... part of the KellyGang story
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On the way up the King, near Hedi, one of the police parties fell in with John Quinn, uncle of Edward Kelly, and a man named George Johnstone. They learned that Quinn had made a number of inquiries of the selectors, with a view to find out who the police supposed the two strange men of Kellys’ party to be. It should be remarked in parenthesis, that James Quinn, one of the occupants of the paddock in Power’s time, is at present in Pentridge. Quinn and Johnstone kept ahead of the police all the way up to Glenmore, at the junction of the two branches before alluded to, and then struck off to the left, in the direction of an apparently impassable range, which the police supposed would compel them to turn back and exhibit themselves ere long; but no more was seen of Quinn and his companion in that neighbourhood. They told some of the settlers that they were looking for horses, and others that they were gone up for a bull. Usually when Quinn has a mission of importance in hand which he does not wish to make public, he brings a bull down from the ranges. He now has a retreat somewhat deeper in the mountains than the one which he occupied at Glenmore. It is between the Rose River, a tributary of the Buffalo, and one of the eastern sources of the King. Strange to say, the very day after one party of police lost sight of Quinn at Glenmore he was met back near Hedi by another party. Quinn had found a bull, and his face was now directed down-stream towards Greta. He was accompanied not only by Johnston, but by a man named Thomas, who, if he was picked up in the same locality as the bull, must have travelled about 70 miles in two days, for he was seen on Monday in Beechworth. Thomas was not suitable company for an honest man, having been convicted not long ago of shooting with intent to wound. Quinn, of course, had no info rmation to give the police about his nephew, but rode along, in the fashion of the Kellys and Lloyds, with his hat pulled down over his eyes. The quickness with which he had doubled back on Hedi showed how intimate his acquaintance with the ranges must be.
The King was found very difficult to cross below Glenmore on account of the flood. The police had to swim their horses over obliquely, and steer carefully to avoid boulders. Some distance up the ranges they came upon an empty hut, which appeared to have been recently occupied. They found flour, and also about a dozen gun-cartridges concealed in the roof. They brought away the cartridges, but left the other things undisturbed, as they had some reason to believe that the hut was provisional for the benefit of an out-station hand, and not the Kellys. The two parties of police by this time had become consolidated into one, and numbered 11. They ascended a very steep spur, and struck across to the Wombat. For two days it rained heavily, and they had to put up with the discomfort of saturated clothes. They could not venture to light a fire, except on low ground, where they made tea. On the high parts of the ranges almost perfect solitude prevailed. No birds were heard or seen; the crows and magpies had been left far behind. Wombats and wallaby were abundant in places, and the holes excavated by the former in the soft earth were noticed to be marvellously large. Very scanty supplies of grass could be obtained for the horses after they had left the neighbourhood of the friendly settlers. Many of the slopes were quite bare of herbage, and covered only with sharp loose stones, which told severely on the horses’ feet. In the gullies cattle tracks were numerous, and some wild cattle and a few wild horses were occasionally seen. The spur ascended from Glenmore was so steep that the horses could not go more than 10 or 12 yards without stopping to recover wind, but in this respect the country was not more difficult than that around Wood’s Point.
No traces of the Kellys were met with between the King and the fatal camp. A few miles from the camp, in the direction of Mansfield, a call was made upon a selector named Perkins, who was reported to have supplied the Kellys with provisions for three or four months past. Perkins was working in a garden in front of a small bark hut. He had heard nothing of the Kellys. On the previous Sunday, when a member of the first search party called, and reported to Perkins’s daughter that two constables had been shot, the news appeared to cause no astonishment. The only remark was “Yes,” and no particulars were asked for. One of the constables saw Perkins give a peculiar grin as the dead bodies were carried past; Mrs Perkins, however, came out, and said, “Excuse a woman’s curiosity, but how many were shot?” When Steele’s party of police reached Mansfield on Friday, they were able not only to get into good quarters, but to buy dry clothes. The breeches of some of them were so much injured with wet and wear that they tore into rags as they were pulled off. It is to be hoped that the Government will deal somewhat liberally with the police employed in searching for the Kellys, and not cut them down to the new regulation allowance of 1s. 6d. a day. Should a constable be out for more than eight hours during the day he is allowed, as above, 1s. 6d.―the price of three-quarters of one meal; and if out for a night also, he is allowed 3s. 6d. more, of which 2s. go to pay for a bed, and 1s. 6d. for tea or breakfast. This is very chilling encouragement for the police under ordinary circumstances; on special occasions, doubtless, some special provision will be made. The allowance granted to an officer is 7s. a day―a sum which compels him to exercise the strictest economy on the roadside, and carefully abstain from extra refreshments. Small as his allowance is―a commercial traveller would raise his eyebrows at the amount―yet it would nearly cover the authorised expenses of five constables.
Between Mansfield and Benalla on Sunday the police met the two Wrights. It had not taken the pair more than three days to go across country to Greta and back, if they went away at all. As Kennedy’s body was found the day after Wild Wright got his release there was no occasion for his special services.
No details have yet reached Benalla to enable us to determine whether the Kellys are still near the Murray, or have turned back to Greta. The ranges haunted by the Kellys are prolonged beyond the North-Eastern line. One obstacle they would meet with if they turned back immediately is the flooded state of the Ovens, which they would hardly be able to cross on horseback with safety between Bright and Wangaratta, or even lower down.
On Sunday Father Scanlan, at the Roman Catholic Church, called upon all right-minded people to help the police and maintain the authority of the law. He said that numerous friends had condoled with him on account of the death of Constable Scanlan, whom they had heard was his cousin. There was no relationship between them, but the manner in which the deceased trooper had conducted himself in the district would have made him (Father Scanlan) proud to call him a kinsman. The reverend gentleman is bestirring himself about the erection of a monument in the Mansfield Cemetery .
BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH
BENALLA, MONDAY, 11 pm
No communication has been received from Mr Nicolson since morning. Strahan’s party, who have been patrolling between the King River and Wombat-hill, since the day before the murders, have to-day, for the second time, reported themselves at Mansfield . They have been over a great deal of ground. They state that they have seen tracks of horses, which they propose to follow up; but it is probable that they have merely crossed the trail of Steele’s party, of whose presence on the ranges they could not have been aware. The men are stated to be in good health in spite of the bad weather, and ready to set out again on receipt of fresh instructions. The main body of the party have not come into Mansfield . The weather has improved since the afternoon.
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