Sydney Morning Herald
... part of the KellyGang story
full text of the article
THE KELLY GANG
COMMENCEMENT OF ITS CAREER
At a meeting of the Salvation Army a few nights ago one of the converts told part of the history of his life. He said that his name was James Skillion, and that his brother William had married Maggie Kelly, oldest sister of Ned Kelly, the bushranger. He (Skillion) had acted as a bush telegraph, and in various other ways proved himself useful to the gang. The commencement of the gang's career arose from the fact that a mounted constable went to Mrs Kelly's to arrest her son, Dan Kelly, who was away at the time, for horse stealing. The constable attempted familiarity with Kate Kelly, but Mrs Kelly, William Skillion, and a man named Williamson rushed in and handled the policeman very roughly. The day following several constables came from Benalla, and arrested Mrs Kelly, William Skillion, and Williamson on a charge of assaulting the constable. The two men got six years, and Mrs Kelly three years. Ned and Dan Kelly came home and found their mother had been arrested. Ned remarked, "We will give the police something to do," That was the start of the gang. In his capacity as bush telegraph, James Skillion assumed various disguises, sometimes carrying a swag, at other times wearing a belltopper, and sometimes dressed in Kate Kelly's clothes. In a subsequent conversation, Skillion made a statement that when the bank at Euroa was stuck up and robbed, the proceeds were divided between about 100 sympathisers. From the proceeds of robberies Skillion received £3000, and spent it in travelling through America and Great Britain with Kate Kelly and Kate Byrnes (Joe Byrne's sister). Skillion, who has been made a member of the local corps of the Army, is now working here. He speaks freely of his connection with the gang, and says he can glve dates, places, and all particulars, The only point upon which he refused to give any, information is that of the name of the man who made Ned Kelly's armour.
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