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ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1949

Following the finding of Mrs. Mary Rebecca Woodbury (47) lying on the floor of the bathroom of her home in Egmont street, Benalla, with fatal throat wounds, caused by a blade razor, detectives early to-day arrested Denis Woodbury (47), and charged him with the murder of his wife. On arrival at the house yesterday, the police said there were signs of a struggle in several rooms, and that a handle had been broken off one of the doors. It was stated that the couple had been married for three years.

ON THIS DAY – July 27, 1924

At the Detective Office yesterday afternoon a telephone message was received from the Benalla police, stating that the body of Miss Bridget Enwright, who has been missing, from her home at Staghorn Flat since July 27, was found partly covered with clay, at Staghorn Flat, in circumstances indicating foul play (says a Melbourne message in the “News”). A detective has been dispatched to investigate the matter.

Miss Enwright (as briefly reported in yesterday’s “Miner”) was 69 years of age, and lived alone on her farm, which is in the Yackandandah district, and ís 198 miles from Melbourne. Her prolonged absence from home caused concern among residents, and search parties were organised to examine the surrounding country. Until yesterday morning their efforts were unsuccessful. At one time 50 mounted men were searching. Miss Enwright was seen talking to a young man about two miles from her home on July 27, and though she is believed to have returned to the house she was not again seen alive. Two weeks ago, however, a constable from Kiewa and local residents visited her home, and found signs that a robbery had been committed. The back door was unlocked, and one of the bedrooms was in disorder. Among other things discovered were an empty purse and handbag. In the house, however, there were no signs of struggle.

On this day …….. 26th of July 1882

This day in 1882 saw Yarrawonga covered with snow. When Mr Gourlay brought his Cobb and Co coach into town from Benalla, he had to runa gauntlet of snowballs, pelted by the young of the town. The snowfall, by the time it had finished, covered much of south eastern Australian.

 

On this day …….. 29th of June 1880

On this day in 1880, the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly was taken be train to Melbourne and lodged in what is known today as the Old Melbourne Gaol hospital, where a temporary court was set up, so that Ned could be formally remanded. The bodies of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were collected by their family’s and buried in the Greta cemetery, without interaction from the Police. But what was most bizarre was Joe Byrne body was taken by train to Benalla and was strung up on the door of the Benalla’s police lockup for public viewing. For a small price one could get their photo taken with the dead bushranger. On this night Byrne’s body was taken down and buried out side the Benalla cemetery.

On this day …….. 24th of June 1880

The blacktrackers brought from Queensland to find Ned Kelly and his Gang left Benalla, North East Victoria on this day in 1880 after being withdrawn from the hunt. The Queensland government considered they were not being given a fair chance. The operation had not been encouraged by officers in the Victorian Police (like Commissioner Standish), who thought it would be rather bad form if the outlaw could be captured by savages and not by European policeman.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 17, 1929

Charged with the manslaughter of John Brown, a labourer of Footscray, at Benalla on June 17 Ernest Walker of Footscray, a labourer, aged 34 years appeared before Mr Justice Wasley in the Criminal Court. Mr Book, Crown prosecutor, appeared for the Crown, and Walker was defended by Mr Winchester. The Crown case was that on June 17, Brown and Walker were in the Benalla district looking for work. They had camped in a shed on the racecourse and had been drinking. On the road near the racecourse a quarrel arose between Brown and Walker over the purchase of a loaf of bread. Brown kicked at Walker and Walker kicked Brown in the chest. Walker followed the kick with two blows on the head. Brown fell to the ground, and Hector William McLennan and Harold Francis Perins, who had been rabbit trapping in the district sent for the police. Plain-clothes Constable Loh went to the spot and found that Brown was dead. The Crown suggested that the two blows on the held had killed him. Loh and Constable O’Farrell went to the shed where they saw Walker asleep on some hay. Asked if he had taken part in a fight Walker said “No the other man fought me.” When he was taken back to the body Walker said “I did not mean to kill him, he was my best friend”. Walker on oath said:- “We were good friends but on this day we had been drinking. I gave him some money to buy bread, and later I asked him if he had bought it. He said that he had not and a row started. He made a kick at me and I struck him once. I did not kick him”. Walker was sentenced to 6 months prison at Pentridge.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 6, 1881

ROBERT ROHAN SMITH – BEECHWORTH GAOL

The Yalca Murder – EXECUTION OF ROHAN. 

THE ARGUS correspondent at Beechworth wired on Monday the following account of the execution of Robert Rohan for murder:—Robert Rohan, alias Smith, the murderer of John Shea, at Yalca, near Shepparton, on the 23rd January last, was executed in Beechworth gaol this morning by Upjohn at 10 o’clock. The condemned man walked on to the scaffold in a calm, deliberate manner, chewing a piece of tobacco, and when asked by the sheriff whether he had anything to cay, replied, “I have been convicted of the murder, and am prepared to hang for it.” The previous evening he said to the governor of the gaol and the Revs. Wm. Brown and Donnes, Wesleyan clergyman, “I have committed several crimes that I ought to have been hanged for, but I never committed this.”  All being ready, the executioner pulled the bolt, and the convict was launched into eternity. Death was instantaneous. After remaining the usual hour the body was cut down, and an inquest held upon it by Mr W. H. Forster, P.M., and a jury, who found a verdict of death by hanging. The prisoner, who was 24 years of age, had served several sentences both in Victoria and New South Wales, including one of 12 months in Beechworth gaol for larceny at Benalla in 1876, and another of two years and a half in Pentridge for robbery at Sandhurst in 1878, under the name of Ernest Smith, alias Rohan. The night before his execution he slept calmly, and ate a hearty breakfast and smoked a pipe next morning, and on being informed by the gaoler that his time had come, he answered, “All right, sir,” and appeared but little affected by the near approach of death.

A view across the concrete reinforced road bridge over the Broken River, looking towards Benalla East. Fallen snow is visible. The Benalla Post and Telegraph Office is in the background. William John Howship (1874-1932) opened a photography studio business in Nunn Street Benalla in April 1904. He expanded the business by selling small format Kodak cameras and providing a 24 hour film processing service as well as the actual photography work, both studio and outdoor.

On this day …….. 11th of April 1838

Benalla

On the 11th of April of that year a party of some 18 men, in the employ of George Faithful and William Faithfull, were searching out new land to the south of Wangaratta. Then, in the vicinity of, or possibly on, the present townsite of Benalla, it is alleged that a large number of Aborigines attacked the party’s camp. At least one Koori and somewhere between eight and thirteen Europeans died in what became known as the Faithfull Massacre. Local reprisals lasted a number of years, resulting in the deaths of up to 100 Aborigines. The reason for the attack is unclear although some sources claim that the men took shots at local Aborigines and generally provoked them. It also seems they were camping on a hunting ground Additional murders of these people occurred at Warangaratta on the Ovens River, at Murchison (led by the native police under Dana and in the company of the young Edward Curr, who could not bring himself to discuss what he witnessed there other than to say he took issue with the official reports) Other incidents were recorded Mitchelton and Toolamba. This “hunting ground” would have been a ceremonial ground probably called a ‘Kangaroo ground’. Hunting grounds were all over so not something that would instigate an attack. The colonial government decided to “open up” the lands south of Yass after the Faithful Massacre and bring them under British rule. This was as much to try and protect the Aboriginal people from reprisals as to open up new lands for the colonists. The Aboriginal people were (supposedly) protected under British law.

ON THIS DAY – November 15, 1892

The Governor-in-Council, acting on the advice of the Cabinet, commuted the death sentence passed upon the young woman Mary Fitzgerald, by Mr. Justice Hood, to imprisonment for three years with hard labor. The prisoner was found guilty at the Benalla sessions of the murder of her newly-born child at Wangaratta by drowning it in a waterhole.

 

 

 

 

On this day …….. 22nd of October 1894

Two shareholders of the Samaria Butter Factory in Benalla, North East Victoria had a dispute. Terrence Monaghan, challenged Patrick Larkin to a duel at the factory at 6am on this day in 1894. The only problem was that Terrence issued Patrick the challenged by a formal note, which was crumpled up unread by Patrick and placed in his pocket. When he found the note again a few days later and read it contents, he thought it prudent to acquire Constable Ellis of the time and place and suggest he go in his place. Ellis kept the appointment, and found Terrence waiting at the butter factor, not with a duelling pistol but with a massive Martini Henry Riffle loaded with a ball cartridge. The Constable arrested Terrence on the charged of in sporting conduct.

 

On this day …….. 24th September 1891

It was circus time in Yarrawonga. Wirth’s Circus was in town and with it two North American Red Indians Eagle Elk and American Bear. Eagle Elk had already been in trouble with the law earlier in the week for attempting to steal chickens in Benalla.
In Yarrawonga it was American Bear turn. He tried to scalp a patron with an axe at Huggins Hotel. In the altercation that followed the young Yarrawonga men went on a warpath and almost killed American Bear. According to reports American Bear presented a sorry sight the following morning in court. The magistrate said he thought that American Bear had taken sufficient chastisement, and discharged him. If the adventures Eagle Elk and American Bear in North East Victoria were typical of their time with Wirth’s Circus in Australia, one hesitates to imagine the extent of their battle injuries by the end of tour.