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A Bush Murder

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The Armidale Chronicle (NSW), Wednesday, January 31, 1912

THE HILLGROVE TRAGEDY.

(By our Special Reporter).

The inquest concerning the death of Samuel Watson, who was found murdered near his home in the vicinity of Hillgrove on Monday, January 22, was held at the Hillgrove Police Court on Monday last, before the Coroner (Mr. Wm. Morgan).

Herbert Skinner, aged 19, was present in custody, and Mr. D. P. Claverie, of Armidale, watched the case in his interests.

Detective John Fullerton conducted the inquiry on behalf of the police.

Esther Amelia Watson, daughter of deceased, residing at Curran’s, in Brackin-street, stated that on the day of the murder she saw her father —he came before dusk and left between 7 p.m. and 7.50. Bert Skinner was sitting under the verandah when her father left, but she did not notice him leave. After the case, Purcell v. Skinner, her father came to Curran’s and said, “What does Bertie want?” and witness replied, “He has a glove of Eva’s.” When her father passed into the shop she heard Skinner say, “I’ll do for you yet, you old —— ” A few days before that case she had had a conversation with Skinner, who admitted hitting Purcell, and added, “Old Sam (meaning father) thought he was pretty clever. Jack and Sam raced into Hillgrove on their horses, and yet I was there before them.” He also said that when they came to his house he was in bed, and “gammoned” to be asleep. Her father looked upon young Skinner as an enemy.

To Mr. Claverie: Skinner was “courting” her sister. Witness was friendly with him, and liked him. She had frequently heard Skinner and her father wrangling.

Annie Show Yin, wife of a local storekeeper, deposed that she had known Skinner for 2½ years. On the fatal day Watson called at the store between 5 and 5.30 and bought a bag of chaff. On the way down town, at about 7.45 p.m., she noticed Sam Watson going in the direction of his home, and a little further on she saw Skinner walking in the same direction. Skinner bought about 800 cartridges in November last—his sister had since returned half of them.

To Mr. Claverie: Skinner was not carrying any firearms at the time she saw him.

Show Yin, storekeeper, stated that deceased Watson was at his shop on the night of the murder at about eight o’clock, when he took delivery of a bag of chaff he had ordered earlier in the day. In the course of a conversation, witness said to deceased, “You are getting too old to work, Sam—you ought to get the pension,” and Watson replied, “Bertie Skinner is going to shoot me some day.” Witness had never seen Skinner with a rifle, though he had frequently bought cartridges.

To the Coroner: It was after the Court case with Purcell that Watson told him about Skinner going to shoot him.

Debora Maria Cross, residing in Ryan-street, off Brackin-street, said that on the night of the murder she saw Bertie Skinner pass along Ryan-street at about a quarter past eight.

Patrick Doyle, laborer, residing at Swamp Creek, deposed that on Monday, 22nd January, he came to Hillgrove just after dark, and met deceased in Curran’s store. About 10 minutes later deceased was in his cart, and witness said to him, “Hold on, Sam ; I’ll be going out with you.” Witness thereupon got in the cart and went as far as Show Yin’s store. Subsequently witness went with deceased to his camp. Upon arrival there, witness heard deceased call out to a man named Walsh, ‘”Who’s carting wood down the paddock?” and the reply came, “Joe Prisk.” Deceased was perfectly sober. Witness then went to bed, but not to sleep. He heard no reports of firearms, nor did he hear anyone scream. Some time after he had been in bed, Jack Watson (a son of deceased) came running to the camp, calling out, “Paddy! Bill! Come quick!” Witness replied, “Bill’s not here.” Young Watson said, “Never mind about Bill; come quick; father’s shot along the road.” Witness said, “Never—I just left him.” Witness said, “I will not go on my own, but if you call back I’ll go with you.” Witness was a bit nervous, and did not like going. Young Watson then said he would go for the police and the doctor, and call back later. Witness then heard Watson ride away. Soon afterwards witness got up and saw a man named Walsh with a lantern, trying to catch a horse, and, together, they went to where the body was lying, and Senior-Constable Dobbie rode up almost immediately. About six weeks before the tragedy, witness had gone home with deceased, and on the way, deceased said, “I am afraid to-night; I think I’ll borrow Bill Vauple’s gun.” Witness replied, “No one would touch you, Sam,” to which deceased replied, “You never know, Paddy, the way Bert Skinner has threatened me.” Deceased got Vauple’s gun that night. Deceased kept the gun between four and five days. After a Court case in November, Bert Skinner said to deceased, “I’ll soon get you, ‘doggy.’ ” Deceased was known by the name of ”Doggy .” Deceased was well liked, and had no enemies other than Bert Skinner.

Amelia Watson, wife of deceased, stated that on the evening of the tragedy she was at home. Mrs. Mowle, three children, and a man named Wm. Doyle were also in the house. After tea, when she was waiting for deceased to return from town, Doyle called out, “Here’s the dray coming.” Suddenly the sound of the cart stopped, and almost immediately Mrs. Mowle said, “What’s that rumbling noise?” The dogs commenced to bark, and run in the direction of the sounds. The noise she referred to resembled someone quarrelling. They all ran outside, and just as they did so, a terrible scream rent the air—it was a long piercing scream, as of a man in great pain. Witness recognised the voice as that of her husband. Before the scream had died away, a rifle shot rang out. On hearing these reports, Mrs. Mowle called out, “That’s poor dad—I know it’s poor dad.”. Witness and Doyle then went to the spot where the scream came from, and found her husband lying on the roadside, quite dead, with the horse and cart standing close by. Blood was flowing from a wound in the face. Witness lifted up one arm, and said, “Sam! Sam!” but received no answer. The whip was between his arms. They returned to the house to get a light, and, on returning, met the horse galloping with the cart towards home. Witness then went to her son Nathan’s house, and on meeting her son, informed him of the tragedy. Subsequently her son went for the police. Bert Skinner had visited her house for a number of years—he used to keep company with one of her daughters. She objected to his visitation, which led to several quarrels. She had an idea that Bertie Skinner was an enemy of her husband’s. In December, witness, her husband, and two daughters went to Sydney, and while in Sydney her husband purchased two revolvers. Skinner was constantly prowling about their house by night, and she and her husband had often tried to prevent him from coming near the place. Witness had never seen Skinner carrying firearms.

Wm. John Doyle, laborer, residing in the vicinity of deceased’s home, stated that he was with Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Mowle, and other members of the family on the night of the tragedy. Witness corroborated the evidence of Mrs. Watson in regard to hearing the “row,” the scream, and the report of the rifle. After sending Jack Watson for the police, and returning to the body, witness picked up the two pieces of rifle stock (produced). Bertie Skinner was an enemy of the murdered man. Watson had once told witness that he was frightened of Skinner, and carried a gun in case of meeting him.

To Mr. Claverie: Witness worked for deceased at one time, and lived with him in the house. He denied ever having had a “rough-and-tumble” with Watson, but admitted having a few “words” with him. The result of those “words” was that he left deceased’s employ. Witness denied ever having a rifle. He started to work for Watson the second time on January 9th. When witness first saw the body, it was about 8.40 p.m. From the time that he heard the rumbling of the cart until the shots were fired, would be about two minutes.

Nathan John Watson, laborer, residing on Bora farm, deposed that on Monday, 22nd inst., after tea, Doyle and Mrs. Watson came over, and informed him of the murder, whereupon he saddled a horse and proceeded to Hillgrove. He first called at accused Skinner’s place, and sang out, “Is anybody at home?” Mrs. Skinner replied, “Is that you, Jack Watson?” Mrs. Skinner then came out, and witness said, “Is Bertie at home?” to which she replied, “No; I don’t know where he is.” Witness said, “Do you think he’s down town?” and she replied, “I don’t know.” Witness then asked her when she had seen him last, but could not remember what reply was made. Mrs. Skinner then said, “What do you want Bertie, for?” to which witness replied, “My father’s been shot dead.” Witness then went to look for the police and the doctor. Outside William’s hotel he met a number of young fellows, whom he also asked if they had seen Skinner, to which they answered in the negative. He afterwards saw Mr. Witherdin, and asked him the same question, and he said, “Yes ; there he is, standing under Williams.” Accused Skinner was standing under the hotel verandah. Witness then said, “Is this the first time you have seen Skinner to-night?” to which witness replied, “No; I saw him about half past nine.” After informing the police, witness rode out to the scene of the tragedy. On the way he called at Matson’s residence, and asked for a loan of some cartridges or a revolver. Matson, however, declined to accede to the request. Just before having tea, witness heard a loud scream, which he took to be his father’s voice. Witness said to his wife,” “I wonder if the house is on fire?” Seeing no glow in the sky, witness cooeed, but received no answer. Skinner was an acknowledged enemy of his father. Witness made his inquiries concerning Skinner, because he had his suspicion as to who did the deed.

Eva Winnifred Watson, daughter of deceased, stated that the night before her father went to Sydney (December 15th), she heard two persons prowling about the house—one of them was Bertie Skinner. Her mother went out with the candle, but she said to her, “Come inside, mother, or you’ll get hit.” While her mother was outside, a stone was thrown, which came into the house—a paling also followed. On the way in, when going to Sydney, they met Skinner and another boy at Cooney Creek. Skinner had either a gun or a rifle with him. While in Sydney her father purchased a small revolver, giving as his reason that he was frightened of his life of Bertie Skinner. Skinner was an enemy of her father’s. She was at the house when Skinner assaulted Purcell. He sprang out of the darkness, without warning, and knocked Purcell down. As a result of the punch, Purcell was taken ill, and witness’s father went to town, on horseback, for the police. Skinner was in town before her father. Witness and Skinner had previous to this assault been on friendly terms, but her father did not approve of the match. This was what she attributed the bitter feeling between Skinner and her father, too.

To Mr. Claverie: She considered Skinner as her “boy,” and, although he had a row with her father, she did not think he would do him any harm. Skinner never made any threat to her about shooting her father.

To the Coroner : She did not “stick” to Bertie Skinner after he assaulted Purcell. Skinner had said, “If I don’t get you, nobody else will.”

Mr. Claverie: That was a compliment to you.

Annie Emily Ellenden, residing with her husband, about 1½ miles from Hillgrove, deposed that on the night in question she heard a loud scream, which appeared to come from the direction of Watsons. Did not hear any report. Witness had seen Skinner once before in her paddock, not far from Watsons. It was some months ago, in the daytime. She asked him what he was doing, and he said he was doing a bit of detective work. Witness told him he’d better leave the paddock, and he said he wasn’t doing any harm.

Edith Watson, wife of Nathan Watson, stated that on the night of 22nd January she was preparing tea, just at dark when she heard a long scream from the direction of Sam Watson’s. Recognised the voice, and said to Jack (her husband), “What’s your father calling out like that for?” Her husband said, “That’s somebody screaming,” and added, ” I will jump on the pony and have a look—there might be a fire. Did not hear any report of firearms, and then went into tea. Mrs. Watson, sen., and Jack Doyle came up, and said, “Sam’s shot.” Her husband immediately got his horse and went to town for the doctor and police, and witness went back with her mother-in-law and Jack Doyle to where deceased was lying. There was blood all over deceased’s breast and down to his boot tops. The bridge of his nose was shot away. Before tea, witness heard voices—it was some time before the scream—about 10 minutes or a quarter of an-hour. Had seen Bert Skinner with a magazine rifle. Deceased was afraid of Bertie Skinner —witness had heard him say so. Had never heard Skinner threaten deceased.

Henry William Witherdin, baker, residing at Hillgrove, stated that on Monday, 22nd January, he attended the Municipal Council meeting, leaving at about 9 p.m. Was at Sullings’ hotel for about 20 minutes with Messrs. Teague, Snow, Morrow, and others. Witness afterwards sat on the stool. Mr. Sullings and Bert Skinner were also there. This was about 9.30 p.m. Skinner said “Good night, Harry,” and witness returned the compliment. Witness then crossed over to Robinson’s where an argument was going on, and remained there about half an hour. He looked at the time in Robinson’s hotel—it was a quarter to ten. After looking at the time, he stayed another ten minutes, and just after starting for home met Mr. Packer, who asked him if he had heard of Watson being shot. Witness had borrowed a pea-rifle from Mr. J. Baker on several occasions—it was a 22 Colt’s repeater. [The broken pieces of rifle were handed to witness, who said they were similar to those in Mr. Baker’s rifle]. Witness said he had never seen a similar rifle to this one in the town. He seen a Colt’s rifle at Boundy’s shooting gallery. It was different to Baker’s. Was sure Baker’s was a Colt’s.

To Mr. Claverie: Did not notice on Sullings’ seat anything peculiar about Skinner.

To the Police: Saw Jack Watson at about ten minutes past ten o’clock. He made reference to Bert Skinner, but did not ask straight out if anyone had seen Skinner. Witness said to him, “Why I saw him at 9.30 under Sullings’ verandah. When Watson spoke, Skinner was about twenty yards away.

John Thomas Baker, storekeeper, of Brackin-street, Hillgrove, stated that he remembered some 12 years ago buying a pea-rifle in Sydney—a Colt’s repeater. Had handled it continuously, and had a good knowledge of its appearance or any part of it. Recently sold the rifle to Bert Skinner, between the 1st and 20th of November last year—he gave 25/-for it. [The pieces of wood off the rifle were then shown to witness. One piece was the block for the ejector]. Witness said he honestly believed the pieces were off the rifle he sold to Skinner. There was a little bolt through it, which, as well as another smaller piece of wood, were missing. The only thing he saw wrong was that the constant use had worn the retractor, and it wouldn’t always act.

To Mr. Claverie: He would not swear positively that the pieces were off the rifle, but believed they were. Only the proper cartridges could be used in the magazine of the rifle, as long cartridges would have to be pushed in from top. Did not know the difference between Colt’s and Winchester rifle.

Detective Fullerton at this stage asked for an adjournment till Wednesday morning. The medical officer was not yet home. He had also sent some exhibits to Sydney, and had received no information re same yet. He had several other witnesses to call.

Mr. Claverie didn’t think it fair to his client, but afterwards agreed, and the Coroner adjourned the Court till 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning.

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August 20, 2017 at 7:51 pm

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Long Point – A lonely spot (1930).

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The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Saturday 13 September 1930

A Lonely Spot

JACK SEWELL (Long Point) – I live thirty six miles from Armidale. There we go once a month to do our shopping. Hillgrove is eighteen miles away. It was once a great gold-mining town, but now only the remains are left. The place I live at is called Long Point. I think the name of Out Back would have suited it better. There are only two families residing here. The next family is twelve miles away. Are we not isolated? All we hear is the whistle of the birds, and the howl of dingoes at night. This is what we see: Tree after tree, nearly too thickly timbered to walk through. Then we come to the falls, a most wonderful sight to gaze upon, and gently flowing at the bottom we find a winding river. This is where the wild ducks swim. The river is like the road we travel on, a separation between the trees. But, really, road is no name for it. It is only a bush track that winds in and out among the trees, and when I leave home and get to town I have a thousand pains or more from all the jolts and bumps.

The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Saturday 13 September 1930

Bush School Games

LAURIE SEWELL (Hillgrove). – There are only six children attending Long Point school, so we cannot play many games. My favourite game is cricket. It is so interesting, and is good exercise. Rounders is another game we play, and also red-rover, tip, crowning the base, and fruits and flowers. The best game of all is football. We play football with a tennis ball. The other games mentioned we play very seldom. It is nice and green where we play. Sometimes the sheep eat this green grass, then we have to go and play where it is dusty.

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June 28, 2013 at 8:00 am

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Hillgrove Water-power and Electric Company

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The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 10 February 1894

A BIG UNDERTAKING.

Sydney, February 9.

The Hillgrove and Armidale Water-power, and Electric Company having secured extensive water rights in the vicinity of Hillgrove to-day accepted the tender of the Crompton Electric Supply Company for carrying out an extensive electric plant, the motive power of which will be supplied from the Guyra River falls. The company will supply the Baker’s Creek and Eleanora gold mines, Hillgrove, with electricity for working the batteries, pumps, and concentrators, as well as supply the town of Hillgrove with electric lighting. The hydraulic plant will be supplied and erected by Mr. W. H. Palmer, of Melbourne. The electric plant will be one of the largest not only in the colonies, but also in the old country. The first cost will be £20,000.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wednesday 14 February 1894

ELECTRICITY BY WATER POWER.

Last week a contract was signed with the Crompton Electric Supply Company of Australia Limited, of which Mr. K H Buchanan, A.M.I.C.E., is manager, for the construction of an electric and hydraulic plant to transmit power from the Guyra River Falls to the Hillgrove mines, a distance of five miles. The dynamos at the falls will be driven by Felton wheels. A constant current of 1500 volts potential will be conveyed thence by three copper cables to the Baker’s Creek and Eleanora gold mines. The whole of the power required by those mines will be supplied in this manner and there will also be a small plant for giving electric lighting. The water rights were secured by the Hillgrove and Armidale Water-power Electric Company under an Act of Parliament. The work now about to be put in hand has been delayed by the financial troubles of the past year. The total cost of the work, both electric and hydraulic, will be about £20,000.

Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW), Saturday 8 December 1894

Country Notes

At the spring show held in aid of the Hillgrove Cottage Hospital last week, Mr. Brain, the engineer supervising the works of the Crompton Electric and Hillgrove Water-power Electric Company, spared no expense and trouble to ensure successful lighting, which was certainly accomplished, lending a crowning effect to the dual interests under consideration. There was a large attendance from Uralla, Armidale, and surrounding districts. The proceeds for the two days amounted to £120.

Evening News (Sydney, NSW), Tuesday 3 December 1895

THE COURTS.

A Company Matter.

SECURITY FOR COSTS.

The matter of the Hillgrove and Armldale Water Power Electric Company, Limited, was before Mr. Justice Manning in equity jurisdiction to-day, on a petition by the Crompton Electric Supply Company of Australasia for a compulsory winding-up order. Messrs. A. H. Simpson and Langer Owen, instructed by Mr. W. G. Parish, appeared for the petitioners, and Messrs. Lingen and Wise, by Messrs. White and Wolstenholme, for E. W. Foxall, the voluntary liquidator of the Hillgrove Company, and for the company. The names of Messrs. White, W. H. Palmer, Foxall, Michellmore. and Professor Threlfall figure prominently in the petition. An application was made by the liquidator for an extension of time to file affidavits. Directions were given that the affidavits of Messrs. Palmer, White, Michelmore, Threlfall, and Foxall should be filed by the 10th instant, and all other affidavits by the 12th instant. The matter was then allowed to stand over to the 17th instant, to come on for hearing on that date, if the petitioners’ affidavits in reply were then filed. In the same matter application was made for security for costs on the part of the voluntary liquidator, on the ground that the Crompton Company was an English company. By consent £100 was ordered to be paid into court without prejudice to the right of the company to apply for further security if necessary.

The Canberra Times (ACT), Wednesday 30 April 1958

Visitor Studies History Of Hydro Schemes

Mr. J. Pinto, of Newcastle, accompanied by his wife, visited Canberra yesterday and spent much time in the Australian section of the National Library.

He located the record of a special Act of Parliament which gave permission for the setting up of a hydro-electric scheme at Hillgrove, near Armidale, in 1893.

Mr. Pinto said yesterday that this was the first hydro-electric scheme in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was established by Crompton and Company of England, and later taken over by his father, who ran it for 25 years.

The Act, which was assented to on March 10, 1893, enabled “the Hillgrove and Armidale Water-Power Electric Company to construct and maintain works and other appliances for the making, generating and transmitting of electricity, and the supplying the same to any city, town, mine, company or persons within the county of Sandon and the colony of New South Wales.”

Mr. Pinto said that the hydro-electric scheme which Launceston was claiming was the first, was established in 1895.

He will leave Canberra to-day on his way to visit the hydro-electric scheme in the Snowy Mountains.

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June 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

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Hauling antimony from the gorge (1926)

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The Grenfell Record and Lachlan District Advertiser (NSW), Monday 6 December 1926

ENGINEERING FEAT

An engineering feat worthy of mention has just been accomplished by Messrs. C. Boundy and T. and W. Faint. A steel rope, weighing over three tons, and measuring 8909 feet has just been hung, and is now swinging from the highest point of Hillgrove gorge to within a quarter of a mile of the bottom. To tighten the rope, the services of T. Faint’s big tractor was requisitioned, that being the most difficult job. Now that the work has been completed, antimony, which has been lying at the bottom of the gorge, will be able to be hauled to the top.

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June 17, 2013 at 8:00 am

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Hillgrove. Passing of the Golden Days (1921).

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The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Tuesday 7 June 1921

HILLGROVE.

PASSING OF THE GOLDEN DAYS.

HISTORIC SPOT VISITED.

The city and country journalists who attended the recent New State Convention at Armidale were given opportunity by the Mayor of that city (Alderman Purkiss) of visiting the old mining township of Hillgrove. The 20 mlle journey across the undulating New England tableland was an invigorating experience. It is pastoral country along this eastward road, and there was ample evidence that the rabbits, disappearing for a time, have multiplied exceedingly. The road is lonely, with gum trees most of the way, and the evidences of civilisation that occur are not calculated to cheer. These are a burnt-out “pub” and a deserted house half hidden amidst a grove of dark-hued pines, which was a silent witness of an unsolved murder last year. A turn of the road discloses a deep gorge surmounted by rocky crags, and beyond are seen the shining iron roofs of Hillgrove. The town has seen better days. One does not need to be told that. It strikes the visitor immediately he scans the jumble of houses, humpies, and relics of departed masonry which make up so large a part of Hillgrove.

All is not lost, though, for the old Baker’s Creek mine is still being worked on tribute. The post-office and police station seem to be permanent reminders that Hillgrove was once a town throbbing with life and commercial activity, and that the pendulum may swing that way again. There are still two hotels in business, each on a corner facing one another across a nearly deserted street, and the other corner holds substantial foundations of a fellow-inn that has disappeared. There is a main store, of course, and another shop or two, while along the street are standards bearing electric wires for lighting. Children run about the streets happy in the knowledge that traffic interruptions are few. An old-timer and his wife sit in a little garden fronting a miner’s hut. One’s mind travelled to those of the old-timers weaving again the rich romance of the past. There is a single guardian of the law there where once worked and dwelt a clerk of petty sessions, warden sergeant, and two police. The single constable acts as warden’s clerk, warden’s bailiff, acting c.p.s., registrar of births, marriages, and deaths, and of the Small Debts Court, besides performing other occasional duties. Hillgrove once had a population of about three thousand, but to-day it would not exceed that many hundred. Everywhere in the town area there are brick fireplaces and chimneys standing curiously alone in vacant allotments.

Where are the houses they belonged to? Pulled down and re-erected in Armidale, say local inhabitants. Strangely enough, there is hardly a vacant house in the town, as they have all gone to supply the demand in Armidale.

But one cannot know Hillgrove without seeing the gorge and what remains of the mines half a mile beyond the town. The car drew up on the edge of this gigantic cleft in the mountains. There at one’s feet was this great chasm, its rocky, scrub-covered sides dropping almost sheer to a depth of nearly two thousand feet. The two sides of this gorge meet sharply at the bottom and form the basin of the creek below which are mining shafts. It was decided to descend to the creek level by a mine truck, which was filled by the 12 visitors. The truck is attached to an endless rope, and the descent at an angle of 43 degrees was not without its thrills. There was a bracing of the nerves and the tightening of footholds when the signal was given. It was as if one was being lowered over the edge of the world, and one hardly dared to think of what would happen if there was a weak strand in the wire rope. Once on solid ground an inspection of the stamp battery and other parts of tho gold-winning plant followed.

The Baker’s Creek mine is about 30 years old, and it is said to have paid nearly £300,000 in dividends. The shaft descends nearly 2000 feet below the bottom of the gorge, but there is difficulty with the inrush of water. It is worked by tributers, and there is said to be plenty of gold, but working costs are too great yet to allow of full development. No doubt when these can be reduced there will be a recrudescence of activity along the bed of Baker’s Creek. Hillgrove waits for that day for its rejuvenation. Unlike Wyalong and other old mining towns, it has no golden grain upon which to reconstruct its former prestige. The residents of Hillgrove, however, still treasure the thought that its golden day has not yet passed for ever.

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June 13, 2013 at 8:33 am

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Fire at Cooney Creek.

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Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), Thursday 18 April 1895

HILLGROVE, Thursday. — Concerning the fire at Cooney Creek a few days ago, an inquest was commenced on Wednesday. Evidence went to show that Patrick Fury, who is under arrest, cut twenty cords of wood and stacked them on the side of the main road, the wood and an adjoining stack being then wilfully fired. It was alleged that Fury had threatened to burn the wood, and also to cut down the trees in an orchard, the property of the landlord of the Cooney Creek Hotel.

Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), Saturday 27 April 1895

An inquest was held at the Hillgrove Courthouse last week, before Mr. William Morgan, local coroner, and a jury of twelve, touching the cause of a lire at Cooney Creek. The evidence, as reported in the local paper, is to the effect that Francis Mulligan, sheep farmer, residing at Cooney Creek, employed a man named Patrick Fury at wood cutting, and paid him for nineteen cords. There was a slight dispute about a balance of 14s or 16s. This was settled on Mulligan paying 10s 6d,. and getting a receipt in full payment. This final payment was made on the morning of the 13th instant, and Fury left the Cooney Creek Hotel then, and seemed quite satisfied with the settlement. After having twenty or thirty drinks during the day at West Hillgrove (according to his own evidence), he returned to Mulligan’s hotel in the evening and wanted more drink, but Mr. Mulligan refused to serve him, and Fury, after wanting to fight a man named Curran, went home about 9 o’clock. In going home from the hotel Fury would have to pass the firewood which was burnt. Mr. Mulligan said that he never had any quarrel with Fury, neither had he ever heard the latter make any threats against him. Evidence was given by William Stoddart and Joseph Curran to the effect that they heard Fury say he would burn the wood when Mr. Mulligan paid him in full for it, and also that he would cut the trees down in Mr. Mulligan’s orchard. The fire was discovered by Stoddart and Curran shortly after 10 o’clock on the night of the 13th. Stoddart and Curran had about two cords of their firewood burnt. When Senior-sergeant Edwards went to see Fury on the following morning the latter, in answer to an inquiry, said, ‘They (meaning Stoddart and Curran) have burnt it themselves, and want to blame me for it.” When the jury examined the remaining wood on the morning of the inquest two lots of stringy bark were found against it ready for lighting. At the Hillgrove Court Patrick Fury was brought before Messrs. H. G. Wakeford and W. Morgan, on a charge of arson, and was committed for trial.

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May 25, 2013 at 6:29 pm

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Accused committed for trial (part 3 of 3)

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The Northern Daily Leader (Tamworth, NSW : 1921), Friday 1 April 1921

HILLGROVE ROBBERY.

Accused Committed for Trial.

HILLGROVE, Thursday

At the police court yesterday, Jack McCarthy Woodburn, aged 26, laborer, of West Australia, was charged with breaking and entering the Hillgrove Post Office on or about the 19th March, and stealing cash, stamps and cheques to the value of £181/14/11.

Mr. A. A. Russell, acting postmaster, stated that on the 18th inst. he was on duty at the Post Office until 10 p.m. He balanced everything before leaving the office. The safe in the office contained postal notes, cash, cheques, stamps, war saving certificates, etc , valued at £358/15/4. When leaving the office he securely locked all doors and windows, also tried all the drawers and the safe. Then he went to the hotel where he boarded. Next morning, about 7.30, Constable Kennedy came into his room and showed him a broken cash box, also a few postage stamps. They went to the Post Office, and found the front door locked, but the back door of the office open. The middle window had been forced open. The iron safe was laying on its side on the stand with the door blown open — apparently forced open by an explosion. Pieces of a fuse and gelatine were laying close by. All the drawers in the office with the exception of two had been forced open. Later, Mr. Postal Inspector Woolett and witness made an examination to ascertain what was missing and found a shortage of £181/11/11. A pair of rubber gloves shown were also the property of the department. Before locking up the cash witness took the number of all the notes with the exception of three, and the numbers of the notes produced agreed with his record with the exception of one. There was also a registered packet missing from the safe.

To the accused: There is only one note which I cannot identify.

Constable Kennedy, police officer, at Hillgrove, said that on the morning of the 19th inst. he found the empty cash box, also the few postage stamps, 3d and 1d on a vacant piece of land near Faint’s garage. He took them to the Sydney Hotel, where Mr. Russell was staying. They then went, to the Post Office and found the premises in the condition as explained by the previous witness. Lying of the floor was one crowbar, one 8lb hammer, one coal chisel, one file, one axe head, and three damaged mail bags. The whole office appeared to have been ransacked.

Chas. Rowe, miner, employed at the New Baker’s Creek Mine, remembered conversing with the accused at the mine on the 18th inst. about 2 p.m. Near by was a box containing explosives. He left the mine about 3 p.m. Next day he returned to the mine, and at about 9.30 a.m., after having heard something, he went to his box and found missing 4½ plugs of gelatine, one plug of gelatine dynamite, 10 or 12 feet of fuse, and about 50 detonators.

Victor Adamson, engine driver at the Baker’s Creek tram line, said he saw the accused and conversed with him in the engine shed on the 18th inst. He lowered him down the tram line to the mine. Witness recognised the hammer and other tools produced as the property of the company.

William Peters, residing at Hillgrove, and living within 20 yards of the Post Office, said he remembered the night of the 18th inst. He was in his house in bed and heard something which sounded like an explosion at about halt past eleven or twelve o’clock. The sound appeared to come from the direction of the Post Office. Following this sound he heard what sounded like hammering. About an hour later he heard another explosion. After this noise he got out of bed and went to the fence adjoining the Post Office, looked over the fence, but could hear no sound nor see any light. Just before 2 o’clock he heard a third explosion.

Cornelius Faint, car driver, Hillgrove, said that on the 18th inst. the accused came to him between 10 and 11 a.m. at his home and inquired if he was a car driver. Witness said, “Can I get a car to Armidale?” Witness asked, “What time?” He replied, “Between 9 and 10 tonight.” Witness replied that he could. He did not see him again until next morning, when he came to witness’s house and stated that he wanted to go to Armidale. Witness asked him if he knew what time it was. He replied “No.” Witness informed him that it was 2.30 a.m. ‘”Oh!” he said, “it’s worth £3 to you.” He paid witness then with the notes he produced. Witness knew one by the mark he put on it before giving it to the police. He then drove him to Armidale.

Daniel Aiting, a motor car proprietor, of Armidale, said at 4.30 on the 19th he received a telephone call. In reply to his question, “McCarthy” was the name given. He got in his car, went to the Post Office, and then saw accused. He said, “Did you call to take me to Glen Innes?” Witness replied “Yes.” They then drove to Bradbury’s hotel for his bag and then went on to Glen Innes to Tattersall’s Hotel. The accused left the rubber gloves shown to witness on the seat of the car. He paid witness £7 before getting to Glen Innes — £5 and two singles. When returning to Armidale the sergeant of police at Guyra told witness something and he handed him the notes he got from the accused. He did not take the numbers.

Accused was asked if he had any thing to say, and replied “No.” He was committed for trial at Armidale Circuit Court on April 20, 1921.

Written by macalba

May 7, 2013 at 8:26 am

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