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.