THE POLICE MURDERS
Elsewhere we publish a circular adopted by a committee of gentlemen at Mansfield, inviting contributions towards a fund for the erection of a monument in memory of Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Scanlan and Lonigan, who were murdered by the Kelly gang on the 26th October last. We have been requested by the committee to receive subscriptions for this very laudable purpose, and we need scarcely say that we shall do so with the utmost pleasure.
As will be seen from a telegram by our special reporter, the report that the house of a selector on the Kilfera-road had been stuck up by armed men supposed to be the Kelly gang of murderers arose only from a practical joke on the part of a friend, and from the ludicrous fright of one of the selector’s sons. No definite trace of the gang has yet been discovered. It is reported that Mr. Healey, of Strathbogie station, has been missing for three days, and although the statement wants corroboration, it is feared that the gentleman has fallen into the Kellys’ hands.
THE MANSFIELD MURDERERS
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH)
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)
The case of sticking up on the Kilfera-road, which was reported to the police authorities at an early hour this morning by the son of a selector named Bamford, turned out to be a simple enough matter, but was greatly magnified by the fears of the informant, who has made himself the laughing-stock of the whole place in consequence. The facts of the affair are as follow:―About five miles from here resides an old one-legged selector named Bamford, having with him his wife, two sons, and a daughter, all of whom are grown up, the sons being about 23 and 25 years respectively. At no great distance from them resides another selector, who has staying with him at present his stepson, an engineer named George Cunnington, aged 21 years. About 9 o’clock last evening he proceeded towards Bamford’s house with the intention of having some talk on business matters, and thinking that he would possibly get a shot at an opossum or native bear, he took his gun with him. When he got to the hut, he saw one of the sons standing outside, and it being then dark he called out “bail up,” and at the same time clicked the lock. The other son, who was inside the house, without making any remark to the family, or waiting to see who was at the door, rushed out of the back door, and made his way straight across country to Benalla to inform the police. He was in a most excited state when he reached here, and had kept as far from the main road as possible. He was under the impression that he was being followed by one of the gang on horseback, and on more than one occasion he lay down amongst the trees to evade pursuit, and to allow the fancied horseman to pass him. He says that a horseman did overtake and pass him while he was hiding on one occasion, but this is doubted. Even when he got to the vicinity of the police camp he was not more reassured, and he made his entry into the camp in such an erratic manner that he was near receiving the contents of a rifle. Instead of going to the front gate he climbed over the fence belonging to the grounds of the sergeant’s quarters, and thence climbed over the other fence into the police camp reserve. The sentry on duty at once covered him with his rifle, and it was not until he had fairly recovered breath that he was able to give an intelligible account of what had happened. As soon as the police authorities were made aware of what had taken place, a party of seven troopers under Senior-constable Johnson was despatched to the spot, taking Bamford with them as a guide. It should be stated that some little credence was given to the story, as the Bamfords are known to be very respectable people. In the meantime the cause of all the alarm had been recognised by the Bamfords, and entered the house, where he remained for some time before returning to his own residence. No particular notice was taken of the absence of the other son, as it was thought he had gone to bed, none of the party having any idea that he had run away to Benalla to give the alarm. When Johnson’s party arrived at the place everything was in darkness, the family having all gone to bed. The troopers, not being aware of this, took all necessary precautions to secure the prisoners they expected to take, only to find the whole was a hoax. When the old people were awakened they were astonished to learn what had brought the troopers out, and soon explained the whole affair, much to the discomfiture of the frightened individual who had taken so much trouble to give a false alarm. Constable Johnson considered it was his duty to arrest Cunnington, and much to his surprise he was roused out of bed and brought into the Benalla lockup. Of course these stupid practical jokes must be put a stop to, and the young fellow will have to undergo a short incarceration for his lark. There is a growing opinion in some quarters that the gang have separated into two parties, and that they are making for the Murray in two directions, with the view of crossing over into New South Wales. It is this, probably, that has given rise to the rumours that two men, answering the descriptions of Steve Hart and Jos. Byrne, were seen near Tarrawingee a few days since, while another similar report gives the locality as Howlong, which would place them across the River Murray. It is said that they were driving a light springcart, and were ostensibly travelling for the purpose of purchasing hides and skins. I fancy this information is just as good as many other rumours that have been flying about of late. In my opinion the whole gang are not far away from their old haunts, and this is strengthened by an ominous statement I heard to-day, to the effect that Mr. Healey, of Strathbogie Station, has been missing for the last three days. I have been unable to ascertain whether this is true or not, but it is well known that the outlaws were near his place a day or two after the bank robbery, and that he rode into Euroa to give information to the police of having seen their tracks in the ranges. The railway authorities appear to attach considerable importance to the statement in Ned Kelly’s letter, that some damage would yet be done to the railway line. It is not very likely that the gang will ever risk the danger of attacking a railway station, or take the trouble to damage the permanent way, as there is nothing to be gained by such a proceeding. However, several detectives have been placed at different stations along the line, while a great many of the railway employés carry arms, and may be seen utilising their spare time by practicing pistol shooting at the mark.
MURDERED POLICE MEMORIAL FUND
The following circular, inviting contributions for a monument in memory of the three brave men who lost their lives in the execution of their duty in the Wombat Ranges on October 26, has been issued by direction of the Memorial Fund Committee at Mansfield:―
Mansfield, Dec. 16, 1878.
Sir,―In memory of the three brave fellows, Sergeant Michael Kennedy and Constables Michael Scanlan and Thomas Lonigan, who were so brutally murdered by the Kelly gang while in the execution of their duty in the Wombat Ranges, near Mansfield, on the 26th October last, it has been thought meet to erect a monument in a suitable locality at Mansfield, and the gentleman named below have consented to act as a committee to carry out all matters in connexion with the movement, and to raise funds by voluntary contributions for that purpose.
With this object in view, and as the occasion is deemed to be of a national character, I am directed to enlist your practical sympathy and assistance in the matter, and respectfully request that all subscriptions contributed or obtained towards this object may be forwarded, addressed to the treasurer of the “Murdered Police Memorial Fund,” at Mansfield, on or before the 31st of January next, as it is considered desirable that lists should close on that day.
The merit of the case of the present appeal to the public is doubtless sufficiently known and acknowledged to ensure ready and general support, but I am desired to direct special attention to the following particulars:―
- No contributions are herein asked for in aid of the bereaved families of the unfortunate men, as the government have already promised adequately to provide for them.
- That the deceased men died in the execution of their duty, and died bravely.
- That the duty in the execution whereof Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Scanlon and Lonigan lost their lives was not of their own seeking, but that they were “specially directed” by their superiors to undertake it.
- That they were all men of merit in the police force, and chosen for the duty on that account.
- That this is no ordinary occasion, and requires that public sympathy should be shown in some substantial form to stimulate other members of the police force and of other branches of the public service in the performance of enerous and dangerous duties, by the knowledge that their efforts in the public service will not be unfeelingly ignored.
―I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,
J.H.A. HAGEMAN, Secretary.
P.S.―All contributions received will be acknowledged through the press.
The following are the names of the committee:―
- HENRY H. KITCHEN, J.P., Mansfield, Chairman.
- JAMES H. GRAVES, M.L.A. for Delatite.
- JAMES TOMKINS, Junior, J.P., President Mansfield Shire Council.
- JAMES SHAW, J.P., Mansfield.
- HENRY PEWTRESS, Sup-Inspector of Police, Mansfield.
- GEORGE W. HALL, Proprietor of Mansfield Guardian.
- Treasurer―M. L. ASHE, Manager of Bank of New South Wales.
- Secretary―J. H. A. HAGEMAN, Secretary Mansfield Shire Council.
- Bankers ― Bank of New South Wales, Mansfield.