Royal Commission report day 52 page 5 (2)

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The Royal Commission evidence for 4/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 53)

[[../../people/peC/curnowThomasT.html|Mr Thomas Curnow]] giving evidence

17597 Continued

He then said that he would go back and stop the special which was coming on. He asked me who I was, and I told him I was the school teacher there, and requested him not to divulge who it was that stopped and warned him, as I was doing it at the risk of my life. He promised to keep my name secret. He asked me to jump in the van, but I declined, as my wife and sister were without protection. The pilot engine whistled several times while I was talking with the guard. The pilot went back, and I hastened home and found Mrs. Curnow had been almost insane while I was stopping the train, and had been made worse by the whistling of the pilot engine. She would not leave the house after I had stopped the train, and we blew out the lights to seem to be in bed. My sister hid the red scarf and my wet clothes, and we were going to deny that it was I who had stopped the train, if one of the outlaws came down to us. After the first volleys had been fired, I, with an old man who lived opposite me, went up to Jones's to ascertain who were victorious; but we were ordered back by the police, and we returned home. While I was away my sister and wife had a terrible fright through Mr. Rawlins, who had accompanied the police, coming down to the school. They thought that he was Ned Kelly when he asked for the door to be opened. When I reached home I found Mr. Rawlins there. He asked me to draw a plan of Mrs. Jones's house, which I partly did; but, on hearing the train returning from Benalla, he hurried out, and stopping it, he got into it. During the Sunday afternoon I heard Mr. Stanistreet ask Ned Kelly to allow the rails torn up to be replaced, and he pointed out to Ned Kelly the sacrifice of innocent lives which would ensue if the Monday morning's passenger train were wrecked. The outlaw refused to allow it to be done. In speaking of and to one another the outlaws had assumed names. In the Argus report, May 16th, of James Reardon's evidence, given before the Police Commission at Glenrowan, it is stated that James Reardon said he told me that ‘the line was broken,’ and that he told me ‘how the train could be stopped.’ Mr. Reardon is laboring under a wrong impression. I am positive that he did not tell me how the train could be stopped. Stopping the train, nor how to stop it, was not mentioned to me by any one. Of this I am absolutely certain. I have been informed that an impression prevails that it was in my power, before the outlaws stuck up Glenrowan, to have furnished information to the authorities relating to the Kelly gang or their friends. Others assert that I was employed by the authorities to obtain information. I desire to emphatically state that this impression and assertion are both false.”

17598 Did you notice whether the outlaws were perfectly sober?— They were. One of them, I think Byrne, lay down on the bed about twelve o'clock in the day, and had a sleep, but the others were quite sober.

17599 Was Byrne drunk then?— I think he was under the influence of liquor. I thought so. After sleeping he was quite straight again.

17600 Of course you did not see much of what was done at Mrs. Jones's afterwards?— No, after we left I saw nothing.

17601 What was the name of the guard that you first spoke to?— I have ascertained since that his name McPhee.

17602 Did you know anything about Reardon before?— I had known him through living there, about four years.

17603 Did you know anything of whether he sympathized with the Kellys or not?— No. Well, every one in Glenrowan was extremely guarded except to their own immediate friends in speaking on the subject. I never spoke candidly to any one, except my own relations and immediate friends, about Kelly matters. I never spoke out my mind on the subject, and others acted in the same manner.

17604 Was it Reardon that told you the line was taken up?— I cannot say that Reardon did not, for everybody spoke of it, and it was a fact known to all. It was known to several I know, and it was the topic of conversation that the line was torn up, and they were going to wreck the train.

17605 How far from Glenrowan station did you place the signal?— From my place I think I ran about 200 or 300 yards down the line from the school.

17606 Did you run into the cutting?— No. I stopped I think about halfway between the school house and the cutting.

17607 Where you put the signal?— Yes.

17608 You knew the Kellys were close behind at the time?— Every second I stood there I expected a bullet.

17609 You were almost within sight?— It was spies I dreaded, and the probability of one of them coming down. They said one of them would come down. I dreaded he would come while I was stopping it or that spies were about.

17610 Did you get to know any of their sympathizers?— Well, many of the people were suspected round there, but to know for certain I never did, and we simply judged from the papers. ....

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