The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (63)

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Sunday at Glenrowan

It was not until Sunday afternoon about 2.30 that the police headquarters in Benalla received word that Aaron Sherritt had been shot by Joe Byrne on Saturday evening at about 6.  On receipt of this information Supt Hare sent for Supt Sadleir, and they held a consultation as to what was the best thing to do. Supt Hare wired to Captain Standish, who was at Melbourne headquarters, requesting that Mr O’Connor and his “boys” be sent up that Sunday night to get on the Kellys’ tracks while they were fresh. Captain Standish got in touch with the Chief Secretary (Mr Ramsay), who in turn wired to Queensland Government to allow Mr O’Connor and the backtrackers to return.  The Queensland Chief Secretary agreed, and Mr O’Connor was at the Essendon railway station with his blacktrackers and equipment at 9.45 p.m. on Sunday, 27/6/1880.  The train bringing Mr O’Connor, his wife and her sister and a number of press representatives arrived at Benalla about 1 o’clock on Monday morning, June 28, 1880.

The Kellys took complete possession of Glenrowan and almost everybody in the town except their special friends.  There were two hotels in Glenrowan, viz., McDonald’s, on the Greta or eastern side on the railway station, and Mrs Jones’ hotel, on the western side of the railway station.  McDonald was a genuine friend of the Kellys, and therefore his place was not utilised to stick up the town.  Mrs Jones, on the other hand, was an enemy; she was regarded by them as a police spy.  It was, therefore, necessary to take charge of her and her hotel.  The men and women at first were sent to the stationmaster’s house, and then after the rails were taken up the men, women and children were imprisoned at Jones’ hotel.  The full list of prisoners totalled 62.  On Sunday morning Steve Hart was much the worse for liquor, but late on in the day he sobered up.  He was in charge of the stationmaster’s wife and children at the gatehouse.

The Kellys treated the prisoners well, and the day was put in with sports in the hotel yard.  Ned Kelly joined in hop, step and jump with the prisoners, and used a revolver in each hand as dumbells.  Others whiled away the time card playing.  At night a room was cleared for a dance, and “all went as merry as a marriage bell.”

Between 9 and 10 p.m.  Ned Kelly, Joe Byrne, Thomas Curnow, the schoolmaster, and his brother in law, Dave Mortimer, E Reynolds, and R Gribbons, went down to the police barracks to “arrest” Constable Bracken.  The police barracks were situated a mile from Glenrowan towards Benalla on the main Melbourne to Sydney road.  Ned and Joe rode and wore their armour; Reynolds, the postmaster, and Gribbens, who was staying at Reynolds’, walked.  Dave Mortimer also rode.  The post office was close to the barracks.  When they got near the barracks Curnow, who was driving his buggy, in which were his wife and sister and little Alex Reynolds, aged seven, the son of the postmaster, and the other were told to remain about thirty yards away.  Ned dismounted and told Mortimer to do the same. 

Dave Mortimer was told to go up to the door of police barracks and knock.  He did as directed.  Joe Byrne remained some little distance away.  Knocking and calling failed to attract the constable’s attention.  Ned consulted with Joe Byrne for a few seconds, and then took little Alex Reynolds and his father to the back of the barracks.  Mr Reynolds called Constable Bracken, and after a while the latter came to the door with his double-barrelled gun in his hand ready for action.  As Bracken opened the back door he was covered by Ned Kelly and ordered to throw up his hands.  Bracken obeyed and Ned took charge of Bracken’s gun, revolver and horse.  Bracken was ordered to mount the horse, which Ned, riding his own horse, led by a halter.  Ned told Curnow that he may go home with his family, and he was also told to stop the train.  Curnow was ordered, when he stopped the train, to tell the police in the train that the Kellys were in charge of the police barracks.  The rest of the party, with Ned and Joe Byrne, went back to Mrs Jones’ hotel.  It was now between 11 and 12 o’clock midnight.  Mrs Jones was overheard by Ned telling one of the line repairers to be a man and escape, while she would keep Ned Kelly engaged.  The railway line repairer refused to take the risk.  Although there was no actual drunkenness, still, the Kellys and some of their prisoners spent a good deal of money at Mrs Jones’ on drink, most of which was considered as dangerous as “chain lightning,” and the Kellys were somewhat muddled.

The Kellys now decided to let their prisoners go home, as they themselves intended to prepare for action.  Dan Kelly told their prisoners that they could now go.  Just then Mrs Jones said, “You are not to go yet; Kelly is to give you a lecture.” So the people who had got up to leave turned back into the hotel again.  Mrs Jones came in and said, “Kelly will give you all a lecture before you go.”

While in conversation with some of the men Ned was interrupted by Joe Byrne, who came on and said, “The train is coming.” The Kellys had one room reserved for themselves, in which they kept their armour.  They now entered this room and hurried to dress in their armour.  The prisoners could hear the rattle of steel.  Mrs Jones’ interruption for a lecture prevented the civilians from getting away.

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This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view

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