ON THIS DAY…… 15th September 1869

Although old in appearance, Richard Atlas who also went by the alias of Ham and Eggs, was only 37 at the time of his death. Having lived in Wangaratta for 14 years, it is believed that Richard had inherited some £7000 and had previously travelled to Europe before he settled down. Deemed a harmless character who lived a secluded life on the banks of the Ovens River, Richard spent most of his days fishing and doing odd jobs. However it is reported that due to his over indulgence in alcohol he was often in trouble and had been before the police court 40 times, and had spent three months in Beechworth Gaol in an attempt to cure him of his inebriety.

On the 2nd of September 1869, it is believed that Altas was assaulted resulting in his death at Ward’s Railway Hotel. Arrested for the murder was Mr. Louis McDermott Ward, brewer and publican, and barman Mr. Joseph O’Grady. Immediately upon their arrest the prisoners were taken for identification to the Horse and Jockey Hotel where Atlas had been taken. Later that evening Dr. McMullen, having expressed his opinion that Atlas would not live till morning, ordered the two prisoners to be brought up before him at the Horse and Jockey Hotel. Altas’ evidence was recorded and the prisoners were remanded until the following day. Dr. Dobbyn, District Coroner, carried out a post mortem examination on Atlas’ remains and delivered a verdict of manslaughter. Ward was given bail of £400 and O’Grady £200. The assault is said to have consisted of a violent blow on the nose which was broken by O’Grady, and a kick in the stomach by Ward. The kick to the stomach was the fatal blow.




On this day …….. 15th September 1870

The celebrated American Dwarf General Tom Thumb arrived in Benalla, North East Victoria on this day in 1870 with his troupe of fallow dwarfs, after a narrow escape from flood waters. Tom and his party had been almost swept away by a swollen river at Baddaginnie. How ever the most entertaining spectacles would take place in Wangaratta, when one of the General’s party, Commodore Nutt, another dwarf, played Dr Hutchinson at billiards at the Royal Victoria Hotel, and could hardly see over the table.


ON THIS DAY…… 6th September 1887

In the case of Mrs. Mepham, charged with the murder of her sister (Mrs. Pike), at Wangaratta, the Judge summed up, in a speech, lasting two hours, entirely against the prisoner. The jury brought in a verdict of guilty with a recommendation to mercy. His Honour, in passing sentence of death, said the recommendation of the jury would be sent to the proper quarter.

On this day …….. 5th September 1949

A strange creature reportedly seen in the Murray River, Mildura on this day in 1949, may have been a trained seal or sea-lion. One escaped from a travelling menagerie in Wangaratta about two years earlier, and was believed to have slipped into a river.


ON THIS DAY …….18th August 2001

On 18 August 2001, at approximately 3am, Lloyd Crosbie sat awake watching a movie. His girlfriend Melissa Maahs lay sleeping beside him in the couple’s bed. Without warning, Crosbie removed a skinning knife from a scabbard and proceeded to stab his girlfriend three times to the head while she lay sleeping. Melissa woke and began to scream and fight off her attacker.  Crosbie then attacked Melissa’s mother Kaye in the hallway of their home as she came to her daughter’s assistance. Realising Kaye was not dead, he attacked her further using two porcelain ornaments, smashing them both; a frying pan, buckling it; and an iron.  Crosbie alternated between attacking Melissa and Kaye many times over, and would have sexual intercourse with Melissa’s dead body, using pornographic magazines on her back while defiling her. After murdering the two women, Crosbie then disturbed the contents of the house to make it appear as if a burglary had occurred.  Crosbie escaped the murder scene in a taxi, travelling to Morwell railway station and purchasing a ticket to Wangaratta. A male relative later found the bodies of the two women when he visited their home after not hearing from them for two days. Crosbie disposed of the murder weapon in a creek in Wangaratta.




On this day …….. 1st of August 1896

One of the central figures involved on the police side during the Kelly Gang Outbreak of the 1870s retired on this day in 1896. Sgt. Arthur Loftus Maule Steele handed over control Wangaratta police to Sgt. Simcocks transferred from Chiltern.


Some Australian bushrangers made their name from martyrdom, others from pure madness. In the case of ‘Mad Dog’ Daniel Morgan, the source of his infamy was definitely the latter. In June of 1864, Morgan shot a bush worker near Albury, New South Wales. He asked another worker to ride for help, then, suspecting the man would ride to the police instead, shot him in the back. Months later, he shot dead a passing police officer just for saying “hello”. In April of 1865, Morgan held up the Peechelba Station near Wangaratta and demanded that the owner’s wife play piano while he ate dinner. Upon leaving the station, he was shot by a stockman and died the following day.


On this day …….. 15th of July 1966

On this day in 1966, Wangaratta experienced a snowfall of alpine proportions. The snow started falling in the morning, and by lunch time the town looked like English Christmas cards.

On this day …….. 13th of July 1882

Ann Jones, who’s hotel was burned to the ground during the Siege of Glenrowan and the capture of Bushranger Ned Kelly, rebuilt the Glenrowan Inn on the same site. On this day 1882, Jones had new furniture delivered from Irving’s in a Wangaratta.


On this day …….. 10th of July 1901

The intensely cold spell of July 1901 froze Lake Como, off Murdock Rd, and enabled the local youth to try out new winter sport. The thickness of the ice was well able to support the weight of a man, in fact a number of youths jumped up and down on it until it broke. The thickness of ice was discovered to be two and a half inches. Samples were exhibited in the towns shop windows.


ON THIS DAY – JULY 6, 1887

Bridget Mephan arrived from Wagga this afternoon. Numbers of people assembled at the various stations along the line, but there was no demonstration of feeling towards the prisoner, she appears depressed, and say’s nothing, She will be brought up on Monday, and remanded. A reticule and papers in her possession were blood stained. Her dress and other articles will be taken to Melbourne on Monday to be analysed. The murdered woman was buried before Mrs Mephan’s arrival.

Bridget Mephan, described as a laundress, was charged at the Wagga Police Court yesterday with the murder of her sister, Annie Callow, at Wangaratta, last Wednesday. The evidence of Senior-sergeant Powell was to the effect that he arrested the accused at Fuller’s Hotel, Wagga, on Friday morning, and charged her with the murder. She made no reply, but afterwards stated that she was not at Wangaratta at the time. On a small hand-bag in the prisoner’s possession were spots of blood, which she said were from a scratch caused by the handle of the bag, but on this there were no stains. On the application of the police the prisoner was remanded to Wangaratta, and was sent away by the morning train. The accused had been an old resident of Wagga.

On this day …….. 6th of July 1973

A new American drink came rolling off the production line at a Wangaratta factory in Victoria. The product was called “Yoo Hoo” flavoured milk sold in bottles. It was going to be the success story of the century, and Wangaratta was going to be leading the charge to meet the projected demand. Alas, Australian consumers gave it the thumbs down, and within 12 months Wangaratta was saying Hooroo to Yoo Hoo.