Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Ghost of the Hangmans Noose

Ghost of the Hangmans Noose

 Most people take pride in their work, but Ben Ellis, Hangman for the Adelaide Gaol from around 1860 until the mid 1870's, and also hangman at Mount Gambier Gaol in the same period. Ellis took exceptional pride in his efforts to make sure he did the job precisely.
The Adelaide Gaol hangman lived on site within the gaol, part payment for being the most unpopular man in Adelaide, and doing the dirtiest job of all. Partly to keep him safe from the general public, and from released prisoners who may have made promises to condemned prisoners.
 His quarters were in a small apartment under the female dormitory. In an observation in an Adelaide newspaper in the late 1860's, it was noted how filthy Mr Ellis kept his room. It was also noted that fires would often break out inside, or near his particular dwelling.
 Mr Ellis only had one execution go wrong in his time as hang man, and that was of prisoner Charles Streitman in 1877. In this particular instance, Mr Ellis was hasty in his preparations, and didn’t not go about his job in his usual way. When it became time for the trap door to drop, Streitman, rebounded and got caught on the platform – it took him 22 minutes before death took him from hanging – an insufferable way to die.
 Ben Ellis was described ion one old newspaper as a hulk of a man with “alcohol” blemishes on his nose, a whisp of grey head and a shabby beard. A grumpy looking fellow whom lived in squalid conditions.
 Ellis went about his job without no complaint, until 1873, when Elizabeth Woolcock was due to be hung in the gaol. The first woman to be hung in Adelaide. Ellis protested her execution and from then on questioned his position as executioner.
 It wasn’t too much longer until Ellis found himself unemployed, and unemployable. Ellis ended up in the district court for vagrancy. His solicitor stated that he could not get a job anywhere in Adelaide due to his incredible unpopularity, from his previous career, and since being released from his position, had lived on the streets of Adelaide.
Ben Ellis would eventually pass away a vagrant, and be buried in a paupers grave in West Terrace Cemetery

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Celebrating South Australian's – Yett Soo War Way Lee

Celebrating South Australian's – Yett Soo War Way Lee

 Yett Soo War Way Lee was born in Tungkun near Canton in China in 1853. The son of a rice-miller, Way Lee married early and had a son with his wife, named Yett King Sum.
By 1874, Yett Soo had made his way to Sydney Australia. He had traveled alone, and whilst in Sydney lived with his uncle Way Kee. He traveled the eastern states seeking an education in schools in Sydney and Brisbane, before making his way to Adelaide.

  In Adelaide he studied the English language at the Adelaide City Mission and founded his own company “Way Lee Co.” an import company bringing in Tea, china and other imported goods and fireworks.
Way Lee's business was hugely successful in an era when the rise of racism against the Chinese in Australia was steadily on the rise (which would eventually lead to the anti-Chinese riots in gold mining towns like Ararat in Victoria )

 Way Lee's business was incredibly successful he opened stores right across the South Australian colony and in the Northern Territory and New South Wales. In South Australia his main store was located in Rundle Street, but he also had a store in Currie Street. Stores could also be found in South Australia at Quorn, Hawker, Millicent. In New South Wales at Beltana, Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Wentworth and Menindie and in the Northern Territory at Daly River.

Way Lee was a supporter of his community often giving money to local charities, and supporting local events. He always supported Chinese New Year, offering dinners for Adelaide's dignitaries and politicians and supplying fire works for for celebrations.

Way Lee was the first Australian to really open the way for trade between China and Australia. A fighter for the rights of Chinese immigrants, he fought for Chinese settlers to be offered a district solely for Chinese use.
 Way Lee also offered to bring to Australia, Chinese labourers to work at the Daly River Plantation in the Northern Territory.
 Way Lee was a great promoter of education to the  Chinese community, and worked hard to improve the working conditions and rights of his Chinese compatriots in Australia. He also worked to stop the import of Opium into the colony.
 Way Lee also raised money, and donated much of his won money, to be sent back to China to help feed people after chronic flooding, then droughts that were decimating the people of his homelands.

Way Lee was a Freemason and a respected member and leader of the local Chinese Community. He offered homes for many Chinese immigrants in Adelaide, way houses until they could afford better homes themselves.
 In 1889 Way Lee married Margaret McDonald, and together they had 4 children, Vera, Pretoria, Lily and Jack.
He spoke openly in the public about the treatment of his fellow country men in Australia by the Government, law and people and is quoted as saying “The Australian people are always very kind to me, but the law worse than the people”.
Way Lee died in 1909 of chronic nephritis and amyloid disease on August 21st 1909. Many of Adelaide's population travelled to West Terrace cemetery to witness the funeral of Way Lee, expecting odd Chinese death rites, but they were bitterly disappointed, as Way Lee was buried under common Presbyterian funeral rights.

For more on Yett Soo War Way Lee, please visit the following links:


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

SYFY USA - Haunting: Australia - The North Kapunda Hotel

The North Kapunda Hotel
SYFY USA airing:

Long known as Australia’s Most Haunted Pub – the North Kapunda Hotel is situated at 50 Main Street Kapunda.

Kapunda has long held the title “Australia’s Most Haunted Town” and gained national notoriety after the 2001 documentary release of “Kapunda: Most Haunted Town in the Western World” which featured investigations by television host Warwick Moss of 1990’s supernatural TV show “The Extraordinary”
The North Kapunda Hotel garnered international interest after it was featured on TV show Haunting: Australia in episode 7. The show featured local paranormal investigator, Allen Tiller, founder of Eidolon Paranormal, SA Paranormal and The Haunts of Adelaide investigating in his local pub alongside team members Robb Demarest, Ray Jorden, Gaurav Tiwari, Rayleen Kable and Ian Lawman.
In 2014 Ghost Crime Tours began a tour in the hotel, which was hosted by Allen for the first 6 months. The tour is extremely popular and is often sold out well in advance – this could be because so many people have a supernatural experience whilst visiting this hotel!
The hotel has operated since 1849, and received extensions and upgrades in 1866 by then owner James Crase. Over the years the hotel, which is the central focal point of the town has seen its rooms used by Prince Alfred, 2nd son of Queen Victoria, State Parliament, Circus troops, traveling salesmen, social clubs and much much more!
The hotel is said to be haunted by a number of spirits, including Sir Sydney Kidman, Dr MHS Blood, former owners Henry Fairclough & Denis Horgan, a former traveling scissor grinder, prostitutes, children and a dark shadow man with a bad temper!
If you are visiting South Australia, head north on the Max Fatchen expressway to Gawler, then onto the Theile highway to Kapunda – and whilst in the town don’t miss the Museum, the haunted Information Centre, the Haunted Court House, The basement museum in the Kapunda Bakery and just a little out of town the amazing Anlaby house and gardens!
Allen Tiller outside the North Kapunda Hotel
You can stay in Kapunda at the Station B&B, Anlaby House, The Kapunda Tourist Park, Ford House or The Sir John Franklin Hotel!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Closed Hotels of South Australia - The Bijou Hotel

The Bijou Hotel


141 Rundle Street (between Twin Street and Pulteney Street – now part of Rundle Mall)
 The Bijou Hotel was situated where the Citi Centre Arcade Shops can now be found (McDonalds, Comic Book Store etc ) between Twin Street and Pulteney street in Rundle Mall.
The hotel was established in 1859 as the “Adelaide Restaurant or Nottinghamshire Arms Hotel” by J.H. Hubert, which offered visitors “unprecedented low prices, comfortable beds and the best Wines, Spirits, and Malt Liquors that can be procured.
Finest and largest PORT LINCOLN OYSTERS at Is. 6d. per dozen ; middle size, 1s. per dozen ; small size, 6d. per dozen, bread and butter included.
A good DINNER for ONE SHILLING, with vegetable included”

A few years later the hotel was owned by Thomas Upton, and in the following years its name changed numerous times. In 1964 it was known as the Alexandra Hotel, The Dolphin Hotel in 1871 and The Savoy Hotel from 1896, until renamed as The Bijou Hotel in 1899 until it was demolished in 1923.
The Bijou Hotel was listed as having seven bedrooms and four parlours, and was extensively furnished and very well looked after.
 In 1904, The Bijou Hotel was a small part in a larger drama of events that occurred on rundle Street. At the time Rundle Street, not yet a mall, was the most popular place for younger folks to hang out and catch up. A little before 9pm on  Saturday the 27th of February 1924, the Bijou Theatre caught fire and the metropolitan fire service was called to attend. This event only added drama to an already busy and shocked Rundle Street, within the previous hour Thomas Horton had shot his wife Florence just outside the Adelaide Arcade. Florence, mortally wounded stumbled into the Arcade and died, while Thomas was on the run. Thomas was later caught and hung in Adelaide Gaol (More on Thomas Horton can be found in my book: The Haunts of Adelaide – History, Mystery and the Paranormal – published by Custom books ).
In 1911, The Bijou Hotel again made the news, when in “The Chronicle” a local newspaper, it was reported a number of thieves had broken into the hotel. The criminals climbed in through a window about 10pm and stole a number of portmanteaus (a type of leather trunk like a suitcase). The portmanteaus were pushed out onto a balcony and lowered to an awaiting accomplice.
In 1924, the hotel, and adjoining buildings were bought by a developer and demolished. New buildings were erected and were known as the Thomas Martin buildings, in honour of Thomas Martin who bequeathed two thirds of his estate to the Adelaide Hospital, of which, one town acre (which the hotel stood upon) was part of the bequest.