Cookson, 01 09 1911 2

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1 September 1911

(full text transcription)


"I came to this country in the ship with Sir Charles Hotham. I forget when. But it was when the blacks used to be in what is now Bourke Street, Melbourne. First we went to Forest Creek, where the gold rush was. Then to Eaglehawk and Bendigo when the gold was found there. That's a long time ago. That was when Australia was young. . . . I was at the opening of the diggings at what they called Beelzebub and at Sydney Flat. From there I went to Goulburn. Thence to Wangaratta. I have been to many places, and have seen much of Australia-too much!

"Yes; I have been married-twice. But (proudly) both my husbands were Englishmen.

"Where was I"-Oh, yes, I know. Well I was in the big flood when the water was over the Benalla bridge. I remember that. It is long ago.

"When I took the hotel at Glenrowan it was a poor place, but I worked hard to make a business. But there was always trouble. When the Kellys began to get active the police used to think I was a sympathise. . . I was not . . . They blamed me for most of the things the Kellys did. . . I had nothing whatever to do with them. And that is the truth. They accused me of hiding them. The place only had five rooms, and there was no hiding place in it. I didn't hide anyone.

"But that awful night! The place full of people-people and the Kelly crowd, with pistols and guns! And my poor, innocent children! Think of that! . . . Six of them, helpless, in that crowded place, and the bullets flying through it! . . . My brave little daughter was shot in the head. The brave police shot her. They didn't care who they killed. They fired bullets right through the house, and hit my innocent children! . . . .

(Ex-Superintendent Hare, in his printed history of the fight, fully bears out Mrs Jones's statement in this respect:-"When we commenced firing we were unaware there was anyone in the house until we heard the most fearful shrieks coming from inside the hotel from men, women, and children. We discovered afterwards that the front of the building . . . was composed of thin weatherboards, and the Martini-Henry bullets were going through the building amongst the occupants. Two or three children were shot. . . . There must have been a terrible scene inside.")

"I didn't know anything about the Kelly lot-didn't know and didn't care. But the police said I did-said I was a friend of them. So they never spared me or my children!

"Well, (and the old woman rose in bed, and with a face convulsed with pain, almost screamed:-

"Those that persecuted me are dead, and in hell! In hell, long ago! And I hope they'll stop there!"

A long pause followed this outburst, the invalid gasping, and clutching convulsively at the bedclothes. When she resumed it was in a voice little above a whisper:-

"I went to Parliament about it. I stood at the door there for an hour. I told them that I wanted justice and my little children that were shot by their cruel police. I told them to give me in charge if they liked. But they didn't. They wouldn't listen to me at all. "I don't want any help now. I get my living enough to keep me from England from my last husband's estate. His name was Smith.

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"After the hotel was burnt down that night I rebuilt it. I let it to another person. And she let it get burnt down again. And it was only insured for a very little.

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the previous day / next day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index