On This Day – December 2, 1911


An appalling domestic tragedy, resulting in the loss of five lives, was enacted at Kyabram early on Saturday morning, when Frank Cooling killed his wife and three of his children with a razor with which he had apparently been shaving, and committed suicide by cutting his throat. A son and a daughter, who were sleeping in the front bedroom, escaped the murderer’s fury. They awoke at the usual time, but waited for their mother to call them. As she did not come, they left their bed, and were confronted with the evidences of the murder. Beside themselves with terror, they ran, horror-stricken, to a neighbours house, and sobbed out the story of the tragedy.

The victims of the tragedy are Frank Cooling, aged 38 years, labourer, Sarah Ann Cooling, his wife, aged 28 years. Alfred John Cooling, son, aged 11 years, Henry James Cooling, son, aged two years, Alexander Francis Cooling, son, aged six weeks.  The two children who escaped are Chrissie aged six years, and Walter, aged 4. There was another child, Alice Mary, aged 9 years, who is in the Echuca Hospital. She had been a patient there for some time and it was the intention of Mr. and Mrs. Cooling to drive to Echuca on Saturday and bring her home. Arrangements had been made with Mr. Tonkin, a neighbour, to attend to the stock while they were away. The family lived in a four-roomed weatherboard cottage in Fernaughty street. They were well known in the district, where Cooling’s father carried on operations as a farmer.