THE KELLY GANG
Whether these outlaws are still in the colony or not is a question that is regarded by many people as problematical. The police and the residents in what is known as the Kelly district, however, positively assert that the outlaws are still in the country, and there is little doubt that this is the case. With regard to the police murders, it has become known that Sergeant Kennedy’s life was taken in a very cold-blooded manner. He was but wounded on the day of the encounter, and was allowed to live all night, so that the gang might learn from him how to work his Spencer rifle. On the following morning Ned Kelly shot him dead through the breast. This fact having become known to the sympathisers of the outlaws, has produced a coolness between them and the gang. The recent action of the police in sending out search parties in the direction of Beechworth having failed in producing any result, the question as to whether the Kellys are still in their old haunts has again become a subject of speculation. The narrative of a man who has just recently spent nearly two months in the Kelly country, travelling about day and night, with the express object of searching for the gang, will, therefore, be not uninteresting. We refer to Mr. John Tyler, a millwright, residing in South Yarra, who started on his tour on the 5th February last and returned on the 25th of March. He had undertaken to prospect the mining character of the country on behalf of a well-known firm in town, but he privately resolved to learn or see something, if possible, of the Kellys. He was therefore able to travel from station to station doing little jobs, on the ostensible excuse that he was prospecting the country, while he kept his ears and eyes open for Kelly information. What information he gathered about the Kellys was duly communicated to the police and the Chief Secretary, but he was in the main apparently ignored by the police. His statement was made to us in a straight-forward and connected manner, and contains names, dates, and circumstances which appear capable of verification, and we therefore give it for what it is worth.
Mr. Tyler states,―I left Melbourne on the 5th of February last and walked to Whittlesea and King Parrot Creek, and thence to Mr. Wilson’s station near Merton. When at Wilson’s station I went out fishing in a creek one day with a black boy. When fishing a miner named Noble came up and asked me where he could cross the creek. I left my fishing tackle with the black boy, took Noble over the creek, and went with him to his hut, which was about four miles away at the foot of the Blue Range. I then went to the place of a selector named —— for some food. —— was at Mansfield with corn, but his wife supplied what I required. On returning to Noble’s hut I wrote some letters, and whilst the mailboy was waiting I happened to say something about the Kellys. The mailboy at once reported me all over the place as a detective. That was on the 13th of February. I went to Tableland next day—To Mead’s claim, about 10 miles away, and heard rumours frequently about the Kellys being in the vicinity. I returned to Noble’s hut, and after assisting him with some arrangements for a mortgage I went to Merton to post letters. On the way I met a miner named Tom Brown, who, with his brother, held a claim at Hayfield. I went with him to Hayfield, and made arrangements to cut a race for him. Whilst I was cutting the race, some men, who were evidently Kelly sympathisers, and who thought I was a detective, threatened to report me to the police if I cut any more races in their district. Besides doing my work, I was continually travelling about the country. I went eight times from Brown’s claim to Meade’s. When I came back the last time, I went out one moonlight night shooting oposums in the Blue Range. As Tom Brown was expected back that night from Euroa, and as he was bringing money to pay me, I went to meet him. This was on the 24th of February, and about 11 o’clock at night, and about a mile from Noble’s place, I saw Brown driving his cart, and three other drays following him. One of the drays belonged to ——. Four men on horseback, well mounted, emerged from the scrub, and rode up to ——‘s dray. They took a quantity of provisions from it, and rode away. Suspecting that they were the Kellys I got behind a tree, and made back for Brown’s hut. Next morning —— followed me about for an hour or so, threatening to chop my ears off if I did not leave the district. He did this in the presence of the Browns. Whilst —— was threatening me, Tom Brown asked him, “Who are those fellows who met you last night and got tucker?” —— replied, “Oh, they were hands from Wilson’s station;” to which Brown rejoined, “That be ——; they were the Kellys.” I afterwards inquired at Mr. Donald Wilson’s and found that none of his men were out at any time that night. I then went by North Creek to Violet Town, and reported the matter to Sergeant Johnson. I arrived at Violet Town on a Friday, and on the following Saturday Sergeant Johnson sent me to Benalla, and there I reported what I had seen and heard to Inspector Sadlier and Superintendant Nicolson. Nothing was done, however, and I started back towards Tableland on Saturday. I travelled all night, and at 8 o’clock on Sunday morning was changing my socks by the roadside when a man named ——, well known in Violet Town, came up to me with a rifle. He conversed about the Kellys, and he said that 50,000 men could not catch them. He had got a hint that I was a detective, and next day he went to Euroa and reported that I was feeding the Kellys. He had plenty of bullets on him, and supplied me with sum. After leaving him I went to Haley’s station, where I met “Spider,” the black tracker. Spider said he had repeatedly shown the police where the Kellys were, and that he was sure they were in the Strathbogie Ranges. I returned to Noble’s claim, and on a Sunday morning about the beginning of March—I am not quite sure of the date, but my letters to the police will fix that—I saw a dray containing provisions go up the ranges. It was driven by a man named ——, who lives in the neighbourhood. I asked his children where he was going, and they said he was going for bark. On the following Monday morning I went towards North Creek, and falling sick on the way, lay suffering from fever for four days under a rock. On recovering, I got to a selector’s place, and obtained refreshments. The selector’s name was Morley. I then set out for Violet Town for medicine. On my way I met a selector, named, I think, Griffiths, and stayed at his place for two days. In travelling about the bush there I frequently saw the remains of wild pigs, and nobody would bother about shooting them except the Kellys. The people in the district are quite sure the Kellys are amongst them, and from the enquiries I made I traced the gang from Whittlesea through the Alexander ranges, to Mount Bulla and Greta, and then down to the Strathbogie Ranges. They were in the vicinity of Whittlesea in the beginning of February. I saw them―or rather I am confident I saw them―on the 24th of February in the Blue Ranges. Griffiths volunteered to take me to some huts which he said where known to be used by the Kellys; but I was not strong enough for much further exertion, and therefore went on to Wangaratta, and returned at once to Melbourne. I forgot to mention that when travelling once with Tom Brown to Euroa, a man named Proud followed me, and represented to people that I had been feeding the Kellys, whilst to myself he said, that if I stayed longer in the district I would suffer. When returning from Euroa, I saw four mounted men shooting pigs at the head of the North Creek. They were young fellows, but whether they were the Kellys or not I cannot say.”