The Last of the Bushrangers Chapter 5 page 2

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Story of the KellyGang - the Sup Hare's book

The Last of the Bushrangers.

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The Last of the Bushrangers by Sup Hare

(full text transcription)

Ned Kelly’s family, Steve Hart, and Joe Byrne

Ned Kelly had two brothers and four sisters, Dan, Jim, Mrs Gunn, Mrs Skillian, Kate and Grace. His father, who died in 1865, was a notorious criminal, having been transported from Ireland . He married a Miss Quinn, and all her people were thieves. The mother (Mrs. Kelly) is still alive, but was in gaol during most of the time her sons were outlaws, having been convicted of aiding in the shooting of Constable Fitzpatrick.

Dan Kelly was born in 1861, and was a good deal mixed up with Ned in his criminal pursuits. They were the terror of all persons who travelled with stock in that part of the district, and many drovers were accustomed to go miles out of their way to avoid Greta, for fear of their cattle being stolen. Dan was always known to be a cunning low little sneak, he would be prowling about half the night seeing what he could pick up; of course he knew every road, lane, and mountain gully in the district, and could ride about the darkest night and find his way as if in his own garden. (see drawing)

Steve Hart was born in 1860, near Wangaratta, he also was a horse stealer, and was frequently prowling about of a night to pick up a stray drayman's horse, or any other animal that did not belong to him.

Joe Byrne was born in 1857 at Woolshed, near Beechworth. He was a fine strapping young fellow, but he took early in life to evil courses, and received a sentence of six months in Beechworth for cattle-stealing. He was educated at the Eldorado school, where he and Aaron Sherritt were most intimate friends.

Aaron Sherritt, who figures conspicuously throughout this narrative, was born near Beechworth. His parents and sisters were respectable and well-conducted people, his father having been in the police force in the old country. He was a strapping, tall, well-made young fellow, and associated him-self with the Kellys and Byrne in their horse-stealing raids, giving himself up entirely to a disreputable life.

It will be observed that as the Kelly family lived near Greta, the Hart family near Wangaratta, with the Warby ranges behind them, and Joe Byrne's family resided at Woolshed, they had miles of ranges to retreat into with which they were well acquainted, and to this fact I attribute in a great measure their successful evasion from arrest. If, for instance, the police made up their minds to search the interminable ranges at the back of Greta, extending for over one hundred miles, the outlaws would, through their sisters, get the information furnished to them that the police were in that district, and they would shift their position during the night to the Warby Ranges , at the back of Hart's place; if parties of police were sent there, they would move over to Byrne's friends. In this manner they could find retreats over hundreds of miles of impenetrable mountains, amongst which they had been brought up all their lives, and where they knew every road, gully, and hiding place.

Fitzpatrick Shot

The origin of the bushranging outbreak was the shooting at a young constable named Fitzpatrick in April 1878. He had been sent to arrest Dan Kelly at his mother's house near Greta. He was invited into Mrs. Kelly's hut and there set on by a number of people, and in the scuffle Ned Kelly shot him in the wrist. Mrs. Kelly, the mother of Ned and Dan, with two or three others, was subsequently arrested, tried, and convicted for aiding in the shooting of Fitzpatrick, and received long sentences. Warrants were then issued, and a reward of £100 offered for the arrest of Ned and Dan Kelly. For some months nothing was heard of them; they were doubtless in the district, but the police could not lay their hands on them, although every effort was made to capture them.

Search party

In October 1878, search parties were organized of three or four men, and were sent to search the mountains. The party in charge of Sergeant Kennedy, one of the best men in the force, comprised also constables Lonergan, Scanlan, and M'Intyre. They had orders to scour the Wombat Ranges . They left Mansfield on the 25th of October, 1878 , with pack-horses and provisions to last them some days. Sergeant Kennedy was a shrewd, intelligent man, and there is every reason to believe he had received information of a most positive nature as to where the Kellys were to be found, the information being supplied by a man whom I must call P--- , a well-educated fellow, who had held various responsible positions in the district, on the promise from Kennedy that if he arrested the offenders, the reward offered by the Government for their apprehension should be paid to him. It is also stated, that no sooner had P--- given this information to Kennedy and seen the police started in search of the bushrangers, than he went straight to the Kellys and told them that Kennedy was to camp in a certain spot in the Wombat Ranges . Kennedy never for a moment thought the Kellys would attack him; such an idea never entered his head, and he camped for the night in a spot he had selected in the Stringy Bark Ranges, about twenty miles from Mansfield; the country was almost impassable from the impenetrable scrub.

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