Bushranging In Victoria
Further particulars of interest of interest regarding the murders of police troopers at Stringybark Creek are telegraphed from Mansfield by our special reporter, and will be found elsewhere. One of the expeditions returned yesterday with the report that a prolonged search had been made in the ranges for Sergeant Kennedy, with no result, and it is believed that he has been taken by Kelly and his band to the King River. No trace of the ruffians was discovered, but to-day s systematic pursuit was to be commenced. Yesterday afternoon a further detachment of 12 picked men was despatched from Melbourne to Benalla and Beechworth, and if necessary another relay of men will be sent to assist in tracking the outlaws. The men are all armed with the Spencer rifle, and are provided with a plentiful supply of ammunition. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the offenders. The two men whose names are unknown belonging to the party of marauders, are described as follows:- One is about 21 years of age, 5ft. 9in. high, of slight build, very light complexion, having whiskers, beard, and moustache, and of a mild expression of features; while the other is about 19 years of age, of stout build, with a sinister expression, and has a few straggling hairs on his face.
THE POLICE MURDERS
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH)
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)
It was 9 o’clock this morning before the last of the search party left the township. There were seven mounted troopers, seven or eight townspeople, and Inspector Pewtress. Most of them were provisioned for three or four days. The police had four or five rifles (two of them excellent weapons, sent by a private individual) and revolvers. McIntyre stated yesterday that for an expedition against men like the Kellys revolvers were comparatively useless, and that the police ought to have breechloaders. The main object of the expedition is to find Kennedy, and from the character of the man, his coolness and tact, it is probable that he is still alive, only detained as prisoner. He had not been personally concerned in the pursuit of the Kellys, and so they had no special grievance against him. The scene of the murders lies in the ranges beyond the Wombat Peak, only 16 or 17 miles north-east of Mansfield as the crow flies. The country thence to the head of the King, 12 or 15 miles further on, is described as most difficult to cross. Dense wattle and bogwood scrub prevails everywhere. Not long ago some prospectors lost a horse near Stringy-bark Creek, but did not find the animal for three weeks; yet all the time it was in hobbles only a mile and a half from camp. The belief generally entertained is that the Kellys can conceal themselves in the ranges for months. They have friends to supply them with food. They have just got eight days provisions from the police, abundance of ammunition, and 10 firearms. For all that, it would not do to let any band of marauders suppose that they can establish themselves in the ranges with impunity. The government have offered a reward of £200 a head for the men; but they must go a great deal higher than that, and send a first-class body of troopers to the ground.
It is pretty certain that intelligence of the departure of the police was carried across to Kelly’s head-quarters last Friday. He came upon the camp on Saturday forenoon, probably alone or with his brother, but did not care to attack the two constables until he had brought up the rest of his party. Hence the delay. They descended on the camp through clumps of saw-edged sword-grass between 6ft. and 7ft. high. The tent stood in the middle of about three acres of cleared ground, and commanded a good view of all approaches except the one through the sword-grass. No precautions were taken to prevent surprise, because the police never suspected that an attack would be attempted. Edward Kelly must have had full particulars communicated to him, for in his talk with McIntyre, he described each of the horses, asked who rode them, and who carried the rifle. There were four troopers’ horses and two pack-horses. The police carried their revolvers buttoned up in cases, and so could not get them out in time to fire. On Monday, two friends of the Kellys came into the township from Benalla, viz, Isaiah (or Wild) Wright and his brother, a deaf and dumb man. Isaiah Wright underwent imprisonment about a year ago for horse-stealing. He stated in the hotel bars that he meant to go out and join Kelly, and somewhat in bravo style warned one or two persons to stay in the township to-day unless they wanted to get shot. He said he believed Kelly would torture Kennedy, and he was only sorry for Scanlan. Though a good many of Wright’s remarks only amounted to his customary bluster, yet the police thought it prudent to lock both brothers up. They were about the streets when the party started, and had their horses ready, so it was not improbable that one of them meant to ride straight off with news to Kelly. The arrest of “Wild” Wright was made so hurriedly that he had no time to resist.
The post-mortem examination upon the two bodies, by Dr. Reynolds, showed that Lonigan had received seven wounds, of which one, through the eyeball, must have caused speedy death. Scanlan’s body had four shot-marks upon it, and the fatal wound was caused by a rifle ball, which went clean through the lungs. Scanlan was 35, Lonigan 37 years of age. A magisterial inquiry was held by Mr. Kitchen, J.P., at the hospital. The principal witness was Constable Thomas McIntyre. Nearly the whole of his evidence was anticipated by yesterday’s despatch, but the gravesome additional details of the talk with Edward Kelly, which it may be worth while to relate. He had not seen Edward or Daniel Kelly before, but recognised them at once from the descriptions given in the Police Gazette. The remark Edward Kelly made when he saw he had shot Lonigan was, “Dear, dear, what a pity that man tried to get away.” They then sat down to wait the absentees. One of the two strangers told McIntyre to make some tea, and asked for tobacco. He supplied tobacco to two or three of them, and had a smoke himself. Daniel Kelly suggested that he should be handcuffed, but Edward pointed to his rifle and said, “I have got something better here. Don’t you attempt to go; if you do I’ll track you to Mansfield and shoot you at the police station.” Edward Kelly said he had never heard of Kennedy, but Scanlan was a flash —. McIntyre asked whether he was to be shot. Kelly replied, “No; why should I want to shoot you? Could I not have done it half an hour ago if I had wanted?” He added, “At first I thought you were Constable Flood. If you had been, I would have roasted you in the fire.” Kelly asked for news of the Sydney man, the murderer of Sergeant Wallings. McIntyre said the police had shot him. “I suppose you came out to shoot me?” “No,” replied McIntyre, “we came to apprehend you.” “What,” said Kelly, “brings you out here at all? It is a shame to see fine big strapping fellows like you in a lazy loafing billet like policemen.” He told McIntyre if he was let go he must leave the police, and McIntyre said he would. The best thing McIntyre could do was to get his comrades to surrender, for if they escaped he would be shot. “If you attempt to let them know we are here, you will be shot at once. If you get them to surrender I will allow you all to go in the morning, but you will have to go on foot, for we want your horses. We will handcuff you at night, as we want to sleep.” McIntyre asked Kelly if he would promise faithfully not to shoot them if they surrendered, nor let his mates fire. Kelly said, “I won’t shoot them, but the rest can please themselves.” Kennedy rode into the camp first and Scanlan followed close behind. They went to the usual dismounting place. McIntyre had advanced to within a yard of Kennedy when the men called out, “Bail up, put up your hands.” Sergeant Kennedy grasped the case of his revolver, and immediately shots were fired at him. Scanlan was dropped as he made for a tree. McIntyre saw the blood spirt from his right side as he fell. A great many shots were fired, but the police had no time to draw their arms. Though Kennedy surrendered the fire continued, and McIntyre made up his mind that Kelly did not intend to spare any lives. He therefore mounted Kennedy’s horse and bolted. As he rode off he heard Daniel Kelly call out, “Shoot that —.” More shots were fired, but none struck him. Kennedy was quite close to McIntyre when the latter mounted, but did not say a word. McIntyre got a severe fall as he rode through the scrub, but remounted, and went a long distance further before his horse gave in. He made a brief memorandum of what had occurred as he lay concealed in the wombat hole. It concluded with the words, “the Lord have mercy on me.” At dark, he started on foot, and walked for an hour with his boots off to make no noise. He took a westerly course to strike the Benalla and Mansfield telegraph line. On Sunday afternoon he reached the latter place.
On Monday morning, the search party examined the scrub for a half-mile round the camp, but saw no traces of Kennedy. They gave one “cooey,” but received no answer. The account given by McIntyre of the manner of his escape from the camp is not at all clear. Probably the men had emptied all their guns and the two revolvers at the moment he jumped on the horse. They had weapons enough, however, to fire 18 shots one after the other. The post-mortem shows that both troopers were riddled by shots from Edward Kelly’s rifle. Two bullets and one slug were extracted from the bodies. Kelly turned with a grin on his face to McIntyre when he shot Scanlan, and said, “What a fool he was to run.” The police have their suspicions as to who the two strange men are, but do not like to name them. Edward Kelly was the only good shot in the party.
On Sunday, the townspeople were somewhat apprehensive of a visit from the bushrangers. They had only one constable, and no weapons to rely on. The reported loss of Constable Meehan, on the way to Benalla, strengthened the fears which were entertained, but no one now expects to hear of any robberies. The Kellys can get plenty of assistance in the mountains. They have so many connexions round about Mansfield, that actually some people are afraid to speak of the recent murders except to assured friends.
The deceased constables were buried today, at 2 o’clock. Father Scanlan, of Benalla and Mansfield, has already set to work to get a memorial stone erected over the graves.
TUESDAY, 11 P.M.
Mr. Tomkins, president of the shire, and one of the members of the search party, has just returned to Mansfield. He reports that they carefully examined the ground all round the camp up and down the creek, and went several miles in the direction of the King River, but found no traces of Kennedy. The ranges were very difficult to explore on account of the thickness of the scrub and the steepness of the slopes. The party are confident that the Kelly’s have gone off to the King, and taken Kennedy with them, but the tracks of the four horses could only be followed a short distance from the camp. The route taken by McIntyre in his flight was crossed, and it was plain that he had not been pursued. The police and the other members of the party returned to Monk’s Sawmill, about eight miles from here, for the night. Though the party believed the Kelly’s had gone, they did not like to camp out all night. To-morrow, when the reinforcements arrive a fresh start will be made. One of the search party was Father Kennedy, of Benalla, who drove hither yesterday with Father Scanlan. The two priests started from Benalla on purpose to render help to any wounded men they might fall in with, and were provided with medical appliances. Father Scanlan stayed in Mansfield and conducted the funerals. Superintendent Saddleir arrived from Benalla at 10 o’clock, and reported that the troopers from Melbourne were on the road; they missed the train yesterday. The widow of Lonergon came here to-day, in great distress. The family have been left almost helpless. Lonergon, when he took farewell of his friends at Violet Town, said he did not expect to come back alive, but was resolved to go where-ever he was ordered. The short exploration made by the search party enabled them to say that McIntyre’s escape was miraculous, for he seems to have galloped recklessly down the creek. It is expected that his horse will be found. The wombat hole in which he hid was a mile from the place where he unsaddled his horse.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
The Mansfield outrage has excited the greatest alarm and apprehension. The whole district is in a fever of excitement. Senior-constable Irvine started away from Alexandra this morning for Mansfield, having received orders to proceed to the scene of the outrage with all haste.
(FROM THE NORTH-EASTERN ENSIGN, OCT. 29.)
On the news being received in Benalla there was no hesitation in ascribing the murderous deed to the notorious Kellys, who for some months past have lived in a state of outlawry. At the last Beechworth assizes the mother of the criminals, together with Skillion (a brother-in-law) and Williamson, alias “Brickey,” a fellow who was living with the Kellys, and was about to marry the second daughter (sister to Ned and Dan Kelly), were tried for being accomplices in the crime of attempting to murder Constable Fitzpatrick. Mrs. Kelly, a notoriously bad woman, got three years imprisonment, and the other two prisoners six years’ each, and they are now in Pentridge. If the crime which has so shocked the community be the act of the Kellys, it may, in part, be accepted as the revengeful answer of desperate men to the officers of the law for bringing their relations and friends to punishment for their misdeeds. The Kelly family are notorious in this district, and their names are familiar as household words. The father (a man of ill-repute) died some years ago, leaving the widow (now in Pentridge), the two sons Edward and Daniel, and four girls. The house of the family has been the rendezvous of thieves and criminals for years past, and indeed has been the centre of a system of crime that almost surpasses belief. They lived on the Eleven-mile-Creek between Winton and Greta, and there can be no doubt made a living by horse-stealing and theft generally. They were surrounded by neighbours of the same bad reputation, and it was notorious that to obtain evidence, or arrest the accused, owing to the network of confederates for miles around, was almost impossible. The scoundrels were principally engaged in horse-stealing, a work that, owing to the poor police protection afforded in the district between their haunts and the Murray, could be carried on with impunity. It was the habit of the gang to steal horses wholesale for scores of miles around, and cross the Murray with them, and there, among the “old hands” and settlers, “swop” or sell them. This profitable trade was carried on for years, but the outrage upon Constable Fitzpatrick, the outlawry, of the brothers Kelly, and the consignment of a batch of the horse-stealers to Pentridge, appeared to have broken up the unlawful business, and the district began to breathe freely after being relieved of a terrible incubus, when word came of this daring crime, only a score or two of miles away. Edward Kelly is notorious as having been arrested in the year 1870 as an accomplice of the notorious Harry Power. Power had the Kellys, Quinns, and others of the notorious “Greta Mob,” as it was termed, for accomplices, if not actually in his pay, and it was they whom he blames for “selling him.” In the Vagabound Papers we find him taking “The Vagabond” into his confidence and stating. “I always was stuck for want of a mate. There’s young Kelly was with me for a time, but he was no good, and helped to sell me at last. They say that he or one of the Quinns was dressed up as a black tracker to deceive me. God will judge them for taking blood-money.” And again, the notorious scoundrel Power describes how the Quinns sold him after he had paid the whole family well, and how he resisted the temptation to harm their daughter. In the centre of the country where Power carried on his nefarious crimes were the two Kellys, who, not satisfied with highway robbery, have now apparently added to their crimes a double or triple murder. Of course the Kellys had numerous friends who were capable of taking to the road. Daniel, the younger Kelly, not long since served three months in gaol for breaking into a house with the Lloyds, his cousins, and one of the latter was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for indecently assaulting a woman in the house.