THE POLICE MURDERS
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH)
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)
Wangaratta, Sunday, 9 P.M.
The early train from here yesterday took down to Benalla the seven troopers and the black tracker who were sent up to Beechworth by special train on Thursday morning. These men returned here on Friday morning, and with their horses were allowed a day’s rest. It was necessary to send them back to Benalla, in order that Superintendent Sadlier should have a reserve of men in the event of any contingency arising necessitating a start from Benalla. At this station there is a considerable number of troopers, who are continually coming and going in small parties, searching in various directions. This is, of course, necessary, as there are so many rumours flying about of the whereabouts of the gang. As a rule the rumours are of a very vague character, but whenever there appears to be the slightest appearance of truth or probability a party is sent to the locality to investigate it, but at present, unfortunately, without anything tangible having been learned. Superintendent Nicolson arrived here from Benalla yesterday morning, in order to be on the spot in the event of any reliable intelligence being obtained in this quarter. The movements of various parties are necessarily kept as secret as possible, owing to there being so many of the Kelly family connexion in the district. These act as a kind of bush telegraph, and the news of any intended movement is forwarded to the parties interested with a rapidity that can scarcely be imagined. That such is the case was plainly proved by the recent trip to the Woolshed Ranges, as clear traces of the Kelly party having been recently in that direction were obtained. When these search parties were first organised there was great complaint made respecting the inefficiency of the arms and equipments of the men. The same cannot be said now. Each man has, in addition to his revolver, either a Spencer rifle or a double-barrelled breech-loading gun; and one or two of them have Snider rifles. The men give the preference to the Spencer rifle, because it has seven distinct charges which can be rapidly fired in succession, but it is a very heavy weapon and badly balanced. The breechloaders are far handier weapons, and as the cartridge contains about 18 large-sized shot, they would prove very effective at a considerable longer range than the revolvers. The men, of course, dress as they please, and their principal idea evidently is to make themselves look as unlike policemen as possible, so that their appearance is somewhat extraordinary.
Some strange statements are occasionally heard in the streets, but as a rule they are not worth listening to, while some of them are made in a spirit of mere bravado. For instance, one man has been heard to say that if the reward was increased to £3,000 he would go out and fetch the gang in in less than a week; while another individual, who pretended to possess an intimate knowledge of the proceedings of the Kelly family, plainly stated that since Mrs. Kelly had been convicted at Beechworth, her two sons had been laying in supplies of Tea, sugar, flour, and salt in various places in the ranges. With these they could remain out for months, as there are plenty of wild cattle to be shot. Another statement, on which no reliance is placed, was made to one of the search parties by a man whom they met. This was to the effect that Ned Kelly had broken his arm. He could, however, give no reliable authority for this statement. He had heard it from somebody who had been told by somebody else, and so on.
In order that the provisions of the Outlawry Act may be known all over the district, those classes of it relating to harbouring the gang or giving false information to the police have been printed as a handbill, and circulated in every direction. To-day I ascertained what convictions had been recorded here against the Kellys and the Quinns, and the list is a long one, although a much longer one would no doubt be obtained at Benalla and Mansfield, which are nearer their stronghold. The senior Quinns are brothers of Mrs. Kelly, and consequently uncles of the two outlaws, while the Lloyds are also uncles, and there is an immense brood of cousins. Another portion of the same clan are the Gunns. It is said that the originals of these three families were all sent out at the Government expense. The Lloyds and the Kellys were outlawed from Ireland, while the Gunns were sent out from Scotland. Against Ned Kelly there are only three convictions recorded here, and they are as far back as November, 1870, and April, 1871. The two first cases were for assault and threatening language, for which sentences of three months were recorded, but as soon as that was over, in company with Wild Wright, he was charged with horsestealing, and subsequently convicted at the Beechworth Assizes. The most prominent of the Quinn connexion is Jas. Quinn, who is now in Beechworth gaol undergoing a sentence of three months’ imprisonment for a violent assault on a man at the recent Benalla agricultural show. His first appearance at the Wangaratta Court was in January, 1864, when he was arrested at Donnybrook on a charge of horsestealing, and having been committed for trial from here, was subsequently convicted and sentenced at Beechworth in August, 1870. He was sent to gaol for three months and six weeks, cumulative, for assault and resisting the police and threatening language respectively. On the 16th January, 1872, the same man was arrested, in company with Wm. Williamson, on a charge of cutting and wounding and doing grievous bodily harm, for which they were sentenced at Beechworth by Judge Hackett―Quinn to three years’ imprisonment, and Williamson to 18 months’. This man Williamson is now in Pentridge, undergoing a sentence of six years’ imprisonment for aiding in the attempt to murder Constable Fitzpatrick. Against Patrick Quinn, another uncle of the Kellys, there are only two entries, one in 1865 for wife desertion, and again in 1870 for unlawfully wounding, on which charge he was committed for trial to Beechworth. Against John Quinn, another uncle, who is now known to be closely watching all the proceedings of the police, there are several convictions for assault, commencing as far back as 1865, while similar convictions are numerous against the junior branches of the family. As I said before, these are only the convictions against them at this place, which is at some considerable distance from the principal haunts of the tribe, but it shows how widely extended are the ramifications of three families which have been continually intermarrying, so that all over the district the four desperadoes now in the ranges have people connected with them by blood and marriage, and who are willing to give them every aid and assistance.
Late last evening some information reached the authorities here that was thought to be somewhat trustworthy, and accordingly an armed party was despatched at midnight in the direction indicated, and a few hours later another party was also sent out, but their destination was kept quite secret. About noon, Superintendent Nicolson, with Sergeant Steele, also left the town, in the direction of Greta, but up to the present time nothing has been heard from any of them. They may, however, return at any moment, unless they have the luck to get on the track of the ruffians, when they will of course follow it up.
Superintendent Nicolson has returned, but with no information. None of the other parties have returned yet. It is, however, believed that the information received as to the Kellys being in the vicinity of the 15-mile creek was of an unreliable character, and that nothing will result. The gang are evidently alarmed at the untiring pursuit that is being kept up by the police, and if they have not escaped into New South Wales, which is scarcely probable, they are keeping very close in some of their almost inaccessible haunts among the ranges, and consequently their capture will be a matter of time.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
On Thursday night some persons supposed to be Kellys’ gang stole a horse with a bell and hobbles on from a paddock of Mr. Monks. They heard a low whistle, and then the horse-bells stopped ringing. On Saturday night, by last post, Mr. Edward Monks received a letter signed “Edward Kelly,” threatening to do for him, cut his ears off, gouge his eyes out, and follow him to the gates of hell ― to do that, and to treat his wife the same. Monks helped the police to find the bodies of the police and to hunt for the murderers, and the writer reminds him of it. He made the discovery first of Kennedy’s ear being cut off. The letter is supposed to have been posted on Thursday night, and has no date or place on it. Two policemen went out to the Wombat with Monks. This afternoon a man named Walter Lynch was arrested at Wombat for writing the letter signed Edward Kelly. He is a well-known character, having been brought up on five or six different occasions―for arson once. He will be brought up this morning at the Mansfield Court.