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After the bushranger Ned Kelly’s sister Kate drowned at Forbes NSW in 1898, historians grabbed her most treasured possession – her bed. Kate is said to have enjoyed sleeping and now visitors to a museum at Mount Victoria in NSW can stand at the foot of the bed and dream of those wild bushranger days……..

 

On this day …….. 27th of June 1880

Aaron Sherritt’s body still lay in a pool of blood on the floor of his hut in the Woolshed Valley near Beechworth, North East Victoria after being murdered by the Kelly Gang. Police in his hut affrayed that Ned Kelly and his gang were still outside waiting to ambush them. The idea behind killing Sherritt was for the police watch Aaron would ride into Beechworth raise alarm so a special train full of police would leave Melbourne for North East Victoria. However the police to scared to leave would wait over 12 hours before leaving Sherritt’s hut. The police train finally left Melbourne at 10pm.

On this day …….. 27th of June 1880

Most of the law abiding element of Glenrowan’s population had been rounded up by Ned Kelly and his gang and held hostage in Ann Jones Inn. This was so the Kelly’s could de rail the train tacks and no warning of the trap towards the police and their special train coming from Melbourne. As the day wore n, and no police train appeared along the tracks, the tense atmosphere developed, and by late night, it appeared that there would be no train. The police train finally left Melbourne for Beechworth in North East Victoria, at 10pm, with police, horses and blacktrackers.

On this day …….. 10th May 1902

Patrick McDonnell landlord of the Railway Hotel in Glenrowan, North East Victoria, who became known as part of the folklore of the Kelly Gang years, died on this day. It was from this hotel that the rockets were fired as part of the plan built around the Siege of Glenrowan. Patrick had come to Australia in 1850 at the age of eighteen. He tryed his luck on the Ovens Goldfields, by fore opening a brewery with his uncle.

On this day ………… 12th March 1893

Another fragment of the living Kelly Gang history died on this day in 1893. Anton Wick, who achieved lasting fame when Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly used him as a decoy to shoot Aaron Sherritt. Wick was a long time resident of the Woolshed area near Beechworth, who literally stumbled into the Kelly story by accident by wandering past Sherritts cottage at Devil’s Elbow at precisely the wrong moment. Local legend has it that Wick, a widower, was returning home from visiting his married daughter on June 26, 1880 when Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly grabbed him and used him to bring Aaron Sherritt to his door. At the time, Sherritt was being protected by the police and was reluctant to open his door. Byrne and Kelly forced Wick to knock on the door and when asked by Sherritt who was there, was able to say, “It’s your poor neighbour who has lost his way in the dark.” When Sherritt opened the door, he was shot where he stood. He was 66 years of age when he died.

 

 

On this day ………… 13th February 1868

The Greta Arson case came before the Wangaratta Police Court, North East Victoria, on this day, in 1868. James Kelly uncle of Ned Kelly was charged with setting fire to a house in a Greta, in which three women and thirteen children were living at time. He was committed to take his trail in Beechworth. James Kelly was sentenced to Beechworth Gaol then transferred to Ararat Lunatic Asylum and back to Beechworth Lunatic Asylum where he died.

 

 

On this day ………… 11th February 1897

An inquest was held at Greta, near Benalla, to ascertain the cause of the death of Ellen Skillion, 22 years of age, a niece of the notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly. A verdict that the deceased committed suicide by drowning was returned. The deceased was a daughter of the late Mrs. Skillion, whose husband is said to have started the first trouble which led to Ned Kelly and his confederates beginning the career of lawlessness which culminated in their down- fall as bushrangers at Glenrowan.

 

On this day ………… 10th February 1879

Early in February 1879, Ned Kelly and his gang rode into the small town of Jerilderie, located in the Riverina area of southern New South Wales. After robbing the bank of some two thousand pounds, Ned Kelly then dictated a letter to gang member Joe Byrne, which became the infamous “Jerilderie letter”, one of just two surviving original documents from Ned Kelly. Kelly sought to have the letter published as a pamphlet by the local newspaper editor, so that others could see how he had apparently been mistreated. The Jerilderie letter outlined a number of Ned Kelly’s concerns and grievances about the way he had been treated by police, and what he believed were injustices in how his actions had been perceived. In the letter, Kelly tried to justify his criminal activity, and outlined his own version of events leading to the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek the previous October. He also alleged police corruption, outlining evidence for his argument, and called for justice for families struggling with financial difficulties – as his own had done. The letter began: “I have been wronged and my mother and four or five men lagged innocent and is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police…” In essence, the missive was an expansion of a letter Ned Kelly had written previously to Victorian parliamentarian Donald Cameron and Victorian police in December 1878, also outlining his version of the events at Stringybark Creek. Kelly’s pleas for understanding were dismissed: thus, Kelly sought to elicit sympathisers among a new audience. The Jerilderie letter contained some 8000 words, and went on for 56 pages. A copy was made by publican John Hanlon, and another by a government clerk: the original and both handwritten copies have survived. It was first referred to as the ‘Jerilderie Letter’ by author Max Brown in his biography of Kelly, “Australian Son”, written in 1948.

 

 

On this day ………… 9th February 1914

One of the great heroes, or villains depending on ones point of view, of the Ned Kelly Gang Outbreak of the 1870s, died on this day. Sergeant Arthur Loftus Maule Steele from Wangaratta, Victoria, secure a place in history by firing the shot that brought Ned Kelly down at the siege of Glenrowan. Which saw the end of the Kelly outbreak.

 

 

On this day …….. 27th of January 1868

How easy history can be changed. On this day in 1868 a young Ned Kelly, his brothers and sisters, their mother and her sister were rescued from almost certain death in a house fire, which had been deliberately lit. The culprit was Ellen’s brother in law, James Kelly. Kelly was sentenced to death by Sir Redmond Barry. The sentence was commuted to ten years. James Kelly however would die in the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum.

 

John Kelly father of Ned Kelly.

Convict John Kelly was transport, to Australia on the 31st July 1841 when he was placed on board the convict ship ‘The Prince Regent’ in the port of Dublin, arriving in the Derwent River, Van Diemens Land, on 2nd January 1842. He was granted his ticket of leave on 11th July 1845 and headed to Melbourne and he headed inland along the old Sydney road and worked as a carpenter around Donnybrook and Kilmore, an area with many Irish settlers. In 1850 he met Ellen Quinn, who had come out from Ballymena, County Antrim, with her family as a young girl. They were married on 18th November 1850 in St. Francis’s Church, Melbourne by Fr. Gerald Ward. For the next fourteen years or so John Kelly made a living from horse dealing, dairy farming and even some gold mining. During this time seven children were born, including Edward, who subsequently became the famed ‘Ned Kelly’. John and Ellen Kelly bought and sold a number of farms around the township of Beveridge, but their fortunes seem to have been declining over time. In 1864 John Kelly sold his farm for £80 and headed further inland with his family, and they rented 40 acres near Avenel, Victoria. The Kelly family was very poor at this stage and the drought of 1865 made things even worse. In 1865 John Kelly was charged with stealing a calf from a Mr. Morgan and on 29th May 1865 he was in Court for this offence. The charge of cattle stealing was dismissed, but the charges of “unlawful possession of a hide” was upheld and he was fined £25 or 6 months in Gaol. He seems to have served 4 months in gaol because on 3rd October 1865 John Kelly himself registered his eight and last child, Grace, in Campions store in Avenel. In the birth register he lists his home area as “Moyglass, Co. Tipperary, Ireland” and his age as “45”. It is this entry, signed by John Kelly himself that confirms that he and the John Kelly baptised on 20th February 1820 in Moyglass are one and the same person. John Kelly’s health was breaking down and he got seriously ill in November 1866. A Doctor Healey, came from Seymour one week before Christmas of that year, but John Kelly was dying of Dropsy for which there was no cure. John Kelly died on 27th December 1866, aged 46 years. His death was reported and signed by his son Edward Kelly who was not yet 12 years of age at this time. John Kelly was buried in an unmarked grave in Avenel Cemetery, Victoria, on 29th December 1866.