ON THIS DAY – June 1, 1861

A lamentable catastrophe occurred in Collingwood on Saturday evening last, a man named Currie having first shot his wife, and afterwards attempted to commit suicide. The case appears to have been one arising from jealousy on the one side, and passion and drink upon the other. So far as at present known, the particulars may be briefly stated as follows — A man named George Currie, well known throughout the district from being the Inspector of Nuisances for the Fitzroy Municipality, has been living for some time in Moor street, Fitzroy, and latterly on very bad terms with his wife. Currie was a member of the local volunteer company, and formerly a sergeant in the police force. He was also an old soldier, having been engaged in the Caffre wars. His disputes with his wife arose partly from their being of different religions, and partly from her suspecting that he was keeping a mistress in the neighbourhood. During the last few weeks, Currie has taken to drink, and his quarrels with his wife became so violent that their friends endeavoured to effect a separation. Last Wednesday, matters appeared to reach a climax, as Currie then attempted his wife’s life with a loaded horse pistol, but she fortunately escaped from him. He was given into custody, and brought up the following morning, at the Fitzroy Police Court. The charge, however, was withdrawn, arrangements being made that Currie should allow his wife a separate maintenance, and go out of town until the necessary details were completed. Accordingly he went down to St. Kilda or Brighton, but returned the next day begging to be received home again. The wife consented, and to further pacify her, Currie purchased a silk dress; for which he paid seven guineas, and also gave her two gold rings, and a diamond ring. After this, Currie again became somewhat violent, and demanded money from the woman, a request which she refused to comply with Saturday, however, appealed likely to pass over quietly, although it is a fact, not without significance, that in the morning Currie made his will. During the day he was told off as one of the firing party to attend at the funeral of the volunteer who was buried on Saturday. Accordingly, about half past nine o’clock at night, after his return, he commenced to clean his rifle. There was nobody in the house at the time besides himself, his son, a lad of 13, and his wife. The lad was going to bed and his mother was passing into the bedroom, when suddenly, without speaking, Carrie, who mast previously have loaded his rifle, discharged it at her. The woman’s back was turned to him at the time, and the ball passed right through her body. She fell down, but recovering scrambled onto the bed.  Currie without displaying any alarm, picked her up in his arms, carried her out of the front door into the garden, and told his son to run for a doctor. Some men who were passing by took the woman, who was quite insensible, into the house again, and Dr Tracy, who was speedily in attendance, pronounced her case to be hopeless. Currie was of course taken into custody. He had been sitting in a chair, displaying the utmost indifference, though the room was swimming with his victim’s blood, and he freely acknowledged all the particulars of his crime. Shortly after he had been removed to the police station the son showed Dr Tracy a bottle, the contents of which he had seen his father swallow when leaving. This it was ascertained had contained laudanum, so that Currie, who had begun to show the effects of the poison, was conveyed to the Melbourne Hospital. The stomach pump was immediately applied, but it was not till, six o’clock that the surgeons were enabled to pronounce him out of danger and of course he is at present in a most exhausted condition. The unfortunate woman, his wife, became sensible during the night and her depositions were taken. They were simply that her husband had shot her without any provocation. She lingered in great pain until about 7 o’clock in the morning when she expired. Dr Tracy and Dr Featherstone made a post-mortem examination of the body. The district coroner held an inquest on it on Monday morning, and a verdict of wilful murder was returned.

On This Day ……. 1st June 1927

Clive Frankston, aged 36 years, was charged on the 1st of the June 1926, with larceny and sentenced to two years in Pentradge. On the 28th April 1927, the Penal Authorities at Pentridge decided to transfer Frankston and another prisoner, Henry Tacke, to the Geelong Gaol. The two prisoners were escorted by Senior Constable Matthews and Constable Springfield, took the two prisoners from Pentridge Gaol to the Flinders street station in a prison van. Frankston was placed in a carriage on the Geelong train at No. 1 platform, and the two police officers returned to the van to carry Tacke, who was disabled by an injured leg, to the train. Upon reaching the carriage they found that’ Frankston was gone. Frankston seeing an opportunity to escaped from the carriage while the police escort was carring Tacke who was disabled to the police van out side the station. He dashed from the carriage and rushing through the ticket barrier and disappeared among the crowds in the street. On the 14th of May 1927, following up inquiries detectives raid a house in Napior street, Fitzroy owned by Frankstons wife. Inside Frankston was recaptured, he offered no resistance, he was so weak from illness that he could scarcely stand. He told the police that he was glad to get back to gaol and that he was suffering badly from consumption and that that he believed that the sea air at Geelong would kill him. Frankston received an extra 6 months to his sentence.

ON THIS DAY – June 1, 1936

ARNOLD SODEMAN – PENTRIDGE GAOL

Arnold Karl Sodeman 39 was hanged in the Pentridge Gaol this morning for the murder of June Rushmer, aged 6½ years, at Leongatha, on December last. Asked by the Sheriff whether he had anything to say, Sodeman replied: “Nothing, sir.” He walked to the scaffold, apparently unmoved. His last words to the Governor of the Gaol last night were: “I am glad it is nearly over.” Sodeman confessed to the murders of three other girls during the last five years. He had not wanted a reprieve because of the fear that if he lived he may have committed more murders. Sodeman spent a good deal of yesterday playing draughts with Edward Cornelius, who is under sentence of death for the murder of the Rev. Cecil in Fitzroy in November of last year.

On this day …….. 1st of June 1850

The Swan River colony, established on Australia’s western coast in 1829, was begun as a free settlement. Captain Charles Fremantle declared the Swan River Colony for Britain on 2 May 1829. The first ships with free settlers to arrive were the Parmelia on June 1 and HMS Sulphur on June 8. Three merchant ships arrived 4-6 weeks later: the Calista on August 5, the St Leonard on August 6 and the Marquis of Anglesey on August 23. Although the population spread out in search of good land, mainly settling around the southwestern coastline at Bunbury, Augusta and Albany, the two original separate townsites of the colony developed slowly into the port city of Fremantle and the Western Australian capital city of Perth. For the first fifteen years, the people of the colony were generally opposed to accepting convicts, although the idea was occasionally debated, especially by those who sought to employ convict labour for building projects. Serious lobbying for Western Australia to become a penal colony began in 1845 when the York Agricultural Society petitioned the Legislative Council to bring convicts out from England on the grounds that the colony’s economy was on the brink of collapse due to an extreme shortage of labour. Whilst later examination of the circumstances proves that there was no such shortage of labour in the colony, the petition found its way to the British Colonial Office, which in turn agreed to send out a small number of convicts to Swan River. The first group of convicts to populate Fremantle arrived on 1 June 1850. Between 1850 and 1868, ultimately 9721 convicts were transported to Western Australia. The last convict ship to Western Australia, the Hougoumont, left Britain in 1867 and arrived in Western Australia on 10 January 1868.