Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Ghosts of the South Coast: Mount Gambier Gaol Part 2

Ghost of the South Coast
Old Mount Gambier Gaol
Part 2

Last week we looked into a little of the history of the gaol and ended our blog with some brief insight to the crimes of two of the men executed there, this week we look into the last execution at the Old Mount Gambier Gaol, that of William Nugent a.k.a. Robert Johnson, a man who killed a State Trooper, and paid with his own life.

The last man to be executed in Mount Gambier Gaol happened on the 18th of November 1881. William Nugent a.k.a. Robert Johnson had been apprehended for supplying liquor to the Aboriginals at Wellington.
Trooper Pearce had stopped Nugent, and insisted he follow him back to Kingston, off which Nugent agreed and began to follow with his three horses in tow.
Nugent knew he was in trouble, the three horses were stolen! He asked the trooper if he could stop for a while, and they did so, but the trooper insisted he remount his horse and get on with the journey, Nugent agreed, as the Trooper began to remount his horse he turned his back on Nugent.
Nugent didn’t hesitate, pulled a knife from his boot and stabbed Trooper Pearce, severely wounding the officer. Nugent fled with his three horses, with the notion of crossing the border into Victoria.
Trooper Pearce, a 24 year old young man, who had only two years earlier applied to become a Minister of the Wesleyan Church. Pearce was found on the side of the road by passers by, of which one road into Kingston to find the Sergeant.
The Sergeant sent the injured Trooper back into town by horse and cart, and then, with two other Troopers set of to find Nugent, which they did very easily as Nugent was slowed down by his three horses in tow.
Nugent was arrested and sent to Mount Gambier Gaol.
Trooper Pearce had identified Nugent as his attacker, three days later, whilst sitting in his bed, with his Mother and Father sitting next to him, the 24 year old died of his wounds.
It was said by Nugent that whilst in his cell, he suddenly felt as though someone was next to him. He distinctly heard the voice of Trooper Pearce say “ I came to tell you I hold no grudge against you Will Nugent, no doubt others will, but I do not”.

Like all three men Executed, William Nugent was buried within the Gaols walls, as the law stated during that time, although it is not known exactly where the men are buried no, it is though one may be behind cell 21, where Karen and I stayed, and the other two may be in, or nearer the courtyard where they were hung.

During our time inside the Gaol, the lovely concierge told us a few spooky ghost tales, of noises in the gaol and unusual happenings, it would seem cell four in the mens section, and the condemned mans cells seem to be most active with strange goings on, but also, a lady in white has been seen walking through the courtyard between the dining room and cells, no-one is sure who she is, but she could be one of the women who were imprisoned with her children in tow, as was normal at the time, or she could be a woman who gave birth inside the gaol, as records indicate did happen!  

© 2013 Allen Tiller

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