NSIDE THIS ISSUE
GLENELG CHRISTMAS PAGENT.
View of crowd from the Chrysler Royal.
The festive season is upon us & our members have been busy with the Norwood & Glenelg pageants, Port Adelaide twilight pageant. (See photos this issue).
On Thursday the 9th November about 20 members of the St Johns Historical Society toured the museum galleries with Elees, Glen Mattingly (a new volunteer) and myself.
On Monday the 20th Woodville combined Probus club visited the museum with about 40 members with me, Elees, Kevin Beare, Helen & Bob Ward. This was a very successful visit which raised about $180.00 for the society.
On Tuesday the 21st I attended at the Goodwood Park Hotel as the guest speaker for the “Woodpeckers Club”.
Wednesday the 22nd saw Holger & Rosalie Kruse, Alan & Betty Hyson & Alan & Peters at the
for the centenary commemoration of the unveiling of the statue of Sir Walter Watson Hughes. (see report this issue). Mitchell Building
On Friday the 1st December members attended the Christmas Dinner held in the meeting room. We were treated to pre-dinner drinks and nibbles before a main course of chicken and leg ham with a number of wonderful salads. Frank O’Connor, dressed in full chef uniform, carved the ham & served patrons. The room was beautifully decorated & Elees prepared a range of delicious desserts. Father Christmas attended with help from his elf (Elees) & members Huhhhhhhhwere provided with small decorated Christmas Puddings. The door prizes & raffle consisted of about 60 prizes which were drawn throughout the evening. It was a wonderful night and thanks to all those who contributed.
Congratulations to Allan Peters for scoring a part in the film “Hunt Angels” currently showing at the Nova Cinema. Make sure you see this excellent film, particularly Allan’s close up shot.
There will be no monthly meeting in January so I look forward to seeing you at our AGM in February. If you would like to be more actively involved in the development of the society, please feel free to nominate for one of the positions on the Executive. Nomination Forms are available on request.
May you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Safe and Prosperous New Year.Geoff Rawson.
To most of us the Christmas season means a happy time of year; a time of gifts given & received; a pulling together of family ties. South Australia's first Christmas was celebrated one hundred seventy years ago at Holdfast Bay (today's Glenelg). It must have been a comfortless event, far distant from home & a far cry indeed from the traditional "White Christmas" which had been so familiar with many of the new arrivals.
by the Late
One of those first settlers has left a description of how the emigrants spent that first Christmas. In her diary she wrote. -
"December 25, 1836. This being Christmas Day & Sunday divine service was held for the first time in the hut of the principal surveyor, a short distance from our huts. The signal for attendance was the firing of a gun. The congregation numbered 200 persons including the two gentlemen who conducted the service, the thermometer standing at over 100 degrees F (37.8 o celsius) & most of the assembly being in the open air. We kept the old customs of Christmas as far as having a plum pudding for dinner, likewise a ham & parrot pie".
A far cry indeed!
From the well-known Bungaree sheep station, north of Clare, S.A., property of the Hawker family for generations, comes a rather different sort of Christmas story, the gift involved being perhaps the most priceless one any new settler could have wished for - water!
James Hawker wrote about it in his reminiscences. (1841)
"Charles & I in exploring found a very good spot in the ranges for an outstation so moved some of the sheep to there. George went to town to purchase working bullocks. The weather being intensely hot, & water disappearing in the native well, I determined to move all the rest of the stock to a place I had seen some days previously. My brothers were away so on December 22, 1841, the flocks were boxed, & just after sunrise a start was made to do the seven miles. The heat was overpowering, & the sheep got ringing around, there being no trees for shade; it was sunset before we reached our destination, and then, to our horror, found the water so brackish that we could not drink it, & the little we had been able to obtain from the native well before starting in the morning had been drunk before our tedious march. At daylight on the next day we went some distance higher up, & in a little crack got water at about 2 feet - brackish but quite drinkable. There was also fine grass. On Christmas Day we got good drinkable water at 8 feet & plenty of it. Examination of the country around proving satisfactory, we decided to make this our head station".
Extracts from an old Gaol Minute Book held in the State Archives give us revealing light into life behind prison walls. -
1845 - December 25- Thursday.
"Christmas Day - The prisoners had as usual on this day plum pudding, beer, potatoes, cabbage and extra tea and sugar and the prisoners was thankful and behaved well."
For us, four, five or even six generations later there's little of our ancestors' European Christmas. Not for us the roaring Yuletide log & the carol singers outside in the snow. Not for us to gather in the warmth of the open fireplace to listen to the ghost stories which were part & parcel of long-established villages and homes.
We are not, however, entirely bereft of stories which have many of the ingredients necessary for a good ghost yarn. Take Christmas Eve, 1849, for a start. An old headstone in the Burra cemetery tells the story. -
Erected by His Brother Seamen
To The Memory Of John Smith
Of London, Aged 21 Years,
Who was Murdered By A German
In The Township of Kooringa
On Christmas Eve 1849.
Thus succinctly recording the sudden & violent demise of John Smith at the hands of Gottlieb Kiernall in the old copper-mining town, then at the height of activities. Gottlieb did not hang for his actions, however. Instead, he was transported "beyond the seas" for 7 years for manslaughter. There was little of the Christmas spirit about the sorry affair. There was a curious sequel to this tragedy. On April 17, 1850, the barque "Lady Denison" 150 tons, Hammond master, sailed for Hobart Town. On board she had 16 passengers, 10 prisoners & 3 constables.
Chances are that Gottlieb was one of the unfortunate ten headed for the penal settlements on Van Diemen's Land. His fate, however, along with Hammond, master, the crew, the 16 passengers, the other prisoners & 3 constables to this day remains a mystery.
For the "Lady Denison" & her entire complement vanished never to be seen again. One field of thought has it that the prisoners on board revolted, seizing the ship, & took to the high seas & freedom. Rumour even had it that some of the prisoners were later seen on the goldfields at the time of the Victorian Gold Rush. Another thought is that the ship went down with all hands.
Thus ends a story within a story, which started with too much grog in a busy mining town over a century ago, & ended with a strange headstone in the Burra cemetery for one man, & possibly a watery grave in Davey Jones' locker for the other. Smith's mates did not forget him. They had a headstone erected over his grave. It is still there at Burra leaning against the western wall in the old cemetery. Over the years it has become quite famous as the "Murder Headstone".
Thirteen years later Malachi Martin on 24 December, 1862, received the "Order of the hempen necktie".
In other words he was hanged. Malachi's story may well have been one of payment deferred. Six years previously suspicion had pointed to him when William Robinson (proprietor of the little eating house at Salt Creek on the Coorong) was found with his throat cut. However, suspicion is one thing, proof quite another. Local gossip linked Malachi's name with that of Mrs. Robinson. After Robinson's death Malachi took off for New South Wales. He returned a couple of years later and married the widow, which did nothing to enhance his popularity in the neighbourhood. Martin, stern, dark & stout, black whiskered & unprepossessing was disliked by the white settlers because of his morose, bad tempered manners. The aborigines were afraid of his bullying; scarcely a figure one would think to be part of a romantic triangle. However, such was the way of things.
For a few years after their marriage the Martins carried on the eating-house-cum-store at Salt Creek, having as a servant-girl one Jane McMenimen an Irish migrant who had been with the lady of the house for some time prior to her marriage. Jane seems to have shared in the general dislike of Malachi.
There came a time when Mrs. Martin went off to nearby Goolwa for a holiday, leaving Jane behind to attend to domestic affairs. One day a friend of Jane's came looking for her, to be met with the news that she had gone away on a bullock wagon with a former fellow-shipmate. This was sometime in February, 1862.
There is an old saying "Murder Will Out", & so it was to be in this story. An aboriginal tracker, who was out following the trail of a prisoner who had escaped from the police cells at Wellington, came upon a number of crows about a wombat's burrow. He fetched another native and together they found a long stick, which they poked into the depths of the hole. They brought up a piece of a woman's dress on the end of the stick, and this they took with their story back to the Wellington Police Station. Later a posse of police officers returned with the trackers. It didn't take them long to dig into the burrow. They found Jane. Malachi's house was searched & there were found many of her possessions, which surely she would have taken with her had she indeed gone to Mt. Gambier. Later other items of wearing apparel were found stuffed down other wombat burrows.
Malachi was brought to trial for Jane's murder, found guilty, & kept an appointment with the hangman the day before Christmas, 1862.
The third & last of our grim Christmas stories concerns a woman. This was Elizabeth Woolcock, who had the doubtful honour of being the first & only woman ever hanged in South Australia - hanged for the murder of her husband Thomas near the Moonta copper mines. Elizabeth stood in the dock & faced the jury on 4 December, 1873. She was charged with murdering her husband with mercurial poison. The jury returned a verdict of "guilty", but commended her to mercy because of her youth (she was 25 years old). In passing sentence the trial judge in effect made what was the most macabre Christmas gift of all times. "As the 21 days of passing sentence will expire on Christmas Day I have to fix a date for your execution which will take place on December 30."
So much for a brief recollection of evil & the significance of the festive season for some unfortunates for whom life held no more Christmases. These unhappy old stories present a side of our pioneering history which is not always recognised, but, for all that, a side which is a facet of those distant times.
Though lacking some of the atmosphere of the traditional "with his head tucked underneath his arm" variety nevertheless they have survived for more than a century. It may well be that they will pass into the sort of ghostly legends that our ancestors told around the fire at Christmas long ago.
The festive season is always a busy time for our volunteers & this year has been no exception. Apart from outside talks to various groups & internal Museum visits we have once again been very active within the Community with the Port Adelaide, Norwood & Glenelg Christmas Pageants Our sincere thanks to all those who participated, giving up several of their leisure days to assist.
problems made it necessary
to cancel one Christmas
thanks to Rex & Dennis,
it was all systems go for
the next day!
On the 28th November 1906 the descendants of Sir Walter Watson Hughes presented a statue of Sir Walter, seated in his chair, to the University of Adelaide. At the entrance to the Mitchell Building, the prominent statue has served as a century long reminder to students, staff, alumni & visitors of the vision & generosity which realised a University within 40 years of the foundation of the South Australian Colony.
On Wednesday the 28th November 2006 we were privileged to be invited to take part in the Centenary Commemoration of this unveiling.
Holger Kruse, Allan Peters, University Chancellor The Hon. John von Doussa
QC & Alan Hyson on the steps of the Mitchell Building
Russell Crowe look out—here comes our own superstar—
Allan was recently flown to Sydney for the Premiere of “Hunt Angels”, walked the red carpet in his starring role, complete with a close up shot, & the Society also got a mention in the film’s Credits.
The story covers the movie making spree that took on the Hollywood barons, a Police Commissioner & the cultural cringe. They were young, in love & on the run from the police & the dark forces of the city wanting to shatter their vision .. But Rupe & Alma would stop at nothing to realise their dreams.
Hunt Angels has received rave reviews right throughout Australia & we encourage you to see this film which is currently showing at the Palace Nova.
WINNER Best Feature Documentary—Film Critics Circle of Australia.
WINNER Best General documentary film—Atom Awards.
WINNER Best achievement in sound for a documentary at the Australian Sound Guild awards
WINNER Silver award for achievement in cinematography for a dramatised documentary at the Australian Cinematographers Society awards.
Nominated for 4 AFI Awards including:
Best Documentary Film.
Best Direction in a Documentary Film.
Best Cinematography in a Documentary film.
Visual Effects Award.
Congratulations to Allan– appointments for photographs & autographs can be made with his Agent Pauline Peters!
The “HUE & CRY” is Published by the
South Australian Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- G.P.O. Box 1539