HISTORICAL FIGURE: A bust of Dr Thomas May, founding father of Bundaberg Hospital, sits in the hospital today.
HISTORICAL FIGURE: A bust of Dr Thomas May, founding father of Bundaberg Hospital, sits in the hospital today. Picture Bundaberg

Is the mystery of Dr May's house solved?

RUMOURS of hauntings and ghastly murders have run rampant in Bundaberg regarding the former home of the late Dr May, but how much is true and how much is simply urban legend?

While the Mays' Elliott Heads home has been demolished, it hasn't stopped tales of the spooky and ghastly living on in Bundaberg's bank of mysteries.

The story many tell goes along the lines of there being a grisly multiple murder at the Mays' house and that Dr May died in the incident.

Some even said there were small headstones in the back yard and many have talked about ghostly encounters and daring each other to go into the home.

But is there any truth to the rumours?

A story in a 1916 edition of the Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser states that Dr Thomas May was laid to rest at a funeral attended by his wife and children.

A newspaper article from 1916 mentions the death of Thomas May which seems to put aside any suspicion realted to the urban legends.

A bust of Dr Thomas May, founding father of Bundaberg Hospital, sits in the hospital's C Block today.
A bust of Dr Thomas May, founding father of Bundaberg Hospital, sits in the hospital's C Block today. Paul Beutel

"Bundaberg's revered and veteran medical practitioner Dr Thomas Henry May died with tragic suddenness at his home at 8 o'clock.

"Dr May was in town on Tuesday morning, apparently enjoying his usual robust health.

"He was a man universally esteemed in the town and district, while professionally he ranked high in medicine and surgery.

"For nearly a third of a century he was medical officer of the Bundaberg General Hospital and the government officer of health.

"He was 74 years of age, and retired from practice about two years ago."

Members of Dr Mays' family went on to join the medical profession in the region, too.

A bronze bust had even been dedicated to Dr May by the then mayor R G Curtis.

The bust still sits in Bundaberg Hospital today.

And just who was Dr May, anyway?

Doctor Thomas May was the driving force behind the Bundaberg community's effort to build a modern hospital at the start of the 20th Century.

After spending a decade of his life in the Wide Bay, Dr May returned from England to the area to open his Bundaberg practice in 1879 when the settlement comprised no more than a few hundred people.

Under Dr May's direction, the Hospital Fund Committee and Trustees in 1881 built the town's first hospital - a wooden, four-room cottage with a kitchen and separate ward on the current Bundaberg Hospital site.

With an increase in population it became apparent that an even larger hospital was desperately needed.

It was again Dr May who oversaw a large community fundraising drive to have a new double-storey, multi-ward brick hospital built at the current site, costing 13,222 pounds.

It was opened by Sir William and Lady MacGregor on July 9, 1914.

Apart from his reputation as a capable, caring doctor and medical leader, Dr May contributed to the Bundaberg community in other ways.

Dr Mays Rd and Dr Mays Crossing on the Elliott River have been named in his honour.

So looking into the historical facts, it seems unlikely that any murders happened at Dr May's house, and the urban legends are most likely just urban legends.

One local historian said another man had recalled a mystery being linked to the property in the late 1930s, well after Dr May's death.

If you have any information, email crystal.jones@news-mail.com.au.



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