose at the moment. Creating, writing and sharing the family journey.

At the risk of hijacking Kate and George’s story, writing and researching have become my passion. I actually get a wave of excitement in my stomach every time I sit down at the computer with an idea of what I want to find out. Yeah, it’s not just wind either, although the boys and I are pretty good at that particular skill. Alex too, but she is the stealth bomber.

Anyway, enough of me, back to Kate, George and most importantly, Kate’s amazing invention, the Micro-cremator. My plan for this post is to not only continue with the story of the Micro-cremator but also Kate and George’s stories as well, as they are all inextricably linked.

Just to remind ourselves, here is that amazing photo of Kate’s dad, Ebenezer demonstrating how the Micro-cremator works.

Ebenezer Thorne demonstrates the use of the Micro-Cremator
Figure 1: Generously shared by New Plymouth District Council

We last discussed all three in my post, “A Lady Dr’s Motivations” back in March of last year, where I discussed what, out of my research specifically on Kate and her family, I thought were the motivating factors for her inventing the Micro-cremator. This was the big picture stuff surrounding their story.

Specifically, in relation to Kate and George’s story, we left them back in June 1902 when Kate was writing to the Australian Star newspaper complaining about the dust in Sydney and the lack of anything being done to minimise its effects in her opinion. George was only 11 months back from South Africa, where he was fighting against the Boer army for Queen and country.

I’m going to share with you now one of the most amazing finds I have had, a second confirmed picture of George. I discovered that he returned to Australia on the SS Damascus and in one of the articles published there were photos of those soldiers who were on board.

Soldiers on Board the SS Damascus, July 1901
Figure 1a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Luckily for us, there was a list of names printed underneath the photo and double lucky, George is not one of those under the white shadow.

Figure 1b: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Trooper George A Nicoll, July 1901
Figure 1c: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 1d: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 1e: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

They are only 18 months away from their wedding day, so I’m assuming they would have been engaged by this stage or perhaps even before he left in April 1900. Of course, there is no way to confirm this, which is so frustrating.

Fast-forward to March 6th, 2021, Alex, the boys and I were lucky enough to travel down to Sydney for a friend’s wedding just before the lockdowns came in force for us regionally and Sydney city. When we are in Sydney we always end up doing a walk-by of St Jame’s church and this time we were so fortunate, that the front door was open, and we just walked in. This is of course where George & Kate marry on the 11th December 1903. Xander took the amazing exterior shot, please excuse the bald bearded bloke who managed to get into the shot.

I wonder how much of this view was there when Kate and George took their vows? There is something really special about inhabiting the same space as your ancestors. Of course, the rest of the family would have been in the pews witnessing their union, I just stood there drinking it in.

After that amazing opportunity, we then went searching for the house Kate was in when she made her patent application in Oct 1902, (discussed in the previous post) at 17 Forsythe St, Glebe.

Figure 5a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Just adding some of my histories to the mix. To get to Glebe we of course caught a bus up to Broadway from the city and then walked down to Glebe from there. The bus we caught? Pretty iconic one for my family, the 423 Earlwood, now known as the Kingsgrove 423.

This bus went straight past my Nan’s (Kathleen Nicoll, nee Ashton) front door in Homer Street, Earlwood and many of our front doors over the decades. We have caught it thousands of times to get to and from the City.

Figure7 shows the bus crossing the Cook’s River Bridge at Undercliffe. I was only 3 at the time of this photo, but within 12 years I and my family would be living in that block of units to the left. We were in flat 5 and this is the last place we lived as a family before Mum and Dad split up. I just recently found out that the group of white houses and the shop next to the bus were all owned by my 2x Great Grandfather, Henry John Blackwood back in the 1920s.

In Figure 8 the bus is sitting at the intersection of Illawarra Road and Harnett Avenue at the Warren in Marrickville. This was one of my Nan’s favourite shopping spots. On the opposite corner to the bus was a Woolworths. I have vivid memories of Nan saying, on many occasions, that she was just popping up to the Warren to get something.

Back to Kate and her house. And here it is. I know I shared a Google Map photo of it in my previous post, but here are my photos of it. We were in the same spot as Kate 120 years later. Yeah, I touched the walls, the steps and the fence. (Click on the image to open up to full size.)

Now I’m definitely value-adding here, but the next day after discovering Kate’s house I paid a quick visit to Rookwood and found George’s Mum’s resting place. Jane Anne Nicoll née Zahel.

Figure 13: Courtesy of Catholic Cemeteries
Jane Anne Nicoll, née Zahel’s, final resting place
Figure 14: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

The headstone on the immediate right of the photo is the Yansey family which is grave number 98, Jane’s is 93 which puts her roughly in the middle of the picture. I know from my research on George’s brother Charles Bruce Nicoll that there was a dispute about money amongst the brothers when Jane passed away in 1908. In documents, I uncovered at NSW State Archives, they talked about purchasing a headstone for her, but sadly, it obviously never happened.

Right, so we have reacquainted ourselves with where Kate and George are up to, and I’ve shared a bit of recently uncovered history on them both, and me, now to the Micro-cremator. In researching this topic, I thought it would be best once again to try to follow a bit of a timeline to help us understand how the story developed. From what I can understand, once Kate had the patent protection on her invention, the next step was to share how it actually worked and how this cured consumption.

The earliest mention I came across of this occurring was from December 1902 in an article printed about the Australian Natives Association committee elections where it was also discussed, passing on an invitation to Kate to come and present a lecture on the Microcremator early in the new year.

Figure 15: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 16: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Did you recognise the family connection in that article? Charles Bruce Nicoll, Kate’s future brother-in-law. How wonderful that the family were willing to assist Kate in getting the message out on the benefits of her machine. What is not so wonderful for me, is the Association that Charles is President of. This is one of those moments where we bump up against the outright prejudice of the past.

The Australian Natives Association was named for those native-born of Immigrant white parents, not those who were First Nations people. With the small amount of research I have done on the association, it is clear that they were established with good intentions to support those less fortunate in the community but they supported a White Australia policy well before it became an official government policy. The Immigration Restriction Act had already been enacted in Parliament well before Kate’s invitation, on the 21st December 1901, effectively allowing the new Commonwealth government to create a predominately white society. (

These insights do certainly colour my view of the family and are a constant struggle with how to sit with them if that makes any sense.

I can’t find a photograph of the Dispensary building, that Kate was to deliver her lecture in but I did find this wonderful sketch of it when it was first proposed to be built in 1899. I’m assuming it would have come from the architect’s drawings. It was situated on the Petersham side of Parramatta Road. I have done a Google Map walk down this section of the road and can find no trace of the building.

Figure 17: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Kate gives her lecture in this building on the 16th of January as stated above, but before that, there were small mentions being made of Kate and her invention that started appearing in different publications such as this one from the “They Say…” column of the Molong Express.

Figure 18: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

It is very interesting to note the statement about medical men with knowledge of Kate’s invention, the Micro-cremator, saying it is based on the best principles for the cure of consumption. This sounds very supportive, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t last long. All will be explained soon.

There might be a bit of a correction warranted here, I’m not sure if Kate did deliver the first lecture in the Leichhardt and Petersham Friendlies Society Dispensary as mentioned above. I can find no write-up from the evening of the 16th. If Kate did deliver the lecture in this building then here is a nice bit of historical context for us. Look who was delivering their own lecture the night before.

Figure 18a: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Sir Edmund Barton the first Prime Minister of the newly federated colonies of Australia. I have only shared the first page of the article but this is a fascinating read and insight into the societal norms of the time for those of Anglo-Saxon background. If you are interested check it out on Trove.

Sir Edmund Barton, PM
Figure 18b: Courtesy of Britannica

The first article on Kate’s lecture that I could find is one below from Saturday 31st of January. This article confirms the date of this lecture, and it also confirms for the first time some of Kate’s motivations for inventing the micro-cremator.

Figure 19: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This article is very special as it reveals that not only did Kate’s mum suffer from consumption but that Kate herself had been consumptive and was able to cure herself with the use of the Micro-cremator. Wow, this is fantastic to read, and you will remember also that I shared before in my previous posts the fact that Kate had made the offer to the Federal Government for the free use of the machine. Here it is again, giving us an insight into Kate’s generous spirit.

The following articles confirm that the lecture Kate gives on this night of Friday the 30th of January occurred in the St Phillip’s Church Hall at Church hill.

Slideshow 1: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 20: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 21: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

What is particularly interesting here is to see Kate being referred to on multiple occasions as a student of chemistry at Sydney University. To date, I have been unable to find any records of Kate and her time at the University. I have sent a couple of emails to the University just to inquire if there might be any archives not online that I might be able to search but so far no responses received as yet.

Even though this next article is a little outside the timeline I’m trying to follow, it was printed two weeks after the lecture, I have placed it here as it gives a really good detailed account of Kate’s lecture from what I have seen printed so far.

Figure 22
Figure 23
Figure 24
Figure 25
Figure 26
Figure 27

Figure 22-27: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This article also gives us an insight into what the next steps in Kate’s plan were, specifically those being to demonstrate how the Micro-cremator worked and calling for volunteers to be treated. How incredible, imagine this happening today?

The Therapeutic Goods Association TGA, which we know today, is eighty-odd years away from this time. ( ) The first Commonwealth legislative action for the regulation of therapeutic goods doesn’t come into play until an amendment is put forward in November 1914 to the Quarantine Act of 1908. ( )

Returning to the lecture, I did find one photo of the Church Hall at St Phillip’s from 100 years ago, and it is brilliant in its detail. In the photo it is York Street running up the left of the site and Clarence on the right. We are looking towards Wynard Square and you can see the clock tower of the GPO just beyond that.

St Phillips Church Hall & Church,
by Herbert H. Fishwick
Figure 28: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Below, I’ve given you an approximate view of the site from March of this year. I wonder what Kate and the rest of the family would make of the city now?

Figure 30: Courtesy of Google Maps.
St Phillips Church Hall,
by Herbert H. Fishwick
Figure 31: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 32: Courtesy of Google Maps.

Notice the trees to the left of the site on the corner of York Street. They are in Lang Park and I’m sure they are the same trees as in the 1920s photo.

This next article drew my attention immediately as it was so obviously written by a woman and was the first article I came across that, in my opinion, had a supportive air to it. I was intrigued as to who the writer was. This piece appeared in a column called “Gossip for Women” and was a reprint from a Sydney writer, under the name of “Thalia”

Figure 33: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Wow, that opening line really sets the scene. I don’t know where that specific accusation was coming from but how fantastic that this line was even printed. I did some digging and it didn’t take me too long to uncover their true identity of Thalia. (Wait did I just become Eloise in Bridgerton? For those who don’t know or reading 150 years in the future, Eloise is a character in Bridgerton, a soppy period piece TV show from Shondaland, based on Julia Quinn’s novels. Totally addictive, I’m sorry to add. Eloise tries to uncover the identity of gossip columnist, Lady Whistledown in Regency period London. I did say you get so much more, didn’t I.)

Thalia was, Zara Aronson, nee Baar, OBE. According to Wikipedia, she was a “…Sydney based journalist, editor welfare worker feminist and restaurateur of Jewish background.” (

Zara Aronson, nee Baar, 1901
Figure 34: Courtesy of Wikipedia

What a fantastic ally for Kate to have. As you can see from her article, she actually attended the lecture. She doesn’t say it in the article, but I do hope they met. Maybe this was how Kate kept her resolve, knowing there were others out there that shared her views, that Women could be more than just what was expected of them.

I haven’t shared with you yet, but by the time of this article’s publication, the 7th of February, Kate had been hit with a barrage of negative press. Hold on it is coming up. I wanted to share this particular article above with you first as Thalia mentions that it was, “…public warfare…” that erupted between Kate and the current medical experts of the time in Victoria about the Micro-cremator. What a description and it really sets the scene for the pressure that Kate was facing.

Here is the storm “…that burst amidst the medical profession…”

At first, I only found small mentions like these below.

Figure 35: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 36: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 37: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

What about that line there in Figure 37? “…that if scientific men have failed it is scarcely likely that a mere woman will succeed.” In 2022 you just can’t place this being printed without any reaction but that was the overwhelming prejudice that women faced at the time. Imagine trying to go up against that?

This next article is in stark contrast to the Thalia one. This writer doesn’t even try to hide their contempt for Kate or her discovery.

Figure 38: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 39: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I hadn’t managed to find the doctor’s criticisms in print as yet but I was sure that they would appear somewhere. In trying to find them this amazing piece coming next, revealed itself first and it also headed me in the right direction for the criticisms. We are so lucky that this was printed and it looks like it was in its entirety, a letter from Kate in reply to the doctor’s opinions. Five pages of Kate’s own words.

What a gift, to hear Kate’s voice and what a response it was as well. So eloquent and not a hint of backing down. Imagine if the original of this letter was sitting in some library archive somewhere just waiting to be discovered. I would love to uncover that family treasure.

Did you notice in the first paragraph of the article? The doctor’s criticisms were printed in that column the Monday before. This gave me a great starting point to begin the search, 2nd February 1903 and a name, Dr Neild. Look what revealed itself below.

Figure 40

Figure 40-41: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

The scorn is so palpable when you read it, even 119 years later. Check out that inflammatory speech, “…its nonsense, a phantasy, she a woman who has dabbled in chemistry, it’s absurd, a cure will be discovered by a scientific man and not worth talking about.” When you read these statements you can see how it was correct to describe it as “…public warfare…”

The slideshow below is a selection of the reprints of the criticisms. You’ll see they traversed the states from the east to the west of the continent and even down to Tasmania. Again, this is one of those moments that I wonder if Kate and the family ever knew how far the news of the Micro-cremator stretched and the criticism of Kate herself and her work?

Slideshow 2: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

No matter how strong Kate was I can imagine it still would have been so humiliating to read about yourself and your work in such a derogatory and snide manner, knowing that all your family, friends and colleagues most probably would be reading the same comments.

I can’t be certain but I think that Dr Neild, who is so vehemently against the idea of a woman being the one that could find a cure for consumption, was Dr James E. Neild. He was a very accomplished man for the time. He co-founded the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association, was a forensic pathologist, a lecturer at Melbourne University and an acclaimed theatre critic. (—resources/stethoscope/-301-restoration-of-the-grave-of-dr-james-edward-neild)

The Royal Society of Victoria webpage has a piece on him and his daughter Nellie with a description that makes me think we might have the correct Dr Neild. “…As with some other very colourful figures in the surgical scene of colonial Victoria, his character is incisive, agitated, dominant, opinionated and sometimes discomfiting.” ( )

Dr James E. Neild M.D.
Figure 42: Courtesy of The Royal Society of Victoria

I can find nothing on the leading consumption expert of Melbourne who was also mentioned in the articles. He remains nameless at this stage but his staggering dismissive tone is very loud and clear in the final paragraph of most of the articles.

Again I can only reiterate how lucky we are that Kate’s response to the public criticism was printed and as I stated what a wonderful response it was. I know I have already shared with you the full-length version of Kate’s letter above and having trawled through Trove there are lots of versions of her response printed but I think this one below gives a good overview of them overall.

Slideshow 3: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

The other interesting thing here that I noticed, was that the articles were all centred around the criticisms coming out of Melbourne. I couldn’t find one mention of any Sydney-based medical experts having an opinion on Kate or the Micro-cremator. That is until this one below popped up.

Slideshow 4: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

A much more measured response. I can only imagine, that reading this article must have been like applying an elixir to the burn of the previous ones. The complete antithesis to Dr Neild’s comments. I did uncover two more articles that had a similar stance to this one from the Daily Telegraph.

Figure 43
Figure 44

Figures 42 & 43: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Figure 45
Figure 46

Figures 45 & 46: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I must admit, it was great to see a bit of pushback, that wonderful line in Figure 43 suggesting that Dr Neild might be an “…intolerable bigot.” So wish I could find out who the writer was in this case. Apart from these two above and the article that was written by Thalia (Zara Aronson) mentioned earlier, I found only one other article in support of Kate and her work. It was from another trailblazing feminist of the time, that I knew nothing about until I started digging.

Figure 47: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

There is no doubt that this one is a pure gem. I do hope that Kate and all her supporters got to read this one. The question has to be asked though, what the hell is “…spoopendykian consistency...”? Just Googled it quickly, Spookendyke was the name of Laura Ingels’s daughter, Rose’s pet donkey. (That is Laura Ingels from Little House of the Prairie fame.) So obviously a very polite way of saying he was a complete ass all the time. (

As to the author? I checked out the title of the newspaper, The Dawn. I’m no expert at all but in all the time I have spent on Trove I hadn’t come across this one before. There is a reason for that.

Google provided answers again. According to the Dictionary of Sydney, The Dawn was a feminist newspaper, staffed entirely by women and was founded by Louisa Lawson in 1888 and remained in publication until 1905. (

In a piece by Susan Magarey, 2010, published and supported by the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts which Louisa was a committee member of (1893-95), Louisa is described as a “…writer, publisher, inventor and activist. Magarey goes on to say that at Louisa’s death she was called “…the mother of womanhood suffrage in NSW…” And you might have noticed that last name, Lawson. Louisa was the mother of Henry Lawson, the famous Australian writer and bush poet. ( )

Going back and reading those words now knowing who they come from, just gives so much more to their meaning and tone. I just love the way Louisa describes Kate sticking to her experiments like a leech and that Kate’s great work will obliterate the memory of Dr Neild. Wonderful sentiment but it didn’t work out that way. But it is still pretty amazing and what a link to the history of that time. That Kate’s biggest supporter in terms of her as a person and her work, the Micro-cremator, from what I have discovered so far, was the mother of Henry Lawson and the mother of NSW womanhood suffrage. That is amazing!

One last point in regards to this piece. You might be asking yourself, how can I be certain that it was written by Louisa Lawson and not someone else? Well I can’t of course, but I read through the magazine and there are numerous pieces where the writer refers to themselves as “…the Editress…” and then there is the Dawn banner itself, which cements it in for me.

Figure 49: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

The next article I stumbled upon is this random piece printed in The Inverell Argus. This shows that Kate’s message certainly did travel around the state.

Figure 50: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

This leads me to a question that I’ve been thinking of, that is, where did Kate treat the people that volunteered to be part of her human trials of the micro-cremator? I cannot find one thing mentioned about this. And also the other big question for me is, what were Kate’s ethical responsibilities in using her invention on these volunteers?

This leads on from my earlier readings on the Quarantine Act 1908, this time I started looking for information on the history of clinical trials in Australia, I’m sure it is out there but I just couldn’t find anything specific. I did find some interesting articles stating that before Federation it was the Colonies that had responsibility for legislation controlling poisons and the practice of pharmacy. So I’m assuming here that Kate would have had to have adhered to the NSW Colonial rules on administering her particular medicinal gas to people. ( )

Kate must have worked out how to navigate through the ethics and rules because by the end of May, well, check out what this article below describes is happening for her.

Figure 51: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Caring for eighty consumptives! Where was this taking place and who was assisting with their care? Surely Kate couldn’t have been doing that by herself. When you remember what the Micro-cremator looks like, the “…consumptives…” must have been visiting Kate somewhere central to have their treatment. I can’t imagine Kate packed the entire structure up and transported it each time it was to be used.

In thinking about this number of patients, I wondered if Kate is already living at Stephen Court in Elizabeth Street in Sydney. As discussed in my earlier posts, we know this is the address Kate is living in from the marriage registration in December 1903. I know I’m jumping around a bit here, the wedding is seven months off but it seems to make sense. Stephen Court is a five-minute walk from Sydney Hospital on Macquarie Street. Perhaps Kate was using rooms at the Hospital to be close to medical assistance if needed. The following map from the City of Sydney Archives shows how close everything was to Kate’s new residence. Stephen Court is marked in yellow at the bottom of the map.

Elizabeth St & King St Precinct, Sydney 1903
Figure 51a: Courtesy of City of Sydney Archives

If the map above continued on the top edge it would show Macquarie Street. The hospital sits on the other side of the street opposite roughly where you can see “…Motor Garage” printed. St James is of course where Kate and George marry and I marked St Stephens as this is where most of my other Nicoll relatives married. You might recall from one of my earlier posts that this is where the Reserve Bank Building sits today and everything flowing down from the church site to the bottom of the map and to the left is gone and now Martin Place.

Photos of the intersection of King and Elizabeth Street area are sparse but I was so lucky to find a couple from the same time period as Kate and George. This first photo is from out the front of Stephen Court looking to the right of the map above towards the Supreme Court building.

Elizabeth & King Street, looking towards Hyde Park, 1899
Figure 51b: Courtesy of John Cowper shared on

The awning on the right of the picture with Tramways written on the top is the entrance to Stephen Court. This was taken in 1899 just 3-4 years before Kate is living there. The next one is 9 years earlier in 1890 but I just had to share, another glimpse into the past from the same spot.

Elizabeth & King Street, looking towards Hyde Park, 1890
Figure 51c: Courtesy of the State Library of NSW, shared on

And here is my version from a visit to Sydney at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

Elizabeth & King Street, looking towards Hyde Park, 2020
Figure 51d: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

And here is the view looking back towards Stephen Court from the Supreme Court building in 1904.

Stephen Court (building behind tram)
Elizabeth & King Street, looking away from Hyde Park, 1904
Figure 51e: Courtesy of the Museum of Applied Arts & Science

This amazing photo is the opposite view as Figures 51b-d, towards Stephen Court. It shows exactly Kate and George’s world at that time. This was taken in 1904 sometime, just months after Kate was living through everything discussed above and months after they are married at St James’s church just two blocks up and to the right of this photo. It is wonderful to see the steam train there but it is right in the way of the view of the entrance to Stephen Court.

Below is a shot I took of approximately the same view in 2020. Stephen Court, I guess would have probably been from around the number 75 extending to the right probably to the edge of the next building.

Stephen Court Building Site 2020
Elizabeth & King Street, looking away from Hyde Park
Figure 51f: Courtesy of the Macvean Family Archives

Now, I know I have jumped around all over the place here with the timeline but it was to show where Kate might have been living when she started working with her group of patients in May of 1903.

I think this is a good opportunity to share with you this next photo, even though it is not one of Kate specifically I am sure this is how she would have looked at the time. This is also a ten-minute walk down King Street to George Street and then a minute’s walk across to this corner of Martin Street in front of the GPO, definitely part of Kate’s world.

George Street, Sydney, 1900
Figure 51g: Courtesy of Lost Sydney History Facebook Page
Corner of King & Castlereagh Streets, Sydney, 1900
Figure 51h: Courtesy of Lost Sydney History Facebook Page
King Street, looking east from Castlereagh Street, Sydney, 1900
Figure 51i: Courtesy of Lost Sydney History Facebook Page

These photos show us exactly Kate and George’s world. Stephen Court is just one street back behind us and to the right in this photo. Kate probably caught this very tram above.

This next article I came across fits nicely with these images, it is referring to the nitty-gritty of living at this time. It was printed two days after Kate and George’s wedding day.

Figure 51j: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Just imagine your clothes sweeping past on the footpath and picking up other people’s spit and mucus? I mean I didn’t even know this was an issue. Then I love the call to form a group outside of the law to tackle the problem. Yes! No problem with that at all.

The next discovery I made following the timeline again is this wonderful sketch of the photograph of Kate’s father Ebeneezer demonstrating the machine.

This article is printed a little later in the year, at the end of September which means by this stage Kate has been providing treatment for about five months and we get the news that “…many cases have been satisfactorily treated.” This is wonderful to see because, after all that frenetic publicity and the public warfare back in February, this is the one and only account of the micro-cremator’s success or failure for that matter that I can find printed.

The next piece of information I came across actually involved Kate and her father Ebenezer and it actually took place at the beginning of May as Kate was getting ready to start treating the eighty consumptives mentioned above. First Ebenezer. These articles below explain what was happening.

Figure 53: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 55: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
The SS Duke of Sutherland
Figure 54: Courtesy of Clyde ships

So Ebenezer left Australia on the 6th May 1902 on the Duke of Sutherland to go to England to oversee the publishing of his book. He returns on the Medic passing through Adelaide at the end of April 1903. Picture of the SS medic below.

The SS Medic
Figure 56: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Finding people on passenger lists is like panning for gold, it happens very rarely. I didn’t find Ebenezer but look at who I did find on the Medic passenger list embarking from Melbourne.

Figure 57: Courtesy of

Kate! She must have planned to be in Melbourne at the time of Ebenezer’s return and organised to travel back with her father for the final part of his journey to Sydney. I wonder if she presented to Dr Neild and the other Melbourne critics in Melbourne?

This information places Kate back in Sydney in time to start working with her group of consumptives, obviously, Ebenezer heads back to Queensland as the next articles confirm.

Figure 58: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia
Figure 59: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

I do hope that it wasn’t the consumption that had returned to make Kate ill. There are no further reports on her health so I’m assuming it was something else. Perhaps it was the stress of the work that she was undertaking that just proved too much for her health to keep on top of.

Guess what? A further report of Kate’s health just revealed itself. I haven’t searched Trove for any new items for a while so I thought I would just have a double check and wow, this appeared.

Figure 60: Courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

How fantastic is that! We now know what was wrong with Kate. Rheumatic Fever, this is why Ebenezer comes down to look after her. She was very ill.

Rheumatic Fever is an inflammatory disorder that causes inflammation of the heart, blood vessels and joints. ( ) And it usually follows an acute respiratory infection. This was first noted, apparently by Thomas Sydenham as cited by G Manson in, A History of Rheumatic Fever, 1959. ( ) I can only imagine how much this would have affected Kate’s work with her Patients. Perhaps in addition to caring for his daughter, Ebenezer took over the task of administering the doses of gas to Kate’s patients.

I found this photo of Stephen Court on the City of Sydney Archives site in the Demolition Books. It is ten years after Kate’s time and was taken just before the demolition. This is where Ebenezer would have been taking care of Kate.

Stephen Court, Elizabeth St, Sydney, 1913
Figure 61: Courtesy of City of Sydney Archives

So, after sharing 61 pieces of information and all of my scribblings with you, I have realised that we are far from over, discussing the story of the Micro-cremator, Kate and George. So I’m going to do the usual and split the rest into another post.

This has been a wild ride of discovery which is becoming the norm for me, and I’m left, with that wonder again, at the fact that this is all from starting off with knowing nothing and then just scratching around online until something comes up. Thanks, internet!

Part 3 coming up next…

2 thoughts on “The Micro-cremator Part 2 and So Much More.

  1. So glad to know Dr Neil was called out for his ignorant and appalling behaviour. Clever and determined to succeed, Kate is an inspiration and would have been a trailblazer in her time.


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