On This Day ……. 1st January 2010

On the seventh-fifth anniversary of the murder of Ethel Belshaw, Leongatha newspaper ‘’’The Great Southern Star’’’ published an interview with Maureen Lewis (née Keighery) who was the Soderman’s neighbour in 1935. Maureen was with the Sodeman family on the same day Arnold brutally murdered 12-year-old Ethel Belshaw in Inverloch. She counts herself lucky Sodeman’s wife, Bernice, did not allow him to buy her an ice cream on New Year’s Day 1935. Ethel was last seen buying an ice cream from a Beach Road milk bar in the town. Maureen had travelled with the Sodemans from Leongatha, for a fun day in the sun. She was friends with the Sodemans’ child, Joan, a girl of similar age. “On the day Ethel was murdered he wanted to take me for an ice cream. It could have been me that day,” she said. “I went down there with them to Inverloch on that day with the Sodemans. They lived next door. He wanted to take me for an ice cream and Mrs Sodeman wouldn’t let him take me unless he also took Joan, his daughter.” But Maureen, like many others in Leongatha, always suspected there was something not quite right about the man. “We were always frightened of him. In those days you didn’t call anyone ‘Old Sodeman,’ because your dad would pull you up and insist you call him Mr Sodeman. But to us kids he was always Old Sodeman,” she said. “He wore sandshoes and he was sort of creepy.”

ON THIS DAY – December 31, 1914

Inquiries into the death of Lucy Gorman, who was found dead in her bedroom at Johnson street, Richmond on Thursday afternoon, were continued yesterday by Detectives Kiely and Smythe, and from what has been learned it is believed that the tragedy was the result of a drunken brawl early in the present week.

A post-mortem examination which was made on the body yesterday, showed that death had resulted from hemorrhage, shock, and exhaustion. The skull, which bore a wound about an inch in length, had been fractured at the base by a blow from some blunt weapon, possibly a beer bottle. From the bruises on the body it is believed that the woman was first felled by a blow, and then savagely kicked.

When last seen by a woman friend on Monday, Gorman was suffering from the effects of a drinking bout, and it is said that when in an intoxicated condition, she was subject to fits of violence.

Several men who had recently visited the dead woman have been questioned by the police, but so far no evidence has been obtained which would justify any arrest being made.

On This Day – December 31, 1912

The mystery concerning the body of a child at Lake Guthridge on December 31 was cleared up today when Sergeant Neill and Constable McCorkell arrested a young woman, aged 23 years, named Violet Daisy Jane Elizabeth Guy at the Turf Hotel this morning on a charge of wilful murder.  Accused admitted her parentage and said that on the morning following the birth of the child, she resumed her duties as a domestic servant.  She stated the child was born dead and that she kept the body in a box for two days and then put it in the lake.  Accused was brought before the Mayor and was remanded until February 24.


On this day …….. 31st of December 1923

On this day in Vienna, twins were registered as having been born in different years. The first was born on December 31st, 1892 the second on 1st January 1893. A curious result is that, as they both happened to be boys, they will have to do their military service in two different years, as one will be considered to have reached the age of 20 in 1912 and the other in 1913.


ON THIS DAY……31st December 1904

The Penal department transferred five prisoners from the Melbourne gaols to the Geelong gaol, to complete their sentences. Contrary to tho general rule, they were not all of the halt, lame or blind brigade and a larger escort of three constables was, therefore, required.


On this day …….. 31st of December 1790

The First Fleet, containing the officers and convicts who would first settle Australia, arrived in Botany Bay on the 18th of January 1788. The colony’s Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip, immediately determined that there was insufficient fresh water, an absence of usable timber, poor quality soil and no safe harbour at Botany Bay. Thus the fleet was moved to Port Jackson, arriving on the 26th of January 1788. The penal colony of New South Wales struggled, but managed to survive largely through the efforts of Governor Phillip. He was a practical man who had suggested that convicts with experience in farming, building and crafts be included in the First Fleet, but his proposal was rejected. Phillip faced many obstacles in his attempts to establish the new colony. The convicts were not skilled in farming, and unwilling to work hard in the intense heat and humidity of Australia. British farming methods, seeds and implements were unsuitable for use in the different climate and soil, and the colony faced near-starvation in its first two years. On this day in 1790, twenty-five bushels of barley were successfully harvested. This went a long way towards alleviating food shortages. The colony finally succeeded in developing a solid foundation, agriculturally and economically, thanks to the perseverance of Captain Arthur Phillip.


If you have a Ned Kelly tattoo you are more likely to die violently
Depending on how you interpret the forensic data, wearing a Ned Kelly tattoo can be very dangerous. A study from the University of Adelaide found that corpses with Ned Kelly tattoos were much more likely to have died by murder and suicide. But it was a pretty small sample size.

In 1887, Melbourne became the fourth city in the world to build power hydraulic lifts. When directors of the Australian Provincial Assurance Association (including future Australian Prime Minister Alfred Deakin), inspected the hydraulic lift in the new APA building on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Flinders Lane, Melbourne in 1889, for the first time were net with great excitement. The mechanism failed and the lift shot upwards 12 floors, stopped only by some stout springs at the top. All the directors exited the building by the stairs.

ON THIS DAY – December 30, 1910

The inquest into the circumstances attending the tragedy which took place at Cosgrove on 30th December, when Mrs. Clugston killed two of her children and wounded two others, and then attempted suicide. John Thomas Clugston said he was on good terms with his wife, and was kind, to the children. She seemed all right when he saw her last at 4am on 30th December. Dr. Florance of Mooroopna, said that Mrs. Clugston suffered from puerperal fever and melancholia. Homicidal tendencies were common in such circumstances. The coroner recorded a verdict that the death of the children was due to gunshot wounds inflicted by Eleanor Clugston, whom he committed for trial at Shepparton on 28th April on a charge of murder.


ON THIS DAY – December 30, 1877

A most horrible murder happened in Sandhurst on this day in 1877, by a man named James Windrum, in High-street. The victim was Maud Crutchly, aged 25. It appeared that the woman was married, but at times cohabiting with Windrum and his daughter when her husband was away from home. On this day in question Windrum went to the woman’s house. On finding his daughter there he sent her to buy beer, which he and the woman drank. When the girl returned he sent her home. It was believed by police that Windrum was become jealous of the woman’s living arrangements, and during an argument struck her on the head with an axe, and she, in trying to save her head, had her fingers cut off. The axe, however, inflicted so severe a wound that she died in two hours after being admitted into the Bendigo Hospital. The men, on being arrested, presented a frightful spectacle, his clothes being covered with blood. He did not deny his guilt, but said that he committed the deed. Windrum had been drinking heavily.


ON THIS DAY – December 30, 1908

A small wooden box containing the body of a newly born male infant was found on a vacant allotment in William-street, Melbourne on this day in 1908 by a boy. A postmortem examinations of the body showed that a piece of the towelling, which was tied tightly round the neck, had been thrust partly down the throat of the child, and that the cause of death was suffocation. The examination also showed that there were three clean large cutes on the child’s face.