Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Trove Tuesday: Was he guilty?

In 1906 young Charlie (David Charles) Stokes was 19 years old, almost 20, and had been working on Cornelia Creek station near Echuca as a boundary rider for five or six years. His father, Charles David Stokes, lived at Corop (his mother had died in 1904), and his grandmother Stokes (Eleanor nee Paynter) was still alive and living nearby. Charlie had 6 younger brothers and sisters and one older sister.

This is the story that I've pieced together from newspaper reports.

The manager, Ernest Harpham, of Cornelia Creek reported to police that he had been robbed on the 17th March 1906 and when on 22nd March they went to the sheep station to interview him he said that he'd been awakened at 1 a.m and found Charlie Stokes in the passage. Charlie had been sent to Echuca earlier in the day to pick up a telegram and entered the house to give it to him. As he opened the door into the living room Harpham found that the curtains were ablaze and considerable damage was caused before it was brought under control. The next day the manager found that he had also been robbed of a gold brooch, 2 watches, a gold chain, three pairs of cuff-links, £7/10 in cash and his day and cash books.

Suspicion soon fell on Charlie Stokes because as well as being in the house apparently he owed about five pounds to the station. The assumption was that by destroying the books he was destroying proof of the debt.

The police and the manager went to the Koyuga railway station where they found Charlie on the platform and persuaded him to return to Cornelia Creek. Detective Sergeant Wilson interviewed him in his room and asked him to write a statement. Wilson then left the room and he and two other witnesses, the gardener Thomas Mills and the cook John Irving, stated that he was only out of the room a few seconds when they heard a gun shot. Charlie had killed himself.

At the inquest the policeman said that the gun must have been prepared and hidden because there wasn't time for Charlie to have taken off his coat and hung it up before getting the gun and using his toe to pull the string attached to the trigger.

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express 30 Mar 1906

The day before he died Charlie wrote a letter to his sister (the newspapers don't say which one) claiming to be innocent of the crime and asking for help from his father. The letter was later published in the paper.

Riverine Herald 2 Apr 1906
Detective Sergeant Wilson stated that Stokes appeared to be agitated and denied implication in the crime. An article in the Bendigo Independent on 23 March had the following paragraph: The youth was greatly liked by the manager and other employees, who thought he would be the last person to commit such a robbery or take his own life. He was a general favourite and was regarded as trustworthy and hard working. His father resides in Corop.

The inquest returned an open verdict.

For me there are still questions that remain unanswered. Where are the stolen goods? Where was Charlie buried? Was he guilty and if not who was?


* Coincidentally the owner of Cornelia Creek, George Simmie, died in Melbourne in the same week aged 78. He was the former MLC for Northern Province.

** Cornelia Creek was subdivided in 1911 but there is a winery currently operating under that name on the original homestead site.

*** My connection with this story is that Charlie Stokes' grandmother, Eleanor Stokes nee Paynter, was a great great aunt of my husband.  She was born in the village of Iwerne Courtney, Dorset and when she was 18, in January 1855,  she married a local lad called Charles David Stokes. Almost immediately, with her new husband, her parents and siblings she sailed to Australia on the 'Omega', arriving in May 1855.

For this post I was able to use the amazing newspaper resources at Trove.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Photographing children

This blog is generally about family but this post specifically highlights some photos I have purchased.
I think it's sad that snapshots and formal photos are sold online. Presumably when homes are cleaned out after people die their families don't want the old memorabilia. Most of the photos I buy (rescue) are the informal snapshots from the 1900s but some are formal studio photos like those below. I scan the photos, upload them with appropriate tags to my Flickr page and link them to the National Library of Australia's Flickr page that is connected to the library's search engine. 
I now have a shelf of photos that aren't connected to my own family and, like all collectors, I wonder what will happen to them after I'm gone. But in the meantime they have given me a lot of pleasure.

Why were babies and young children often photographed naked?

Judging by the bunched-up clothes it's possible the the mother is
sitting behind this child.

Photobomb: I presume mother has just let go of the youngest child.

This post is in response to the Sepia Saturday theme this week. The theme photo, below, is of a girl sitting at a desk. You could pop over there to see other responses.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Two Australian icons

Family holiday snap, Gundagai c1962
Ask any Australian if they know Streets Icecream and the answer will be yes. And ask any Australian if they know about the dog on the tuckerbox and the answer will be yes. They are two Australian icons. But ask any Australian about the background story of the icons and you'll be met with a blank face or a shoulder shrug. Here they are in the same family holiday snapshot taken near Gundagai, New South Wales in about 1962. There's the dog on the tucker box and parked nearby is a Streets Ice Cream delivery van.

The life-size statue of a dog was unveiled by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Right Honorable Joseph Lyons, in 1932. It is a memorial to the pioneers of the Gundergai district.

The Dog on the tuckerbox kiosk at Snake Gully
showing the Dog on the Tuckerbox statue in front. Gundagai, New South Wales, ca. 1970
[NLA P805/1732 Album 1139] 
Photo taken c2010. Same building, same dog.

Between WWI and WWII, Edwin (‘Ted’) Street with the help of his wife and brother laid the foundations (in Corrimal, NSW) for what would ultimately become Australia’s biggest and best-known ice cream manufacturer. Streets ice cream was originally made in the back shed by Ted. He would then sell these to neighbours along with sweets, cakes and lemonade. Popularity grew and he soon used a cart, then a one-horse- power motorbike to sell Streets ice cream. It continued to grow and today Streets ice cream is sold throughout Australia and New Zealand with well known brands such as Magnum, Paddle Pop and Blue Ribbon. [http://www.streetsicecream.com.au/ShareHappyFlexible/AboutStreets.aspx]

The statue was inspired by a bullock drover's poem, "Bullocky Bill", which celebrates the life of an allegorical drover's dog that loyally guarded the man's tuckerbox (an Australian colloquialism for a box that holds food) until death...Bullocky Bill was written by an otherwise unknown poet who used the pen name "Bowyang Yorke" and first printed in 1857. A later poem by Jack Moses drew on the Bowyang Yorke poem for inspiration and was published in the 1920s. The latter poem was very popular and was the inspiration for the statue. Moses's poem, Nine Miles from Gundagai, was first published in 1938, several years after the statue's unveiling. Jack O'Hagan's song, "Where the Dog Sits on the Tuckerbox (5 miles from Gundagai)", was published in 1937. [Wikipedia]

You can hear another Aussie icon, Slim Dusty, singing the song here.


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