Gwalia Tragedy – murder at the two up!

Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), Sunday 30 December 1906, page 5


The “Sunday Times” had a visit last week from the brother of the late James Reilly, killed by Joseph Higgins at Gwalia on September 4 1906. The particulars of the case must be fresh in our readers’ minds. Reilly tried to drag a mate away from the two-up school at which Higgins was playing. The latter savagely knocked Reilly down and struck him again as he was rising, the result being that the unfortunate man died from concussion of the brain.

Higgins was tried for murder then reduced to manslaughter before Judge Rooth, and although the jury brought, in a verdict of guilty, the judge, in an extraordinary aberration of leniency – he also suffers also from aberrations of merciless severity – merely bound the manslayer to come up for Judgment when called upon.

All this occurred without the knowledge of poor Reilly’s brother. He has been working in the bush near Katanning, and did not even hear of his brother’s death, till a friend chanced upon him on Wednesday.

When informed of the tragedy and of the circumstances that followed it his grief was pitiable to witness. There is no sight more pathetic than a strong man in the agony of sorrow. His sturdy, athletic frame shook with sobs, and murmurs of revenge against Higgins mingled with inarticulate words of sorrow for the dead man. He was a good brother, he said, a good husband, and he met his death while trying to do his mate a good turn. “If I’d only been there to take his part.” So, half frantic with grief, and burning with a sense of injustice, he came to the “Sunday Times” to ask if it could do something. He wanted justice, he said. A good man, his brother, had had the life battered out of him in an unfair fight, and the slayer was walking about the streets a free man. Couldn’t anything be done to remedy it !
And then it was pointed out that Higgins had been tried by a jury that the Judge had given his decision, such as it was,  on the strength of the jury’s finding, that not one member of Parliament had been game enough to say a word about the outrageousness of the thing, that Judge Rooth  –  had gone to England for a vacation, and that the Attorney-General had not intervened. If there existed a power whereby Higgins could be placed on trial again and dealt with, in due relation to the homicidal brutality of the crime, it was a million to one that the Crown would not enforce it.

“But this spieler-killed my brother, and is walking about as free as you or I –  reiterated Reilly.

And always it came back to that.  He left at last, “The Sunday Times” could give him no hope. But there was a look on his face as he went out that augured no good to the cowardly, noaccount who had taken his brother’s life. If Higgins hasn’t yet rid the country of his pestilential presence – he is said to have been seen in Perth lately – he, will do well to keep his worthless hide away from fist range of the man from Katanning.

James REILLY is buried in the Leonora cemetery – there is no headstone.

Leonora Snapshot – death from despair

This is the second snapshot of biographies from the Leonora Cemetery. As in the previous post it covers from 1902 to early 1911. In this time there were 12 suicides:-

Suicide was quite a common thing in the early days on the goldfields. Men, and a few women, who find themselves in a state of complete despair. The one female suicide in this list, Isabella Maud McCallum, has most unusual circumstances.

COGLEY Thomas, d 16 Dec 1902, Leonora Lawlers Road, near Diorite, Occ:- Labourer, 30yrs, Suicide by hanging, Coroners Inquest held at Leonora, 20th Dec 1902, born Victoria, in WA for 5 years, buried Leonora Cemetery.

West Australian 18 December 1902

DOYLE Bernard, d 17 Dec 1903, Gwalia Street, Leonora, Occ:- Brewers Traveller, 26yrs, Drowning while is a state of temporary insanity, Verdict of the Coroner, Father:- Dennis DOYLE (Farmer) Mother:- Unknown, Born Ireland, 6 ½ yrs in WA, Married to Tilly JONES at age 22 ½ yrs. at Coolgardie WA. buried Leonora Cemetery. Roman Catholic Section See:- http://bit.ly/2imcmoK

Kalgoorlie Miner 19 December 1903

EACOTT Samuel Henry, d 5 Jun 1908, Challenge Hotel, Tower Street, Leonora, Occ:- Prospector, Cause Syncope, Heart Failure from taking poison self administerted, Father:- Joseph Henry EACOTT (Contractor) Mother:- Ann Pike WESTACOTT, born Glenlyon VIC, In Vic 22yrs, IN WA 12 years, Brother:- Henry EACOTT

FERRY George John, d 1 Jan 1910, Mt Clifford, Leonora, Occ:- Miner, 29yrs, Cause:- Gunshot wound, self inflicted not known if accident or suicide, Verdict of Coroner, Father:- James FERRY (Farmer) Mother:- Mary BARBER, born NSW, In NSW 19yrs in WA 10yrs, Buried Leonora Cemetery.

HARDING William, d 11 August 1908, in bush near Leonora township, c40yrs Occ:- unknown, Cause:- Resulting in a wound on the throat self inflicted whilst in a state of unsound mind, Verdict of the Coroner, buried Leonora Cemetery.
NOTE: A possible reason may be the death of his infant son in May of this same year.

Western Argus 18 Aug 1908

MCCALLUM Isabella Maud, d 12 Jun 1907, Desdemona GM, Arendelle, 34yrs, Married woman, Cause:- Dose of cyanide while temporarily insane, Order of the Coroner,  Father:- Phillip Charles (Contractor) Mother: Agnes McLEAN, born Kyneton VIC, In Vic 22 yrs, In WA 12 yrs, Married 1st to Edward HOPPER in Yarraville VIC at age 17yrs, 2nd to Alexander McCALLUM in Kalgoorlie, WA at age 30 years, No children. buried Leonora Cemetery. (Death Registered in N Coolg 31/1907)

Death At Desdemona

MCKITTRICK (Death certificate has MCKINRICK) Hugh, d  13 May 1903, Grand Hotel Leonora, 37 yrs, Occ:- Hotel Manager, Cause:- Bullet wound in chest, self inflicted while in a state of temporary insanity, Verdict of Coroner, born Ireland, Married in Reefton New Zealand, children 2 girls, buried Leonora Cemetery. Full story:-

A Hotel Manager Shoots Himself   –     Leonora, May 13
Shortly before noon to-day, Hugh McKittrick, manager of Maher’s Grand Hotel, committed suicide by shooting himself through the heart with a revolver. It is not known what induced the deceased to take his own life. McKittrick has left a widow and four children in New Zealand. An inquest in connection with the death was opened this afternoon, and adjourned to next Monday.

MORRIS George, d 16 Mar 1906, King of the Hills GM, Diorite, Occ:- Miner 44 yrs, Cause:- Injuries self inflicted while temporarily insane, Father:- James MORRIS (Contractor) Mother:- Bridget Mary DOOLY, born Marybrough, VIC, 30yrs in VIC, 13 yrs in WA, Single, buried Leonora Cemetery.

Kalgoorlie Miner 23 Mar 1906

Kalgoorlie Miner 23 Mar 1906

PERRY Robert, d 25 Jun 1903, Laver Street, Leonora, Occ:- Miner, 40 yrs, suicide by taking potassium cyanide while temporarily insane,  Coroners Verdict, buried Leonora Cemetery.

Malcolm Chronicle and Leonora Advertiser 26 June 1903

Malcolm Chronicle and Leonora Advertiser 26 June 1903

SMAIL Malcolm Knox, d 1 Jun 1910, District Hospital, Leonora, Occ:- Engineer, 32yrs, Cause:- Shock from poisoning with sulphuric acid self administered and taken whilst temporarily insane Father:- William SMAIL (Solicitor) Mother:- KNOX Christian Name not known, born Berwick on Tweed, North England, In WA 8yrs, Married to Mary PASCOE at age 28yrs in Kalgoorlie WA, Child:- Dorothy 3yrs. Buried Leonora Cemetery.

Leonora Miner 4 June 1910

VALKENBURG William Peter, d 6 Sep 1910 Rear of Leonora District Hospital Office, Leonora, Occ:- Secretary of the Leonora Hospital, 55yrs, Cause:- Revolver shot self-inflicted whilst temporarily insane. Verdict of the Coroner, Born Ireland, married but details unknown. Buried Leonora Cemetery

Age Melbourne, Vic.14 September 1910

WILLIAMSON John, d 23 Feb 1907, Public Hospital, Leonora, Occ:- Labourer, 23 yrs, Cause:- Bullet Wound (Suicide), Father:- James WILLIAMSON (Farmer) Mother:- Mary BEARD, born SA, In SA 19yrs, In WA 4 yrs, buried Leonora Cemetery

Western Argus 26 February 1907

Hugh McKittrick – a family’s story

Hugh McKittrick     22nd August 1868 – 13th May 1903 By Cheryl Benson:-  gbenson@iinet.net.au Hugh McKittrick was born or baptised on the 22nd August 1868 in County Louth, Ireland. He was the son of Hugh McKittrick and Ellen Brennan. Ellen Brennan … [Continue reading]

Leonora Snapshot – all the little children

I have just completed my first batch of biographies on the people who are buried in the Leonora Cemetery. Every cemetery provides a social and family history snapshot of the town where its located. Accident and disease show no favorites. I hope that … [Continue reading]

Darlot – ghost town

Mr L A Wells, a member of the 'Elder Exploring Expedition of 1891' discovered Lake Darlot on the 6th March 1892. The Lake was named after Leonard Hawthorn Darlot, pastoralist, one of the three sons of H R H Darlot, who purchased a station property … [Continue reading]

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