Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Death of Eliza Evershed: Stories from Gladstone Gaol – part I

The Death of Eliza Evershed
Stories from Gladstone Gaol – part I

On Saturday the 16th of September 1882, Eliza Evershed, a prisoner inside the walls of the Mid Norths Gladstone Gaol, passed away... her last words “Good Bye”...

By all accounts Eliza Evershed had lived a hard life. With her husband Alfred Batchelor Evershed, the couple had once been the owners of the Maid Of Auckland Hotel in Edwardstown, which eventually she ran by herself.
No-one was quite sure of her age, at the time of her death she was listed as 65 years old, but Doctors proclaimed, she had either lived a very hard life, or was at least 80 years old at the time of death.
Eliza was often in court, on both sides of the law, as sometimes her hotel would be robbed, other times she would rob people, and, in fact, she was incarcerated in Adelaide Gaol, on a seven year sentence for Larceny about 12 months previously, but had been moved to the lower security Gladstone Gaol as her health was failing rapidly.

Eliza's character was on show on 1872 when she fronted court with her friend Catherine Mott. Catherine had been charged with stealing a set of scales worth two pound by shop owner Robert Crocker.
Crocker had allowed Catherine into the shop on Grenfell street to work, but when he returned the next day the scales were long gone.
The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA 1858 - 1889),
Wednesday 20 September 1882, page 6
Catherine had required Eliza to be present, as Catherine was a tenant in Eliza's Maid of Auckland Hotel.
Eliza took the stand as a witness and said “ I am Eliza Evershed, the old woman of the Maid of Auckland. I am a widow, and I am perfectly willing to 'have' Inspector Bee”
The court room broke into laughter, and poor Inspector Bee blushed, embarrassed at the grotesque old woman’s actions.
The court ruled the old woman had “decided traces of real or assumed insanity” and that “no satisfactory evidence could be got from her”

Eliza spent her last few days alive in prison, but she was actually a free woman, having had her sentenced re-missed on the 11th of September, but being as she was so unwell, the Warden thought it unsafe to move her
Before her death, Eliza spoke of the kindness she had received from female warder Mrs. Pollit

 Honorah Dunn, a prisoner, said Eliza had been ailing for some time. Honorah had been with the old lady a good deal both day and night for the previous fortnight, assisting her with anything she needed. Eliza had everything she required, and never complained of her treatment, she passed away quietly within the walls of Gladstone Gaol

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Maria Massacre - 25 July 1840

Maria, an 136 ton sailing ship left Port Adelaide headed towards Hobart, Tasmania on the 20th of June 1840, when it was blown off course and foundered at Cape Jaffa on a reef. ( near Kingston SE, South Australia)
The Maria's passengers and crew, consisted of the following 25 people:
Captain William Smith and his Wife.
Samuel Denham and Mrs Denham and their five children (Thomas, Andrew, Walter, Fanny and Anna).
Mrs York (sister of Mr. Denham), who had recently been widowed and her infant.
James Strutt who had been hired as Mrs Denham's servant.
George Young Green and Mrs Green.
Thomas Daniel and Mrs Daniel.
Mr. Murray
The ship's mate and crew:
John Tegg
John Griffiths
John Deggan
James Biggins
John Cowley
Thomas Rea,
George Leigh
James Parsons.
When the Maria hit the reef, the passengers and crew made their way ashore with the goal of making their way, by foot, back to encounter bay to seek help aide for the now abandoned ship.
The party came across some local indigenous peoples and asked them to lead the party to safety. Along the way, a path heading inland was discovered, and it is believed the party split in two at this point, with the Captain making his way inland, and some of the crew and passengers choosing to follow the shoreline back to Encounter Bay.
Somewhere along the shoreline, some of the travelling party decided they would prefer to re-join the captain, and left the walking party to find the Captains inland party, now there were three groups of settlers trying to make their way back to Encounter Bay.
Not one of the passengers or crew members of the Maria, was ever seen alive again.
Eventually someone happened upon two bodies, both of which had weddings rings, used to identify whom they were.
Soon rumours began to emerge of an alleged massacre by Aboriginal peoples, who lived in the area, of the passengers of crew of the Maria.
It didn’t take long until more bodies were found, in different regions but still in close proximity to the Maria. Also, The Maria's logbook and some of the Passenger and Crews clothing were also found amongst local indigenous people.
As the rumours grew into a crescendo of upset settlers in the colony, Governor Gawler, South Australia's second Governor, ordered Major Thomas O'Halloran to head south and investigate the situation, and to uphold the law in the region.
O'Halloran left Goolwa with a mounted troop on the 22nd of August 1840, headed toward cape Jaffa, whilst a small boat set sail to search the coastline.
On 23 August the force ran into a number of Aborigines and rounded up 13 men, 2 boys and 50 women and children. He shackled the men and set the others free, though they voluntarily remained nearby their tribesmen.
Two of the Aboriginal men tried to escape their capture by swimming in the sea, but were shot and wounded by O'Halloran's men. A man named Roach, who had two years previously been arrested in the area by O'Halloran, led the mounted troop to a wurley where blood stained clothing, passengers belongs, and the Maria's logbook had been stored.
O'Halloran followed Governors Gawler's instructions to the letter, and at 3pm on the 25th of August, hung the two men who had tried to escape earlier.
Governor Gawler's instructions to O'Halloran were very clear:
"...when to your conviction you have identified any number, not exceeding three, of the actual murderers...you will there explain to the blacks the nature of your conduct ...and you will deliberately and formally cause sentence of death to be executed by shooting or hanging"

The hangings caused quite the stir in Adelaide, and in London. The press had a field day with accusations of murder, corruption and miscarriages of Justice. “The Aborigines Protection Society” argued that South Australian law could not be used in this case as the Aboriginal tribes of the area had not pledged allegiance to the Crown.

The case was brought but in to the public eye on the 10th of April 1841 when Mr Richard Penny was guided by members of the Tonkinya tribe to the grave of a white man who had died at sea. It was thought the body would be that of Captain Collet Barker, who was speared to death in the region in April 1831. However, Penny would find four of the five bodies still unaccounted for from the Maria wreck.
The bodies were in a bad state, and it was clear that they had been beaten to death. The Tribe then went on to tell Penny how the killings had happened.
Major O'Halloran's expedition to the
Coorong, August 1840
It seemed the Sailors and passengers had promised blankets and other goods for safe passage back to Encounter Bay, they had promised to return with the goods. The Aboriginal tribe was unhappy with this arrangement and wanted something now that they could use. The sailing party refused, and a fight broke out, of which the white men lost.
The Maria's hull was never found, it is thought she broke up on the reef. However her cannon was found and would later becoming a garden ornament at Victor Harbours “Adare Castle, fired every New Years Eve as a family tradition!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Rhynie Tragedy: Part two

The Rhynie Tragedy
 Part two

Last week we looked into some of the circumstances that led to the tragic deaths of the Lee family, after Father and husband Alexander Lee killed his Wife and Children. This week we take another look at the case, delving into how he perpetrated his crime, and his eventual hanging in Adelaide Gaol.
Thursday Morning, July 15th, 1920, Convicted murderer, Alexander Newland Lee was taken from his cell on the Eastern side of Adelaide Gaol. It was 6:30 in the morning, in less than two hours, Mr Lee, condemned for the murder of his wife and children, would himself be dead, hung from the gallows inside Adelaide Gaol.
Weeks earlier, Lee had hurt his hand shearing sheep in a freak accident, and had been receiving treatment at Nuriootpa hospital. Due to not being able to take on his usual employee, he accepted a job droving cattle. Whilst employed on the cattle run, it is believed Lee purchased a quantity of strychnine & in compliance with regulations, signed his name in the Poison Book.
Lee was said to have been seen skulking around the small town the night of his families death, having returned only a couple of days earlier from the cattle droving job he'd picked up.
In his testimony to the Police, Lee stated that he had returned home from the cattle run to find his family writhing in agony on their beds. He jumped onto his bicycle and rode 300 meters to awaken the mounted constable and a Doctor in the Rhynie Hotel.
Lee rode back to his home, and was just in time to see one his little boys drawing his last breath, He then witnessed the death of his daughter, writhing in total agony as the strychnine poison engulfed her body and stopped her heart.
On Easter Sunday Detectives Nation and Goldsworthy of Adelaide, arrived in Rhynie to conduct a full investigation of the deaths of the Lee family. They concluded that Alexander was the culprit and arrested him on suspicion of murder.
Alexander offered one of the weakest explanations for the death of his family, stating that he thought the family had died after drinking milk tainted with mouse poison. The mouse poison in his explanation, had fallen from a high shelf into the milk container, and the family, who were in the custom of having a glass of milk before sleep, all drank from the same bottle.
The inquest and trial did not take long and found Alexander Newland Lee guilty of the crime of murder, the evidence spoke for itself.
Lee was found guilty by murder by poisoning, a rare thing amongst male killers, as women are usually the ones to kill by using poison.

Lee, in his final hours that morning ate a hearty breakfast, and was comforted spiritually by Rev. W.H. Hanton. Before being led to the gallows. Even in his final hours he would not make a confession to the crimes, and the details of what happened died with him at 8 am that morning on the noose.
Murial and Alexander’s two surviving children, the twin girls were fostered by a local family in Rhynie, where they were raised lovingly. They took on their foster parents surnames and lived locally for many years.
Upon burial of Muriel and her children, Murial Lee's parents buried their daughter and grandchildren under her maiden name, in protest of their murder by Lee.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Rhynie Tragedy: Part One

The Rhynie Tragedy
 Part One

On April first 1920, tragedy struck the small country town of Rhynie, a little hamlet not far from Riverton in the States Mid-North, when the bodies of Mrs Muriel Lee and three of her five children, aged three, five and six years old respectively, were found laying in their beds in their country home, murdered by their Husband and Father Alexander Lee.

Mrs Lee's husband, Alexander had come home a couple of days previous, after being away for a lengthy time shearing sheep at homesteads around the State.
 He had returned home drunk one night and accused his wife of a number of petty things, but had soon wound himself up, and accused her of having a series of “fancy” men in the house in his absence.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.  1848 - 1957), Monday 5 April 1920, page 6

The night before the murder, Charles Glen, Mrs Lee's brother had visited the house, where Alexander was laying on the sofa, smoking a pipe. Glen went to leave saying “I will get away now, as I want to get a pint of beer before 6”, after which Lee said “A Pint would do me good.”
Mrs Lee said to her brother “Don't talk to me about beer, I had enough of it last night. He came home drunk and accused me of all sorts of things, and he said I had men in the house when he was away." 
Lee then called his daughter Amelia into the room and stated “"I will keep you and little Alice, and I hope to God the rest of the ------- are dead by the morning." Lee then looked at his wife and said “You must have riled me to say a thing like that!"
This was not the first time Alexander Lee had been harsh to his wife, the married couple also had twins babies which at the time of the murders were in a hospital in Adelaide as they had been unwell with influenza.
 Emily Mellery, a young nurse looking after the young twins, who was later called upon as a witness, reported she had been staying with the Lee family when one evening Mr Lee arrived home in a bad state of intoxication and began to call his wife all manner of names and curses.
After a while Lee began to make accusations about the fatherhood of his twins. "I am not responsible for your condition." Lee said, to which his wife answered, "Don't say that to me, Alex You know I don't do that." 
Advocate (Burnie, Tas.  1890 - 1954),
 Wednesday 9 June 1920, page 3
Lee who had two bottles of brandy and a bottle of wine with him from which he was drinking heavily, then forced his wife to drink several glasses of brandy, after each drink she was sick.
The following afternoon Mrs. Lee was removed to the Riverton Maternity Hospital, and was away from home for about three weeks. On the day she reached home the twins began to cry, and Lee remarked to his wife, "Chuck the little ----- outside they don't belong to me." Mrs. Lee replied. "Oh, Alex don't say that to me. God put them into the world for something, and we must look after them."—Alex replied "I Wasn't Home, I wasn't home when the twins arrived, I was away shearing. I think your memory has failed you considerably."
There was much speculation that Alexander Lee thought his brother, Leonard, may have been the Father of the twins, this was speculated because, on a day in March, Leonard had been standing at the front gate of the family home when Alexander had returned from work. Alexander said unto him “Hello you F$#@er!” and then had continued to berate his wife inside the home saying “why don't you keep your fancy man in here?”

My Alexander Lee obviously had trust issues and a drinking problem, but also had murder on his mind – next week on The Haunts of Adelaide, we take a closer look at the murders, trial and hanging of Alexander Lee

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Fountain Inn Hotel

The Fountain Inn Hotel

The Fountain Inn, at Yilki (Encounter Bay area) was built in 1847, one of the first inns in South Australia and it still stands today. Now known as “Yelki By The Sea”, a Bed and Breakfast near Encounter Bay.

One of South Australia’s earliest hauntings (Alongside Graham's Castle in Prospect and Younghusband Mansion in Adelaide City), The Fountain Inn is thought to be one of South Australia's earliest built Hotels, being established in around 1847.
the original building was constructed of weather-board and a thatched roof, and was the only pub for miles around in the area, which led to it being very popular, as there really was no other place to drink and socialise with other settlers, sailors and locals.
Whalers in the southern ocean would drink inside it's walls, and many wild carousels and brawls would spring up out of liquor fuelled jealousy and anger. More than one man was dragged from the hotel over the early years, bleeding profusely from wounds sustained in the brawls.
It wasn't long until other hotels began to spring up in the region, newer buildings with more room and better facilities, and the Fountain Inn Hotel fell to the wayside and became a summer residence let to tenants.
However, no tenants would stay in the house long.
In the dead of the night, when all was quiet, except the sounds of the waves breaking upon the shore, the old Inn would stir, and creak, and something unexplained would come to the fore. Inexplicable noises, like human feet dragging heavily across soft sand towards the lonely Inn, yet when one would go to investigate, nothing would be there, except the grassy reeds swaying in the wind.
Rumours sprung up in nearby towns, about the weird goings on in the Inn. It was come to be local lore that a whaler, who had been beaten in a fight in the hotel, then dragged down to the beach where he died, was now coming back to the Inn on a nightly basis to seek his revenge
The haunting rumours spread like wildfire, and soon no-one in the region was brave enough to spend a night in the haunted Inn, except for a young farmer named Mr Smith, who was staying in the Inn with his wife, well aware of the evil reputation of the building.
Mr Smith was called into town one night, and did not want to leave his wife home alone, but she insisted she would be fine and for her husband to go.
After her husband left, the young wife retired to her room to sew by the light of her flicker oil lamp. The lamp threw strange shadows upon the walls, and outside the wind moaned, She tried to put the thought of ghosts out of her mind, and waited for her husbands return. At about 2am, the wind had died down, and she listened as the waves broke upon the shore. Suddenly, from outside her window came the sound of a soft dragging rustle, as if a heavy body was being dragged through the sand. It grew louder, closer – soon She could take it no more, and with her lamp, she flung open the outside door and glanced around in the lamp and moon light only to find the beach deserted.
She could still hear the dragging noises, only a few meters from where she stood, but whatever was making them was not visible to the eye. In a state of panic, she returned to the Inn, double bolted the door, returned to her room and waited for her husband with the lamp on.

The Next Day Mr Smith returned, and he found his wife barricaded in the bedroom. After she told him of her frightening encounter with the spirit, they packed up and sought accommodation elsewhere, but not before telling the local newspapers what had happened!!!