Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Grisly Gawler - Part IV - Circus Strikers brawl

Grisly Gawler - Part IV

Circus Strikers Brawl

In 1931 after a successful string of shows in Angaston, Wirths Circus was on its way to Gawler via train to set up at the Circus at the Gawler Racecourse. Following close behind in a rented truck from Tanunda,. Were a group of men who had gone on strike during the Angaston leg of shows, wanting more money and better conditions.
The Tanunda Police had phoned ahead and warned the Gawler Police of the approaching truck and the state of anger and excitement of the men on board.
The truck rolled into Gawler and the men drove up and down the main street calling out obscenities about the circus and its owners. Constable Philips of the Gawler Police, intercepted the truck at Tramways bridge and ordered the men out. The men verbally abused the officer as they unloaded.
Police Sergeant Hansberry and Mounted Constable Hodgson were called to assist and it didnt take long until violence erupted with some of the men striking at the Police Officers. The men did not account for the Officers being more than willing reciprocate, striking back with their batons, knocking at least four men to the ground unconscious and causing extensive injuries with their batons. Blood was split and bones were cracking under the extreme willingness of the Officers to end the violence these men had started.
The Police eventually rounded up four of the most violent and abusive men and took them to the local station to charge them with Drunkenness, Indecent Language and Resisting Arrest.
Later in the day, several of the striking men from Angaston, turned up to the new Circus site at Gawler Racecourse, ready to cause a ruckus as to why their strike conditions were not being met. Mrs Wirth, refused to discuss the terms with the men and told them to leave the site.
Police continued patrols well into the night to stop any further trouble.
Unemployed men from Adelaide, who were on the Government listings, were brought down to fill the void the strikers had left, and to work for the Circus.
The men arrested were found guilty and duly fined. The other men did not return to cause any more problems that evening, due to the sudden rise in police visibility....

Perhaps a riot was stopped shot on that particular occasion!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday The Haunts of Adelaide

Happy 2nd Birthday
The Haunts of Adelaide

Tomorrow The Haunts of Adelaide turns 2!
 Many thanks to all our readers that have found us and stayed with us over those two years, as we have delved into some of South Australia's, Ghosts, Crimes and Eccentricities...

We appreciate your support and encouragement.

We would also like to thank
The National Library of Australia
The Library of South Australia
The PANDORA Archives
The Bunyip
The Kapunda Herald
The Advertiser
and all the Historians and Genealogists who have helped along the way

Below is some of our artwork from the past 2 years

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Grisly Gawler - Part III - Death in Custody

Grisly Gawler - Part III
Death in Custody

Life was hard in the late 1800's, but, just like now, there was no excuse for crime, and if you were caught, you'd sit in a police cell until it was your time to be judged and sentenced.
In Gawler, you would visit the police cells on Cowan street. In it's day, long before the modern Police Station we see now, there stood a stone building ( as shown in photo's below)
Much like now, back in the day there were rules and regulations Police had to follow whilst they had prisoners in custody, but those rules and regulations didn’t take in to account the human factor. If someone really wants something bad enough, they will find a way to do it, and with that, there were quite a few deaths in custody in the Gawler Police station in the late 1800's.
I am going to touch on one briefly in this article.

In 1872, a man by the Surname Docherty had been arrested in front of his own home for suspicion of stealing horse saddle three months earlier. The arrest was made by Sergeant Woodcock at 5am on
the 16th of October 1872 . He took the defendant back to the Gawler Police station on cowman street and placed him in the cells.
Precautions were taken to make sure the prisoner had no weapons upon his body and he was left alone in the cells, checked upon on a regular basis by the station officers, as was customary.
He was last seen alive at 9pm Saturday night when his dinner was brought to him by Constable Farrell.
Docherty had been totally sober and of no nuisance to the Police officers, not complaining about his situation nor offering any objection to his treatment.
He was found hanging from his belt the following morning by constable Farrell, who called on Sergeant Woodcock to come and assist in cutting down the man .
Docherty had climbed up on his night bucket, and slipped his belt loop through the top rails above the doorway, then fastened the belt,. He then made a makeshift noose, and hung himself.
Due to the extreme summer heat at the time, it was decided to make an inquest into Docherty's death that same day. His friends and Wife were called to the courthouse to offer witness statements as to the mental condition of the man. His wife told officers as of late, her husband, who was usually a quiet man who took no alcohol, had become much keen to drink, and was often out drinking and doing things in the scrub, but she was not aware of what, as he did not say.
The Police had to make a report and report Mr Docherty's suicide as 'The deceased, being of weak intellect, committed suicide in a fit of temporary insanity”!

There were many more reported suicides and attempted suicides in the Gawler Police Station, as well as many other Stations around Australia. In the era, for most people, being arrested was a much more serious thing than it is now. People liked to keep good reputations intact, and being arrested, or worse, gaoled, was the kind of thing that could cost not only livelihoods, but also social status and Church Status in serious jeopardy. Often people once released would move on to new areas to try and wash those old stains from their past.

The link below shows statistics for deaths in custody across Australia in the last few years: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/mr/1-20/20/08_prison.html

The following link shows statistics for crimes over various decades.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Grisly Gawler - Part II - Fatal Tiger Attack

Grisly Gawler – Part II


On the 17th of June 1898, the Bunyip Newspaper in Gawler, South Australia reported a “sensational incident” that occurred at a circus event held in Gawler South, by travelling Circus “Harmston”.
The newspaper reported that on Saturday the 11th of June, the Harmston Circus had put on a great show, but at its closing act “Gomez” the Tiger trainer, otherwise known by his real name, John Issac, entered the tiger cage to put the Tigers through the finale escapes of the Circus event.
As Gomez finished the act and turned his back on the tiger to leave, it pounced on the South African trainer, and sunk its teeth into his neck just under the back of his head. The tiger carried Gomez over the division of the gate, possibly with the intention of pulling its prey to pieces and feasting on his meat.
The crowd, not knowing if this was part of the act or not, reacted slowly to the Tigers act, but soon blood was spotted by the crowd, and they realised this was not part of the act.
Fear and confusion reigned, and the crows ran for the exits, some jumping over the wall surrounding the seating to make a hastier escape. Whilst this was happening, a group of circus attendants began to beat the tiger with sticks to try and free Gomez, who was still caught within the animals jaws.
The attendants beat the tiger off and Gomez stood and walked out the door, but was soon overcome by his extensive injuries, and collapsed. He was immediately taken to Dr Dawes surgery where the good Doctor did all he could to stop the bleeding and ease the man's pain.
On Monday. Gomez had recovered enough to be taken to the Adelaide Hospital, but by Tuesday his condition worsened, and at 5pm on Tuesday the 14th of June 1898 he passed away.

Mr Love, the sole lessee of the show, offered his condolences for Gomez, and talked of him being a man of excellent character and kindness.
However, when questioned upon the safety aspect of how the Tiger act was run, he lay much of the blame on the head of the young, now dead, Tiger Trainer.
He stated that Gomez had not taken the necessary precautions which had been put in place by the circus, and had gone into the cage with only a small whip, which only antagonised the Tiger. Staff outside had metal forks and a pistol if anything occurred, and they had seen to the Tiger being beaten off the trainer.
Love pointed out one thing, that above all other things took the blame away from himself and the Circus, Gomez had not lit the fire which sat above the gate – in his words “an unprecedented act”. He stated “ the animal was cunning enough to see that it had the advantage. The brute was well used to Isaac's attentions, for he had been its regular warder for the past twenty months, and had performed with it as many as nine times a week”

An inquest was opened into the death of John “Gomez” Issacs, and it was noted by Dr Morris of Adelaide Hospital, that he entered the hospital on the Monday in a very fearful state, and also in a severe state of shock, his injuries included a two inch puncture wound on the left side with two smaller punctures also on that side, and two puncture wounds on the right side of his neck. He had lost all movement in his left arm. The wounds had already become inflamed, which the Doctor stated, was akin to being poisoned and his breathing was considerably affected by the strain.
A post-mortem examination was done and it was found one of the wounds had penetrated his spine, breaking the vertebrates, and the base of his spine was inflamed as well as the membranes of his spinal cord.

The Tiger:
“Duke” was the Tiger's name, an 8 year old native of Japan, who was sired by “Bromo” and “Kitty”, two tigers that had found a home with the Mikado.
Duke was a twin, his brother remained with the Mikado in Japan and became an attraction at the Royal Gardens at Uno Park Tokyo.
Duke was five years old when he was trained to appear in public, and in his three years as a circus Tiger, he had had five trainers. His first a Mexican, second a Chinaman and his third an Australia. The second and third men were both mauled by two jungle tigers, and were subsequently replaced.
The fourth trainer, a Singapore native, was recently training Duke, when the Tiger attacked and broke his jaw, through a “sever crushing”. Gomez, the fifth trainer, had only just stepped into the job, and believe it or not, the previous trainer from Singapore, was one of the first to rush into the cage to try and save Gomez from Duke!

Duke was not euthanised, he continued on with the Circus...and another trainer...

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Grisly Gawler - Part I - Felo-de-se

Grisly Gawler - Part IFelo-de-se

In 1879, the township of Gawler was dealt a double blow when two very well known gentlemen, Ernest Neville and John Adamson, decided to end their lives in their home on the banks of the North Para River.
Ernest Neville was a well educated man, he could speak French fluently and was also a very well studied Botanist. His friend, John Adamson was also very well educated and was a very talented musician.
The men lived together in Gawler, but previously lived in Victoria together, and before moving to Gawler, had been employed as gardeners at the very lush house of Mr Dutton, just outside Kapunda, Anlaby homestead
Ernest, when the two men had moved to Gawler, took a job working within the Town of Gawler Corporation (what we would now call “A Council Position”). Ernest was sacked for “incompetency”, but was also facing embezzlement charge from the Corporation for large sums of money had gone missing with the Townships Insurance Agency. The unaccounted for monies was the sole responsibility of Ernest.. Neville didn’t take these accusations well, and blamed the local Methodist community, who he believed had a particular aversion to himself and his friend John.
The men were in a bad state, their house had monies owed for their mortgage, and a Bailiff was appointed to collect the interest due on their home.
From that time forward, it seemed as though the two men had already decided that suicide was their only option, and in studying how to end their lives painlessly, they undertook research in a business like manner.
Firstly they got hold of a bottle of chloroform, under the pretence of suffering from Neuralgia ( A painful nerve injury). They tested the drug on their much believed Bull-Terrier “Mammy”, who the two men referred to as the third part of their “trinity”, the three of them being inseparable. Mammy passed away from a drug overdose.
John, the next day, took Mammy's puppies into town and distributed them amongst their friends.
The following day, Sunday, Ernest did not appear for breakfast where the two men dined with other gentlemen, John accounted for Ernest's absence by telling those present, that Ernest had been up all night and was very tired, and would indeed sleep for most of the morning.
Ernest had, however, been running more experiments, and described some of what he had been up too in a letter to the local medical authority, Doctor Popham, which came to light after their deaths.
In that letter Ernest described taking large amounts of “Laudanum” (also known as Tincture of Opium - is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium), up to an ounce in one sitting – it's effects were not very dramatic on him, sending him off to sleep for about an hour.
When Ernest awoke, he them opened up a wound in his arm and drew three pints of blood (3.5 pints of blood loss can cause organs to begin failure). Ernest passed out, and when he awoke he removed another pint of blood – that did not conclude his experiments, and he expressed to that he regretted not owning a pistol.
Ernest them nursed himself through to Tuesday night, and the two men decided to proceed to the wine cellar below the house, they suspended two ropes from the ceiling: “The ropes which the men used were suspended from the ceiling, and were originally used as ring trapezes. They cut off the rings, tied loop-knots, soaped the ropes, then got on a case together and jumped off it, leaving their bodies about eighteen inches apart.”
The Bailiff, who was residing in the house with the men until the monies was paid, heard a dog whimpering at about 3 am, and went outside to see what the noise about, but could not see anyone about.
He found the two men the next morning after they didn’t come down for breakfast, and he began to search for them.
Doctor Popham brought forward the letter that had been address to him at the Inquiry into the two deaths and stated, He Could not find a reasonable explanation for why John Adamson would kill himself as well as Ernest Neville, other than the extreme regard he felt for his companion, spoken of in his letter.
The suicide was one of passion, two men who loved each other so much, they could not live a day without each others company.

As stated at the inquest: “The affair is altogether most mysterious, and one of the most remarkable occurrences that has ever happened in the colony. At an inquest on Wednesday the Jury returned a verdict of felo-de-se.”

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

George Massey Allen

George Massey Allen

George Massey Allen was probably one of the most controversial newspaper editors South Australia has ever seen since the State began.
In 1860, Allen had been working for the Advertiser, but decided he wanted more, and left to form the first English Language Newspaper in the Mid North (the only previous newspapers in the Barossa Valley and Mid North had been German Language Newspapers).
Allen founded his first paper “The Northern Star” in what was at the time, the second busiest city in South Australia, Kapunda

Allen was a man of principal, but also very outspoken, which often got him in serious trouble with the law.
His newspapers were often very controversial as he often voiced his own opinion, without thinking about the possible outcomes of doing such. This eventually led Allen into a liable case in Kapunda, which saw him found guilty, shutting his newspaper down when he was convicted to serve 6 months in prison.
Upon his release, He found The Northern Star he had founded had since been replaced with The Kapunda Herald, which was doing incredibly well. Instead of going back into the printing business, where his outspokenness would probably see him Gaoled again, he instead went into the Hotel business, buying a local Kapunda pub, in which, he could voice his opinions all he wanted.
Pub life wasn’t what Allen desired though, and eventually he moved back to Adelaide in 1867 and founded a new newspaper called “ The Satirist”.
The Satirist was in direct competition with The Register, and Allen's former employer, The Advertiser. The competition did not phase Allen though, and on at least one occasion, his newspaper outsold both his bigger rivals.
Allen had trouble not being outspoken, and as his newspaper lampooned local politicians, events and indeed his competitive newspapers, he eventually found himself in court again charged with liable. Not having the money to keep hiring Lawyers, and prosecuted again, with a gaol sentence, he eventually had to shut his newspaper down

The prospectus of the South Australian satirist reads:
The lamentably abject condition of the daily Press of South Australia, its want of political principle, its hypocritical fear and timorousness, has forced upon the proprietors of the Satirist the palpable necessity of launching forth upon the unimpassioned waters of honesty, truth, and fearless independence, a journal whose aim shall be to guide, not truckle to, the public opinion of this colony. ... What, then, is the demand of the hour? To find and to sustain a fearless advocate of the people's rights and requirements, one who will dare to speak and teach the truth ...” (27 July 1867, p. 2)
When Allen was incarcerated for six months by Judge Wearing, his wife and six children, who needed his income to survive, became destitute and relied on the kindness of others.
A parliamentary enquiry ensued, and eventually a parliamentary Intervention happened, releasing Allen from Prison, with Judge Wearing declaring he had probably misinterpreted the law somewhat harshly but "the great social advantage which has, I believe, resulted to the public by the cessation of so infamous a print as the Satirist." (South Australian Parliamentary Paper no. 145, 1868/69)

Allen and his wife didn't enter into the media again, instead they took up another Hotel, The Alexandra Hotel in Rundle Street.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

"Don't Move, or You're Dead!" - The Abduction of Monica Schiller

"Don't Move, or you're Dead!"
The Abduction of Monica Schiller

Cadell Training Centre is a low level, minimum security prison located 180 kilometres north of Adelaide. The Prison has long been used to house low level criminals who aren't deemed to be a security risk. It has long been practise to allow prisoners out from time to time for a walk or to do a spot of fishing on the Murray River. The gaol has always installed trust into its prisoners, but that changed on 13th of September 1970.

Three men, Terrence Haley, Raymond Gunning and Andrew Brooks had been released from the centre shortly after 2 pm for a walk – the men decided to abscond the prison, and had hatched a plan to escape South Australia and drive to Darwin, Northern Territory.
The men walked about 8 miles through paddocks and scrub land and arrived at the farm house of the Schiller family home in Murkbo, on the Upper Murray about 3pm

At the farm house were 21 year old Monica Schiller, her Father (Adolph) "Artie" her Mother Myrtle, Grandmother Amanda Zeiglar (who was in her late 70's and asleep in an outside cottage), and Monica's boyfriend, Mr Graham Smith.

The men took the family hostage and ransacked their farmhouse for anything they could find to aide them on their journey north. The stole money, food, water, guns, ammunition and some of Monica's dresses.
They then went about separating the family into separate rooms, putting them on chairs and binding their hands and feet together. Artie struggled, and for his attempts to escape received two hefty blows to the back of his head.

The three men took Monica outside, Her Grandmother, who had been asleep in the cottage outside, saw what was going on and tried to help, only to be giving some food and water and locked inside the cottage out of the way.
The three escapees fled the scene about 5 pm in the Schiller family car.
Artie managed to escape his ropes just after the men left, untied his family, then headed 7 miles in to town on foot to the Post Office where his Sister-in-law worked the telephone exchange, and asked her to call the police.
Detective Sergeant, Bob “Ugger” Giles

The three men first headed south to Semaphore, where they stole another car, then headed north again on to the Birdsville track.
In Adelaide, Detective Sergeant, Bob “Ugger” Giles and some Adelaide journalists charted a flight to head in the direction the kidnappers had gone. As the plane approached the three escapees, they fired shots towards it, hoping to bring it down.

The plane landed well ahead of the men, and Detective Giles, with three officers, seven journalist and two government employees drove back along the track hoping to cut the escapees off. Whilst they were driving, the plane had taken off again and was radioing in the position of the car as it neared the police below.

The officers set up a road block, and a gun fight ensued. Two of the men fled from the car before it had even stopped. One of the officers empties his service revolver of bullets and ran towards one of the escapees, shouting “Don't move or your dead!”
All three escapees were arrested and taken back to Adelaide for trial and sentencing.
Monica was alive, but severely traumatised after her 26 hour kidnapping ordeal.
Detective Sgt Giles returned to Adelaide a hero.
Advertiser photographer Ray Titus won a Walkley for his work at the scene.
Escapees Terrence Haley, Raymond Gunning and Andrew Brooks lie on the ground after being arrested. Retired Advertiser photographer Ray Titus won a Walkley for his work at the scene. Source: News Limited
Terrence Haley was jailed for 15 years but escaped again in 1972, later serving eight years in NSW before being extradited back to SA to finish his sentence. He was released in 1986.
Andrew Brooks and Raymond Gunning were jailed for 12 and a half and 11 and half years respectively.
In 1989 Terrence Haley was shot in the back while at home, lying on his lounge. He was later charged with attempted murder over another shooting that same night in Campbelltown. The charges were replaced with manslaughter and then dropped.
Detective Sergeant Bob Giles talks to Monica Schiller after she was rescued. Source: News Limited

Monica would go on to marry boyfriend, Graham Smith, the couple invited the detective Sergeant Giles to their wedding. As recently as 2006, the couple were still living in the house from which she was abducted.

Det Sgt Giles died in 2005.