Ovens and Murray Advertiser (2)
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THE KELLY TRAGEDY
In addition to the account of the tragedy in which the principal parts were played by the outlawed Kelly gang, committed at Glenrowan on Monday, which was given in our last issue, we now present our readers with further details. The excitement over the affair which has prevailed throughout the colony since the cowardly murder by Byrne of Aaron Sherritt at the Woolshed on Saturday last—news of which did not reach Beechworth until half-past one o’clock on Sunday afternoon—has now partially subsided. The news of the subsequent encounter by the gang with the police at Glenrowan on Monday morning tended to increase the excitement then prevailing; and business throughout these districts was almost entirely suspended—persons assembling in crowds in the vicinity of the telegraph-offices eagerly awaiting for the latest tidings, which when received was excitedly discussed. Up to evening, when the news of the firing of the public-house in which the outlaws had entrenched themselves, and the subsequent discovery of the capture of the four members of the gang (the bodies of Hart and Daniel Kelly being almost entirely consumed by fire), we from time to time during the day issued a number of extraordinaries, the contents of which were read with intense interest by hundreds of persons all over the district.
In answer to questions put by various persons who interviewed him while lying wounded at the Glenrowan railway-station, Ned Kelly, the outlaw chief, admitted the truth of the accounts published as to the sticking-up and subsequent shooting of the police at Stringybark Creek, near Mansfield, in October, 1878; but denies having cut off Sergeant Kennedy’s (one of the victims) ear, as reported, and that the latter just before his death sent any further message than (verbally) his “love” to his wife. With regard to the attempt to wreck the special train near Glenrowan early on Monday morning last, he states that his reason for so doing was to get rid of the black-trackers and the police, who were passengers at the time, and then he intended to double back into the barracks at Benalla, where he expected to have been able to hold out for a time. When questioned to his reason for having taken Sherritt’s life, he expressed ignorance of the occurrence, and said that his brother, Hart and Byrne did it all unknown to him, and that he was “—— wild about it.” He further gave it as his opinion that the end of the bushranging episode had not yet come—insinuating that the numerous avowed sympathisers with the gang would follow in the latter’s footsteps; and stated that the reason why he and his mates had kept so quiet during the past twelve months was that they thought the trackers would go away. We may here remark, in reference to the latter statement, that Mr W H Foster, PM, of Beechworth, on Friday last, in the course of conversation with a friend on the subject of the outlaws, expressed his firm belief that not very long after the withdrawal from the district of the blacktrackers (which took place that morning), the gang would be heard of—a prediction which was verified only the day after.
The following account of Byrne’s death was furnished to the special reporter for the “[[../Newspapers/D_DailyTelegraph.html|Daily Telegraph]],” by a person who had an interview with Ned Kelly soon after he was captured:—After being shot in the arm, Kelly said he went inside, and said to Byrne, “I’m shot; you can lick them; keep your pluck up.” Byrne went into the bar to have a nip, and was shot dead, while raising the glass to his lips, just at daylight. When I saw Byrne drop dead, I said to Dan, “We must make the best of it; my best friend is dead. I’ll go out in the verandah, and challenge them.” I went out and did so, but the police wouldn’t answer. I went back to the house. My brother and Steve Hart had gone outside, or into one of the rooms. I thought they had cleared. I said “I’ll challenge the lot myself,” and walked out past seven or eight police. I could have shot them easily, and could have got away if I wished. I met Arthur, the policeman, when coming back to the house. Could have shot him If I liked. I saw Constable Dwyer, and fired, but just missed him. I was shot immediately afterwards from behind. I fell, and was taken. In attempting to fire I shot myself in the foot once, otherwise I could have got away much quicker.
On Monday evening Ned Kelly was removed to Benalla, together with the dead body of Byrne and the charred remains of Dan Kelly and Hart. The latter were, to the astonishment of many, subsequently delivered up to their friends, who removed them to Mrs Skillion’s (one of the Kelly’s sisters) place at the Eleven Mile, near Greta; and expensive coffins were ordered from Mr John Grant, undertaker, of Wangaratta, together with the date and age—that on Dan Kelly’s being 19 years, and on Hart’s 21 years. A certificate, signed by Mr A Tone, JP, was given for each body; but on Tuesday evening the authorities issued an order to stop the burial, to allow an inquest being held upon the remains.
As accounting for the cause of the gang’s recklessness, several persons who were bailed up in the hotel have stated that all four were very nearly drunk, and that Ned Kelly himself drank no less than a half a bottle of brandy. It is to this the fact of his exposing himself so recklessly is ascribed; and also the failure of the scheme to bring the police near the house, or to escape themselves from it before they were surrounded. Kelly states, also, that they all could have escaped if they liked. The horses were all close by, and his own grey mare would gallop up to him when he called her, only they depended a great deal on their armour. He also told the Roman Catholic priest (Father Gibney) that it would be dangerous to attempt to walk to the hotel and ask Dan and Hart to surrender, as their blood was up, and they would stick at nothing in order to have revenge for the death of Byrne and his own capture. Father Gibney, in spite of the continued remonstrances of Kelly, however, persisted in declaring his intention of going to the house ere the flames got too great a hold of it; but before starting on his errand of mercy, he asked another clergyman who was present to accompany him. He, however, positively declined to do so, intimating that those who were paid for it could go, but he would not risk his life. Father Gibney replied that it was no time to think of payment when the souls and bodies of fellow-creatures were in danger, and immediately afterwards courageously walked into the burning house, amidst smoke and flames, and attempted to carry the body of Byrne out, which, however being encased in armour, proved too heavy for him, ? ? constable rushing in and assisting, in all probability Byrne would have met the same fate as his fellow outlaws.
The first to give notice of the impending danger to the occupants of the train when approaching the Glenrowan railway-station was Mr Thomas Curnow, the local schoolmaster, who was one of the first bailed up, together with his wife; but on preferring a request to be allowed to go home, received a reply from Ned Kelly to this affect: “Oh, yes; you may go home and have a sleep; but mind you don’t dream too loud!” When he heard the train approaching, Mr Curnow hastened and gave the timely warning. The Minister of Education foresaw the danger that might threaten him from some of the numerous friends and sympathisers of the Kellys in the locality, and telegraphed to him to at once close the school and proceed to Melbourne , in order that he might be transferred to another district. We understand that his brave conduct is to receive suitable recognition, and that the Glenrowan school is to remain closed for a week, when another teacher will be appointed.
The wound which Superintendent Hare received is of a more serious nature than was at first anticipated. A conical bullet fired by Ned Kelly struck him on the back of the left hand near the wrist, in front of which it came out and passed under his arm; grinding up the small bones, dividing the tendons and leaving a clear passage right through. With rest and quiet, it is hoped and expected that no further serious consequences will ensue.
It may not be generally known, but it is nevertheless a fact, that had it not been for Mr H E Cheshire, at present in charge of the Beechworth post and telegraph offices, the public would have been deprived of the receipt of the startling news with the promptitude they did. Mr Cheshire, immediately on receipt of the intelligence in the morning, on his own account—knowing that there was no telegraph office there—proceeded to Glenrowan early in the morning, and having cut the wires near the station, attached a small pocket instrument, which fortunately is kept in the Beechworth office, and sent the astounding news far and wide.
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