I acknowledge the Traditional Owners on whose land I walk, I work and I live. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and future.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Here is another blog written by Christopher and Vivienne Parry, and included here with thanks.

Doctor Gordon Morrissey
In the Ingham Botanical Garden is a fountain erected by public subscription which commemorates Doctor Gordon Morrissey for his services as a medical practitioner to the community for almost fifty years. The plaque reads:
Born and trained in Melbourne, Gordon Morrissey came to Ingham in 1921 to enter into private practice, and in 1925 he became part-time superintendent of the Ingham hospital. He married Stella Lawrie in 1926. She was born in Herberton but went to high school in Townsville and completed her nursing training in Ayr. She started work at the Ingham hospital in the 1920s, where she met Gordon Morrissey. He retired as superintendent in 1962 but continued his private practice until he passed away in 1970. His funeral cortege was said to be the largest ever seen in Ingham. He was survived by his wife Stella who as resident in Canossa Home celebrated her one hundredth birthday in 2003. Doctor Morrissey was especially remembered for the role he played in assisting migrants, the great proportion who were Italian, to integrate into the society of Ingham during the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1933 and 1934 there were unusually heavy wet seasons and as a result grass and undergrowth flourished and Ingham and surrounding farms were invaded by a plague of rats. During the harvesting season cane cutters began arriving at the Ingham Hospital with fever. The numbers struck down grew at an alarming rate and some died excruciating deaths. Ninety percent of them were canecutters and most were Italian. It was clear that something had to be done and quickly. Dr Morrissey took a professional interest in aspects affecting health in the tropics and it was as a result of that interest that he contributed to the clinical diagnosis of Weil’s disease in the Herbert Valley.
The organisms responsible for Weil’s disease were leptospira carried by rats. Cane cutters contracted the virus when rats’ urine on the ground or on the cane stalks came in contact with cuts on their hands and legs. Dr Morrissey suggested that a solution would be to burn the cane which would effectively sterilize the ground and stalks. However there were objections by the cane farmers to burning the cane and there were also other doctors and scientists who argued that burning would not eliminate the virus.
The cane cutters of the Herbert River Valley went on strike in 1934 which resulted in an application by the A.W.U. to the industrial magistrate for an order for cane to be burned in both the Victoria and Macknade Mill areas. This put an end to the epidemic and justified Dr Morrissey’s solution.
The government decided that workers who suffered from Weil’s disease could get workers compensation, but it was difficult to get it. Angelo Cardillo, a canecutter from Ingham, was involved in a long dispute. Dr Morrissey certified him unfit to return to work, but the Insurance Commission relied on the evidence of Sir Raphael Cilento, the Queensland Director General of Health, who said that there would be no after affects from Weil’s disease. It seems that Cilento was prejudiced against Italian migrants and thought they were malingerers. Angelo lost the case, but in later years Cilento changed his mind and agreed that there should be a long period of convalescence after Weil’s disease. So Dr Morrissey was proven correct again. Dr Morrissey was awarded an OBE in 1962 for his work.
Dr Morrissey also encouraged and assisted Angiolina Borello with her work as a midwife on the far side of the Stone River. If there were complications with a birth she would send for Dr Morrissey, and if it was wet weather and the roads were bad, Angiolina’s two sons would push Dr Morrissey’s car out of the notorious bog just past Trebonne.
He was one of the submissions made by Ingham to the ‘Peoplescape’ exhibition hosted by the Commonwealth Government on the occasion of the centenary of Federation in 2001. In that display Doctor Morrissey was described as being ‘…SELFLESS. HE DEVOTED HIS ATTENTION TO SERVICE, WHICH WAS UNOBTRUSIVE AND NOT THE KIND WHICH SOUGHT RECOGNITION OR COMMENDATION. HIS INFLUENCE FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE COMMUNITY WAS ENORMOUS – ESPECIALLY SO DURING THE DISTRICT’S MOST TROUBLED TIMES.”
Herbert River Express clippings 1970 Hinchinbrook Shire Library local history room
Monument Australia (online)
Bianka Vidonja Balanzategui, Herbert River Story, Ingham: Hinchinbrook Shire Council, 2011.
Memorial Plaque - dedication to Dr Gordon Carey Morrissey, Ingham Botanical Gardens (Source: Christopher Parry)

Dr Gordon Morrissey with Sister Therza Marshall circa 1950 (Source: Ann Dumbledon and Hinchinbrook Shire Council Library Photograph Collection)

Monday, 12 August 2019

John Coburn (1925 – 2006)

This is the second installment by Chris and Vivienne Parry on famous identities born in Ingham. I thank them for their contribution. This blog is on renowned artist John Coburn, born in Ingham, and for whom the tropical north always held a special place in his heart.

John Coburn was born in Ingham in 1925. His mother Alice Biggs had married Edgar Cockburn in Halifax in 1922. Edgar was a bank accountant and soon after the marriage he was transferred to the Darling Downs. Edgar passed away in 1936 and Alice returned to Halifax to live with her mother Christina Biggs (nee Beatts).

John attended Halifax Primary School and then went to All Souls School in Charters Towers as a boarder. Alice and her sister Jess opened a clothing store in Halifax and this business continued until Alice remarried. She married her cousin Walter Beatts in 1939. They had two sons, Geoffrey and Barry, who still live in the district.

Alice and Walter had a farm at Braemeadows and also a beach hut at Taylor’s Beach where the family spent weekends and holidays. In her later years Alice was a resident at Canossa Home at Trebonne where she passed away in 1981. Canossa Home has a beautiful work donated by John Coburn, the Tree of Life. 

John, known as Jack to friends and family, always said that much of his art was inspired by his childhood in tropical North Queensland. Later, although he lived in Sydney, he often went north for holidays, to relatives at Braemeadows, Taylors Beach, Halifax, Mona, and Mount Cordelia.

He showed an aptitude for art at an early age, but left school when he was 14 to work in a bank in Halifax, Ingham and then in Innisfail. Painting and drawing were hobbies, pursued on weekends and in the evenings. He bought his first set of oil paints in Townsville. He had been happy to escape from boarding school but he didn’t enjoy the work at the bank.

His life changed dramatically with the outbreak of World War II. At the age of 17 he volunteered for the navy and spent the next three years travelling around the Indian and Pacific Oceans, working as a radio operator, and drawing in his spare time. After demobilisation in 1946 he returned to the bank briefly, but soon resigned, and with the financial help of ex-servicemen’s rehabilitation aid he set out for Sydney, to study art full time.

He enrolled at the National Art School at East Sydney Technical College. This was where he met his future wife Barbara Woodward. She was a fellow artist and became one of Australia’s foremost silk screen printers. Barbara played an important role in John’s artistic career. A deeply spiritual man, he was born an Anglican, but converted to Catholicism before he married Barbara.

After graduating from art school he joined the ABC as a graphic designer and prepared titles and designs for television. During these years he also exhibited work in art competitions and group shows. A touring exhibition of modern French art had a great impact on his work and his paintings became more and more abstract. He had his first solo exhibition in 1958. He started teaching at the National Art School in 1959, and in 1960 he won the prestigious Blake Prize for Religious Art, for his painting Triptych of the Passion.

He painted this work while on a visit to his family in the Herbert Valley. He said that he suddenly decided to do a painting so he bought a sheet of masonite and house paints from the hardware store in Ingham. He painted it on the veranda of his parents’ house in Legge’s Road, Braemeadows. He completed it as a triptych because it was easier to transport back to Sydney. The painting is a powerful ensemble of religious symbols. It shows the crucifix and the crown of thorns, with blood-red spatters of paint and the black shadows of barbed wire. His religious art in later years though was less confronting and brighter. Another religious symbol which fascinated him, and of which he did many versions, was the Tree of Life.

He did a series of tapestries on religious themes which are among his most notable works. The series was titled The Spiritual Seasons, comprising individual tapestries named Paradise Garden, Tree of Life, Death and Transfiguration, Resurrection, and  finishing with Hozanna.     

The 1960s and 1970s were successful years for Coburn. Awards and honours flowed. His works began to enter public collections, and were regularly chosen to represent Australia in overseas touring exhibitions. Over these years he forged a distinctive style of his own, employing flat signs and silhouettes against bright fields of colour. In the 1960s he also taught at the National Art School and during this time one of his students was a young Barbara Saxton, now a well-known Ingham artist.

His painting style lent itself to tapestry, and he went to France over a period of years to supervise the weaving of his designs. His major achievements in this area were Curtain of the Sun and Curtain of the Moon, commissioned by the Sydney Opera House in 1970. It is a scandal however that these pieces have been so rarely seen over the past 50 years. Producers of opera and drama productions at the Opera House said that the curtains were too dominating and eye-catching and detracted from the performances on stage.

Other tapestries of Coburn have been on permanent exhibition such as a series of seven tapestries, The Seven Days of Creation, which hang in the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. The series of nine tapestries The Seasons is in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW. Summer, the first of the series, has a connection to North Queensland. John said that some of the shapes in the work were inspired by seeing feathers of brolgas floating from the sky during a visit to the Town Common in Townsville. 
In 1972 Coburn was appointed head of the National Art School. He appreciated the honour of the position, but he was not happy with the amount of administrative work involved, so he resigned two years later which gave him the opportunity to paint full-time. In 1980 he was awarded the Order of Australia, and was firmly established as one of the country's leading artists. In 1991 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by James Cook University.

In 2006 James Cook University students also honoured him by doing a mosaic inspired by his tapestry Paradise Garden. The mosaic was placed in front of the counter of the Tourist Information Centre in Ingham.

The passing of Barbara Coburn in 1985 came as a crushing blow, but gradually John established new working habits, and began travelling again. It was a particular pleasure to him that one of his works, a Tree of Life, was accepted in La Collezione d'Arte Religiosa Moderna in the Vatican Museum in Rome, a collection of religious artworks by the most famous artists of the twentieth century.     

John Coburn’s works are housed in the National Gallery of Australia, every Australian State Art Gallery, many regional galleries and public buildings, and important Australian and overseas collections. The exhibition area of the Tyto Regional Art Gallery is officially named the John Coburn Gallery, and the Hinchinbrook Shire Council has a small collection of his works. In 2003 the gallery held an exhibition of Coburn’s work. The exhibition was attended by many relatives who still live in the Ingham area, and by John’s son Stephen Coburn who came from Sydney to attend.                

People who met him remember John Coburn as being quietly spoken, courteous and charming. He was also a reflective thinker, who had strong convictions and principles by which he lived.

While so many celebrated Australian painters of the 20th century have been figurative artists, that is painters of the human form, Coburn was an abstract artist. It has been said that perhaps his greatest achievement was to have reached large audiences with a form of abstract painting based on simple clear shapes and radiant colours. Most of his pictures have a joyous quality, and that may be why they exert such a broad appeal.

For a recent article about the story of the Opera House curtains designed by John Coburn, and what happened to them in what his son calls a "tragedy", go to this link:


Mosaic celebrating John Coburn - Visitor Information Hub, Tyto, Ingham
Nadine Amadio, 1988, Coburn – The Seasons Tapestries, Christensen Fund, Perth
Nadine Amadio, 1988, John Coburn Paintings, Craftsman House, Roseville NSW
Lou Klepac, 2003, John Coburn, The Spirit of Colour, The Beagle Press, Roseville NSW
Alan Rozen, 1979, The Art of John Coburn, Ure Smith, Sydney

Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Right Honourable Sir Arthur Fadden and his Herbert River connections

This blog is written by Christopher and Vivenne Parry, fellow history sleuths, who have kindly given me permission to publish the research they have conducted on famous local identities. The first of these identities is The Right Honourable Sir Arthur Fadden.

Sir Arthur Fadden. Source: Parliament of Australia. Portraits of Parliament https://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Art/Online_Gallery/Portrait_Gallery
The Right Honourable Sir Arthur Fadden, or Artie to his friends and supporters, was Prime Minister from 29 August to 7 October in 1941. As well as his “40 days and 40 nights” in office, he was acting Prime Minister for periods totalling nearly two years during his coalition governments with Prime Minister Robert Menzies. He was a member of the House of Representatives for 22 years, from 1936 to 1958, and leader of the Country Party for 17 years, from 1941 to 1958. As Treasurer in 1940–41 and from 1949 to 1958, he presented a record 11 budgets.
He was born in Ingham to Irish immigrant parents, Annie (née Moorhead) and Richard John Fadden. His father was the police constable at Halifax and met Annie not long after moving to the district. They married in 1893 and Artie was born not long after in 1894. He was the eldest of ten children – seven sons and three daughters. The family moved to Walkerston near Mackay around 1900, where his father was officer-in-charge of the police station. He was raised in Walkerston, his first paid jobs included collecting cane beetles and performing sound effects at the local cinema. He left school at the age of 15 and began working as a "billy boy" (odd-job man) on a cane-cutting gang at Pleystowe. He later got an indoor job as an office boy at the Pleystowe Sugar Mill. In his spare time, he developed an interest in the theatre, both as a performer and treasurer of the local theatre company.

In 1913 he moved to Mackay as assistant town clerk. In 1916, his superior, Frederick Morley, was dismissed over allegations of theft, which Fadden himself had uncovered. Morley eventually received a two-year jail term, and Fadden was promoted in his place, after defeating more than 50 other applicants; he was reputedly the "youngest town clerk in Australia".

He had tried to enlist in the Australian Army in 1915, but was rejected on health grounds. In 1918, he served on the committee of the relief fund for the Mackay cyclone, which devastated the town and killed thirty people. He then moved to Townsville where he established his own accountancy firm. He had qualified as an accountant through a correspondence course from a school in Melbourne.

In 1928 and 1929 Artie bought two cane farms near Trebonne. He formed a company called Sugar Lands, and H. H. Cousins managed the properties until 1940. G. G. Venables was the next manager. It has been said that he drove up to see the farm in his Rolls Royce, and called in to the Trebonne Hotel for a chat with the locals. In 1943 Artie sued The Worker newspaper, the Australian Labor Party’s official paper in Queensland, for defamation. The paper had claimed that Sugar Lands had employed Italians, who they called “enemy aliens” in preference to Australian trade union members. Artie won the case, but was awarded much less than he claimed in damages.

He was elected to the Townsville City Council in 1930, and in 1932 was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly for the Country and Progressive National Party. He lost his seat in 1935, but the following year won a by-election in the Federal Electorate of Darling Downs.

In 1916 he had married Ilma Nita Thornber who worked as a milliner in Mackay. Like him, she was active in local community affairs. Ilma Fadden was an active ‘political wife’ and well known in the Townsville community in the 1920s. When the family moved to Brisbane Ilma became active in state and national organisations. She was a tireless campaign worker in the nine federal elections Arthur contested and she also accompanied him on many of his official trips overseas.

In 1940 Artie was named a minister in the government of Robert Menzies, who led the United Australia Party in a coalition with the Country Party. Also in 1940, he narrowly escaped being killed in the Canberra air disaster which claimed the lives of three government ministers and the Chief of the General Staff. He was scheduled to be aboard the flight which was transporting the ministers back to Canberra after a cabinet meeting in Melbourne, but instead he took an overnight train.

In 1940 he became leader of the Country Party, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer. He presented his first budget less than a month later. The budget featured increased spending due to the war, paid for by increases in taxation. It was highly unpopular among the general public, which up until that point had seen the war to be still quite distant. The independent MPs contemplated voting with the opposition to reject the budget, but after negotiations and some amendments it was passed, allowing the government to continue in power.

Artie served as acting prime minister for four months early in 1941 while Menzies was away in Europe. After dissension within the UAP-CP coalition, Menzies resigned as Prime Minister. A joint party meeting chose Fadden as Coalition leader even though the Country Party was the smaller of the two coalition parties. Artie consequently became Prime Minister.

Artie’s term of office was troubled from the start. Even parliamentarians in his own party feared the worst. It was said that he decided against moving into The Lodge, the official Prime Minister's residence in Canberra, after fellow Country Party member Archie Cameron crudely told him "You’ll scarcely have enough time to wear a track from the backdoor to the shithouse before you’ll be out". He held office for just 39 days before being replaced by John Curtin, whose Labor Party had successfully moved a motion of no confidence. After losing the prime ministership, Arthur continued on as Leader of the Opposition for two more years.

Menzies then formed the Liberal Party and was elected Prime Minister in 1949. Artie became Treasurer for a second time, holding this office for ten years until his retirement from politics in 1958. Only Peter Costello has served in the position for longer. Although inflation was high in the early 1950s, forcing him to impose several "horror budgets", he generally presided over a booming economy, with times especially good for farmers.

 After the 1951-52 'horror' budget he was so unpopular that he remarked, “I could have had a meeting of all my friends and supporters in a one-man telephone booth”.

On the night before the 1954 federal election, Artie was seriously injured in a car accident while travelling back to Brisbane from Dalby. The car in which he was travelling failed to negotiate a curve on a slippery road, and rolled three times. Artie, who had been sitting next to the driver, was pulled from the car unconscious and spent election day in hospital, unable to cast his vote. He was left with injuries to his face, head, and legs, and required five separate operations.

Artie resigned as leader of the Country Party in 1958, with John McEwen elected as his successor. He retired from politics at the 1958 election.

In 1969, Artie published a memoir titled They Called Me Artie. He had previously published articles in the Courier Mail describing episodes from his past. One story from his childhood, when he was about 12 years of age, related to the time his father had left him in charge of the police lockup.  He was to let the five prisoners out for exercise and lock them up again later.  Artie let them out but got involved in a game of cricket with his mates. When his father rode in he saw the cell doors open and called out, “Where are the prisoners Artie?” His father then rode down to the pub where he found the five prisoners in the bar.

Arthur Fadden enjoyed one of the most rapid rises in Australian political history, moving from private citizen to the prime ministership in just 11 years. He was the first prime minister born in Queensland, and the first and only member of the Country Party to become prime minister with his own mandate (rather than just serving as a caretaker after the death of a predecessor).

He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1951. He was knighted in person by King George VI in London on 31 January 1952, only a week before the King's death. In his memoirs he recalled that the King had accidentally knighted him as "Sir William" (his middle name). He corrected the King who performed the ceremony again as "Sir Arthur". In his memoirs there is a story about his arrival at Mackay soon after he had been knighted. An old friend from his childhood, an Aboriginal person named Harry, greeted him warmly, only to be told by one of the entourage that he should address Fadden as 'Sir'. 'What', replied Harry, 'You now a school teacher, Artie?'

After Artie’s death in 1973, the Canberra suburb of Fadden and the federal electoral Division of Fadden were named in his honour, as is traditional for Australian prime ministers. His sculpture is in the Prime Minister's Avenue in the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. In 1950 and again in 1994 he was depicted on postage stamps. In 1976, the Sir Arthur Fadden Memorial Garden was established in the Brisbane suburb of Mount Ommaney, consisting of 3,000 trees. In Townsville, there is a Fadden Park in Mundingburra while Ingham honours him with Sir Arthur Fadden Parade, a road leading out of town.

Minister for the Army Percy Spender, Arthur Fadden and Robert Menzies at an emergency meeting to discuss the Japanese crisis, 1941. Source: State Library of Victoria. Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs. Image No. H99.201/2592.

                                 Former historic Halifax Police Station (no longer on site). Source:                                                           https://www.realestate.com.au/sold/property-other-qld-halifax-106144880


Sir Arthur Fadden. They Called Me Artie. Jacaranda Press: Milton, Qld., 1969.

Cribb, Margaret Bridson. “Fadden, Sir Arthur William (1894–1973)”. Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14. Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing, 1996. http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/fadden-sir-arthur-william-10141

“Fadden claims £5000 says was defamed”. Trove.

Parliament of Australia. Portraits of Parliament https://www.aph.gov.au/Visit_Parliament/Art/Online_Gallery/Portrait_Gallery

Monday, 15 July 2019

The Stone River Murder Case

This is a lengthy blog and is an interesting story, not for the salacious details of a rare murder at Stone River but for other reasons: the detail offered by newspaper reports of the time, the primitiveness of the forensic methods (including a 'post-mortem' conducted on the spot), the fact that Joseph Edmonds was acquitted despite convincing evidence; and for the revealed prejudices of the time regarding the value of a “coloured” person’s life; and the reluctance to believe that a white man could commit such a savage crime and thus the attempts to implicate either a Kanaka or an Aborigine in the murder. 
Murder date: 13 November 1906 at approximately 3 pm.
Murder site: Sandy Creek on opposite side of road to Bailey’s farm.
Victim: Booba Khan (variously identified as an Indian hawker or Hindoo). Prior to his death he had been in partnership with Kashgar Singh. Singh (described as a Buddhist in the court hearing) gave witness at the trial of Joseph Edmonds.
Accused: Joseph Edmonds, miner and drover. Previously convicted of larceny and cattle thieving.
Cause of death: head trauma and strangulation.
Possible motive: dishonoured cheques.
Edmonds bought goods off Khan on 10 November 1906 to the value of £7/5/-. These goods were silk shirts, khaki and tweed trousers, merino singlets, silk blouses, 12 yards of silk, silk handkerchiefs, mouth organs, scent, lady’s brooch and two brass rings.
Payment was made to Booba Khan by two cheques from the cheque book belonging to William Henry Groves and his partner, only identified as Neil. According to Groves, he  supplied the two blank cheques to Edmonds on Edmonds’ request. Edmonds told Groves he had a private mark in the Commercial Bank (a blotted “O”) Groves asked him to record on the cheque butts what they were for. Groves claimed in Court that the selling of cheques to others in this manner was normal at Waverley. 
Kashgar Singh presented the cheques to Mrs Jones’ Public House at Waverley, where she refused to cash them. She deemed the cheques valueless.
Kashgar Singh and Booba Khan went to Edmonds’ camp to tell him that the cheques were worthless. Kashgar Singh demanded the goods back, but agreed to let Edmonds keep a pair of trousers and shirt which he could pay for “by-and-by”. Edmonds assured him that the cheques were fine. Singh threatened to tell the Ewan police if Edmonds did not return the goods. Khan and Edmonds came to an agreement that they would travel to Ingham together with a party that had been organized by Groves on the 12 November to take a sick man to Ingham for treatment. Groves had volunteered to do this because he had gained Ambulance Brigade experience in Townsville.
Edmonds promised that when they arrived in Ingham he would get the money from his father to repay Khan £8. Alternatively, he told Groves that in Ingham he would go to the bank and prove that the cheques were not fraudulent and then return to Waverley and write another cheque in front of Mrs Jones! Kashgar and Khan lent Edmonds a horse for the journey.
According to Edmonds’ evidence those who set off for Ingham were Edmonds, the sick man (later identified as John Cuckane/Cochran/e, a miner from Kangaroo Hills)* and Khan (who had on him the two cheques, a £5 note and £1 in silver). Groves asserted that there were between seven and nine people in the party and that the “Indian Hawker” caught up to them.
The sick man was conveyed in a buggy and then transferred to horseback. Edmonds accompanied by Khan went ahead on horseback to Bailey’s to fetch another buggy to carry the sick man to Ingham. The range was hilly and stony and it was impossible to get a buggy up or down it. The rest of the party, bar one man Martell and Groves were sent back. When Martell and Groves reached the foot of the range they met Edmonds who had returned with the buggy. He was accompanied by another man John (Charlie) Johnson. They had with them, besides the buggy, a saddle horse and a pair of horses. They transferred the sick man to the buggy which Johnson drove. Edmonds rode alongside the buggy. Martell went back the way they had come. They proceeded to Johnson’s house, six miles distant, where they placed the sick man, who was retching, under the shade of a tree and left water with him. Waiting there was Booba Khan with his horses. Edmonds and Groves went to Johnson’s house to have dinner and then returned to the sick man, putting him back in the buggy. He was given water in a brandy bottle for the journey. The weather was hot and muggy and Edmonds’ horse, meanwhile, had tired and Edmonds requested Khan to take the horse back and deliver his saddle to the Post Office when he got to Ingham. He would pick it up from there. Groves drove the buggy, Edmonds sat in the buggy while the sick man was lying down. Khan set out to accompany them. Groves questioned Edmonds why Khan was accompanying them and he explained about the cheques and that Khan was coming down to Ingham to verify that they were sound.
In conversation Edmonds was supposed to have flashed a gold ring with a green/blue gemstone which he called a “knuckle duster” and then said to Groves that “If a bloke could do him [Khan] in, what a nice lot he would get.” Groves told him to forget that idea opining that Khan would have no money.
17 miles from Johnson’s was Bailey’s place on the left-hand side (going to Ingham). At that point one of the horses became tired. They stopped at Bailey’s gate. Edmonds was given the reins and Groves went up to Bailey’s house (located behind a rise and at a distance of some 300 to 400 yards) to procure a fresh horse. As he headed off he saw Khan coming over the hill towards them. When he returned 40 minutes later (having been unable to procure a replacement horse) he found the sick man alone in the buggy, Khan’s three horses were grazing 20 yards from the buggy. Khan and Edmonds were nowhere to be seen. Louis Bailey came down in a horse and dray, stopped to talk and then drove on. Five minutes later, Edmonds appeared from the direction of Bailey’s house sweaty, flushed and dishevelled and with leaves on his shirt. Groves reprimanded him for leaving the sick man, but Edmonds retorted that he had only been gone a few minutes to get a drink of water (a drink which Grace Thompson, grand-daughter of Andrew Bailey later provided evidence as to having given him from a cup on the tank stand. She also noted that he was hot and shaking). The sick man spoke up saying that Edmonds had in fact been gone for nearly an hour. As a fresh horse couldn’t be procured Groves suggested that they press on to Ingham. Before they set out he asked Edmonds where the “Indian hawker” was and Edmonds replied that he didn’t know.
After setting out again the sick man requested a drink of water. Groves told Edmonds to get down from the buggy and go around to the back of the buggy and give him a drink from the bottle (it was the only water they had). Edmonds said he couldn’t find the bottle but the sick man said that Edmonds had had it at Bailey’s gate. Edmonds claimed he must have dropped it and that they could collect it on the return journey. Groves noted that Edmonds seemed uneasy and appeared to be watching him (Groves). They next stopped at Norris’ gate, two miles distant from Bailey’s where Edmonds was again left in charge of the sick man while Groves wen to procure a replacement horse. This time he was successful, but nine miles from Ingham at W.B. Johnson’s another horse had to be replaced. This duly done, the group continued on. Groves commented to Edmonds that the “Hindoo” was a long time catching them up and Edmonds asserted that Khan had gone on ahead saying to Edmonds that “Me go on; you catch me up.” On reaching Ingham the sick man was transferred to hospital at about 7 pm. Groves and Edmonds parted ways near the Masonic Lodge. Edmonds told Groves he would return back to Waverley with him on Thursday.  Edmonds then went to his father’s home. Meanwhile Groves reported to the Sergeant of Police his concerns about Edmonds and Khan. 
As a result of the statement made to Sergeant Connolly by Groves a search of Ingham was made for Khan. Connolly then despatched Constable Cook on November 14 to search for Khan. As Cook headed towards Waverley on Stoneleigh Road he located three horses grazing. All were still bridled and saddled and one carried a swag. The horses were those belonging to Khan. He drove them towards Andrew Bailey’s gate where he observed two trails of trampled grass on the opposite side of the road to Bailey’s gate leading to Sandy Creek. 37 yards in was a fence and something appeared to have been dragged under the fence and further 21 yards down to the bank of Sand Creek. He found single tracks in the creek bed. With the help of an Aboriginal tracker named Flanagan/Flannigan he located the body of Booba Khan. The deceased was found high on the bank of Sandy Creek, 899 yards from Bailey’s gate. His body was concealed by heavy brushwood.When Edmonds appeared, purportedly looking for Khan, Cook detained him. It was noted that at the time he was detained that he was wearing a white silk shirt, khaki trousers, clasp boots, a brown felt hat and a white silk handkerchief around his neck (perhaps items he had previously purchased from Khan).
The last time Groves claimed to have seen Khan alive was at Bailey’s gate on November 13. On Thursday 15 November he travelled out to Bailey’s where the tracker, Acting Sergeant Connelly, and Doctor W.C.C. MacDonald (Government Medical Officer) were waiting. Constable William Cook had remained overnight camped under a tree with the suspect Edmonds. Doctor MacDonald ascertained the deceased had been felled by blows to the head and then strangled. His body was identified by both Edmonds and Grove as being that of Boobah Khan. An identifying piece of clothing, his turban, was later found a distance from his body together with shards of the broken brandy bottle. Booba Khan was buried where he was found. Edmonds was arrested for the murder and remanded in custody.
Prosecution evidence included Edmonds’ boot tread. The tracks were found to match (though no cast could be taken). Further evidence was that the green stone had become dislodged from Edmonds’ ring. There was a 11inch long piece of glass from the brandy bottle stuck in the turban of the deceased. Arthur Frederick Kemp, employed by the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd. Ingham Branch, stated that Edmonds never had had an account with that bank. Edmonds made no attempt to repay the debt when he got to Ingham. His evidence was inconsistent. For instance, Groves and Edmonds disagreed about when Edmonds (who claimed to have worked with horses in India) yelled out, supposedly to Khan, in Hindoo, “going on”, and where Edmonds claimed that Khan was supposed to have been in relation to them at various stages of the journey. While in hospital the sick man was called upon to give evidence on the events of November 13. He verified Groves' version though because of his critical condition the veracity of his recollection was brought into question. Edmonds' evidence about the bottle was also discrepant, at one point saying he didn’t know where it was and then saying he had dropped it on the road. Another factor that went against him was that he had previous convictions for larceny and cattle thieving.
The defence was able to argue that the boot size was a common size. The judge opined that the ring was hardly a ‘knuckle duster”.  Red stains found on his clothes were not identified as blood by the Government analysist. Much argument was undertaken to disprove that Edmonds could carry Khan, who was claimed to have weighed over 11 stone, any great distance. Edmonds denied the conversation detailed by Grove about the ring and about the cheques. He also claimed he dropped the bottle when the horses moved on when he was trying to give the sick man a drink of water. He explained his absence from the buggy was because he would not drink water from the same bottle as a sick man. He had gone to cut a piece of cane to quench his thirst and then gone up to the house for a drink of water. As evidence of his innocence he claimed that he got a horse from his father and went to town to the Post Office to see if his saddle had been delivered by Khan as they had arranged. He looked around town for him and then rode back out to Bailey’s gate to see if he could locate him and met Cook there with the horses and his saddle.  He also dismissed the evidence of leaves on his shirt by saying that they were brush tops of the cane (supposedly when he went to get a stick of cane to quench his thirst).
However, the way the trial would go was evidenced by the all-white male jury having difficulty coming to a decision.  In February Mr C. Jameson for the prosecution, optimistically stated that the evidence pointed to Edmonds being guilty. Yet by March the evidence presented was being regarded as “wholly circumstantial”. What was to transpire was also foreboded by the ongoing questioning during the court hearings as to whether there were Kanakas and Aborigines in the area at the time of the murder. It was remarked that there was a “blacks’ camp” about five miles distance up Waverley Road. Edmonds made sure to mention that he saw a group of Kanakas carrying bows and arrows as he, Groves and the sick man journeyed to Ingham.
The evidence that a Kanaka or an Aborigine may have committed the crime was not strong as in the Stone River area, cane farmers Menzies and Bailey, were who were identified as having employed Kanakas previously, were not employing them at the time of murder because they were employing only white labour. Moreover, Cook attested that he did not see any Kanakas or Aborigines when he camped at Baileys with Edmonds, the day he detained Edmonds as a suspect for the murder.
Questions were raised about the shape of Kanaka’s feet compared to white men’s feet and whether they would wear boots. The answer to that question was “no” and so any idea that they could have left the boot tracks was also dismissed. Nevertheless, these attempts to implicate Kanakas or Aborigines, insinuating that one of those groups could have been more likely responsible for the murder than Edmonds, a white Ingham farmer’s son, were made throughout the court hearings.
The value put on Khan’s life is reflected in the  answer to the question: “Did the murder raise a good deal of talk” to which the reply was “On account of the victim being a coloured man it is not likely that there would be so much talk of it” and  “nothing worth speaking of.” On the other hand the arrest of Edmonds was said to have caused "a great sensation at Waverley." At no time during the witnesses' depositions was Booba Khan mentioned by name. Even when Edmonds was arrested it was for the murder of "an Indian, name at present unknown."
Though the due legal process was being followed in relation to a suspicious death, that the victim was “coloured” and the suspected murderer white, public sympathy and interest in the case reflected pervading prejudices, among them the belief that a Kanaka or Aborigine was more likely to have committed such a savage murder than a white man.
It is not surprising then, that finally on 31 May, 1907, Joseph Edmonds was acquitted of the murder of Booba Khan.

*COCKRANE PATRICK JOHN Old Ingham Anglican (C of E) 0 69 Date of death: 06/12/1908 Age: 50 M SCOTLAND Cause of death: SPRUE

“Stone River Murder,” Evening Telegraph Friday 31 May 1907, 1.
“The Stone River Murder. The End of Boobah Khan,” Evening Telegraph Thursday 30 May 1907, 1.
“The Stone River Murder Case. Trial of Joseph Edmonds,” Northern Miner Friday 1 March 1907, 2 and 5.
“Northern Supreme Court,” Northern Miner Thursday 30 May 1907, 4.
“The Stone River Murder,” Morning Post 5 March 1907, 2.
“Northern Supreme Court. Alleged Murder,” The Northern Miner 1 June 1907, 4.
Hinchinbrook Shire Counctil - register of burials. Book 1.   

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Mysteries of Rooney's Pinch

Joan and Jerry Allingham of Stoneleigh, talked about in my last blog, would have passed a small outcrop called Rooney’s Pinch on their way to and from their property. Unlike the Allinghams whose story we know, who was ‘Rooney’ and why did he have a hill named after him?
Being an historian is like being a detective. You spend most of your time looking for clues and following leads. Many will be false leads even though they may sound possible. Some will be heading in the right direction and then peter out.  Sometimes you might build a convincing ‘case’ or story and stick by it only to find later that you have it all wrong. Other times you strike gold and solve the mystery.
Recently I was asked about Rooney’s Pinch, west of Ingham, adjacent to the Stone River Road in the upper Stone area. Did I know anything about it? I did a little cursory digging and what I have come up with is purely speculative but possible. See what you think.
Rooney’s Pinch is a small hill. Why was is called Pinch and not Hill?
Now that word is a bit of a semantic mystery.
‘Pinch’ can be applied to small hills and hamlets:
English place name books suggest that similar names with the pinch element could either be the Old English pinca which means finch or Later English pink meaning minnow. http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/ephraim.htm) 
Another theory suggests that the stinginess of the owner of the land could be why an area was called a ‘pinch’:
There is also one opinion that considers that field names with the pinch element refer to “derogatory names, ambiguously referring to parsimony and torture.” (Paraphrased from: http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/ephraim.htm)  
The Macquarie dictionary suggests that ‘Pinch’ means: a hill, a rise as in - This hill is a bit of a pinch; a slatey pinch, a rocky rise. (https://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/resources/aus/word/map/search/word/pinch/Western%20District/ )
From that can be suggested then, is that Rooney’s Pinch was so named because it is a ‘small hill’ or on the other hand it could be referring to the thriftiness or meanness of the mystery ‘Rooney’.
So who was Rooney? That too, remains a mystery without further extensive research. However, I have a theory. I speculate that Rooney was Matthew Rooney of Rooney Bros. (a firm of architects, builders and contractors) established in Townsville by Matthew and his brother John in 1882. They went into partnership with James Harvey, establishing a timber-milling arm of their business.
Now M. Rooney was not a rare moniker in Ingham and Townsville as a search of old newspapers into the twentieth century show. There are M. Rooneys (including Matthew Rooneys getting up to all sorts of good as well as criminal behaviour).
So why do I speculate that Rooney’s Pinch could be taken from Matthew Rooney, respected Townsville builder?
In 1882, in the same year that Matthew and Harvey paired to go into business, a M Rooney and a J. Harvey take up neighbouring blocks in the Parish of Berwick (aka Stone River) as attested by this newspaper reference from the Queenslander, Saturday 30 September 1882, page 2 and consequent Parish of Berwick maps.
INGHAM. Before Commissioner Berwick, on the 30th August. SELECTIONS.—Accepted: W. G. Ewan, 1280a.,
Newton, 1280 a., Lannercost; J. Cassady. 1280 a., Berwick; W. C. Miller, 80a., Trebonne; H. B. Heaphy, 1000 a.. Trebonne; J. E. Palmer. 1000 a., Waterview; J. Harvey, 200 a., Berwick ; M. Rooney, 200 a., Berwick; A. Camp bell. 200 a., Cordelia; A. E. Cummins, 158 a., Berwick ; H. Stone. D. M'Auslan, J. Olson, A. S. B. Sutton, R. Hutchinson, T. Gibson, W. Harvey. J. Bonning. C. Bonning, each 160 a., Berwick. Re jected : J. M. Parkes, 1280 a., Garrawalt; B. Lynn, 1280 a., Marathon; K. A. Goldring, 1280a., Garra walt. Adjourned: W. L. Lynn, 160 a., Marathon.
It was not uncommon for people at that time to speculate on sugar land in the Herbert as in 1881 the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) had arrived in the Valley and had started to build its mill (Victoria Mill) while the Melbourne firm of Edward Fanning, Thomas NanKivell and Sons had also arrived and was building the second Gairloch Mill (1881) and had bought other defunct plantations. People had hopes of getting rich on sugar. While CSR, which had the money to lay an extensive rail system and used steam locomotives, would be anticipated to extend its line from Victoria Mill to the outlying areas such as Stone River.
And indeed, that is just what the Company did, and the line became an important one for the transport of not only sugar cane but goods and people. An article in the Northern Miner 3 September 1908, page 6 entitled “On the Stone River: ‘Along the line’” mentions M. Rooney’s landholding at the terminus of the CSR line. The area was described as “magnificent pockets of the richest land” where you can “grow anything on earth”. Even beyond the need for a terminus with storage shed, Rooney’s Pinch remained a designated siding on the Mt. Fox CSR line.
Matthew Rooney. Source: https://www.historicyongala.com.au/about-us/

Map. Parish of Berwick, County of Cardwell, September 1923

Whether M. Rooney and J. Harvey ever made good of that rich land I am not able to say. We do know however, that, unfortunately, Matthew's life ended prematurely and under tragic circumstances.
Matthew, his wife and daughter were among the 122 people, passengers and crew on board the SS Yongala when it sank, on 23 March 1911. En route from Melbourne to Cairns the Yongala encountered a cyclone and sank without a trace south of Townsville, just off Cape Bowling Green. There were no survivors.
Besides the mystery of the naming of Rooney’s Pinch is the tale of an Afghan trader or hawker who is rumored to have been buried somewhere on or around Rooney’s Pinch. FACT or FICTION?  Look out for the next blog!

“Ingham,” Queenslander, Saturday 30 September 1882, 2.
“On the Stone River: ‘Along the line’,” Northern Miner 3 September 1908, 6.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Stoneleigh and the Allinghams

When your only water supply is rain water you have to think about how you use every drop. Joan Allingham recalled that when she lived at Stoneleigh: "The day I shampooed my hair, I washed Jerry's work socks in the same water."
I had the privilege to work with Joan Allingham when we were on the founding committee of the Herbert River Museum Gallery - the initiative of Vi Groundwater (Councillor) and and her good friend Josie Sheahan (Shire Librarian). She and I formulated the Acquisition Policy. An acquisition policy is important to a local museum because it ensures that the collection items are strictly local, and that there is a provenance for each item so that labelling of the item, whether it be held in the storeroom for static display, or displayed permanently, is correct and  permanently filed for changing museum 'curators'.
I loved Joan's stories of her time spent at Stoneleigh. Joan was a nurse and I recall one story of a friend she had who nursed at the Tully Hospital who rode her BICYCLE from Tully to Stoneleigh to visit Joan. Imagine how long and strenuous that ride would have been on the road/highway as it was then. A feat of daring for those days.
She also told me of how one day when there was an escapee loose from the Stone River Prison Farm, a friend played a trick on them while they were away from the house. On their return they found evidence of somebody having been in their house. They thought it was the escapee and got quite a fright!
She also was interviewed for the little publication: As We Were Volume 1 Doorways to the Past.
Here is her story in her own words:

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

What's in a name?

Does your property or house block have a name? Ours does. We call it Ninemile after the locomotive siding near our house: a name given to that siding by the then CSR Victoria Mill's administration over 100 years ago. All over the Herbert River Valley there are properties that have either retained or abandoned the names which their owners gave them.
In the early days, even when properties changed hands, the new owners retained the names. Romantic, fanciful or reminiscent of home country, they are glimpses into a past era. Pastoralist James Atkinson named his holding Farnham while James Cassady called his Mungalla. Planters, for instance, have bequeathed us Bemerside, Gairloch, Macknade and Hamleigh. Smaller property owners gave their properties names too.  So we had Antigua, the farm of Leonard Hartwell, Stone River and Mona and Eaglefarm of John Lely. Others, who were small farmers and founders of the Herbert River Farmers' Association similarly gave names to their farm holdings.  John Alm had Groseth, Francis Herron, Dumcree, Harald Hoffensetz, Rest Downs, James Herron, Emma Vale, Henry Faithfull, Hornsey , Niels Christian Rosendahl, Gumby, Arthur W. Carr, Oakleigh and August Anderssen, Riverview.
Passing through Cordelia, one property is still to this day clearly identified as Brooklands. Who owned that property?
The property has been owned by successive generations of the Pearson family who moved a former Gairloch Plantation house to the site. Today it remains as one of the oldest homes in the district. The Pearson men became synonymous with the Herbert River Farmers' League, the successor to the Herbert River Farmers' Association.
Daniel Pearson, an early supplier of Ripple Creek Mill, represented the Herbert River Farmers' League at the 1906 Sugar Industry Labour Royal Commission. His son Roy Villiers Garthorne Pearson, born in Ingham on 29 October 1891, was President of the Herbert River Farmers' League as was his son John Bartley Pearson. also born in Ingham on 25 March, 1920. He died at the age of 84 on the 25 September, 2004. As president of the League he was responsible for keeping it functioning through times of significant change in the Australian sugar industry. He told his story for a little publication: As We Were, Volume 1: Doorways to the Past published by the Herbert River Museum/Gallery.

Source: As We Were Volume 1: Doorways to the Past. Presented by the Herbert River Museum/Gallery Inc. n.d.