Through the Jerilderie Letter the KellyGang tell their story, largely in their own words.
The text is from a copy of the original made in I879 or I880 by a government
clerk and held by the Public Records Office of Victoria. This document was
originally written for distribution in Jerilderie at the time of the robbery.
The original document was not divided into paragraphs. See also (OMA13/2/1879)(FH)
I wish to acquaint you with some of the occurrences of' the present past and future. In or about the spring of' I870 the ground was very soft a hawker named Mr Gould got his waggon bogged between Greta and my mother's house on the eleven mile creek, the ground was that rotten it would bog a duck in places so Mr. Gould had abandon his waggon for fear of loosing his horses in the spewy ground he was stopping at my mothers awaiting finer or dryer weather Mr. McCormack and his wife hawkers also were camped in Greta the mosquitoes were very bad which they generally are in a wet spring and to help them Mr. Johns had a horse called ruila cruta although a gelding was as clever as old Wombat or any other stallion at running horses away and taking them on his beat which was from Greta swamp to the seven mile creek consequently he enticed McCormacks horse away from Greta. Mr. Gould was up early feeding his horses heard a bell and seen McCormack horse for he knew the horse well he sent his boy to take him back to Greta. When McCormack's got the horse they came straight out to Gould and accused him of working the horse; this was false and Gould was amazed at the idea I could not help laughing to hear Mrs. McCormack accusing him of using the horse after him being so kind as to send his boy to take him from the ruta cruta and take him back to them. I pleaded Goulds innocence and Mrs McCormack turned on me and accused me of bringing the horse from Greta it) Gould's waggon to pull him out of' the bog I did not say much to the woman as my mother was present but the same day me and my uncle was cutting calves Could wrapped up a note and a pair of the calves testicles and gave them to me to give them to Mrs McCormack. I did not see her and gave the parcel to a boy to give to her when she would come instead of giving it to her he gave it to her husband consequently McCormack said he would summons me I told him neither me nor Gould used their horse. He said I was a liar and he could welt me or any of my breed I was about I4 years of age but accepted the challenge and dismounting when Mrs McCormack struck my horse in the flank with a bullocks skin it jumped forward and my fist came in collision with McCormack's nose and caused him to loose his equilibrium and fall postrate I tied up my horse to finish the battle but McCormack got up and ran to the Police camp. Constable Hall asked me what the row was about. I told him they accused me and Gould of using their horse and I hit him and would do the same to him if he challenged me McCormack pulled me and swore their lies against me I was sentenced to three months for hitting him and three months for the parcel and bound to keep the peace for I2 months. Mrs McCormack gave good substantial evidence as she is well acquainted with that place called Tasmania better known as the Dervon or Vandiemans land and McCormack being a Police man over the convicts and women being scarce released from that land of bondage and tyranny, and they came to Victoria and are at present residents of Greta and on the 29th of March I was released from prison and came home.
Wild Wright came to the eleven mile to see Mr Gunn stopped all night and lost his mare both him and me looked all day for her and could not get her Wright who was a stranger to me was in a hurry to get back to Mansfield and I gave him another mare and he told me if I found his mare to keep her until he brought mine back. I was going to Wangaratta and saw the mare and I caught her and took her with me all the Police and Detective Berrill seen her as Martins girls used to ride her about the town during several days that I stopped at Petre Martains Star Hotel in Wangaratta, she was a chestnut mare white face docked tall very remarkable branded (M) as plain as the hands on a town clock, the property of a Telegraph Master in Mansfield, he lost her on the 6th gazetted her on the I2th of March and I was a prisoner in Beechworth Gaol until the 29 of March therefore I could not have stole the mare.
I was riding the mare through Greta Constable Hall came to me and said he wanted me to sign some papers that I did not sign at Beechworth concerning my hail bonds I thought it was the truth he said the papers was at the Barracks and I had no idea he wanted to arrest me or I would have quietly rode away instead of going to the Barracks. I was getting off when Hall caught hold of me and thought to throw me but made a mistake and came on the broad of his back himself in the dust the mare galloped away and Instead of' me putting my foot on Halls neck and taking his revolver and putting him in the lock up. I tried to catch the mare. Hall got up and snapped three or four caps at me and would have shot me but the colts patent refused. This is well known in Greta. Hall never told me he wanted to arrest me until after he tried to shoot me when I heard the caps snapping I stood until Hall came close he had me covered anti was shaking with bear and I knew he would pull the trigger before he would be game to put his hand on me so I duped and jumped at him caught the revolver with one hand and Hall by the collar with the other. I dare not strike him or my sureties would loose the bond money I used to trip him and let him take a mouth full of dust now and again as he was as helpless as a big guano after leaving a dead bullock or horse. I kept throwing him in the dust until I got him across the street the very spot where Mrs O'Briens Hotel stands now the cellar was just dug then there was some brush fencing where the post and rail was taking down and on this I threw the big cowardly Hall on his belly I straddled him and rooted both spurs into his thighs he roared like a big calf attacked by dogs and shifted several yards of fence I got his hands at the back of his neck and tried to make him let the revolver go but he stuck to it like grim death to a dead volunteer he called for assistance to a man named Cohen and Barnett, Lewis, Thornpson, Jewitt two blacksmiths who was looking on I dare not strike any of them as I was bound to keep the peace or I could have spread those curs like dung in a paddock they got ropes tied my hands and feet and Hall beat me over the head with his six chambered colts revolver nine stitches were put in some of the cuts by Dr Hastings. And when Wild Wright and my mother came they could trace us across the street by the blood in the dust and which spoiled the lustre of the paint on the gate- post of the Barracks Hall sent for more Police and Doctor Hastings.
Find the hiding places and sites where the KellyGang found fame and fortune and where their friends indulged in horse stealing and tried to make a life against the challenges of the squatters and banks. Let the KellyGang show you the places where they found safety from the law in the bush.