Road accidents claimed the lives of two publicans of Morphett Vale’s Emu Hotel

Emu Hotel Morphetvale C1889 State LIbrary of South Australia
Emu Hotel, Morphett Vale, C1889 before the second storey additions were added. Picture: State Library of South Australia


COINCIDENTALLY two publicans of one of South Australia’s oldest trading pubs had their lives cut short as a result of similar tragic accidents.

The publicans of the Emu Hotel at Morphet Vale both met their ends almost 40 years apart in road accidents.

Henry Weman was just 32 when he died after falling from a buggy his wife was driving home from the horse races, while Jim Ryan was 56 when he was killed while crossing the road outside his pub.

Morphett Vale was the first major town south of Adelaide when the Emu Hotel was first established. In October 1840, a town called Dublin was subdivided leading to the development of Morphett Vale, and “a large number of neat residences, many of which have fine vineyards attached”.

The current Emu Hotel was opened in 1864, however originally it had traded from another site, about 1.5kms north, before its owner had the business relocated.

First constructed in 1840 for Irishman Alexander Anderson, near the corner of David Terrace and Main South Road, the Emu Inn was also the town’s post office.

Anderson was the first post master of the town and conducted early religious services at the hotel.

The first Emu Inn was often subject to flooding, and Anderson had a new stone hotel built to the south on higher land in 1863.

Today’s second Emu Hotel was built on part of Alexander Anderson’s estate in 1863. The South Australian Register reported in October 1863:

The new Emu Hotel building is rapidly progressing, and promises a speedy completion, when there appears every prospect of a large public room and superior accommodation being fully provided. 

James Palmer was granted a new license for the ‘new’ Emu Hotel on Wednesday, March 16, 1864. He had a short stay at ‘The Emu’, and by December the following year the license had been transferred to Theophilus P. Jones.

Other early publicans were David Carrick, George South and Robert Anderson.

The first of the two publicans who met their tragic end as a result of road accidents was Henry Pope Weman.

With his wife, Sarah at the reins, Weman was riding on the back seat of a buggy, when he suddenly fell and was dragged for some distance before his wife anyone realised.

Badly injured, he was taken to his pub where he died three days later.

Henry and Sarah Weman married in 1887 before they entered the hotel trade in 1894.

Henry gained the license of another Adelaide pub that has survived the test of time – the Evoca Hotel in the inner-city suburb of Edwardstown – in March 1894.

Nine months, in an unusual move, his wife Sarah was granted the license of the Emu Hotel at nearby Morphett Vale.

Emu Hotel Morphett Vale C 1910 SA State LIbrary of SA
The Emu Inn, Morphet Vale, C1910. Picture: State Library of South Australia

Henry and Sarah, with their three young daughters, arrived at the pub in December 1894. Less than two years into their business venture, Sarah would find herself a widow and their three young daughters fatherless.

The accident which ended Henry’s life at the young age of 32 was widely reported. The Adelaide Chronicle reported on Saturday, May 16, 1896:

Morphett Vale, May 11. — An accident occurred to Mr. H. Weman, landlord of the Emu Hotel, Morphett Vale on Wednesday last. He was returning with his wife and children, from the Morphettville races and was occupying the back seat of the buggy, when he suddenly fell out and appears to have been dragged some distance. Messrs. Lemon, Tear, and Antonie picked him up. Mrs. Weman, who was driving, did not notice the absence of her husband for a time. It was at first thought that his neck was broken, but he rallied and spoke and on the way home entered into conversation with his companions. The case was not considered serious and Dr. Hone was not consulted until Saturday. Mr. Weman had every attention and considerable surprise was expressed at the announcement this morning of his death. Great sympathy is felt for Mrs. Weman and the family in their sad and sudden bereavement. The Funeral will take place on Tuesday.

Jane remarried William Brookman the following year.

Emu Hotel Morphett Vale C 1900 SA State LIbrary of SA
A buggy outside the Emu Hotel, C1900. Picture: State Library of South Australia
Emu Hotel Morphetvale 1936 State Library of SA
The Emu Hotel, 1936. Picture: State Library of South Australia

The other tragic death to befall a publican of the Emu Hotel was that of James Ryan.

Ryan received fatal head injuries when he was struck by a car outside his pub in May 1935. He died at the hotel without having regained consciousness.

Ryan was waiting for a bus when he suddenly ran across the road to get something he had left in the hotel when he was hit by the vehicle.

Ryan was a widower and was survived by four children. He had been at the Emu Hotel for nine years when he was killed at the age of 56.

Emu Hotel Morphet Vale Google
The Emu Hotel, 2020. Picture: Google Streetview
© Copyright Mick Roberts 2020

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Categories: Adelaide hotels, Publicans, South Australia Hotels

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