Ovens and Murray Advertiser at KellyGang 24/7/1880 (6)

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“I received orders from you at the ??that I was to proceed at once to relieve Mr Nicolson.I accordingly, arrived at about? ?and saw Messrs Nicolson, Sadleir, and O’Connor in the office.After some conversation on general subjects, Mr Nicolson produced a letter he had received from you, directing him to give me all the information he had obtained concerning the Kelly gang during his stay at Benalla.He showed me the state of his financial account with one of his agents, and said there was nothing owing to any of the others. He opened a drawer and showed me a number of papers and the correspondence which had taken place during his stay at Benalla, and said, ‘You can get all the information from these papers.’ He gave me no verbal information whatever, but said, ‘Mr Sadleir can tell you all I know concerning the movements of the outlaws.’ He left the office, and I never spoke to him again, and he went to Melbourne by the evening train. The principal agent employed by Mr Nicolson I had appointed to meet me that evening. He was one who was considered the best man they had.After talking with him a few minutes he positively refused to work for me or have anything to do with me, although he had accompanied the police from Beechworth the previous day for the purpose of having an interview with me.

“That evening I telegraphed to Detective Ward to come down to Benalla the next morning by train. He did so, and after some conversation, he informed me that on the previous evening the senior-constable in charge of Beechworth had received a telegram from Mr Nicolson to pay off all the agents he had employed.

“I at once endeavoured to obtain a copy of this telegram in the office, but there was no record kept of it, nor did the clerks know anything about it, so I presume it must have been sent from the railway telegraph office, as Mr Sadleir knew nothing whatever about it.

“I directed Detective Ward to return to Beechworth at once and order the senior-constable to allow matters to continue as they had been previous to my taking charge, as I did not wish to make an alteration in anything until I was in a position to judge what was best to be done.

“For the first two or three days of my stay at Benalla I occupied my time in reading up the papers in the office, and obtaining all the information I possibly could on the subject. I had a long conversation with Mr Sadleir, who assisted me in every possible way, and gave me all the information in his power.I conversed with the different non-commissioned officers and constables I came across, and obtained their views on the duty upon which I was engaged. Most of Mr Nicolson’s communications with his agents were by word of mouth, and not in writing, and the information I obtained from documents in the office was very scant and not of much service to me. I then started round the district to see the non-commissioned officers in charge of the principal stations. I had long talks with them and their men on the state of affairs, and informed them that I intended stationing black trackers, whom I expected from Queensland, at Benalla, Wangaratta, and Beechworth. I also told them that at each of these towns I would have a full party of men stationed, so that if any information was received about the Kellys, they would be in a position to go in pursuit at once; and all I wished them to do was to communicate by telegraph with me previous to their starting off, so that I might know in which direction they had gone.

“After a few days I returned to Benalla, and started off two or three parties of men who had been specially taken on in the police force, in consequence of their knowledge of the country and the outlaws, and directed them to obtain private horses, and go into the country they knew best, and knock about amongst their friends and relatives, in order too see if they could get any information concerning the outlaws; they might go where they liked, and remain out as long as they thought fit. I also made up three watch parties, consisting of four men each, and directed them to watch certain places by night, and remain concealed all day.I made sundry other arrangements, which it will not be advisable for me to fully enter into.


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