The Argus at KellyGang2/11/1878
THE POLICE MURDERS
' SUPPOSED TRACES OF THE KELLY GANG'
No official information was received by the police authorities in Melbourne yesterday about the Kelly gang of bushrangers. The report that the miscreants stuck up a man named Neil Christian, at Bungowanah, on Wednesday morning is considered credible for two reasons—first, because the Kellys were heard to say some time ago that if ever they took to the bush they would either make their stronghold in the ranges of Towong or north-east district of Victoria, or else make tracks for New South Wales, and cross the Murray, near Howlong. If they have adopted the latter course, Bungowanah would probable be on their route. The second reason is that the man Christian is believed to be a trustworthy person, and one not likely to originate a false report. Detective Brown has been frequently on duty in the Chiltern District, and took an active part in the recent prosecutions against the Baumgartens, one of whom and a pal named Kennedy were convicted last month of receiving stolen horses. The horses in this case were supposed to be stolen by the Kellys, a suspicion that was confirmed to some extent by the circumstance that the convicted Baumgarten and Edward Kelly were seen together in a hotel at Benalla soon after the theft. The Baumgartens are a family of farmers whose holdings are situated near the Bungowanah Punt, on the Murray River . Adjoining their lands is a farm belonging to Neil Christian, but although there was some intimacy between them, it did not amount to friendship. Detective Brown, indeed, states that Christian is a most respectable person, and so far from being in league with the offenders, he gave evidence against them in the recent prosecutions. It is asked why the gang who stuck up Christian, if they were the Kellys and their mates, did not call for their provisions at some of their supposed friends’ farms instead of showing themselves to a man who would report their visit. The answer given to this query is that they had probably at first mistaken Christian’s place for the house of a friend.
Another report was circulated yesterday to the effect that the gang had bailed up a puntman and crossed the river. If this statement is correct and the other report authentic, the punt referred to might be one just below Christian’s house, kept by a man named O’Keefe. On the other hand, however, some regard these statements with suspicion, and consider that the Kellys are more likely to conceal themselves in the most inaccessible ranges of this colony. Those who think so set down the report that they have made for New South Wales either as a ruse to mislead the police, or as an exaggeration of some incident altogether disconnected with the Kelly gang. This view is substantiated to some extent by some intelligence which reached Benalla yesterday. Our special reporter telegraphed the following:—
“Particulars received as to Chiltern case render it highly improbable that the Kellys were the parties. The men were not mounted, it does not appear that they had arms, nor are the descriptions like. The necessary steps have been taken, however, in case the report should be well founded.”
The report is evidently believed in Chiltern, where it came from originally. Our correspondent there has sent the following telegram:—
“Chiltern, Friday Evening.
“Considerable excitement continues. Four armed troopers reached here by last night’s late train, and four more by the 1.30 p.m. train to-day. The first four have gone in the direction of Baumgarten’s, on the Murray, I hear, while two of the second four have suddenly left again—fresh information, supposed.”
If the gang have crossed the Murray , it is to be hoped that they will find the New South Wales police on the alert for them.
The Outlawry Bill passed by the two Houses of Parliament this week was assented to yesterday by the Governor, and the preliminary steps were taken to have the four murderers outlawed. The Governor’s proclamation of his assent appears in last night’s Gazette. An information against the offenders has been sworn by Mr Mainwaring, of the detective department, before Mr Call, PM, and warrants issued. The further steps necessary under the act will be taken to-day by the Attorney-General.
With regard to the complaints contained in our yesterday’s telegrams as to the want of a sufficient number of police, and of proper weapons in the Mansfield district, we are assured by Captain Standish that everything possible is being done to meet the requirements of the case. There are several parties of police in the field, whose proceedings are very properly kept secret. The Government have purchased about 30 double-barrelled breech-loading fowling-pieces, which are stated to be very effective weapons, and the most suitable kind for the use of those who are not trained marksmen. The Spencer rifles are certainly superior both with regard to the number of shots they can discharge and the distance they can carry, but although their mechanism is very simple, it is considered that they would not be so useful in the hands of those who are not trained riflemen as the fowling-pieces just obtained. The latter are of course being despatched to the field of action.
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