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Michael James O’Neill, Hillgrove, died 1895

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The Armidale Chronicle, Wednesday April 3, 1895


A miner named Michael O’Neill died on Saturday from the effects of an accident in a mine. While engaged lining the main shaft of Baker’s Creek mine in the morning he slipped off the staging and fell 30ft into a cleft between the timber and the solid rock. His left arm was broken, and his body severely bruised. He never recovered consciousness, and died in the hospital at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Dr. Massie held a post mortem examination, and found that the base of the skull was fractured. The funeral took place on Monday and was very largely attended. Deceased, we hear, leaves a wife and three children.

Headstone of Michael James O'Neill, died Hillgrove, 1895

Michael James O’Neill married Jane Elizabeth Mutton in Sydney in 1888. They had three daughters, Madeline May (Minnie), Ellen Gladys, and Ivy Pearl Mary (Peggy). Jane remarried in 1900, and died in Newtown in 1928.

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April 25, 2021 at 7:48 pm

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May 1889: From Adelaide to Hillgrove and Back.

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Barrier Miner, Wednesday, May 1, 1889



I HAD heard much of the Baker’s Creek and other mines in the Hillgrove district of New South Wales. In Adelaide, when I was there, they talked of little else. It was the miners’ paradise, they said. So much of this nature did I hear, and so good reports did I read, that at last I made up my mind to see for myself whether it was such a place as was represented to me or not. When I determined to make the journey, I was not overburdened with sovereigns, or, for the matter of that, small change either; I made the journey like most other workingmen in search of something to do, in the cheapest way possible. This may account for the fact that things by the way did not have so roseate a hue as they seem to have had in the eyes of the reporters of some newspapers, who went up in the company of some South Australian directors of the Baker’s Creek. They saw a good many things through a tinted champagne glass, I fancy.

From Adelaide I booked early in April by the s.s. Barrabool, of Howard Smith’s line, to Sydney. The steerage fare is £2 10s., which includes maintenance while the vessel lies in Melbourne. The fare in those boats, as well as the general accommodation, is much superior to that of others, on the coast I very lately had experience of. Having a day and a half to spend in Melbourne, when we arrived, there, I had a look round ; and, being well acquainted in the city, I soon found out that, although the trades are a little slack just now, a laboring man who can do a fair day’s work can get it, as well as a fair day’s pay for it. But how different I found things in Sydney, where, arriving on a Thursday morning, I soon chanced to stumble across a large meeting of unemployed at the top end of King street ! There is no denying that a good many of the speakers (not the professional agitators) were bitterly in earnest, not alone about the scarcity of work, but also of the miserable day’s pay offered for it. Expecting to take the cheapest route from Sydney, I boarded the s.s. Roma to Newcastle, the steerage fare to which port is 4s., and the train fare from Newcastle to Armidale is £1 13s. 6d. ; while by rail from Sydney to Armidale the fare is £2 1s. 6d. But there is no saving ; for one arrives in Newcastle at 5 o’clock in the morning and has to wait there till half-past 11 o’clock at night. It looks very like the trains being timed to spite the steamboats. Therefore, for the present, I should advise anyone who has business in Newcastle to leave Sydney by the 4.30 p.m. train. Things in Newcastle seem to be pretty lively among the seafaring population. But the miners, a good many of whom I know, told me that with all the seeming bustle on the coal wharfs and shipping, they did not average more than 8s. per day at the outside. Leaving Newcastle, I did not see much of the country between there and Maitland and Tamworth, darkness having set in but, leaving the latter place, after day break, I was able to see and appreciate the splendid country we were traveling through. What a treat after the, dreary plains between Broken Hill and Adelaide ! The line winds through mountains and forest, with now and again a patch of maize in full growth, everything looking beautifully green. And yet the people are complaining about just having gone through a very heavy drought. They ought to come to South Australia or Broken Hill to know, what a proper drought is, it seemed to me.

We arrived at midday in Armidale. From here three coaches are running to Hillgrove, the township situate on the banks of Baker’s Creek. The fare between the two places is 7s 6d return. Armidale is a good size town of about 5000 inhabitants, and looks pretty busy on account of so many people going backward and forward to Hillgrove. The townspeople would make one believe that Baker’s Creek, is a very Golconda, although the Eleanora antimony and gold mine, worked by an Armidale company for some time, has never returned much to those people. The drive from Armidale to Hillgrove, 22 miles, occupies about three hours, and the coach arrives there at about’5 o’clock. Hillgrove is a small struggling township of one street, and a few miners’ tents and huts are in the background. There are three hotels there at present but I believe there are two or three more to be built at once. One of them is for Mr. James Gearin, late a publican of Broken Hill. Here there are also a bank, post office, and two or three stores, besides a few sharebrokers, among whom Mr. Mealin, another old Barrierite, is the leading one.

As I did not go to Baker’s Creek to report or say any thing about the mines, I would only describe them from the worker’s point of view. The Eleanora mine which is on the banks of the creek employs about 80 men ; Baker’s Creek mine, in the bottom of the creek, about 120 ; South Baker’s Creek, about 40; the Sunlight about the same. At the Golden Gate they are just about putting a few men on. Of course there are several small mines working, but engaging in the aggregate few hands. As this creek is 1500 feet deep from the top, and takes the men who are working there 15 minutes to go down and half an hour coming up, it is no joke for anyone unused to the mountains of New England to climb about them ; but at a rough guess I should say there are altogether between 400 and 500 men employed there. The average wage for miners is 8s. per day. Some who are working in shafts with rock drills get as much as 9s. It is very rough country on boots, and it is considered a good pair that stands three weeks. Any miner can draw his own conclusion from that. I can, however, say that there were not many idle miners about the township; yet, at the same time, there were no inquiries for any, nor was there any activity or life to be seen to show that the place was going ahead at such a rapid rate as is represented in other parts. The fact that three or four mines turn out rich stuff does not make Baker’s Creek a second Broken Hill in gold. The country about is pegged out for miles, but is in the wrong hands, being mostly held by small farmers in the district, who, by virtue of having pegged out a gold claim, expect large companies to step in and give them enormous sums for their claims. They are doing nothing themselves to open out their holdings. This leads to no end of jumping and the other attendant evils, including much litigation. As for the township, it has never been thrown open for pegging, and, according to what I was told, those who pegged out under false impressions about three months ago are to be prosecuted.

On my road to Hillgrove from Newcastle, and at the Creek, I conversed with all classes of people – storekeepers, tradesmen, and laborers ; and it was nothing else I heard but about bad times, and the low rate of wages in the whole of the New England district. What seemed very strange to me was that if those people living almost in the garden of Australia were complaining so bitterly about hard times and not being able to pay, how do these farmers in the north of South Australia live at all ! As for myself, I was satisfied that my prospects were not so good there as in my old haunts ; and while I still possessed the means to return, I came back by almost the same way that I went. My advice, therefore, to anyone going to Baker’s Creek in search of work is to be sure to have the means of taking you away from the district, when once you have arrived there. There are some who contemplate proceeding thitherto these I offer my experiences and convictions.

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January 15, 2021 at 6:04 pm

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June 1, 1889: First edition of Hillgrove Guardian newspaper

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Hillgrove Guardian – Saturday, June 1, 1889

[Not available online – GS]

BUILDING. – The building trade is very active in Hillgrove just now. New stores and private houses are going up in all directions. Additions and attractions are also being made to a lot of established places. But for the great difficulty experienced in getting a sufficient supply of hard wood, there would be no lack of employment for carpenters.

GOLD ESCORT. – Yesterday morning a parcel containing 1088 ozs. of gold was forwarded by the City Bank on its way to Sydney, it was all from the Baker’s Greek G.M Coy., the result of the last fortnight’s crushing, it left per Messrs. Ryan & Co’s Coach under escort.

[Assuming they’re using troy ounces (rather than standard ounces) to measure gold weight, that’s about 34 kg of gold – GS].

BACHELOR’S BALL. – A social gathering improvised by the Bachelors of Hillgrove was held last evening in the Centennial Hall where a very enjoyable nights dancing came off. The attendance was not so large as usual, this was probably owing to the uncertain state of the weather. The refreshments were however quite up to the expectation of those present. The Music was provided by Messrs. McMahon and Johnson. Mr. Jas. Morrow acted as M.C. Dancing was kept up to 4 am.

LARGE NEW STORE. – Mr. E. J. Swyny of Vegetable Creek, has with astonishing speed, had an immense iron store erected in the most central part of the town, the building is 50ft long, and 24ft wide, and is well fitted up inside with shelves and counters, the latter run down each side, the space between being intended for the public; on the one side they can satisfy their wants in the grocery, ironmongery, and stationery line, or turn to the other, and find quantities of drapery, and lots of boots to select from. There will be a verandah 24 by 8ft put up in front of the building, boxed in at the ends, the verandah will be lit up at night with three large lamps, but the lamp of lamps will be inside, it possesses the lighting power of 300 candles, and certainly eclipses anything of the sort to be found in New England, this by night, and the winning smiles, and obliging manners of his handsome assistants by day, Mr. S. reckons should prove successful in making things hum about his establishment.

LOCAL PIG. – Mr. F. B. Wade of the “Miner’s Arms” had a pig killed on his premises last Wednesday, that weighed 443 lbs [201 kg]. This enormous animal was bred in Armidale, it was 2 years old when killed. The last nine months of its existence were devoted to gorging on the good things that fell in its way.

PHOTOGRAPHY. – Mr. Williams of the firm of Jackson and Williams, Photographic Artists, Tamworth announces, that his stay here is drawing to a close, and as this successful firm are justly celebrated for the excellence of their pictures, we would recommend those wishing to secure good photograph to be in time.

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December 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

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James Maddox, Hillgrove, died 1902

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The Armidale Chronicle, Saturday, 27 September, 1902


(From our Correspondent).

Mr. James Maddox, a respected resident of Hillgrove, died on Tuesday night last. The deceased was respected by all who knew him – a man with scarcely an enemy. He has now crossed the great divide, and his demise will be generally deplored. During the many years the deceased lived amongst us, he showed business capabilities of a high order, but the call came, and poor James Maddox had to relinquish all, and go. Sincere sorrow is felt by the townspeople for Mrs. Maddox and family in their sorrowful bereavement. The funeral takes place this afternoon (Thursday).

Headstone of James Maddox, died Hillgrove, 1902

James Maddox (c.1862 - 1902) married Deborah Maria Hancox in Sydney in 1893.
They had 6 children of whom 3 lived past infancy:
	Isabelle (known as Isabella) (1894 - 1894)
	Isabel (known as Isabelle) (1895 - 1976)
	Nellie (1896 - 1896)
	Nellie (1897 - 1897)
	Herbert (1898 - 1986)
	William James (1901 - c.1982)

James Maddox was proprietor of the Maddox Cordial Factory in Hillgrove. Prior to that his Hillgrove business was that of a tobacconist. James also owned shares in at least one mine in Hillgrove.

At some point after James’ death, Deborah and the three surviving children returned to England. Deborah and children appear in the 1911 census in England living in Gloucestershire.

Deborah died in 1962 in her 103rd year. Before moving to Australia she lived in Gloucestershire with her parents and worked as a draper’s assistant. Her father was a blacksmith.

Isabelle died in Tiverton, Devon, in 1976, aged 81.
Herbert died in Yeovil, Somerset, in 1986, aged 88.

Deborah maria hancox maddox 1860 1962

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May 27, 2020 at 6:39 pm

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Samuel Prisk, Hillgrove, died 1910

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The Armidale Chronicle, Saturday, 10 September 1910

Death Of An Old Resident.

On Saturday morning last Mr. Samuel Prisk, who had resided in Hillgrove for over 20 years, died suddenly. Deceased, who had been suffering for a considerable time from miners’ complaint, and who 12 months previously was a patient in Armidale Hospital for some weeks. On the morning of his death, he got up as usual, had breakfast, and was going into his garden, when he stooped down to lace his boot, and expired. It was naturally a great shock to the family.

The late Mr. Prisk was a quiet, unassuming man, respected by all who came in contact with him, and was very popular amongst the miners, having worked at the Baker’s Creek Mine during most of his sojourn here. He was a comparatively young man, being only 48 years of age, and leaves a widow, one daughter, and three sons to mourn their loss. The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon, and was very largely attended – scarcely a miner that did not follow his remains to their last resting place, while the cortege was headed by members of the Protestant Alliance Lodge, of which he was an old. member. The Rev. Mr. Holden officiated at the grave-side in a most impressive manner, while a favourite hymn of deceased’s, “Abide With Me,” was sung by those standing around the grave-side. At the conclusion of the minister’s service, Mr. J. Gardner, Chaplain of the Alliance Society, read their burial service.

The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Mr. Robt. Morrow.

Headstone at Hillgrove Cemetery, Hillgrove, NSW.

Headstone for Samuel Prisk, died Sept 3, 1910, at Hillgrove

Samuel Prisk (c.1862 - 1910), married Mary Jane (details unknown)
	Joseph Henry (1886 - 1935)
	William Thomas (1888 - 1966)
	Mary Catherine (aka Catherine Mary) (1890 - 1948)
	Richard (1898 - 1976)

William Thomas Prisk was a butcher in Hillgrove in 1913. All three sons were butchers in Guyra in 1920 (Prisk Bros., “The People’s Butchers”).

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May 24, 2020 at 5:27 pm

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Illustrated Sydney News, Sat 4 Jun 1892

THIS is the capital of New England, and, in point of size, the largest, and perhaps the most important, town on the table land. It is connected with the metropolis by rail, the main northern line to Brisbane passing through it. This pleasant retreat has proved more attractive to tourists and others than is generally known. The city has been not inaptly termed the ‘Cathedral City’ owing to the number of fine churches within its limits. To these the citizens are not slow in calling one’s attention. There still remain many residents who delight in recounting their experiences connected with the early settlement of these parts. The first family to seek its fortunes here was that of Captain Dumaresque, who held land to the extent of fifty miles north and south of Armidale. They were shortly followed by others of the early pioneers, who, in their turn, allotted portions of land to themselves.

The first court house of the district – a bark gunyah – was situated near the present site of Solomon’s photo studio ; the second court house, of shingle, was erected on the site of the present one, the late Mr. Bradshaw being first chief constable. Owing to glowing reports spreading abroad, it was reasonable enough to find the tide of humanity flowing in this direction, and the embryo city soon began to assume some sort of shape. Land was put up in Sydney in half-acre allotments, and disposed of at £4 each. Signs of progress were appearing in every direction, all traces of native savagery vanished by degrees, and the town was laid out, streets arranged, and matters respecting the furtherance of the place discussed. To the late Captain Gorman was allotted the laying out of the streets, which, to the credit of Armidale, are well preserved and cared for to the present day. Of the sale of land there is a story to the effect that the land on which the present Tattersalls Hotel and some of the best business houses of the city stand, was parted with for an ‘old black horse,’ valued at about £10. Major Innes, then police magistrate at Port Macquarie, is credited with erecting the first store, managed by Mr. Patterson. This was afterwards sold to Mr. John Mather, who, in turn, sold out to the late Mr. John Moore. Of the religious denominations, the Rev. Mr. Trickham appeared for the Church of England, followed by the Roman Catholic body under the late Father McCarthy and the Presbyterians under the Rev. Mr. Morrison. The services were held in a bark gunyah on the present site of the Catholic College. In those delightful times the window panes of this gunyah were stuck in with flour paste, as no putty was obtainable, and the story is told of the late Father McCarthy’s visit to it one Sunday morning, when to his astonishment, he discovered the panes of glass strewn, out upon the ground in innumerable pieces; it turned out on enquiry that the gunyah had been attacked by soldier birds, who betrayed a weakness for stale pastry. Of the liquor sold in those times it is easy to understand how piles were made by the enterprising landlords when one had to pay as much as a sovereign for a bottle of well watered rum. These were apparently easy days to prosper in. The wages, up to the outbreak of the Rocky River goldfields, were not over enticing, as station superintendents were in receipt of the munificent sums of 8s. and 10s. per week. The rush served to alter things considerably ; the wielders of the pick and shovel soon set out in a mad torrent. Numbers were enriched, and ‘big blankets’ were knocked down wherever opportunity offered. Tradespeople benefited with the rest, and big profits were made in their different lines – grocery particularly – the “squatters’ sugar” selling at 1s. per pound. It was served out in big black lumps, and required the use of an axe to make it presentable. Such times are over now, and a thing of the past, for this city is now a delightfully progressive and attractive place, enjoying the kindest allusions from all sides.

Of the principal buildings it is needless, to say that they are in every way a credit to the people. The illustrations on the opposite page serve to show plainly enough the excellence of construction and finish. The city is laid out on a gradual slope, and within sight of the Great Dividing Range. The main street – Beardy Street – possesses the principal public and private buildings, and good accommodation can be had in several well-appointed hotels. At the south end of the town, and near the cathedrals, a fine park, beautifully planted with choice trees, serves to adorn this portion ; facing this, the New England Ladies’ College has been erected and enjoys one of the finest views to be had. This establishment was built by Mr. P. P. Bliss, and has proved attractive to lady students from all parts of the colony. It possesses a fine reception room, private sitting room for lady principals, class rooms, four music rooms, and bedrooms charmingly decorated by the students (prizes for the neatest and most tasteful being given). This college is capable of accommodating 120 resident pupils. The Ursuline Convent and Cathedral, a handsome semi-Gothic building, is situated almost opposite. Further to the west of the town, the Railway Station, together with residence and sheds, is situated, and connected with the town by busses, cabs, etc. Armidale possesses two newspapers, viz: the Express and Chronicle. The mines of Hillgrove, to which Armidale is greatly indebted for its recent advancement, are situated about twenty miles to the east, and it is to these mines that attention is anxiously turned. The farming is progressing, but not to any great extent. There are some fine sheep runs in the vicinity. The photographs from which our sketches are taken were kindly supplied to our artist by Mr. Solomons, of Armidale.

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July 13, 2018 at 5:36 pm

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Motor Car Smash.

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The Armidale Chronicle, Wednesday, April 29, 1914


A motor car came to grief on the Hillgrove road on Monday morning under circumstances which render the escape from serious injury by the passengers a matter for wonder. Early in the morning, Mr. A. Kiefer’s Napier car, driven by Mr. W. Smythe, set out for Hillgrove, with a full load of passengers. With the exception of Mr. Thos. Faint, of Long Point, Hillgrove, we were unable to obtain the names of the occupants. All went well until the first culvert after crossing the Commissioners’ Water, where the road takes a bend. For some reason hitherto unknown, the car failed to take the turn, and, continuing in a straight line, shot into a gully, over seven feet deep, the passengers being scattered in all directions. Strange to relate, the car did not overturn, but settled down as if it had been lifted bodily off the roadway. The near side wheels came to rest on the bank of the gully, and the off-side ones hung in air without any support. The front axle was twisted, the windscreen broken, the back axle and two wheels damaged. The passengers were considerably knocked about, and sustained some superficial injuries. It was reported that Mr. Faint had some ribs broken, but this has not been verified. The whole party was picked up by Mr. A. Kiefer and taken on to their destination by his Studebaker car.

When the car was inspected after the accident, it was found that the boot of one of the passengers must have caught in the car, for the heel of his boot was wrenched off, and remained in the car.

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November 23, 2017 at 6:39 pm

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A Bush Murder

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The Armidale Chronicle (NSW), Wednesday, January 31, 1912


(By our Special Reporter).

The inquest concerning the death of Samuel Watson, who was found murdered near his home in the vicinity of Hillgrove on Monday, January 22, was held at the Hillgrove Police Court on Monday last, before the Coroner (Mr. Wm. Morgan).

Herbert Skinner, aged 19, was present in custody, and Mr. D. P. Claverie, of Armidale, watched the case in his interests.

Detective John Fullerton conducted the inquiry on behalf of the police.

Esther Amelia Watson, daughter of deceased, residing at Curran’s, in Brackin-street, stated that on the day of the murder she saw her father —he came before dusk and left between 7 p.m. and 7.50. Bert Skinner was sitting under the verandah when her father left, but she did not notice him leave. After the case, Purcell v. Skinner, her father came to Curran’s and said, “What does Bertie want?” and witness replied, “He has a glove of Eva’s.” When her father passed into the shop she heard Skinner say, “I’ll do for you yet, you old —— ” A few days before that case she had had a conversation with Skinner, who admitted hitting Purcell, and added, “Old Sam (meaning father) thought he was pretty clever. Jack and Sam raced into Hillgrove on their horses, and yet I was there before them.” He also said that when they came to his house he was in bed, and “gammoned” to be asleep. Her father looked upon young Skinner as an enemy.

To Mr. Claverie: Skinner was “courting” her sister. Witness was friendly with him, and liked him. She had frequently heard Skinner and her father wrangling.

Annie Show Yin, wife of a local storekeeper, deposed that she had known Skinner for 2½ years. On the fatal day Watson called at the store between 5 and 5.30 and bought a bag of chaff. On the way down town, at about 7.45 p.m., she noticed Sam Watson going in the direction of his home, and a little further on she saw Skinner walking in the same direction. Skinner bought about 800 cartridges in November last—his sister had since returned half of them.

To Mr. Claverie: Skinner was not carrying any firearms at the time she saw him.

Show Yin, storekeeper, stated that deceased Watson was at his shop on the night of the murder at about eight o’clock, when he took delivery of a bag of chaff he had ordered earlier in the day. In the course of a conversation, witness said to deceased, “You are getting too old to work, Sam—you ought to get the pension,” and Watson replied, “Bertie Skinner is going to shoot me some day.” Witness had never seen Skinner with a rifle, though he had frequently bought cartridges.

To the Coroner: It was after the Court case with Purcell that Watson told him about Skinner going to shoot him.

Debora Maria Cross, residing in Ryan-street, off Brackin-street, said that on the night of the murder she saw Bertie Skinner pass along Ryan-street at about a quarter past eight.

Patrick Doyle, laborer, residing at Swamp Creek, deposed that on Monday, 22nd January, he came to Hillgrove just after dark, and met deceased in Curran’s store. About 10 minutes later deceased was in his cart, and witness said to him, “Hold on, Sam ; I’ll be going out with you.” Witness thereupon got in the cart and went as far as Show Yin’s store. Subsequently witness went with deceased to his camp. Upon arrival there, witness heard deceased call out to a man named Walsh, ‘”Who’s carting wood down the paddock?” and the reply came, “Joe Prisk.” Deceased was perfectly sober. Witness then went to bed, but not to sleep. He heard no reports of firearms, nor did he hear anyone scream. Some time after he had been in bed, Jack Watson (a son of deceased) came running to the camp, calling out, “Paddy! Bill! Come quick!” Witness replied, “Bill’s not here.” Young Watson said, “Never mind about Bill; come quick; father’s shot along the road.” Witness said, “Never—I just left him.” Witness said, “I will not go on my own, but if you call back I’ll go with you.” Witness was a bit nervous, and did not like going. Young Watson then said he would go for the police and the doctor, and call back later. Witness then heard Watson ride away. Soon afterwards witness got up and saw a man named Walsh with a lantern, trying to catch a horse, and, together, they went to where the body was lying, and Senior-Constable Dobbie rode up almost immediately. About six weeks before the tragedy, witness had gone home with deceased, and on the way, deceased said, “I am afraid to-night; I think I’ll borrow Bill Vauple’s gun.” Witness replied, “No one would touch you, Sam,” to which deceased replied, “You never know, Paddy, the way Bert Skinner has threatened me.” Deceased got Vauple’s gun that night. Deceased kept the gun between four and five days. After a Court case in November, Bert Skinner said to deceased, “I’ll soon get you, ‘doggy.’ ” Deceased was known by the name of ”Doggy .” Deceased was well liked, and had no enemies other than Bert Skinner.

Amelia Watson, wife of deceased, stated that on the evening of the tragedy she was at home. Mrs. Mowle, three children, and a man named Wm. Doyle were also in the house. After tea, when she was waiting for deceased to return from town, Doyle called out, “Here’s the dray coming.” Suddenly the sound of the cart stopped, and almost immediately Mrs. Mowle said, “What’s that rumbling noise?” The dogs commenced to bark, and run in the direction of the sounds. The noise she referred to resembled someone quarrelling. They all ran outside, and just as they did so, a terrible scream rent the air—it was a long piercing scream, as of a man in great pain. Witness recognised the voice as that of her husband. Before the scream had died away, a rifle shot rang out. On hearing these reports, Mrs. Mowle called out, “That’s poor dad—I know it’s poor dad.”. Witness and Doyle then went to the spot where the scream came from, and found her husband lying on the roadside, quite dead, with the horse and cart standing close by. Blood was flowing from a wound in the face. Witness lifted up one arm, and said, “Sam! Sam!” but received no answer. The whip was between his arms. They returned to the house to get a light, and, on returning, met the horse galloping with the cart towards home. Witness then went to her son Nathan’s house, and on meeting her son, informed him of the tragedy. Subsequently her son went for the police. Bert Skinner had visited her house for a number of years—he used to keep company with one of her daughters. She objected to his visitation, which led to several quarrels. She had an idea that Bertie Skinner was an enemy of her husband’s. In December, witness, her husband, and two daughters went to Sydney, and while in Sydney her husband purchased two revolvers. Skinner was constantly prowling about their house by night, and she and her husband had often tried to prevent him from coming near the place. Witness had never seen Skinner carrying firearms.

Wm. John Doyle, laborer, residing in the vicinity of deceased’s home, stated that he was with Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Mowle, and other members of the family on the night of the tragedy. Witness corroborated the evidence of Mrs. Watson in regard to hearing the “row,” the scream, and the report of the rifle. After sending Jack Watson for the police, and returning to the body, witness picked up the two pieces of rifle stock (produced). Bertie Skinner was an enemy of the murdered man. Watson had once told witness that he was frightened of Skinner, and carried a gun in case of meeting him.

To Mr. Claverie: Witness worked for deceased at one time, and lived with him in the house. He denied ever having had a “rough-and-tumble” with Watson, but admitted having a few “words” with him. The result of those “words” was that he left deceased’s employ. Witness denied ever having a rifle. He started to work for Watson the second time on January 9th. When witness first saw the body, it was about 8.40 p.m. From the time that he heard the rumbling of the cart until the shots were fired, would be about two minutes.

Nathan John Watson, laborer, residing on Bora farm, deposed that on Monday, 22nd inst., after tea, Doyle and Mrs. Watson came over, and informed him of the murder, whereupon he saddled a horse and proceeded to Hillgrove. He first called at accused Skinner’s place, and sang out, “Is anybody at home?” Mrs. Skinner replied, “Is that you, Jack Watson?” Mrs. Skinner then came out, and witness said, “Is Bertie at home?” to which she replied, “No; I don’t know where he is.” Witness said, “Do you think he’s down town?” and she replied, “I don’t know.” Witness then asked her when she had seen him last, but could not remember what reply was made. Mrs. Skinner then said, “What do you want Bertie, for?” to which witness replied, “My father’s been shot dead.” Witness then went to look for the police and the doctor. Outside William’s hotel he met a number of young fellows, whom he also asked if they had seen Skinner, to which they answered in the negative. He afterwards saw Mr. Witherdin, and asked him the same question, and he said, “Yes ; there he is, standing under Williams.” Accused Skinner was standing under the hotel verandah. Witness then said, “Is this the first time you have seen Skinner to-night?” to which witness replied, “No; I saw him about half past nine.” After informing the police, witness rode out to the scene of the tragedy. On the way he called at Matson’s residence, and asked for a loan of some cartridges or a revolver. Matson, however, declined to accede to the request. Just before having tea, witness heard a loud scream, which he took to be his father’s voice. Witness said to his wife,” “I wonder if the house is on fire?” Seeing no glow in the sky, witness cooeed, but received no answer. Skinner was an acknowledged enemy of his father. Witness made his inquiries concerning Skinner, because he had his suspicion as to who did the deed.

Eva Winnifred Watson, daughter of deceased, stated that the night before her father went to Sydney (December 15th), she heard two persons prowling about the house—one of them was Bertie Skinner. Her mother went out with the candle, but she said to her, “Come inside, mother, or you’ll get hit.” While her mother was outside, a stone was thrown, which came into the house—a paling also followed. On the way in, when going to Sydney, they met Skinner and another boy at Cooney Creek. Skinner had either a gun or a rifle with him. While in Sydney her father purchased a small revolver, giving as his reason that he was frightened of his life of Bertie Skinner. Skinner was an enemy of her father’s. She was at the house when Skinner assaulted Purcell. He sprang out of the darkness, without warning, and knocked Purcell down. As a result of the punch, Purcell was taken ill, and witness’s father went to town, on horseback, for the police. Skinner was in town before her father. Witness and Skinner had previous to this assault been on friendly terms, but her father did not approve of the match. This was what she attributed the bitter feeling between Skinner and her father, too.

To Mr. Claverie: She considered Skinner as her “boy,” and, although he had a row with her father, she did not think he would do him any harm. Skinner never made any threat to her about shooting her father.

To the Coroner : She did not “stick” to Bertie Skinner after he assaulted Purcell. Skinner had said, “If I don’t get you, nobody else will.”

Mr. Claverie: That was a compliment to you.

Annie Emily Ellenden, residing with her husband, about 1½ miles from Hillgrove, deposed that on the night in question she heard a loud scream, which appeared to come from the direction of Watsons. Did not hear any report. Witness had seen Skinner once before in her paddock, not far from Watsons. It was some months ago, in the daytime. She asked him what he was doing, and he said he was doing a bit of detective work. Witness told him he’d better leave the paddock, and he said he wasn’t doing any harm.

Edith Watson, wife of Nathan Watson, stated that on the night of 22nd January she was preparing tea, just at dark when she heard a long scream from the direction of Sam Watson’s. Recognised the voice, and said to Jack (her husband), “What’s your father calling out like that for?” Her husband said, “That’s somebody screaming,” and added, ” I will jump on the pony and have a look—there might be a fire. Did not hear any report of firearms, and then went into tea. Mrs. Watson, sen., and Jack Doyle came up, and said, “Sam’s shot.” Her husband immediately got his horse and went to town for the doctor and police, and witness went back with her mother-in-law and Jack Doyle to where deceased was lying. There was blood all over deceased’s breast and down to his boot tops. The bridge of his nose was shot away. Before tea, witness heard voices—it was some time before the scream—about 10 minutes or a quarter of an-hour. Had seen Bert Skinner with a magazine rifle. Deceased was afraid of Bertie Skinner —witness had heard him say so. Had never heard Skinner threaten deceased.

Henry William Witherdin, baker, residing at Hillgrove, stated that on Monday, 22nd January, he attended the Municipal Council meeting, leaving at about 9 p.m. Was at Sullings’ hotel for about 20 minutes with Messrs. Teague, Snow, Morrow, and others. Witness afterwards sat on the stool. Mr. Sullings and Bert Skinner were also there. This was about 9.30 p.m. Skinner said “Good night, Harry,” and witness returned the compliment. Witness then crossed over to Robinson’s where an argument was going on, and remained there about half an hour. He looked at the time in Robinson’s hotel—it was a quarter to ten. After looking at the time, he stayed another ten minutes, and just after starting for home met Mr. Packer, who asked him if he had heard of Watson being shot. Witness had borrowed a pea-rifle from Mr. J. Baker on several occasions—it was a 22 Colt’s repeater. [The broken pieces of rifle were handed to witness, who said they were similar to those in Mr. Baker’s rifle]. Witness said he had never seen a similar rifle to this one in the town. He seen a Colt’s rifle at Boundy’s shooting gallery. It was different to Baker’s. Was sure Baker’s was a Colt’s.

To Mr. Claverie: Did not notice on Sullings’ seat anything peculiar about Skinner.

To the Police: Saw Jack Watson at about ten minutes past ten o’clock. He made reference to Bert Skinner, but did not ask straight out if anyone had seen Skinner. Witness said to him, “Why I saw him at 9.30 under Sullings’ verandah. When Watson spoke, Skinner was about twenty yards away.

John Thomas Baker, storekeeper, of Brackin-street, Hillgrove, stated that he remembered some 12 years ago buying a pea-rifle in Sydney—a Colt’s repeater. Had handled it continuously, and had a good knowledge of its appearance or any part of it. Recently sold the rifle to Bert Skinner, between the 1st and 20th of November last year—he gave 25/-for it. [The pieces of wood off the rifle were then shown to witness. One piece was the block for the ejector]. Witness said he honestly believed the pieces were off the rifle he sold to Skinner. There was a little bolt through it, which, as well as another smaller piece of wood, were missing. The only thing he saw wrong was that the constant use had worn the retractor, and it wouldn’t always act.

To Mr. Claverie: He would not swear positively that the pieces were off the rifle, but believed they were. Only the proper cartridges could be used in the magazine of the rifle, as long cartridges would have to be pushed in from top. Did not know the difference between Colt’s and Winchester rifle.

Detective Fullerton at this stage asked for an adjournment till Wednesday morning. The medical officer was not yet home. He had also sent some exhibits to Sydney, and had received no information re same yet. He had several other witnesses to call.

Mr. Claverie didn’t think it fair to his client, but afterwards agreed, and the Coroner adjourned the Court till 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning.

Written by macalba

August 20, 2017 at 7:51 pm

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Long Point – A lonely spot (1930).

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The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Saturday 13 September 1930

A Lonely Spot

JACK SEWELL (Long Point) – I live thirty six miles from Armidale. There we go once a month to do our shopping. Hillgrove is eighteen miles away. It was once a great gold-mining town, but now only the remains are left. The place I live at is called Long Point. I think the name of Out Back would have suited it better. There are only two families residing here. The next family is twelve miles away. Are we not isolated? All we hear is the whistle of the birds, and the howl of dingoes at night. This is what we see: Tree after tree, nearly too thickly timbered to walk through. Then we come to the falls, a most wonderful sight to gaze upon, and gently flowing at the bottom we find a winding river. This is where the wild ducks swim. The river is like the road we travel on, a separation between the trees. But, really, road is no name for it. It is only a bush track that winds in and out among the trees, and when I leave home and get to town I have a thousand pains or more from all the jolts and bumps.

The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Saturday 13 September 1930

Bush School Games

LAURIE SEWELL (Hillgrove). – There are only six children attending Long Point school, so we cannot play many games. My favourite game is cricket. It is so interesting, and is good exercise. Rounders is another game we play, and also red-rover, tip, crowning the base, and fruits and flowers. The best game of all is football. We play football with a tennis ball. The other games mentioned we play very seldom. It is nice and green where we play. Sometimes the sheep eat this green grass, then we have to go and play where it is dusty.

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June 28, 2013 at 8:00 am

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Hillgrove Water-power and Electric Company

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The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 10 February 1894


Sydney, February 9.

The Hillgrove and Armidale Water-power, and Electric Company having secured extensive water rights in the vicinity of Hillgrove to-day accepted the tender of the Crompton Electric Supply Company for carrying out an extensive electric plant, the motive power of which will be supplied from the Guyra River falls. The company will supply the Baker’s Creek and Eleanora gold mines, Hillgrove, with electricity for working the batteries, pumps, and concentrators, as well as supply the town of Hillgrove with electric lighting. The hydraulic plant will be supplied and erected by Mr. W. H. Palmer, of Melbourne. The electric plant will be one of the largest not only in the colonies, but also in the old country. The first cost will be £20,000.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Wednesday 14 February 1894


Last week a contract was signed with the Crompton Electric Supply Company of Australia Limited, of which Mr. K H Buchanan, A.M.I.C.E., is manager, for the construction of an electric and hydraulic plant to transmit power from the Guyra River Falls to the Hillgrove mines, a distance of five miles. The dynamos at the falls will be driven by Felton wheels. A constant current of 1500 volts potential will be conveyed thence by three copper cables to the Baker’s Creek and Eleanora gold mines. The whole of the power required by those mines will be supplied in this manner and there will also be a small plant for giving electric lighting. The water rights were secured by the Hillgrove and Armidale Water-power Electric Company under an Act of Parliament. The work now about to be put in hand has been delayed by the financial troubles of the past year. The total cost of the work, both electric and hydraulic, will be about £20,000.

Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW), Saturday 8 December 1894

Country Notes

At the spring show held in aid of the Hillgrove Cottage Hospital last week, Mr. Brain, the engineer supervising the works of the Crompton Electric and Hillgrove Water-power Electric Company, spared no expense and trouble to ensure successful lighting, which was certainly accomplished, lending a crowning effect to the dual interests under consideration. There was a large attendance from Uralla, Armidale, and surrounding districts. The proceeds for the two days amounted to £120.

Evening News (Sydney, NSW), Tuesday 3 December 1895


A Company Matter.


The matter of the Hillgrove and Armldale Water Power Electric Company, Limited, was before Mr. Justice Manning in equity jurisdiction to-day, on a petition by the Crompton Electric Supply Company of Australasia for a compulsory winding-up order. Messrs. A. H. Simpson and Langer Owen, instructed by Mr. W. G. Parish, appeared for the petitioners, and Messrs. Lingen and Wise, by Messrs. White and Wolstenholme, for E. W. Foxall, the voluntary liquidator of the Hillgrove Company, and for the company. The names of Messrs. White, W. H. Palmer, Foxall, Michellmore. and Professor Threlfall figure prominently in the petition. An application was made by the liquidator for an extension of time to file affidavits. Directions were given that the affidavits of Messrs. Palmer, White, Michelmore, Threlfall, and Foxall should be filed by the 10th instant, and all other affidavits by the 12th instant. The matter was then allowed to stand over to the 17th instant, to come on for hearing on that date, if the petitioners’ affidavits in reply were then filed. In the same matter application was made for security for costs on the part of the voluntary liquidator, on the ground that the Crompton Company was an English company. By consent £100 was ordered to be paid into court without prejudice to the right of the company to apply for further security if necessary.

The Canberra Times (ACT), Wednesday 30 April 1958

Visitor Studies History Of Hydro Schemes

Mr. J. Pinto, of Newcastle, accompanied by his wife, visited Canberra yesterday and spent much time in the Australian section of the National Library.

He located the record of a special Act of Parliament which gave permission for the setting up of a hydro-electric scheme at Hillgrove, near Armidale, in 1893.

Mr. Pinto said yesterday that this was the first hydro-electric scheme in the Southern Hemisphere.

It was established by Crompton and Company of England, and later taken over by his father, who ran it for 25 years.

The Act, which was assented to on March 10, 1893, enabled “the Hillgrove and Armidale Water-Power Electric Company to construct and maintain works and other appliances for the making, generating and transmitting of electricity, and the supplying the same to any city, town, mine, company or persons within the county of Sandon and the colony of New South Wales.”

Mr. Pinto said that the hydro-electric scheme which Launceston was claiming was the first, was established in 1895.

He will leave Canberra to-day on his way to visit the hydro-electric scheme in the Snowy Mountains.

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June 18, 2013 at 8:00 am

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