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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Early Residents – William Deemer & W.T. Dickson

William Deemer is thought to have been the same William Deemer who applied for the license of the Springwood Hotel (later re-built and renamed the Oriental Hotel by James Hunter Lawson) in June 1885.  An objection was made to the court regarding his application for the license because he had a charge of intoxication against him.  However, the court was lenient and the license was granted.  William is thought to have married Adelaide C. Smith in 1861 and several children had been born prior to their move to Springwood.  William is thought to have retained the license until approximately 1888 when the Adams family took over the running of the hotel.
W.T. Dickson was the licensee of the Royal Hotel in 1884.  It would seem he brought a good deal of experience in the hotel industry when he came to Springwood because he was late of the York Hotel situated in York Street, Sydney.  His stay was short because 1885-6 the license was in the name of Mary Ann Brown.    
Royal Hotel Great Western Road (now Macquarie Road)

Early Residents - Thomas Boland

Early Residents: Thomas Boland
Thomas is commonly known as “the father of Springwood.’ He was born in Tipperary Ireland about 1810 according to the age recorded on the passenger list for the Strathfieldsay on which he immigrated to Australia with wife Mary Ann and daughter Mary in 1838.  The following year Henry Parkes (later Sir) travelled to Australia on the same ship.  This is said to have created a link between the two men leading to friendship in later life.
Thomas and Mary were Catholic and literate, and he brought excellent references from Sir P.P. Carrol and others. Joseph Jackson wrote that the Boland family went to Bathurst where Thomas was said to have been overseer manager for the Ranken family as well as overseer in a cheese factory.[1]  However, his obituary in the Nepean Times 30th March 1889 stated that he worked in Bathurst for Perrier Brothers.[2]  The Perriers and Rankens were early pioneers in the Bathurst district.
He is recorded as holding the license for the Bathurst Traveller 1841-4 also known as the Weatherboard Inn at Weatherboard (now Wentworth Falls).  In 1843 he is shown as holding the publican’s license for the Trafalgar Inn, Honeysuckle Flat, a district of Bathurst. He was appointed superintendent of road gangs at Springwood following his move from Bathurst.  In 1847, the land on which the second military barracks had been built was sold to Robert Martin, who sold it to Thomas Boland the same year.
The 20 acre site contained a slab hut with three bedrooms, a sitting room, pantry, detached kitchen, storerooms and stables.  There was a garden well supplied with water from a dam.  Thomas, with inn-keeping experience and time spent working on the western road, could see the need for an inn to serve travellers. 

Springwood or Boland's Inn
He consequently built the Springwood Inn, often known as Boland’s Inn and held the license in 1857.  Daughter Alice recounted visits made to the inn by Sir Henry Parkes, Sir James Martin and the Hon. W.B. Dalley.  Caroline Chisholm, with bands of young women immigrants also stayed at the inn.  Large numbers of Chinese camped in the ground adjacent on their way to the goldfields.
Shirley Evans
This is an abbreviated version of a larger article found in The Making of a Mountain Community: a Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District, 2002.

[1] Joseph Jackson Papers, Blue Mountains City Council local studies collection, vertical files.
[2] Nepean Times, 30th March, 1889.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Law & Order: Constable John Illingworth

John Illingworth, Springwood’s first Police officer, was born in Springwells in Yorkshire in 1852.  He learned the trade of bolt maker in his father’s business but is believed to have gone to sea for some years. 
Around 1875 he married Frances Mary Grainger and their first child Rosa was born in 1876, followed by Charley who died soon after his birth in 1879.  The Illingworths decided to make a fresh start in the colonies and John set off ahead of the family, arriving in Sydney in 1879 on the vessel Hankow.  Presumably Frances and Rosa followed soon after.  On the13th April 1880 he was sworn in as a constable of the New South Wales Police Force.
Police records describe John as being 5 feet 10 inches tall with blue eyes and brown hair, fresh complexion and good general appearance.  John was transferred to the Eastern District on 17th May 1880 and he is understood to have been stationed at Parramatta before his appointment as the first permanent police officer at Springwood in 1881.
There had been local pressure for a police presence in Springwood from around the late 1870s with representation being made to Sir Henry Parkes.  While a lock-up was provided in 1879 it was not until 1881 that a combined station and residence was built on the site of present-day Manners Park.

Old police lock up left of picture
In May 1891 John Illingworth was transferred to Katoomba Police Station as officer-in-charge.  As a mark of their esteem the citizens of Springwood farewelled him with a function at Rayner’s Hall.  Following a speech by Mr. Rayner, John was presented with a beautifully illuminated and framed address accompanied by a purse of sovereigns.[1]
John’s duties at Katoomba also included those of Clerk of Petty Sessions and during his tenure he was promoted to senior constable.  On 31 March 1897 he left Katoomba to take up a position at Richmond Police station where he spent 10 years before transferring to Granville in March 1907.  He was promoted to sergeant second class on 1st January 1908.  John Illingworth achieved fame in what would now be regarded as a somewhat obscure field; the game of checkers or draughts.  In Stearns’s Book of Portraits-Prominent Players Volume ii, published in 1898, his photograph is published over a text which states that he ‘is one of the best known players in Australia.’
John Illingworth died on 3rd May 1913.  Illingworth Road, Yellow Rock commemorates Springwood’s first police officer.
Peter Chinn
Nepean Times
Beverley Dodd Woodford (daughter of Bertha Illingworth)
Stearn’s Book of Portraits-Prominent Players Volume 11
This an abbreviated version of a longer article in The Making of a Mountain Community: a Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District.

[1] Nepean Times, 13.6.1891.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Early Residents - Geoffrey Eagar & A. Stewart

Geoffrey Eagar
We have no information about A. Stewart but Geoffrey Eagar is quite famous.  He was one of several parliamentarians that resided – mainly part time – in the Blue Mountains in the nineteenth century.  Eagar was son of convict Edward Eagar who received a conditional pardon in 1813 from Governor Lachlan Macquarie.  Eagar senior became one of the richest businessmen in the colony and was a shareholder in the Bank of New South Wales.  Geoffrey was born in 1818 and received his education by attending the schools of J.D. Lang and W.T. Cape.  In 1843 he married Mary Ann Bucknell. 
Geoffrey worked for various mercantile firms until he joined the staff of the Bank of New South Wales and his resignation in 1859 signalled a move into politics and the New South Wales Legislative Council where he joined with former school friends William Forster, James Martin and John Robertson.  His career was somewhat turbulent and after resigning from the Forster ministry in 1860, returned to the political stage in 1863 when James Martin replaced Cowper as Premier.  Under Martin he attained the position of Colonial Treasurer where his previous bank experience stood him in good stead.  He met with resistance however when he tried to bring the Customs Department under the control of Treasury.  He experienced resistance from W.A. Duncan who had powerful supporters like Henry Parkes.  Eagar resigned from the ministry again in 1868.  As the Premier, James Martin found a place for Eagar in Treasury in 1871 when he was facing financial difficulties.  Eagar, a well-known poet and essayist, was Chair of the Civil Service and History Boards and in the latter position recommended the publication of the Historical Records of NSW.  He died in 1891.
This is part of a longer article found in The Making of a Mountain Community: A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District, 2002.

Early Residents - D.T. Dawson, William Deane

Although we do not know anything about D. T. Dawson, William Deane was most probably the son of musician John Philip Deane. The Deane family moved to Sydney from Hobart in the 1850s after the latter man spent a short time in prison for an outstanding debt.[1]  In Hobart, Deane senior was variously a merchant, hotel proprietor, auctioneer, music teacher and theatre performer.[2]  For a short time he owned Broughton Hall Rozelle, purchasing the property from solicitor, magistrate and coroner, John Ryan Brenan.[3]  Deane senior became a leading light in the musical world of Sydney.

Broughton Hall Rozelle
William was born in Hobart in 1826 and akin to his father, was a speculator of sorts.  He became a solicitor but  dabbled in money lending.  An advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald stated he loaned small and large sums of money to purchasers of freehold property, and - quite sensibly - preferred to lend the money for property located in the city.[4]   
In 1861 William married Mary Constance Smith the daughter of (then deceased) John Smith Esq. of Queensland.[5]  Various newspaper reports illustrate that William moved in the upper class circles of the day.  For example when Sir John Young arrived in Sydney in March 1861 William was among the invited guests.[6] Others guests included members of the military and various church organisations as well as city aldermen.  He attended another ‘levee’ in 1863 together with members of the Senate of the University and the Bar, army and naval officers as well as men like John Fairfax, Alexander Greville, Anthony Hordern junior and George Knox.[7]  
 By 1889 William was involved with the Burwood Land Building and Investment Company.[8]   In 1903, William, as principal, was the defendant in action taken by City Bank Ltd against the building company.[9] William placed a notice in the Sydney Morning Herald in August of 1900 stating that he would not be responsible for the debts of his wife Mary Deane.[10]  And in 1903, another notice appeared stating the partnership between William and Henry Deane had been dissolved but his son, William Smith Deane and Henry William Younger Deane had set up a solicitors practise.[11]  William died in Burwood in 1910.[12]
As well as the 1,725 acres at the Valley, the Deane family owned property in Blaxland where the old Pilgrim Inn once stood.  Today it is the site of McDonalds, and remnants of the chimney stack are all that remain of the inn.   The Parliamentary Return of Landholders 1885 showed that 12 horses and 20 head of cattle occupied the property at the valley.[13]  A map of the area in 1905 shows that the area had been carved up into smaller allotments, and that Rosalie Deane (thought to be William’s sister) George Sheppeard and William Boyles, owned significant amounts of property.[14]  Although no evidence appears to suggest that the Deane’s resided at the Valley, local newspapers record various sporting events, functions and musicals entertainments where members of the Deane family took part right up until the twentieth century.

Sketch of Pilgrim Inn by Mrs B.H Martindale in 'Our Trip over Blue Mountains'
In order to discover why William had an inordinate amount of land in comparison to other residents in the area would require a full search of the title of the land.  
Pamela Smith  

[1] Graeme Skinner, ‘John Philip Deane,’ Dictionary of Sydney,, accessed 21.10.2010.
[2] The Wolanski Foundation, ‘Australian Culture 1789-2000: Musical Life,’, accessed 31.1.2010.
[3] Peter Reynolds, ‘Broughton Hall Psychiatric Clinic,’ 2008, Dictionary of Sydney,, accessed 10.1.2011.
[4] Sydney Morning Herald, 9.2.1860.
[5] Sydney Morning Herald, 10.6.1861.
[6][6] Sydney Morning Herald, 23.3.1861.
[7] Sydney Morning Herald, 27.5.1863.
[8] Sydney Morning Herald, 20.7.1889.
[9] Sydney Morning Herald, 13.11.1903.
[10] Sydney Morning Herald, 1.8.1900.
[11] Sydney Morning Herald, 8.8.1903.
[12] NSW Indexes of Births, Deaths & Marriages.
[13] Parliamentary Return of Landholders 1885.
[14] Department of Lands, Parish map of Coomassie,, accessed 20.2.2011.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Early Residents - Lancelot Iredale Brennand

Lancelot Iredale Brennand, descended from convict Lancelot Iredale, purchased land fronting the main Bathurst Road in Valley Heights (or the Valley as it was then called), in 1875.  Here he built Coolabah, a large weatherboard house containing nine rooms as well as a kitchen, bathroom and laundry.  There was also a stable, cow sheds and a coach house.  Twenty acres were fenced and the Brennand's planted fruit trees, vegetables and flowers.  In 1876, Lancelot and Messrs. Russell, Barker, Murray and Eagar petitioned for the establishment of a post office for the Valley.  At the time, mail for Valley residents was left at No. 5 gatehouse and was looked after by Mrs Sarah Hamment wife of the gaatekeeper.  In December of that year, a post office was opened in charge of Mrs Hamment who was paid ten pounds per annum.

Lancelot was the Superintendant of the Colonial Stores Department in Sydney and was possible one of the districts earliest commuters.  Family members were active in school  and church functions while Lancelot was a member of the Springwood Progress Committee.  He was presented with a beautiful illuminated address when he resigned due to a serious illness.  The address - enclosed in an ornate frame - was decorated with water colour paintings of kookaburras, regent bower birds, cockatoos, parrots, native grapes and wild flowers.  He died in 1892.  

In 1895 Louisa Brennand (nee Wheeler) who married Lancelot in 1858, let Coolabah to the Christian Temperance Union to be used as an Inebriate Home for Females.

Shirley Evans
This is an abbreviated version of a larger article in The Making of a Mountain Community: A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District, 2002, pp. 39-40.
Image Blue Mountains Library Local Studies Collection 

Early resident & landholder - Isabella Baron

Isabella/Isabel Baron (nee Mathews) was the wife of William H. Baron.  Although birth records cannot be located, they are thought to have been the parents of Ida and Dudley Baron.  A confirmation ceremony was held at Christ Church Springwood (designed by John Sulman) for Dudley and Ida in 1889 whereby  Bishop Barry officiated.  In that same year Dudley had been a prize winner in the local flower show.  Isabella owned a large parcel of land at Valley Heights in the 19th century.
Springwood Historians, The Making of a Mountain Community; A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District, 2002.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ghostly encounters: historical fact or fiction?

 Ghostly encounters, paranormal activity and out-and-out unexplained incidents are commonplace in the cultural history of the Blue Mountains.  Some merely mythical, while others - based on fact – have been recorded for posterity.  Henry Lawson’s poem The Ghost at the Second Bridge is of the latter type and recounts the ghostly walks of young Caroline Collits in the vicinity of Victoria Pass Hartley on the Western slopes of the Blue Mountains.  The Lawson family had an association with the Hartley area and Henry Lawson penned the poem on a visit there in 1899, following the death of his father.       

Caroline’s short and tragic tale, which captured the imagination of Lawson, began in 1827 when she had the great misfortune to become the third child born to convict parents William and Mary James.  The James family moved to Woodford in the 1830s where William operated an illegal grog shop in the vicinity of the present-day Woodford Academy.  Tragedy struck in October 1835 when Mary James – said to have been a habitual drunk - was found hanging from the rafters of their mean abode. The Sydney Morning Herald showed no compassion for the woman suggesting in fact that her demise was the result of her being a ‘notorious drunkard.’  William James was duly arrested and charged with aiding in his wife’s murder.  The case against him was dismissed however, after a second trial, despite being found guilty.  
No evidence suggests she was coerced but in 1840, barely aged thirteen, Caroline married William Collits in St Lawrence’s Church of England Sydney. Collits, who was ten years her senior, was the son of convict emancipist Pierce Collits.  Despite his unexceptional beginnings in the colony the latter man had prospered and acquired considerable property interests at Prospect and the Vale of Clwydd (near Lithgow). He went on to build Collits Inn and The Golden Fleece at Hartley.  Perhaps Caroline saw marriage as a way to shake off the demons of the past.   
 Yet Caroline’s marriage was equally unstable because William Collits – like her mother - was a lover of the demon drink.  The couple lived apart but finally reconciled only a short time before her death.  Ironically liquor, which determined so much of her short life, finally brought about Caroline’s tragic end.  Her broken and bloody body was discovered sometime after she told her husband to flee from a drunken brawl he was having with her brother-in-law John Walsh.  Walsh, already a convicted murder, was sentenced and put to death in Bathurst gaol. 

Is it any wonder that the ghost at the second bridge was said to have  
                        …appeared to plead for aid (as far as I could see)
                        Its hands were on the tailboard laid,
                        Its eyes were fixed on me
                        The face, it cannot be denied
                        Was white, a dull dead white
                        The great black eyes were opened wide
                        And glistened in the light.
Pamela Smith Springwood Historians 
Henry Lawson, The Ghost at the Second Bridge, Henry Lawson & Hartley; Caroline Collits – a life short lived,
Sydney Morning Herald – various editions.
NSW births, deaths and marriages indexes., Decisions of the Superior Courts of NSW 1788-1899.
This article was printed in The Mountains Blueberry Magazine Issue 7, Feb. 2011


Thursday, February 17, 2011

World War One: Private Edward James Hope - finally at rest

Pamela Smith and I attended the launch of Glenbrook Historical Society’s Comrades in Arms which was composed of short biographies of Glenbrook men who had served in World War I.  We were inspired to begin researching and writing about the men who were listed on the Springwood District World War I Honor Roll.  This proved to be very much more difficult than we had thought, but in the five years it took to complete the task we became very close to our World War I veterans and mourned those who had died in that dreadful war.  In his introduction to our book, Remembrance: Springwood District Honor Roll 1914-1919 John Low wrote “Their research has rescued the men recorded here from the creeping anonymity that would have been their fate and given them back to their community as individuals who lived and breathed their own special human uniqueness.”  These men (and they were all men, no women) were certainly to a degree  anonymous with the Board hung inconspicuously on a side wall in the Springwood Civic Centre, and with many of the men proving quite difficult to identify.  A very few of them bore names we recognised from our research for The Making of a Mountain Community: a Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District , but quite a number we discovered in the Nepean Times reports of Springwood in the war years.

One of these names was Ed Hope (proved to be Edward James Hope), born and reared in Kingswood.  He was employed by the Railway as a fettler at the time of his enlistment and we found that his name appeared on the St Mary’s Roll of Honour in Victoria Park and also on the Blue Mountains District War Memorial Hospital, Katoomba.  In October, 1915 the Nepean Times reported a farewell to new enlistees, J. Reddall and E. Hope.  They were both presented with wristlet watches from the Springwood people.
Part way through our research the National Archives of Australia digitised the World War I servicemen’s records making it very much easier and less expensive to access and check as they were now available on the internet.  Prior to that we sometimes wasted time and money purchasing records for the wrong men.  With only an initial for the first name shown on the Honour Roll it was easy to make a mistake.
Edward was one of 17 Railway employees on the Springwood Roll (by far the largest occupation group) and, as a fettler, he must have worked in various parts of the Mountains.  He was born in Kingswood in 1887 and was orphaned in 1898 when his mother, father and infant sister all died within a few months of one another.  A young sister, Florence, and he were presumably cared for by relatives.  He named Florence as his next of kin when he enlisted.
Edward was allotted to the 54th Battalion which was predominantly composed of men from N.S.W. Half of them were Gallipoli veterans .  The new recruits left Australia on the Aeneas on 20 December 1915 joining the rest of the Battalion at Tel-El-Kebir for training on 16 February 1916.  They embarked on the Caledonian for Marseilles in June, fighting their first major battle on 19 July 1916 at Fromelles.  They suffered casualties equivalent to 65 per cent of the Battalion’s fighting strength.  It was here that Edward died either on the 19th or 20th.  1,547 British and 5,533 Australians were either killed, wounded, taken prisoner or reported missing.  This was Australia’s bloodiest day in military history.
Florence, Edward’s sister, was notified that her brother had been taken prisoner.  This information came from a Red Cross communication resulting from information provided by the Germans.  Later the Royal Prussian War Office Medical Section corrected this and Florence was informed of Ed’s death and probable burial in the neighbourhood of Fromelles.  Florence, like many grieving and bereaved relatives wrote to the Army Base Records in Melbourne:
Dear Sir_
      My brother No 4188 Private Edward James Hope, 54the Batt. Is Offically reported to have been Killed in Action on July 20th (previously reported missing) – He was my nearest Relative and if you could forward me some details of the manner of his Death I would be grateful.
                                                   & Oblige
                                            Miss F.M. Hope
                                                    Nr Penrith
The Australian Red Cross Society endeavoured to record eye-witness accounts of deaths and woundings and Private J. Freehan, 4775 recorded the following at Etaples on 4 November 1916:
“Hope was of my Co.  He was seen killed by several of the Co. who reported the fact at roll-call  in my hearing.”
Early in 1917 the “effects” of Edward Hope were sent to Florence.  They consisted of a wrist watch and cover.  She wrote the following to the Officer in Charge, Base Records:
Dear Sir –
   In connection with the wrist watch forwarded to me as Next-of-Kin to the Late 4188 Pte E.J. Hope 54th Battalion I have to inform you that this watch did not belong to my Brother – He had a Presentation silver wrist watch with his name inscribed on back.  The one I received was a gunmetal.  I managed to clean some of the rust off the back of watch – it has an inscription not very distinct, but plain enough for me to see that it belongs elsewhere.  I will forward this watch to you per post.  I was so disappointed to get the wrong watch and having received nothing at all up to the present time.
     Yours faithfully,
                       F.M. Hope (Miss)
                               Via Penrith
                                    N. S. Wales
It was very important to the wives, parents and siblings to receive something of their loved ones back from the war – something personal, not just an official medal.  We can assume that Edward’s “Presentation silver wrist watch” was the one presented to him at Springwood at the time of his enlistment.
Florence was required to confirm that she was Edward’s closest living relative before she received his medals and that seemed to be that.
However, in 2009 through the efforts of descendants of Fromelles soldiers lost in the battle, and with the support of the British and Australian Governments and the encouragement of the French, a massive initiative began to investigate known burial trenches at Fromelles and exhume the remains of British and Australian troops, identify them by modern scientific methods and rebury them in a special military cemetery.  The Sydney Morning Herald published photographs of the first 85 diggers identified in the Weekend Edition, 7-8 November 2009 and Private Edward Hope was one of these.

The last of these exhumed soldiers, one who had not been identified, was buried on 19 July 2010. His remains were transported in a gun carriage drawn by horses and accompanied by military personnel, Australia’s Governor General, Quentin Bryce, and Britain’s Prince Charles, both of whom delivered moving addresses.  But the most moving were the short addresses given by descendants of those fallen British and Australian soldiers.  They read letters very similar to those written by Florence Hope, expressing the fears and wishes of both the soldiers and those who waited at home.
There has not been universal approval of the reburial of men buried in mass graves at battle sites.  In the Sydney Morning Herald, 5 February 2010, Neil McDonald, historian and film critic, stated that “Exhuming and reinterring the war dead in more “suitable” sites always risks distorting history”.  But I feel that still grieving relatives will gain great comfort from knowing that their lost loved ones have been laid reverently to rest in a beautiful place, close to where they can be visited and remembered.
Shirley Evans
Australian War Memorial        
Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau Files, 1914-1918 War
Battalion Histories
Shirley Evans and Pamela Smith, Remembrance: the Springwood and District Honor Roll 1914-1919”
National Archives of Australia  World War I service records
“Nepean Times”
N.S.W. Register of Births Deaths and Marriages
Springwood Historians The Making of a Mountain Community: A Biographical Dictionary of the Springwood District,” 2002.
Sydney Morning Herald

"Strange Doings At Springwood"

Nepean Times, 1st February, 1890
“Petty Thieving. – Petty thieving in and around Springwood seems to be the popular amusement – mean despicable appropriation of other people’s goods – one of our hardworking neighbours has to pick his ripening fruit every morning before he goes to work; if not it is sure to go during his absence – another one left a few tools where he had been working some little distance from his house, the next day they were missing – and on Tuesday we met our road maintenance man plodding towards Springwood with a very doleful countenance, his road repairing tools having left between two days – we believe some people would steal a dog-leg fence if they could get it on their shoulders – O Tempore ! O Moses! “
Nepean Times, 3rd May, 1890
“More petty thieving and wanton mischief in the back blocks, one poor fellow loses five of his best hens, and another has his wire fence cut in various places and some of the wire stolen – this is beyond a joke.  Another had a few (a case or so) late apples on the tree one night – the next morning they had disappeared .  We shall have to interview the war office and have a detachment of mounted infantry sent up here.  They could make a dear little camp on peach tree flat, and it would be such fun for the girls.  We are sure they would be just as useful in the country (even more so) than displaying their roosters’ feathers in the neighbourhood of Sydney, and if our liberal government would supply them with a little ammunition, we might get rid of our flying foxes without trying to blow them up with dynamite.  Lor!  what a scare the wallabies would get.”
Nepean Times, 10th May, 1890
“The operations of our Springwood thieves are extending and taking a higher tone.  A few days back they took advantage of Mrs Hoare’s absence and forced an entrance into her house (1), but they were evidently new at this branch of the trade for they decamped without taking anything of much value (2).  Their entrance was effected very clumsily as they had roughly bored holes in the front door and burst a panel in sufficiently wide to get their hands in and undo the fastenings of the door.  This is certainly an upward tendency in the style of theft from robbing orchards, making a raid amongst the hen roosts, stealing and cutting wire fences to barefaced robbery.  We shall next hear of them sticking up our local bank or stopping the mail train.  We are as far too go-ahead in villainy as we are slow in other natures.”
Nepean Times, 19th July, 1890
“Another petty robbery has occurred in the district.  Miss Todd upon returning home, near the railway bridge, after a short absence, found it broken into and some blankets and a cruet stand abstracted.  It is a curious thing that in all the late cases of robbery about Springwood, the thieves have always appropriated a cruet-stand.  It does not seem to matter much whether the stand is electro or silver it is all the same to them, it is taken.  We wonder whether he, she or they are going to set up a dining saloon, and are thus commencing to appropriate the necessary stock.  It’s a risky game; and for our part we would rather buy the articles on terms, and leave before payment was required – with the articles, if not too bulky.

Nepean Times, 28th June, 1890
“I daresay you have heard of the nefarious proceedings of certain unknown “gentry” in the district of Springwood.  Truly, we are in bad case.  No one when he retires for the night can say he will have a peaceful time of it.  He may examine under his bed with his rushlight  to see if anyone is there, and he may perchance keep his revolver loaded too under his pillow; but for all those precautions he may find the next morning that his fowls have been stolen, or his beehives disappeared – the very wires of his fence may have been cut and taken away, or worse still his house may be broken into and many of his favourite articles gone.  If he has goods consigned to him by rail and leaves them or his luggage on the Springwood platform, part or the whole may disappear in the twinkling of an eye without his authority.  These are not fanciful cases.  These things have happened and that lately.  Some no less than last week.  You may say the remedy lies in having one policeman stationed here, whose district extends from about Blaxland right away to Lawson and beyond.  Well he is no doubt a very worthy constable, but so far has been unable to afford us any relief.  He cannot even find one offender, and I fear it is hopeless to expect that he will be able to unless ably assisted by the Inspector General of Police’s instructions.  It is plain to me that we want more police here if only as a temporary expedient, then there may be some hope of being able to keep one’s goods intact., If no help is afforded, and more burglaries and thefts occur it will have but one ending – somebody will be made a target of; perhaps the wrong man which would be a lamentable result.  Revolvers are to be brought into requisition by several of our folk who are determined to use them too if occasion demand it.  Perhaps our Progress Committee will make a move in the desired direction, for at present “our” policeman’s lot is not a happy one.”
Nepean Times, 26th July, 1890
“Theft. – In the midst of life we are in theft, at least we find it so this side of the Zig-zag, and a consignment of tower muskets will have to be forwarded to the district.  Neither our cruet stands or our clothes lines are safe. In fact this system of petty fogging appropriation of other people’s underlinen is the meanest type of kleptomania.  Last Saturday our two hotels had their clothes lines stripped in a most barefaced manner, and the night befor Mr Humphries, a quiet hard working man, had his home broken into and a quantity of wearing apparel and papers taken.  We can understand a starving homeless wretch filching from the super-abundance of a rich man’s house, the temptation being so great, but for thieves to break in and steal from a hard working tiller of the soil seems the very poorest kind of employment.  We would just as soon work for our living and take our natural rest at night.”
Nepean Times, 2nd August,1890
“No more robberies. – Since the stirring events of the last week have transpired, our village has returned to its usual placid serenity.  We carefully take in all our washed clothes at night, lock the back gate with a six inch nail, and shove the cruet stand as far up the chimney as possible.  Having made these preparations, we chain the dog up to the grind-stone, and feel easy for the night.”
Nepean Times, 16th August, 1890
“Mr Parker’s house on Single’s Ridge was entered the other day in the absence of the owner, but nothing much was appropriated, but there has been an increased demand for shot, caps and powder at Mr Rayner’s store.  We pity the marauders if the vengeance is carried out that we have heard threatened them.  Life will be a burden and death a happy release to them.”
Nepean Times, 11th October, 1890
“A sensation is now being experienced through some discoveries made this week by Constable Illingworth.
  It will be recollected that our little community was moved by feelings of alarm and indignation some few months ago  in consequence of the numerous burglaries and robberies which took place in our midst, some which “took the cake” for barefacedness.  Well the secret is being unearthed at last, much to our relief of mind, and very much to those who were unfortunately wrongly suspected of being participants in the proceedings.  It is an old saying that “murder will out”, and it looks as if it is going to prove in our case.  It appears that Mr Larsen (3) had in his employ as caretaker and gardener a man named Lars Peter Hansen.  This individual enjoyed the confidence of his employer for over a year and left for “fresh fields and pastures new” about a month since.  The next news we heard of Hansen was that he had been arrested for supposed complicity in the murder of a man named Charles Duncker in the Peak Hill district. Opinions began to be expressed here that he might have been guilty of some of the crimes in this district.  Then did our constable arise to the dignity of his profession.  Without further ado he considered it advisable to make a little search for himself (4) in the house and grounds of Mr Larsen, and was well rewarded for his trouble by finding a “plant”.  A waterhole in the grounds was “fished” with the result that two tin trunks and part of a leather portmanteau were found, minus the contents, the said packages being those which were mysteriously conveyed away from the station here in June last.  Heaps of rubbish were overturned, resulting in the discovery of sundry articles, all of which have been already identified as stolen goods belonging to our villagers.  In a cooking stove were found some lumps of white metal which had evidently been melted down in the hope of it being silver, but which it is probable is something baser.  Much therefore has been done towards clearing up a great mystery.  The circumstantial evidence thus afforded points strongly towards Hansen as the perpetrator of at least some of the robberies.  As at present he is suspected of the most serious crime of murder, we can afford to wait and see how he gets on with that charge.”
Nepean Times, 25th October, 1890
“Since Hansen’s departure from our district we have been free from robberies, for which much thanks.  The various goods found on Mr Larsen’s premises, after Hansen’s arrest for the Peak Hill murder, which is believed to have been stolen by Hansen, have all been identified; some as belonging to some ladies at Miss Hooper’s school (5) at North Springwood, and others as the property of Mrs Hoare.  The only article missed by Mr Larsen is a tomahawk which that gentleman states he could identify.  It is hoped he may have an opportunity of seeing the tomahawk which is said to have been in Hansen’s possession about the time of the murder.”
Nepean Times, 24th January, 1891 
“Murder will out!  We note that Hansen has confessed to the murder of the little German on the peak Hill Road.  Who in our little community would have suspected that so quiet a man as Hansen would have been guilty of the several robberies here, much less the serious crime of murder.”
Lars Peter Hansen, 30 years of age, was born in Denmark and arrived in Australia in about 1889.  After leaving Springwood (probably with some of his purloined pieces), he went to Sydney where he stayed in lodgings with a German man, Charles Duncker, aged 23, and a Swedish man called Peter Petersen.
In 1889 gold was discovered in Peak Hill in Central New South Wales between Parkes and Dubbo, hundreds of people rushed there to seek their fortune, and the area rapidly expanded into a thriving town.  Hansen and Duncker decided to try their hand at prospecting but rapidly reached the conclusion that it was not for them – as Hansen put it to several people he met, “the diggings are all duffered out” and “there were too many people”. (This was not exactly correct as gold mining is still continuing in Peak Hill)  They decided to return to Sydney although Hansen told one man he was going to catch a train to Springwood.
In September, 1890, Hansen and Duncker walked along the road from Peak Hill to Dubbo where they intended to catch a train.  Several people remembered seeing the two men, describing Hansen as a tall stout man about 6ft 7 or 8in. (200cm.) high with a thick accent and carrying a heavy swag with a tomahawk strapped to it.  One man said he looked fierce and frightening. Duncker, a short distance behind him and hurrying to catch up, was described as small and slight and carrying a light swag.  The next morning some of these witnesses found the body of a man they believed was Duncker, lying on the remains of a fire with a knife nearby.
Hansen was immediately suspected of murdering Duncker and they finally found him working on the docks at Port Kembla.  He was known to be trying to earn enough money for his passage to Germany.  He was wearing a cap he claimed toi have bought from Duncker and admitted to the possession of a revolver, also bought from Duncker, which was in his box in Market Street.  In the box they also found a number of pawn tickets for Duncker’s clothes.  When arrested he said, “I no murder the little German”.
He was taken to Dubbo for the inquest and, on arrival at the railway station, was greeted with booing and hissing from the crowd.  Duncker’s body was officially identified by the Swede, Peter Petersen.  The knife was also identified as belonging to Hansen. The inquest into the little German’s death concluded that “he was murdered by person or persons unknown”.  However, Hansen was immediately charged with the murder.  At the trial he pleaded not guilty and said in his defence, “I no guilty.  I kill him to save myself”.  Mr Justice Stephen (son of Sir Alfred Stephen) passed sentence of death on him.
On 2nd June, 1891, Lars Peter Hansen, attended by Archdeacon Wilson, was led to the gallows of Dubbo Gaol (6) showing little anxiety or fear.  When asked if he felt safe he replied, “Yes”, shook hands and said, ”Goodbye”.  He was asked if he had anything to say and he replied in his broken English, “I am not guilty of this murder.  I die an innocent man and a Christian, and trust myself to Jesus Christ.”  Although death appeared to be instantaneous, the doctor said the heart had continued for some minutes after the drop.

Shirley Evans
1.        Mrs Alice Hoare, a wealthy widow, owned “Homedale”, a handsome villa, valued at £5,600.0.0 in 1884, located at the corner of Homedale and Railway Parade.  Mrs Hoare was the sister of John Frazer, benefactor of the Frazer Memorial Church.  Edward Deane established the Blue Mountains Grammar School in Homedale in 1918.  The house was demolished in 1975 to make way for  Wingara, an aged persons’ complex.
2.       “A cruet stand is a small stand of metal, ceramic or glass which holds condiments.  Typically these include salt and pepper shakers, and often cruets or bottles of vinegar and olive oil.”    Wikipedia
3.       Gustav Larsen and his nephew Axel Bech were tobacconists in Balmain.  They had come from Denmark and their country house in Springwood was “Elsinore” situated on the Bathurst Road on 4 acres of land with a frontage of 550ft stretching eastward from the first Public School (now the Northern Car Park).
4.       Constable Illingworth’s decision to search the grounds of “Elsinore” was prompted by Axel Bech’s daughter falling in the water hole in the grounds.  In retrieving the child Bech found portions of three empty trunks.  He immediately reported this to the Constable.
5.       Miss Hooper’s school for girls was “Hartlands” (now “Hartfields) on the Hawkesbury Road.
6.       Dubbo Gaol  1871- 1966  Eight men were hanged at Dubbo Gaol including Jacky Underwood who inspired Thomas Keneally’s “Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith.

The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria) – various issues
Australian Encyclopaedia, Grolier Society of Australia, 1963
Cook, Kerrin and Garvey, Daniel, “The Glint of Gold”
Nepean Times – various issues
N.S.W.Family History Document Services
inquests 1890/gg4115.gif
N.S.W. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Sydney Morning Herald – various issues
Wikipedia – Old Dubbo Gaol
-          Cruet Stands

My thanks to Pamela Smith and John Merriman for research assistance