Cookson, 07 09 1911 1
7 September 1911
THE AFFAIR AT JERILDERIE
DESCRIBED BY PETER A DUNNE
One of the most noteworthy exploits of the Kellys was the sticking up of the Bank of New South Wales at Jerilderie. That event is still fresh in the mind of Mr Peter A. Dunne, of Hornsby, who supplies the following interesting account of it:-
Jerilderie then an obscure place, remote and little known, leaped into notoriety on Monday, February 10, 1879, when the notorious Kelly gang held up the township, cut off the telegraph wires and looted the branch of the Bank of New South Wales. At that time I was a telegraphist at Deniliquin, and it was one of my duties to travel and restore interrupted communication. Jerilderie was my boundary in that direction.
"There were two wires from Deniliquin to Sydney; the line passed Jerilderie about a mile away; thence a loop-line led into Jerilderie post-office, two wires in and two out, making four wires on the poles of the loop line.
"About 10 a.m. a cross occurred on the lines, and we had to cast one free to get circuit with Sydney. We could not raise Jerilderie, and all day long called unavailingly. I told Sydney there must be something seriously wrong there, as Mr Jefferson (the postmaster) was never known to be out of call. I went off duty at 8.15p.m. and was just preparing for bed at home when my brother (one of the staff) entered in a state of great excitement, saying, "The Kellys have stuck up Jerilderie and cut the lines, and you have to start out and repair them in the morning'
"I dressed and went down town, and found police installed in the telegraph office, and the whole town violently excited. Six mounted troopers were despatched about midnight to Tocumwal, with a view of intercepting the Kellys crossing the Murray. The news has been brought in by Mr Lyving, the bank clerk, who escaped, and getting a horse reached Deniliquin about 9pm. The telegraph line soon after became O.K., and more details were obtained.
On Tuesday morning Mr Buckley (the S.M) and myself were near the Jerilderie line instrument, and heard Sir Henry Parkes (Colonial Secretary) and Mr Saul Samuel (PMG) instructing Mr Jefferson that he would be relieved at once and sent to Albury, as the Kellys had threatened to return and shoot him if he fixed up the wires before next day, as Jefferson had disregarded the threat and fixed up as soon as the Kellys left. It was deemed dangerous to leave him there. Mr J protested strongly, preferring to remain and see it out, but the authorities were firm, so then he said if he had to go he would rather be sent to Deniliquin, where his parents lived. Then Deniliquin was called, and asked if anyone could be sent from there. Mr Buckley replied that Mr PA Dunne could be sent. Instructions were at once given for Mr Dunne to go by the first coach, and remain in charge till the Kellys were caught.
"I made hasty preparation, and jumped into Cobb's coach at the post-office. Trooper O'Connell (afterwards a Silverton magnate) was on the box seat in uniform, with a shooting iron to protect the specie of the Bank of New South Wales, which Mr Forrester, the manager, had placed in the boot of the coach, to replace the coins stolen by the Kellys. Mr Lyving, the bank clerk from Jerilderie, was also on the box. I was inside, and we departed amidst the cheers of assembled crows.
"We picked up Mr Ralph Powell, manager for Cobb and Co, at the 13-mile and bowled along till approaching Coree, we met a horseman with a full head of steam on. It was Mr Michael Curtin, of Jerilderie, who happened to be away from home, and missed the Kellys when they called at his place to avenge some grievance, so he decided to have come more 'away from home.' Hence our meeting. He told us we were big fools to be going to where we were certain to be shot. Then he galloped away in the direction of Deniliquin. When abreast of Coree woolshed two horsemen with guns were spied coming to meet us. Then our teeth went on edge. The trooper brought his carbine to the 'Present,' the driver flicked the silk amongst the leaders, and the inside passengers gazed intently from each door as we travelled on, wondering what was going to happen. The horsemen proved to be Mr Powell, stock agent, and a groom from the Royal Hotel, Jerilderie, who came out to escort us into Jerilderie, which was about 13 miles from there.
"After we got going again Ralph Powell protested against namesake jogging along beside us with a loaded gun pointed straight in our direction, saying, "It's more dangerous to have your escort than to meet the Kellys." Powell's horse turned a complete summersault on Bunyip Plain.
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