The Argus at KellyGang 14/12/1878 (3)
And this much is certain, that she never undertook to post any such document. The statement that she had done so must have originated from the circumstance that she supplied the outlaw Byrne with postage stamps for a letter, the address of which he carefully concealed. Shortly before the desperadoes left to perpetrate the bank robbery, Byrne asked Mrs Fitzgerald for a stamp. She procured one, and stuck it on to the envelope, but as she did so he held a piece of paper over the address. Byrne weighed the letter in his hand, and remarked that he did not think one stamp would carry it, and Mrs Fitzgerald gave him a second one. He then rolled it up in a piece of paper, and placed it in his breast. Nothing more has been heard of it, and it is supposed that it was more likely intended for a friend than for the authorities. Byrne spent a good deal of time with Mrs Fitzgerald whilst she was cooking in the kitchen. He chatted with her on general topics, and played for her entertainment on a concertina. A copy of The Australasian was lying on the table, and the news it contained concerning the gang was read by him with avidity. He denied the report that certain burned saddles which had been found in the bush were those which belonged to the horses stolen from the police.
Before starting for the township, the gang made Mrs Fitzgerald give them water, a comb, and a hairbrush. She brought them the water in a bucket from the creek, attended to all their wants, and they performed their toilet carefully. Before finally leaving, the gang shook hands with their prisoners all round, and distributed silver coins amongst the children. Their conduct was evidently studiously regulated for the purpose of producing a favourable impression.
In reference to the report in connextion with the National Bank robbery, that a number of valuable securities and title deeds were taken from the bank, we have authority to state that the only documents taken are one Crown grant, one Crown lease and four small bills, amounting together to less than £100, and that the particulars of all these are known.
A preliminary meeting was held at Mansfield on Wednesday to consider what steps should be taken for erecting a memorial tomb-stone over the graves of the murdered policemen. It was attended by Mr. Graves M.L.A., Mr Kitchen, J P, Sub inspector Pewtress, and a number of the residents, and it was decided that full particulars of the contemplated memorial should be advertised in The Argus next week, and that the editor should be requested to receive subscriptions.
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH]
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)
This has been a remarkably quiet day both here and at Benalla, for nothing has been heard from any of the numerous search parties now out. The police authorities have again made Benalla their headquarters, Superintendents Nicolson and Hare having proceeded to that township by the morning train to join Captain Standish. Mr Nicolson is, however, now suffering from severe affection of the eyes, and he proceeded to Melbourne by special train during the afternoon, it being understood that he is to take a few days' rest. It is also rumoured that he has instructions to send up more men during the night. One man was sent up this morning to increase the security of this township, but as the trooper who is stationed here has been temporarily disabled by a fall from his horse, the amount of police protection remains at the minimum. It is however not very probable that the Kelly gang will again pay this township a visit as they must be well aware that everybody is now on the alert and that a second attempt to rob the bank would prove a failure.
At Violet Town, which is the next station along the line, and about 12 miles from here, the inhabitants still remain in a state of scare and are in full expectation of receiving a visit from the marauders, but as they have now two additional policemen there their alarm ought in a great measure to have subsided. At the bank there, however, every precaution is taken, the doors being kept partially secured, and plenty of fire- arms in readiness for use if required. The statement made last evening, and at the time set down as an idle rumour, to the effect that a butcher had been stuck-up near Violet Town , has proved to be correct. It appears that about 4 o'clock , as he was driving his waggon home- wards, a mounted man rode up alongside him, and after a few ordinary remarks, suddenly asked whether he had any money about him. Before giving him time to make any reply, he slipped off his horse, and jumping into the waggon, put a revolver to his head, and made him hand over a sum of about £15, principally in notes. He then rode away, and nothing has since been heard of him. Of course this added to the excitement that prevailed in the township, and the robbery was at once set down as another offence to be added to the already long score against the Kellys. This, however, is absurd talking by some individual taking advantage of the scare now existing m the district.
From what I have heard to day there appears not to be the slightest doubt that the gang have been hanging about the place for some days past, and that the whole scheme of robbery was carefully planned and arranged after the party had made themselves acquainted with the doings of the place. Steve Hart was seen in the bar of the hotel one afternoon at the latter end of last week, and he then had a drink with several persons who were present at the time. Of course at this time there was not the slightest idea that he had anything to do with the gang, and it is only since the sticking-up occurrence that some of the persons present have remembered the visit of this man. In the course of the conversation that then took place, Steve Hart made numerous inquiries about Meade's claim, and how it was turning out. This claim is on the Dry Creek, about 30 miles from here, and Meade is in the habit of lodging his gold at the National Bank here. The smelted gold which was taken from the bank by the robbers came from his claim.
As an instance of the amount of impudence and bravado that exist among the Kelly family and their confederates it may be mentioned that one of the search parties returning to Benalla met Kelly's sister on the road, and she entered into conversation with one of the number, whom she knew. After a few remarks she said, with cool insolence "Wouldn't you like to know whether I have got any of those sovereigns yet?" A farmer from the outlying district reports that when a few miles out of town this afternoon a man well mounted on a bay horse rode up to him, and having mentioned him by name, said that he was aware that he (the farmer) knew every inch of the Strathbogie Ranges, and offered him £100 if he would show him a track over the spurs by which the Kelly's could get on to the Broken River. The farmer refused the offer on the ground that he had a large family, and the man then rode away into the bush. A commercial traveller who has just come in from Goober, in the Alexandra district, states that the Kellys stuck up Messrs. Stoddart and Rowe's station, near Alexandra, where they remained all night. Mr Stoddart escaped by swimming the river, and took the information into Alexandra. These are all the particulars that can be obtained at present.
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