Sydney Morning Herald (6)
A NOTABLE ANNIVERSARY
All the deeds of daring accredited to Dick Turpin and other highwaymen of England, and all acts of lawlessness committed by Turpin's Australian prototypes, the members of the many bushranging gangs which have operated in the colonies in the 'Fifties, 'Sixties, and the 'Seventies, pale into insignificance beside the performance by the notorious Kelly gang, with which was associated the greatest' amount of impudence and bluff imaginable-that of "holding up" a whole township. Jerilderie, in Riverina, enjoys the unenviable distinction of being that town, but it is improbable that there will be any local festivities in celebration of the thrilling series of events which opened in its midst 35 years ago to-morrow (Sunday, February 8).
Late at night on Saturday, February 8, 1879, the Kelly gang, composed of the brothers Ned and Dan, Byrne, and Steve Hart, reached Jerilderie. They announced their arrival to the police authorities in the most melodramatic fashion. They rode through the sound-asleep town to the police station, and the leader banged vigorously upon the verandah of the dwelling occupied by the officer in charge. Senior Constable Devine, lured that officer and his one assistant out by declaring that there was fighting going on up at Davidson's Hotel, that it looked likely that murder would occur, and that both officers of the station should hasten to the hotel. Devine and Constable Richards tumbled out of bed, dressed, and went out, to immediately fall into the hands of the Kellys. The two officers were then disarmed, and locked up in the log-cells of their own watch house, while Mrs Devine and her children were shut up in another part of the dwelling. Throughout the succeeding day, Sunday, the four outlaws lay low. With the idea of allaying any suspicion, Dan Kelly, Byrne, and Hart put on police uniforms, but only once was it necessary for any one of them to leave the station quarters that day. This was when it was learned that it was Mrs Devine's custom-to go into town early on the Sabbath morning to prepare the church for service. Ned Kelly decided that she must do this as usual, so the lady went about her duties as usual, with Byrne in attendance to prevent her giving any alarm, returning in due course to the station where her children were held as security for her reappearance, without having raised any alarm. Afterwards, during the Sunday after- noon , Byrne and Hart, in police uniforms, took a walk through the town with Constable Richards. The object was to learn the position of the principal buildings, etc. It was agreed that if they were accosted, the constable was to introduce them as new men sent from head-quarters.
The actual raid upon the business places was planned for the following day, Monday. At about 10 am the gang set out for the town, all dressed as troopers, and accompanied by Constable Richards, Senior-constable Devine having been left locked up in the cells. They passed down the main street, Hart and Byrne alone being on horseback and, strange to say, excited little attention. It was assumed by many that Richards was showing some friends of his around the town. Mr Samuel Gill, the editor of the "Jerilderie Herald and Urana Gazette," met the party as he was actually on his way to the police station. The pressman got to the police-station, found it shut and all quiet, but' his knocking and calling brought Mrs Devine, looking haggard, to a window, wherefrom she called out to Mr Gill, "I cannot tell you anything. Run, for your life is in danger. You will hear all about it when you go down the town." Thus the newspaper man was probably the first to scent any danger. He there- upon took counsel with Mr James D Rankin, a local magistrate and merchant, and the two, with another man, made their way towards the bank. But they were too late. The Kellys were already in possession, and of the three only Mr Gill managed to escape. Mr Rankin and another were held as prisoners in the big room of the adjoining hotel, the while the pressman was streaking across country on horseback to give the alarm concerning the Kellys' presence in the town.
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