Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Grisly Gawler - Part I - Felo-de-se

Grisly Gawler - Part IFelo-de-se

In 1879, the township of Gawler was dealt a double blow when two very well known gentlemen, Ernest Neville and John Adamson, decided to end their lives in their home on the banks of the North Para River.
Ernest Neville was a well educated man, he could speak French fluently and was also a very well studied Botanist. His friend, John Adamson was also very well educated and was a very talented musician.
The men lived together in Gawler, but previously lived in Victoria together, and before moving to Gawler, had been employed as gardeners at the very lush house of Mr Dutton, just outside Kapunda, Anlaby homestead
Ernest, when the two men had moved to Gawler, took a job working within the Town of Gawler Corporation (what we would now call “A Council Position”). Ernest was sacked for “incompetency”, but was also facing embezzlement charge from the Corporation for large sums of money had gone missing with the Townships Insurance Agency. The unaccounted for monies was the sole responsibility of Ernest.. Neville didn’t take these accusations well, and blamed the local Methodist community, who he believed had a particular aversion to himself and his friend John.
The men were in a bad state, their house had monies owed for their mortgage, and a Bailiff was appointed to collect the interest due on their home.
From that time forward, it seemed as though the two men had already decided that suicide was their only option, and in studying how to end their lives painlessly, they undertook research in a business like manner.
Firstly they got hold of a bottle of chloroform, under the pretence of suffering from Neuralgia ( A painful nerve injury). They tested the drug on their much believed Bull-Terrier “Mammy”, who the two men referred to as the third part of their “trinity”, the three of them being inseparable. Mammy passed away from a drug overdose.
John, the next day, took Mammy's puppies into town and distributed them amongst their friends.
The following day, Sunday, Ernest did not appear for breakfast where the two men dined with other gentlemen, John accounted for Ernest's absence by telling those present, that Ernest had been up all night and was very tired, and would indeed sleep for most of the morning.
Ernest had, however, been running more experiments, and described some of what he had been up too in a letter to the local medical authority, Doctor Popham, which came to light after their deaths.
In that letter Ernest described taking large amounts of “Laudanum” (also known as Tincture of Opium - is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium), up to an ounce in one sitting – it's effects were not very dramatic on him, sending him off to sleep for about an hour.
When Ernest awoke, he them opened up a wound in his arm and drew three pints of blood (3.5 pints of blood loss can cause organs to begin failure). Ernest passed out, and when he awoke he removed another pint of blood – that did not conclude his experiments, and he expressed to that he regretted not owning a pistol.
Ernest them nursed himself through to Tuesday night, and the two men decided to proceed to the wine cellar below the house, they suspended two ropes from the ceiling: “The ropes which the men used were suspended from the ceiling, and were originally used as ring trapezes. They cut off the rings, tied loop-knots, soaped the ropes, then got on a case together and jumped off it, leaving their bodies about eighteen inches apart.”
The Bailiff, who was residing in the house with the men until the monies was paid, heard a dog whimpering at about 3 am, and went outside to see what the noise about, but could not see anyone about.
He found the two men the next morning after they didn’t come down for breakfast, and he began to search for them.
Doctor Popham brought forward the letter that had been address to him at the Inquiry into the two deaths and stated, He Could not find a reasonable explanation for why John Adamson would kill himself as well as Ernest Neville, other than the extreme regard he felt for his companion, spoken of in his letter.
The suicide was one of passion, two men who loved each other so much, they could not live a day without each others company.

As stated at the inquest: “The affair is altogether most mysterious, and one of the most remarkable occurrences that has ever happened in the colony. At an inquest on Wednesday the Jury returned a verdict of felo-de-se.”

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

George Massey Allen

George Massey Allen

George Massey Allen was probably one of the most controversial newspaper editors South Australia has ever seen since the State began.
In 1860, Allen had been working for the Advertiser, but decided he wanted more, and left to form the first English Language Newspaper in the Mid North (the only previous newspapers in the Barossa Valley and Mid North had been German Language Newspapers).
Allen founded his first paper “The Northern Star” in what was at the time, the second busiest city in South Australia, Kapunda

Allen was a man of principal, but also very outspoken, which often got him in serious trouble with the law.
His newspapers were often very controversial as he often voiced his own opinion, without thinking about the possible outcomes of doing such. This eventually led Allen into a liable case in Kapunda, which saw him found guilty, shutting his newspaper down when he was convicted to serve 6 months in prison.
Upon his release, He found The Northern Star he had founded had since been replaced with The Kapunda Herald, which was doing incredibly well. Instead of going back into the printing business, where his outspokenness would probably see him Gaoled again, he instead went into the Hotel business, buying a local Kapunda pub, in which, he could voice his opinions all he wanted.
Pub life wasn’t what Allen desired though, and eventually he moved back to Adelaide in 1867 and founded a new newspaper called “ The Satirist”.
The Satirist was in direct competition with The Register, and Allen's former employer, The Advertiser. The competition did not phase Allen though, and on at least one occasion, his newspaper outsold both his bigger rivals.
Allen had trouble not being outspoken, and as his newspaper lampooned local politicians, events and indeed his competitive newspapers, he eventually found himself in court again charged with liable. Not having the money to keep hiring Lawyers, and prosecuted again, with a gaol sentence, he eventually had to shut his newspaper down

The prospectus of the South Australian satirist reads:
The lamentably abject condition of the daily Press of South Australia, its want of political principle, its hypocritical fear and timorousness, has forced upon the proprietors of the Satirist the palpable necessity of launching forth upon the unimpassioned waters of honesty, truth, and fearless independence, a journal whose aim shall be to guide, not truckle to, the public opinion of this colony. ... What, then, is the demand of the hour? To find and to sustain a fearless advocate of the people's rights and requirements, one who will dare to speak and teach the truth ...” (27 July 1867, p. 2)
When Allen was incarcerated for six months by Judge Wearing, his wife and six children, who needed his income to survive, became destitute and relied on the kindness of others.
A parliamentary enquiry ensued, and eventually a parliamentary Intervention happened, releasing Allen from Prison, with Judge Wearing declaring he had probably misinterpreted the law somewhat harshly but "the great social advantage which has, I believe, resulted to the public by the cessation of so infamous a print as the Satirist." (South Australian Parliamentary Paper no. 145, 1868/69)

Allen and his wife didn't enter into the media again, instead they took up another Hotel, The Alexandra Hotel in Rundle Street.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

"Don't Move, or You're Dead!" - The Abduction of Monica Schiller

"Don't Move, or you're Dead!"
The Abduction of Monica Schiller

Cadell Training Centre is a low level, minimum security prison located 180 kilometres north of Adelaide. The Prison has long been used to house low level criminals who aren't deemed to be a security risk. It has long been practise to allow prisoners out from time to time for a walk or to do a spot of fishing on the Murray River. The gaol has always installed trust into its prisoners, but that changed on 13th of September 1970.

Three men, Terrence Haley, Raymond Gunning and Andrew Brooks had been released from the centre shortly after 2 pm for a walk – the men decided to abscond the prison, and had hatched a plan to escape South Australia and drive to Darwin, Northern Territory.
The men walked about 8 miles through paddocks and scrub land and arrived at the farm house of the Schiller family home in Murkbo, on the Upper Murray about 3pm

At the farm house were 21 year old Monica Schiller, her Father (Adolph) "Artie" her Mother Myrtle, Grandmother Amanda Zeiglar (who was in her late 70's and asleep in an outside cottage), and Monica's boyfriend, Mr Graham Smith.

The men took the family hostage and ransacked their farmhouse for anything they could find to aide them on their journey north. The stole money, food, water, guns, ammunition and some of Monica's dresses.
They then went about separating the family into separate rooms, putting them on chairs and binding their hands and feet together. Artie struggled, and for his attempts to escape received two hefty blows to the back of his head.

The three men took Monica outside, Her Grandmother, who had been asleep in the cottage outside, saw what was going on and tried to help, only to be giving some food and water and locked inside the cottage out of the way.
The three escapees fled the scene about 5 pm in the Schiller family car.
Artie managed to escape his ropes just after the men left, untied his family, then headed 7 miles in to town on foot to the Post Office where his Sister-in-law worked the telephone exchange, and asked her to call the police.
Detective Sergeant, Bob “Ugger” Giles

The three men first headed south to Semaphore, where they stole another car, then headed north again on to the Birdsville track.
In Adelaide, Detective Sergeant, Bob “Ugger” Giles and some Adelaide journalists charted a flight to head in the direction the kidnappers had gone. As the plane approached the three escapees, they fired shots towards it, hoping to bring it down.

The plane landed well ahead of the men, and Detective Giles, with three officers, seven journalist and two government employees drove back along the track hoping to cut the escapees off. Whilst they were driving, the plane had taken off again and was radioing in the position of the car as it neared the police below.

The officers set up a road block, and a gun fight ensued. Two of the men fled from the car before it had even stopped. One of the officers empties his service revolver of bullets and ran towards one of the escapees, shouting “Don't move or your dead!”
All three escapees were arrested and taken back to Adelaide for trial and sentencing.
Monica was alive, but severely traumatised after her 26 hour kidnapping ordeal.
Detective Sgt Giles returned to Adelaide a hero.
Advertiser photographer Ray Titus won a Walkley for his work at the scene.
Escapees Terrence Haley, Raymond Gunning and Andrew Brooks lie on the ground after being arrested. Retired Advertiser photographer Ray Titus won a Walkley for his work at the scene. Source: News Limited
Terrence Haley was jailed for 15 years but escaped again in 1972, later serving eight years in NSW before being extradited back to SA to finish his sentence. He was released in 1986.
Andrew Brooks and Raymond Gunning were jailed for 12 and a half and 11 and half years respectively.
In 1989 Terrence Haley was shot in the back while at home, lying on his lounge. He was later charged with attempted murder over another shooting that same night in Campbelltown. The charges were replaced with manslaughter and then dropped.
Detective Sergeant Bob Giles talks to Monica Schiller after she was rescued. Source: News Limited

Monica would go on to marry boyfriend, Graham Smith, the couple invited the detective Sergeant Giles to their wedding. As recently as 2006, the couple were still living in the house from which she was abducted.

Det Sgt Giles died in 2005.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Ghosts in the Television

Ghosts in the Television

In our modern age we take television for granted, and with that the special effects that come with it. If Special effects are really good, you wont even notice they are there.

In 1949, Australia had yet to see television, we didn't get that big old box in the living room until September 1956 - and that was only after our Government of the era had instigated a Royal Commission to decide how we, the public, should accept our TV broadcast, how many channels Australia should have, and a vast number of other issues the government thought they should control.

Even though television had not yet hit our shores, we still had production houses making movies, and won our first ever academy award in 1942 with the documentary movie "Kokoda Front Line!, and we also had some world famous movie actors including Otto Heggie (From Angaston), who I have written about in a previous blog

On 2 November 1936, the BBC began transmitting the world's first public regular high-definition service from the Victorian Alexandra Palace in North London (this is now considered to be the birthplace of broadcasting)
Meanwhile in the USA, television made its breakthrough with 1939's Worlds Fair, but wasn't generally accepted by the American public until after the Second World War, when mass production of television sets begun. In 1948, Television broadcasting, as we accept it now, really took a hold in the USA, and the most popular man on television at the time - Milton Berle

So now we have got some history out of the way, I thought I would share this little newspaper story from 1949 describing how to create a ghost for television. There were no photoshop programs, no home PC editing tricks, no "green screen" or Chroma Key settings to talk of, everything had to be done "In Camera", generally live to air!

So how did they do it?

A Ghost On Television
When 'Bli the Spirit' was televised by the BBC recently, the problem arose as to how to produce a ghost for the television camera. How they did it is shown in the diagram below.
The actress who played the ghost, stood between black curtains. This meant that only her form and no other objects were reflected into the mirror at A. The plate glass (B) picked up the reflection from the mirror. The photographer was then able to photograph through the plate glass, picking up the reflection of the 'ghost' as well as the live actors.
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), Thursday 24 February 1949, page 44

Tuesday, 2 September 2014



September 3rd 1924. Mrs Henderson, neighbour of Mr and Mrs Barrowcliffe of O'Halloran Street, Adelaide, went next door to check on her elderly neighbours, who had always been very friendly with her.
She was surprised when she walked through the unlocked back door to find her neighbours hadn’t gotten up yet, as it was their usual custom to rise early on a Saturday. She entered the bedroom to make sure the old couple were ok, and discovered Mrs Barrowcliffe, who was 77 years old, laying on the floor with her head splintered open. On the floor next to her was her 79 year old husband John Barrowcliff, who had suffered a severe laceration to his throat.
Mr Barrowcliff was still very much alive, and whispered to Mrs Henderson “We had a row yesterday. I did it, and after I hit her she never moved."
Mrs Henderson called for help, and Mr Barrowcliffe was taken to the hospital, where he later died from loss of blood.

Police investigated the murder suicide and determined that at some time in the previous night, Mr Barrowcliff had struck his wife with all his strength in the head, with a tomahawk, splintering her skull and killing her.
He then took a knife from the kitchen and slit his own throat.
The Barrowcliffs had no immediate family in Adelaide, as they had moved from rural New South Wales and had made few friends.

There was no real motive offered for the killing.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Gaol Ghosts! :Stories from the Gladstone Gaol - part V

Gaol Ghosts!
Stories from the Gladstone Gaol - part V

If you've been following the blog weekly, you would know I've covered a little history on the Gaol, and a couple of deaths that happened inside her walls, this week I am going to delve into some of her paranormal mysteries, and my own personal experiences.
The Gladstone Gaol is a foreboding presence, perched slightly higher than the rest of the town, like a massive jutting crown of cold stone and brick.
Inside her walls, that imposing stone gives off a claustrophobic effect, cutting you off from the rest of the world. Standing in her cells, looking out the small windows, you can feel the sense of dread that prisoners would feel, waiting for their sentence to expire...of course, most people only spent a few months in this gaol, serious offenders were always transported to Adelaide, but still, you knew, being here, was being cut off from the world, from life.
I first ventured across the gaol many many years ago whilst in the area following up some genealogy leads, I walked through her cell blocks during the day, and knew...one day I would be back to investigate for spirits.

That day eventually came, and many more nights have followed since, but the gaol, like all allegedly haunted locations, doesn’t always reveal her spectres every time you visit. In fact, this is one place that is very much hit and miss with paranormal phenomena. Maybe the ghosts just aren’t in the mood, or maybe they are out doing other ghostly things, who knows? But I find this Gaol to be one that doesn’t always offer a haunting.

I am very much a researcher as well as an investigator, and like all locations my team enters, I always try and find out what has already been seen, felt, heard or captured, to see if I can put forward a reasonable explanation that is natural, but also to see if my team also gets similar effects (some people would say that going in cold is better, as you have no preconceived notions, but I say, if ghosts are real, and are indeed there, your notions preconceived or not, are irrelevant)
I had heard of the typical “cold spots” in C wing, an apparition sighting in the Main Hall, sounds likes doors opening and closing in A wing, and many other witness offerings that, to a sceptical mind, can be easily debunked as natural occurrences that seem paranormal, or, in technical terms, “Xenonormal”

My team has investigated a number of time with other teams in the gaol, and so far we have very little “evidence”, but a lot of personal experiences, some of which we tried every which way to debunk, and could not.
One involved an experiment where locked people in the cells, and myself and a team leader from another team acted as Warden and Gaol, telling the “prisoners” it was “lights out” . As we turned off the lights, in the complete silence of the pace, we heard foot steps shuffling behind us, we both turned and saw a tennis ball sized yellow, hovering light leave a cell and vanish into the air.
It happened in a blind spot of the DVR system we had set up, so we could not offer it as data or evidence, just personal experience – but it happened! We tried to debunk it, we told the other teams, and they tried to debunk it – and none of us could offer a simple explanation – what was it? No idea - but it was pretty exhilarating at the time.

A later investigation, I decided to aim a DVR camera at the door where we had seen the light previously – we were with different teams this time, and it was well into the night. Three of us were sitting on the cold slate floor watching the monitor, whilst another investigator was walking through the cell block. When the investigator came to the door that the camera was pointing at, three of us all saw a man walk out of the woman’s body and into the room, and then watched the investigator, a female do the same thing. All of us jumped up to see what the heck was going on. The investigator was startled by our reaction, as she had no clue what had just happened. I reviewed the DVR system, and you can clearly see the investigator walk in the room, and the reaction of the other three investigators looking at the screen (a camera further down the hall was pointing back at us) but you could not see the apparition leave her body and walk in to the room.
We tried everything we could think of to debunk the image, and we have no plausible explanation. What we do have is a ton of “what if”s" – What if the DVR was faulty? What if the DVR frames per minute were faster/slower? What if it was some weird trick of the light?
Of course, we cannot offer “truths” or validations to “what if's?” They remain exactly that, unexplored scenarios that did or did not happen in an instance of time. Sure, we can remove variables, try and debunk, try and re-enact, but the exact moment is gone and not re-creatable to the exact specifics of the initial incident, so lets just leave that as another “personal experience” for those involved.

I am yet to hear a convincing EVP, see a photo or video that truly defines the Gaol as haunted, of course, that doesn't mean it is not haunted, just that the spirits that reside there are a little cautious, or perhaps shy...but like many, I'll keep going back, as I love chatting to caretaker Tony Holland, and enjoy walking through the old Gladstone Gaols spooky corridors 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Gaol or Hospital? Stories From The Gladstone Gaol: Part IV

Gaol or Hospital?
Stories From The Gladstone Gaol: Part IV

Gladstone Gaol was built at massive expense to the colony in 1879, and many questioned why such a building was erected in such a remote location. In its many years of operation it never really saw any hardened criminals, other than those waiting to be transferred to Adelaide Gaol. There was no long term serious offenders within its walls. They would all be transported to Adelaide Gaol to see out their long prison terms, instead, Gladstone Gaol was used to house mainly drunks and people who couldn't pay their debts.
Looking down on the inside of the tower
© Allen Tiller

Mostly the gaol housed the sick and the disabled, and more often than not, it would see the sick and elderly be transferred from other Gaols in the South Australian colony.
It was common practice to remove the frail and ill from Adelaide Gaol and send them to Gladstone to see out their days, most were elderly women, who would pass away within her walls.
Here is one such example below found in a newspaper, I also talked about Eliza Evershed in part one of this series, who was also transferred from Adelaide Gaol, and passed in Gladstone – seems to be a common theme doesn't it?

The South Australian Advertiser Tuesday 1 December 1885 – page 5
Caroline F. C. Grahlow, an old woman, died in gaol yesterday. An inquest on the body was held at the gaol by Mr. Ingram J.P., Mr. Stewart being foreman of the jury.
The evidence of the doctor, matron, and keeper was taken, and a verdict was returned that death occurred from natural causes. The woman's age was 65. She was sentenced in  Adelaide to four years' hard labor for burning a dwelling-house, and had served nearly eighteen months of the term. She had been ailing ever since her arrival here, and a fort-night ago the doctor asked for a remission of the remainder of her sentence owing to her suffering, but the order for her release only came here this morning. Up to the time of her death she did not acknowledge the crime for which she was sentenced. Mrs. Rofran, sister of the deceased, arrived by train from Adelaide this afternoon with a coffin, and there mains were taken back again by this evening's train for interment in Adelaide. It seems that the Government will persist in weeding out all cripples and dying people from the Adelaide gaol to this one. Since its establishment the Gladstone gaol has been nothing better than a hospital, and many complaints have been made, but to no purpose. It is said most of the prisoners in the gaol here are invalids from Adelaide, the case of the poor woman who died yesterday is a most pitiable one, and should be enquired into
Between the walls of Gladstone Gaol
© Allen Tiller

By the end of the year of 1885, things had not improved at Gladstone Gaol as this newspaper story from the South Australian Weekly Chronicle attests
South Australian Weekly Chronicle Saturday 19 December 1885

Gladstone, December 16.
A prisoner has been released from the gaol in order to go into the Adelaide Hospital. The poor woman had to be carried into the train this morning. She is utterly helpless, and in a pitiable state. A male and a female warder from Adelaide came for her, and under their charge the prisoner was taken away. Dr. Hamilton ordered her removal. This is another instance of sending prisoners here in a frail condition, making this prison an asylum for sick criminals."

The Gaol, although built to house prisoners, seems to have spent more time being a hospital and way point/transfer station of inebriates and debtors more-so than an actual prison. Although it had a number of escapes over the years, only one man was never found. The Gaol did have a few deaths happen within her walls, but none from execution, riot, experimentation or firing squad !