Firstly, I apologise for not having a President's Report in the last edition of the Hue & Cry, however my body decided that it should have an en-forced period of R&R in the Modbury Hospital. I am pleased to report that I am now fully recovered and getting back into my old routines. Many thanks for the get well wishes extended to me during that time.
It is with a sad note that the Society saw the passing in June of one of our loyal members, Russ Hayton. Right up until his passing, Russ was a regular attendee and contributor to our monthly general meetings. At our July meeting a minute silence was observed at the commencement of the meeting as a mark of respect. Russ will be sadly missed and our deepest sympathies are extended to Jean and family.
Many thanks to the many members who attended at our June meeting and ensured that the visit by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Eric Neal was a very special and memorable event. Whilst our numbers were down slightly in our July meeting, we were joined by large group of members from the Woodville Historical Society. Many thanks to Jim Sykes for arranging the visit and providing a tour of our Society’s facilities to the group.
In late June I had the opportunity of attending with Commissioner Mal Hyde at the home of retired Superintendent Bob Calvesbert. Following a delightful visit, Bob presented to the Commissioner his autobiography titled, “The Life and Times of an Unlikely Detective”. At the same time Bob also provided a copy to myself for presentation to the Society, of which I had great pleasure of doing at our July meeting. Bob explained that he primarily wrote to autobiography for his family. The book is excellent and not only provides an insight into Bob’s private life, but from a Police Historical perspective provides a detailed and fascinating insight into his police career and many experiences. It of course includes the story of the extradition from England in the 1950’s, when his prisoner jumped ship in the Suez Canal, with Bob following in traditional police fashion. As if that wasn't enough, then there was the experience in the late 1950’s of the prolonged extradition of a fraud offender from the USA. This also took Bob away from South Australia for many months. For those who know Bob well, the autobiography reflects his humble nature and can only be described as an excellent document. It is the most detailed of its type of any autobiography that I have seen written by any South Australian Police Officer and I hope that it may encourage many others to record their police memoirs. On behalf of the Society all I can simply say is “Many thanks Bob, well done!”. I only hope that it may be published one day.
Also many thanks to Geoff Rawson who was volunteered and taken on the role of coordinating the Society’s involvement in the forthcoming Sensational Adelaide International Police Tattoo. I know that members will hear more about this in the coming weeks.
Preparation for the August 3 visit (taking the place of our normal August meeting) to the former Police Headquarters at number 1 Angas Street Adelaide are now well advanced. Bob Potts has offered to provide an initial outline of the history of the building. Members and friends are also invited to bring along their stories and experiences that can be shared with the many who I believe will attend this historic building tour. Demolition of the building will commence within days of our visit. Members and friends are asked to gather in the foyer of the Adelaide Police Station by 7.30 PM.
Finally, on finishing on a high note, I am aware that an amount of money has been set aside this financial year for painting and much needed maintenance to many of the buildings in the Thebarton Police Barracks complex. I know that the many members have been concerned at the deterioration of a number of the buildings and this is much welcomed good news.
Hope to see you all at August 3 building tour of number 1 Angas Street. Until then, kind regards.
CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPH of the later Superintendent Percy Crafter on camel used for Police transport in the far north of South Australia. It is believed that this photograph was taken circa 1920 at Tarcoola. The transportable metal cell in the background is one of many of this kind and similar types of wood and iron cells used for many years at a number of country and metropolitan locations.
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S.A.R. Sept 7/1887.
KILLED BY A CAMEL
Sergeant Campbell at the City Watchhouse, received the following telegram on Sunday, Sept 4, from Inspector B.C.Besley stationed at Port Augusta, who forwarded it to the Inspector of Police. Engaged Jimmy Blackboy at Coward who desired to return to his country, Dalhousie. He left at daybreak to get the camels with another man named McRossie. The man returned with all but one named Jemidah. Jimmy went in search. Being a long, time I sent Hillier on his tracks, who returned and told me that Jemidah had killed the blackboy. I went out. Found body all smashed, legs broken, and face bitten beyond recognition. Examined camel, found hobbles beard, knees and chest covered in blood. Tracks showed camel had swept the ground with the boy ‘s body. Buried body, caught camel, and came on Peake. This occurrence at Bulldog Creek today, September 3. Reported full particulars to Justice. Certificate granted. No inquest necessary. Fuller particulars by letter.
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CRIME & PUNISHMENT BEFORE 2000.
While waiting for a tram in Redfern, Sydney, sixty year-old Claude McNamara was knocked over by a bullet which struck him in the leg. The bullet, which had been fired into the head of a dying dog by a policeman a hundred and fifty metres away, had passed through the animal and bounced off a pipe before striking its unintended victim.
The Observer November 6th , 1909
FIGHT IN THE DARK
Sensation at Hindmarsh. Fourteen shots exchanged.
A plucky arrest.
The fatal shooting of Constables Hyde and Ring has made the public aware of the dangers in which the police are constantly moving. At Hindmarsh early on Thursday morning there was a brush between the police and a burglar, the narrative of which is as sensational as any that has happened for some time. Fortunately however, the police suffered no injury from four shots fired by an assailant, and there is the added satisfaction that the man who is said to have fired the shots has been arrested, after a plucky chase by two constables.
F.C. Moulden, stationed at Hindmarsh, reported to the Watchouse on Thursday morning that at about 12 o’clock on Wednesday night, when on duty, in company with F.C. Nicholls, near the corner of Wells Street and the Port Road, he saw a man walk away from the front door of Mr. LE. Rowe’s furniture shop, situated on the corner of those streets. He walked out on to the road in the direction of the plantation, which is in the middle of the Port Road, and the constables thereupon followed him.
Followed a Man.
Moulden called out, “I am a police constable, and I want to speak to you.” The stranger, then walked hurriedly alongside the plantation fence in the direction of Adelaide. F.C. Nicholls rushed across to get in front of him, when the man turned round and ran in the opposite direction. Moulden again called out, and when within 9 feet of the latter, the fugitive stood for a moment, whipped out a revolver, and fired at the constable's face. Moulden felt the whizz of the bullet as it passed his right cheek.
Police Fired At.
The stranger then took to his heels, with the constables in hot pursuit, and a running fight in the dark was entered upon. Shots were freely exchanged, and altogether the fugitive had ten bullets ineffectively sent after him. Six of them were fired by Moulden, and four by Nicholls. The chase continued for about 200 yards and when the constables drew up with their quarry he threw the revolver he had been using which struck Nicholls a heavy blow on the thigh. F.C. Moulden then grappled with him and Nicholls coming to his assistance, the man was secured.
A Running Fire.
F.C. Moulden arrested him on a charge of attempted murder, and when cautioned he replied, ‘"You are lucky that I did not settle the pair of you.” The street lamps were out at the time and the night was particularly dark. Nicholls picked up the revolver, which the prisoner had thrown on the ground, and the man was taken to the Hindmarsh Police Station. There he gave the name of Bruce Root, and stated he lived in Nelson Street, Stepney. As the result of a search, the officers found in his possession a number of skeleton keys, two woollen socks [used to guard against the possibility of leaving telltale fingerprints], and one unspent revolver cartridge.
Afterwards, in company with Sergeant Radford and F.C. Nicholls, Moulden went to Rowe’s shop, where the prisoner had been noticed to walk from. The door was found to be open and in the plantation across the road were found a washing copper, 3 kettles, 2 iron tubs, 9 tin dishes, 2 dippers, 2 pannikins, and a broom. The skeleton keys were tried on the door of Row’s shop and it was discovered that one of them would lock and unlock it; in fact, the police were of the opinion that they would open any door in the town. The man was wearing a large pair of felt slippers.
A Haul of Utensils.
At about 5 o’clock on Thursday morning, Sergeant Radford and F.Cs. Moulden and Nicholls went to a house in Frost Street Brompton Park and saw a woman there who the prisoner said was his mother. They went into a room which was apparently occupied by the woman and found a five chambered revolver, fully loaded on the dressing table. In this room also were several large trunks, containing new drapery, articles of clothing, etc. When asked where she had obtained them, the woman said she had purchased them. The police, however, considered that she had not given a proper account of them and detained her on a charge of unlawful possession of goods. At the police station the woman gave the name of Eva Ussher, and stated that she was a widow. The man who called himself Bruce Root is understood to be Bruce Ussher. It is remarkable that, although over a dozen shots were fired in the street, that not one took effect, although the bullet that grazed Moulden’s cheek represented a close call.
A Woman Arrested.
The goods found in the room were mainly piecestuff drapery. There were blankets, linoleum, boots, and other articles on an estimated value of fully £100. Mr. H.J.L. Worthley, draper and mercer of Port Road, Brompton Park recognised certain boots as his. On Thursday last Mr. Worthley found the back door of his shop open and several pair of boots scattered about. He did not miss any boots, and until he saw the footwear at Ussher’ s house did not know that anything of his had been stolen. Mr. Rowe however, had from time to time missed goods. About a month ago he lost all trace of a couple of pairs of blankets, and a nickel clock. He considered that a heavy roll of linoleum which was among the rest of the spoil was his, and altogether that Ussher had about £20 worth of his goods. It is believed that much of the linen goods came from a shop at Norwood, where there was recently a burglary.
Eva Ussher  and Bruce Ussher  were charged at the Criminal Court on Wednesday with having stolen on or about September 4, three pairs of blankets, three alarm clocks, and other articles, together of the value of £311616; and on or about September 4, one hearthrug and other articles worth £711213, the property of Louis Edward Rowe, Hindmarsh. The Crown Solicitor [Mr. Dashwood. K.C.] prosecuted, and Mr. B.S. Penny appeared with Mr. F.V. Smith, for the accused, who pleaded not guilty.
Shooting at the Police.
Ussher imprisoned for life.
The Jury returned a verdict of guilty against both the accused.
Mr. Justice Homburg, said he fully concurred with that decision. There was no doubt that Mrs. Ussher was aware for months that her son was a thief, and that large quantities of goods found in her room were ill-gotten property. It was a pity a woman of her age, against whom there was no previous record of a conviction, should stand in the dock as a malefactor. She would be ordered two years’ imprisonment with hard labour.
Two Years for Mother.
The male accused had previously pleaded guilty to charges of having, at Hindmarsh on November 14, shot at Constables Henry Moulden and George Harold Nicholls with intent to kill and murder them. He also admitted the theft on September 13, at Adelaide, of a bicycle valued at £8, the property of Eustace Cowper Black.
The Son’s Crimes.
His Honour said the young man was guilty of four serious felonies — two in attempting to kill Constables Moulden and Nicholls, and two charges of larceny. The only suitable place for him was the Stockade. He hoped however, that Ussher by his conduct in prison, would be able at some future time to satisfy the authorities that it would be prudent to discharge him either conditionally or unconditionally. For the deliberate attempted murder he had no hesitation in sentencing the accused to imprisonment for life on each of the counts, and to two years’ imprisonment on each of the charges of larceny.
Ussher, who had a few minutes before, leaned forward in the dock and scowled in an ugly and threatening manner at F.C. Moulden, was then escorted away, his face a picture of misery.
100 years ago
November 2, 1900
On Saturday a man named Peter Kennedy was committed for trial on a charge
of attempted burglary at the store of mr. W.H. Milford, of Stirling East.
It will be remembered from particulars published in The Courier that Mr Milford was aroused by the sound of falling glass, and, going out, saw a man running away. It
appears the the burglar smeared the glass of the window with treacle and then placed
his handkerchief on top preventing the glass from falling, but the device failed.
Indeed the treacle was the most important clue to his identity as it enabled the storekeeper to give the police a description of the man who had bought the saccharine fluid on the day prior.
CRIME & PUNISHMENT BEFORE 2000.
One of America’s most famous unsolved crimes is that involving Lizzie Borden, who, in 1892 at the age of 32 was charged with the axe murder of her father and her stepmother. Though she was later acquitted of the crime many people thereafter insisted that the jury had erred, and that she was in fact guilty of the brutal crime. The following rhyme was often recited within her hearing:
Lizzie Borden took an axeA very similar case arose in South Australia in 1902 when 21-year-old Mary Schippan was charged with the stabbing death of her 13-year-old sister at the family home at Towitta. Mary had excellent Court representation and was acquitted of the crime but faced a lifetime of being taunted and accused of having committed the crime.
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
As with the Borden case the crime was never officially solved.
Early in November 2000, the South Australian media, released a report stating that a man named Terrell had made an extremely gruesome find while renovating his house in the suburb of Queenstown, near Port Adelaide. Beneath the floorboards of the old house he discovered the remains ot what appeared to be, three very young babies.
The gruesome remnants had, quite obviously, been secreted there many years earlier and now presented police and forensic experts that were called m to investigate the discovery, with many seemingly unanswerable questions.
What was evident was the fact that the remains were those of babies no more than a few weeks of age, they had been there for a great many years, and had certainly not gotten there by accident.
Several theories were put forward in an attempt to explain the discovery. Perhaps the house had at some stage been used as an illegal abortion climc and the aborted babies placed there to avoid detection.
Or perhaps the bones were those of stillborn babies horn out of wedlock. For an adequate explanation of the third and most horrendous of the theories put forth however, it is necessary to go back more than a hundred years in time, and to examine cases in both Sydney and Melbourne, cases that shocked and revolted the entire world.
Known as 'Babyfarming’ cases, they drew attention to what was some of the world’s most horrifying crimes, comes that were far more wide spread than was ever officially recognized. Firstly there is the case of William Manifold’s death in Port Adelaide in 1873, although no crime was officially committed, it gives an insight into the less criminal side of Babyfarming.
William Manifold was born in the Adelaide Destitute Asylum on May 24 1873. The baby and his mother Harriet Manifold, a single woman, remained at the asylum for nine weeks after the birth. At the end of nine weeks Harriet Manifold and her son were forced to leave the sanctuary of the asylum. The father of the child, John Flaherty, had not been heard from since before the birth of the infant, and had contributed nothing towards his support. (It was later ascertained that he was serving a gaol sentence for assaulting his wife.) Harriet had no family other than a stepmother and two brothers but they were either unwilling or unable to help the young mother and her child.
In desperation Harriet obtained a position as a general servant at eight shillings (80 cents) a week and fostered the baby to a woman at Port Adelaide by the name of Mrs. Godfrey.
Although Mrs. Godfrey had several other children, she agreed to take charge of baby William for the sum of seven shillings a week, and allowed Harriet to visit the baby once a month.
William Manifold died at Mrs. Godfrey’s place of residence just four months later.
At the inquest that was held to help detirmine the cause of death of the baby, evidence was given by several of Mrs. Godfrey’s neighbours, many said that the child always appeared to be clean and well cared for. However its bed was nothing more than an upturned box with a bag of chaff as a mattress and a shawl for a blanket. Mrs. Godfrey fed the baby from a bottle, which she said contained a mixture of milk, water, and flour, boiled together. The neighbours said that the baby was often seen in the street in the care of a girl of about nine or ten years of age, and that sometimes that girl placed the baby into the lap of a another child, aged about three. while she went off to play. One of the neighbours said that she sent the older girl home, one particularly cold day, to get a shawl for the baby.
Apart from this all witnesses maintained that the baby seemed to have been well cared for yet under questioning two admitted to having offered to take over the care of the baby and to give it a nicer, softer bed and a change of diet Another witness said that she brought Mrs. Godfrey's attention to the tact that the milk she was feeding the baby with on at least two occasions was sour, she said that Mrs. Godfrey had then immediately thrown the milk away and sent for some fresh milk.
When the baby took, ill Mrs. Godfrey called m the doctor and changed the baby’s diet to one of fresh milk at his suggestion. However the baby continued to weaken and became emaciated and died.
The doctor who had attended the child said that he diagnosed it as suffering from atrophy and said that while many people believed that flour, milk, and water was good for an infant, he considered it to be injurious. The doctor said that when he visited the baby, the day before it died, he found there was plenty of milk in the house but that the infant was unable to digest anything.
The Coroner’s Jury found, on the evidence presented, that the infant had died from natural causes and no blame was attached to Mrs. Godfrey.
As tragic and avoidable as baby, William Manifold’s death may have been, Babyfarming was yet in its infancy and had not yet reached its vilest aspect, and far more horrific cases were yet to surface.
In 1892 and 1893 two such cases emerged one in Sydney and the other in Melbourne.
In the Sydney case, fifty-year-old John Makin was executed and his wife, forty-seven-year-old Sarah Makin, had her death sentence commuted to one of life imprisonment. They had each been found guilty of murder in its most vile and repulsive form. The court heard that under the guise of taking infants into their home to be cared for and given “a mother's love and attention,” the children were murdered and buried in the yard “as you would the carcass of a dog”. The “mother’s love and attention” that was promised, was of course not to be freely given, the mother, of the usually illegitimate child, paid for the service, and continued to pay long after the child had ceased to exist. When a mother called to make payment and to visit her child. various excuses were offered, to explain the child’s absence and after a while the Makins would move house, leaving no forwarding address.
Though the full extent of the operation has probably never been revealed, the bodies of at least eight babies were discovered buried in the yards of various houses in which the Makin family had resided.
The Melbourne Babyfarming case is interesting in that the chief offender, twenty-six-year-old Frances Knorr, born Minnie Thwaites, had spent some considerable time in South Australia, around the Port Adelaide area, a year prior to her arrest in connection to the Melbourne Babyfarming operation.
During her stay at Port Adelaide, the South Australian police sought to interview Frances Knorr in connection with at least two minor crimes that were perpetrated at that time. They gave her description as — “age about twenty-five years, height 5ft. 2in, (157.4 cm.) fair complexion, very stout build, light brown hair, very large peculiar-shaped mouth, very talkative, and speaks with a lisp.”
Like the Makins, Frances Knorr ran a clandestine baby minding service for destitute and single mothers, with fees paid in advance. it was thought that she sold some of the babies to childless couples. And those that she could not sell, she strangled and buried in the gardens of the houses she rented. This proved to have been the fate of at least three of her infant charges.
After conviction, and faced with the inevitability of her execution and a suddenly renewed sense of religion, Frances Knorr at last confessed her guilt in a written statement. “Placed as I am now within a few hours of my death, I express a strong desire that this statement be made public, with the hope that my fall will not only be a warning to others, but also act as a deterrent to those who are perhaps carrying on the same practice. - -
Perhaps this statement is an indication that she knew of others who were involved, like herself, in the murder of innocent infants. Perhaps she met someone during her stay in South Australia that was not only involved in this type of nefarious business, but had induced her to likewise become involved. Or then there is the possibility that she herself practised her wicked craft even whilst living in the Port Adelaide district and that these recently discovered baby bones are those of her very young and innocent victims.
It is unlikely that the mystery of the bones found beneath the floorboards of the Queenstown house in the year 2000 will ever be solved with any degree of certainty. But is it mere coincidence that Frances Knorr lived within a few short kilometres of this very same house shortly before being convicted of the hideous crime of infanticide?
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