Jesse James

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2008 by deadbutdreamin

Jesse Woodson James was born in Clay County, Missouri, at the site of present day Kearney on jessejames2-2751September 5, 1847. His father, Robert S. James, was a commercial hemp farmer and Baptist minister in Kentucky who migrated to Missouri after marriage and helped found Liberty College in Liberty, Missouri. Robert James travelled to California during the Gold Rush and died there when Jesse was three years old.

After Robert’s death, Jesse’s mother Zerelda remarried, first Benjamin Simms and then a doctor named Reuben Samuel. After their marriage in 1855, Samuel moved into the James home. James had two full siblings: his older brother, Alexander Franklin “Frank” James, and a younger sister, Susan Lavenia James. In addition, Reuben Samuel and Zerelda eventually had four children: Sarah Louisa Samuel (aka Sarah Ellen), John Thomas Samuel, Fannie Quantrell Samuel, and Archie Peyton Samuel.

The approach of the American Civil War overshadowed the James-Samuel household. Missouri was a border state between the North and South, but Clay County lay in a region of Missouri later dubbed “Little Dixie”, where slaveholding and Southern identity were stronger than in other areas. It had been settled chiefly by migrants from the Upper South who brought their cultural practices, including slaveholding, with them. Robert James owned six slaves; after his death, Zerelda and Reuben Samuel acquired a total of seven slaves who raised tobacco on the farm. Clay County became the scene of great turmoil after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, when the question of whether slavery would be expanded into the neighboring Kansas Territory dominated public life. Much of the tension that led up to the American Civil War centered on the violence that erupted in nearby Kansas between pro- and anti-slavery militias.


The Civil War

The Civil War ripped Missouri apart, and shaped the life of Jesse James. Guerrilla warfare gripped the state lebanon-1860s-600after a series of campaigns and battles between conventional armies in 1861, waged between secessionist “bushwhackers” and Union forces, which largely consisted of local militia organizations. A bitter conflict ensued, bringing an escalating cycle of atrocities by both sides. Guerrillas murdered civilian Unionists, executed prisoners and scalped the dead. Union forces enforced martial law with raids on homes, arrests of civilians, summary executions and banishment of Confederate sympathizers.

The James-Samuel family took the Confederate side at the outset of the war. Frank James joined a local company recruited for the secessionist Missouri State Guard, and fought at the battle of Wilson’s Creek, though he fell ill and returned home soon afterward. In 1863, he was identified as a member of a guerrilla squad that operated in Clay County. In May of that year, a Union militia company raided the James-Samuel farm, looking for Frank’s group. They tortured Reuben Samuel by briefly hanging him from a tree and, according to legend, beat young Jesse. Frank escaped. He is believed to have joined the guerrilla organization led by William C. Quantrill, and to have taken part in the notorious massacre of some 200 men and boys in Lawrence, Kansas. Contrary to legend, there is no evidence that Jesse ever rode with Quantrill’s Raiders, as they would later be known.

Frank followed Quantrill to Texas over the winter of 1863–4, and returned in the spring in a squad d1_0234221commanded by Fletch Taylor. When they arrived in Clay County, 16-year-old Jesse joined them. In the summer of 1864, Taylor was severely wounded, losing his right arm to a shotgun blast. Frank and Jesse joined the bushwhacker group led by Bloody Bill Anderson. Jesse suffered a serious wound to the chest that summer, but the Clay County provost marshal reported that both Frank and Jesse took part in the Centralia Massacre in September, in which some 22 unarmed Union troops were killed or injured, scalping and dismembering some of the dead. The guerrillas ambushed and defeated a pursuing regiment of Union troops, killing all who tried to surrender. As a result of the James brothers’ activities, their family was exiled from the state of Missouri by the Union military authorities. Anderson was killed in an ambush in October. Frank followed Quantrill into Kentucky; Jesse went to Texas under the command of one of Anderson’s lieutenants, Archie Clement, and returned to Missouri in the spring. Contrary to legend, Jesse James was not shot while trying to surrender, rather, he and Clement were still trying to decide on what course to follow after the Confederate surrender when they ran into a Union cavalry patrol near Lexington, Missouri, and Jesse suffered a life-threatening chest wound.


The end of the Civil War left Missouri in shambles. The conflict split the population into three bitterly opposed factions: antislavery radical Unionists, who became the Republican Party; the proslavery conservative Unionists, who became the Democratic Party; and the secessionists. The radicals had pushed through a new state constitution that freed Missouri’s slaves but temporarily excluded the former Confederates from voting, serving on juries, becoming corporate officers, or preaching from church pulpits. The atmosphere was volatile, with widespread violence between individuals, armed gangs of radicals, and those bushwhackers who remained under arms.

Jesse, bedridden with his chest wound, was tended to by his first cousin, Zerelda “Zee” Mimms, named after zereldamimsjames-500his own mother, who remained in exile in Nebraska until August 1865. Jesse and Zee began a prolonged courtship, leading to their marriage nine years later. Meanwhile, Jesse’s commander, Archie Clement, kept his bushwhacker gang together, and began to harass radical authorities. These men were the likely culprits in the first armed bank robbery in the United States in peacetime, holding up the Clay County Savings Association in the town of Liberty, Missouri, on February 13, 1866. This bank was owned by Republican former militia officers, who had recently conducted the first Republican Party rally in Clay County’s history. One innocent bystander, a student of William Jewell College, was shot dead on the street during the gang’s escape. It remains unclear whether Jesse and Frank James took part; it has been argued that Jesse remained bedridden with his wound, and no concrete evidence has surfaced to connect either brother to the crime. Archie Clement, however, continued his career of crime and harassment of the Republican government, to the extent of occupying the town of Lexington, Missouri, on election day in 1866. The state militia shot Clement dead shortly afterward, an event that Jesse wrote about with bitterness a decade later.

The survivors of Clement’s gang continued to conduct bank robberies over the next two years, though their numbers dwindled through arrests, gunfights, and lynchings. On May 23, 1867, for example, they robbed a bank in Richmond, Missouri in which they killed the town’s mayor and two others. It remains uncertain whether either of the James brothers took part. In 1868, Frank and Jesse James allegedly joined Cole Younger in robbing a bank at Russellville, Kentucky. Jesse James did not become famous, however, until December 1869, when he and (most likely) Frank robbed the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri. The robbery netted little, but Jesse (it appears) shot and killed the cashier, mistakenly believing the man to be Samuel P. Cox, the militia officer who killed “Bloody Bill” Anderson during the Civil War. James’s self-proclaimed attempt at revenge, and the daring escape he and Frank made through the middle of a posse shortly afterward, put his name in the newspapers for the first time.

The robbery marked Jesse James’s emergence as the most famous of the former guerrillas turned outlaw. It started an alliance with John Newman Edwards, a Kansas City Times editor who was campaigning to return former Confederates to power in Missouri. Edwards published Jesse’s letters and made him into a symbol of Confederate defiance of Reconstruction through his elaborate editorials and favorable reporting. He also reported false information to throw law enforcement off the bandits’ trail. Jesse James’s own role in creating his rising public profile is debated by historians and biographers, though politics certainly surrounded his outlaw career and enhanced his notoriety.

Meanwhile, the James brothers, along with Cole Younger and his brothers John, Jim, and Bob; Clell Miller, and other former Confederates, now constituting the James-Younger Gang, continued a remarkable string of robberies from Iowa to Texas, and from Kansas to West Virginia. They robbed banks, stagecoaches, and a fair in Kansas City, often in front of large crowds, even hamming it up for the bystanders. On July 21, 1873, they turned to train robbery, derailing the Rock Island train in Adair, Iowa and stole approximately $3,000 ($51,000 in 2007). Their later train robberies had a lighter touch—in fact only twice in all of Jesse James’s train hold-ups did he rob passengers, because he typically limited himself to the express safe in the baggage car. Such techniques fostered the Robin Hood image that Edwards was creating in his newspapers.



The Adams Express Company turned to the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in 1874 to stop the pinkertonsJames-Younger Gang. The Chicago-based agency worked primarily against urban professional criminals, and provided industrial security and broke strikes. The former guerrillas were supported by many former Confederates in Missouri and proved to be too much for them. One agent, Joseph Whicher, was dispatched to infiltrate Zerelda Samuel’s farm and turned up dead shortly afterwards. Two others, Louis J. Lull and John Boyle, were sent after the Youngers; Lull was killed by two of the Youngers in a roadside gunfight on March 17, 1874, though he killed John Younger before he died. A deputy sheriff named Edwin Daniels was also killed in the skirmish.Allan Pinkerton, the agency’s founder and leader, took on the case as a personal vendetta, working with former Unionists who lived near the James’ family farm. He staged a raid on the homestead on the night of January 25, 1875. An incendiary device was thrown inside by the detectives; it exploded, killing James’s young half-brother Archie (named for Archie Clement) and blowing off one of the arms of mother Zerelda Samuel. Afterward, Pinkerton denied that the raid’s intent was arson, though biographer Ted Yeatman located a letter by Pinkerton in the Library of Congress, in which Pinkerton declared his intention to “burn the house down.”

The bloody fiasco did more than all of Edwards’s columns to turn Jesse James into a sympathetic figure for much of the public. A bill that lavishly praised the James and Younger brothers and offered them amnesty was only narrowly defeated in the state legislature. Former Confederates, allowed to vote and hold office again, voted a limit on reward offers that the governor could make for fugitives, extending a measure of protection over the James-Younger gang. (Only Frank and Jesse James previously had been singled out for rewards larger than the new limit.)

Jesse and his cousin Zee married on April 24, 1874, and had two children who survived to adulthood:jameschildren Jesse James, Jr. (b. 1875) and Mary Susan James (b. 1879). Twins Gould and Montgomery James (b. 1878) died in infancy. His surviving son, Jesse, Jr., became a lawyer and spent his career as a respected member of the bar in Kansas City, Missouri.

On September 7, 1876, the James-Younger gang attempted their most daring raid to date, on the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota. Cole and Bob Younger later stated that they selected the bank because of its connection to two Union generals and Republican politicians: Adelbert Ames, the governor of Mississippi during Reconstruction, and Benjamin Butler, Ames’s father-in-law and the Union commander of occupied New Orleans. As it turns out, Ames was a stockholder in the bank, but Butler had no direct connection to it.

The gang divided  into two groups. Three men entered the bank, two guarded the door outside, and three remained near a bridge across an adjacent square. The robbers inside the bank were thwarted when acting cashier Joseph Lee Heywood refused to open the safe, falsely claiming that it was secured by a time lock even as they held a bowie knife to his throat and cracked his skull with a pistol butt. Assistant cashier Alonzo Enos Bunker was wounded in the shoulder as he fled out the back door of the bank. Meanwhile, the citizens of Northfield grew suspicious of the men guarding the door and raised the alarm. The five bandits outside fired in the air to clear the streets, which merely drove the townspeople to take cover and fire back from protected positions. Two bandits were shot dead and the rest were wounded in the barrage. Inside, the outlaws turned to flee. As they left, one shot the unarmed Heywood in the head. The identity of the shooter has been the subject of extensive speculation and debate, but remains uncertain.

The gang barely escaped Northfield, leaving their two dead companions behind, along with two innocent victims (Heywood and a Swedish immigrant from the Millersburg community west of Northfield named Nicholas Gustafson). A massive manhunt ensued. The James brothers eventually split from the others and escaped to Missouri. The Youngers and one other bandit, Charlie Pitts, were soon discovered. A brisk gunfight left Pitts dead and the Youngers all prisoners. The James-Younger Gang was destroyed, except for Frank and Jesse James.

In 1876, Jesse and Frank James surfaced in the Nashville, Tennessee area, where they went by the names of Thomas Howard and B. J. Woodson, respectively. Frank seemed to settle down, but Jesse remained restless. He recruited a new gang in 1879 and returned to crime, holding up a train at Glendale, Missouri, on October 8, 1879. The robbery began a spree of crimes, including the hold-up of the federal paymaster of a canal project in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and two more train robberies. But the new gang did not consist of old, battle-hardened guerrillas; they soon turned against each other or were captured, while James grew paranoid, killing one gang member and frightening away another. The authorities grew suspicious, and by 1881 the brothers were forced to return to Missouri. In December, Jesse rented a house in Saint Joseph, Missouri, not far from where he had been born and raised. Frank, however, decided to move to safer territory, heading east to Virginia.

(Some sources seem to indicate the “Glendale, Missouri” link above is incorrect. The robbery may have occurred in Jackson County, MO. between Independence and Blue Springs near the Little Blue River. The Glendale, Missouri linked above was founded years after the robbery occurred.) Death

With his gang depleted by arrests, deaths, and defections, Jesse James thought that he had only two men left whom he could trust: brothers Robert and Charley Ford. Charley had been out on raids with Jesse before, but Bob was an eager new recruit. To better protect himself, Jesse asked the Ford brothers to move in with him and his family. Little did he know that Bob Ford had been conducting secret negotiations with Thomas T. Crittenden, the Missouri governor, to bring in the famous outlaw. Crittenden had made capture of the James brothers his top priority; in his inaugural address he declared that no political motives could be allowed to keep them from justice. Barred by law from offering a sufficiently large reward, he had turned to the railroad and express corporations to put up a $5,000 bounty for each of them.

On April 3, 1882, after eating breakfast, the Fords and James prepared for departure for another robbery, going in and out of the house to ready the horses. It was an unusually hot day. James removed his coat, then declared that he should remove his fire arms as well, lest he look suspicious. James noticed a dusty picture on the wall and stood on a chair to clean it. Robert Ford took advantage of the opportunity, and shot James in the back of the head.71023-004-5d89f5c9

The murder of Jesse James was a national sensation. The Fords made no attempt to hide their role. Indeed, Robert Ford wired the governor to claim his reward. Crowds pressed into the little house in St. Joseph to see the dead bandit, even while the Ford brothers surrendered to the authorities—but they were dismayed to find that they were charged with first degree murder. The Ford brothers were later tried and convicted. They were sentenced to death by hanging, but, two hours later were granted a full pardon by Governor Crittenden.

The governor’s quick pardon suggested that he may have been aware that the brothers intended to kill, rather than capture, Jesse James. (The Ford brothers, like many who knew James, never believed it was practical to try to capture such a dangerous man.) The implication that the chief executive of Missouri conspired to kill a private citizen startled the public and helped to create a new legend around James.

The Fords received a small portion of the reward and fled Missouri. (Some of the bounty went to law enforcement officials who were active in the plan.)

Charley Ford committed suicide on May 6, 1884 in Richmond, Missouri. Bob Ford was killed by a charlieford-500shotgun blast to the throat in his tent saloon in Creede, Colorado, on June 8, 1892. His killer, Edward Capehart O’Kelley, was sentenced to life in prison. O’Kelley’s sentence was commuted because of a medical condition, and he was released on October 3, 1902.

Zerelda Samuel selected an epitaph for Jesse James that stated: In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son, Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is not Worthy to Appear  

During his lifetime, Jesse James was celebrated chiefly by former Confederates, to whom he appealed directly in his letters to the press. Indeed, some historians credit his contributing to the rise of Confederates to dominance in Missouri politics (in the 1880s, for example, both U.S. Senators from the state were identified with the Confederate cause). James’ turn to crime after the end of Reconstruction helped cement his place in American memory as a simple but remarkably effective bandit.

During the Populist and Progressive eras, James became a symbol as America’s Robin Hood, standing up against corporations in defense of the small farmer, although his robberies benefited only him and his band. This “heroic outlaw” image is still portrayed in films, as well as songs and folklore. He remains a controversial symbol in the cultural battles over the place of the Civil War in American history. Historians place him among the insurgent guerrillas and vigilantes following the Civil War. The neo-Confederate movement regards him as a hero.



The Life After Jesse

a_photo_of_frank_james_from_the_ganis__research During his years as a bandit, Frank was involved in at least four shootouts between 1868 and 1876, resulting in the deaths of four bank employees or citizens. The most famous incident was the disastrous Northfield, Minnesota raid on September 7, 1876, that ended with the death or capture of most of the gang.

Aaron Mittenthal, the future grandparent of composer Aaron Copland, who would go on to romanticize the life of the contemporary outlaw Billy the Kid in his 1938 ballet, hired Frank James to work at a Dallas wholesale and retail dry-goods store. It was James’s running off with the store’s profits that convinced the Mittenthals to leave Texas and return to New York City.

Five months after the murder of his brother Jesse in 1882, Frank boarded a train to Jefferson City, Missouri, where he had an appointment with the governor in the state capitol. Placing his holster in Governor Crittenden’s hands, he explained,

“I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil.” He then ended his statement by saying, “Governor, I haven’t let another man touch my gun since 1861.”

Accounts say that Frank surrendered with the understanding that he would not be extradited to Northfield, Minnesota

Frank was tried for only two of the robberies/murders – one in Gallatin, Missouri for the July 15, 1881 robbery of the Rock Island Line train at Winston, Missouri, in which the train engineer and a passenger were killed, and the other in Huntsville, Alabama for the March 11, 1881 robbery of a United States Army Corps of Engineers payroll at Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Missouri General Joe Shelby testified on James’ behalf in the Missouri trial. The court was overwhelmed as the two old Confederate veterans embraced. No Missouri jury would have sentenced James after that demonstration. He was acquitted in Alabama as well. Afterwards, Missouri accepted legal jurisdiction over him for other charges but they never came to trial. The Missouri political establishment also kept him from being extradited to Minnesota to be tried in connection with the Northfield Raid.

In the last thirty years of his life, James worked a variety of jobs, including as a shoe salesman and then as a theater guard in St. Louis. One of the theater’s spins to attract patrons was their use of the phrase “Come get your ticket punched by the legendary Frank James.” He also served as an AT&T telegraph operator in St. Joseph, Missouri. With his old comrade Cole Younger, James took up the lecture circuit. In 1902, former Missourian Sam Hildreth, a leading thoroughbred horse trainer and owner, hired James as the betting commissioner at the Fair Grounds Race Track in New Orleans.

In his final years, Frank James returned to the James Farm, giving tours for the sum of 25 cents.He died there on February 18, 1915, aged 72 years.


 The James-Younger Gang

Jesse James (1847-1882) – The famous outlaw and leader of the James-Younger gang, robbed banks and jesse-james2trains for sixteen years. On April 3, 1882, Robert (Bob) Ford and his brother Charles called upon Jesse at his home in St. Joseph, Missouri. The brothers had joined the James Gang and while Jesse was laying out his plans for the next holdup, he turned to adjust a picture on the wall. While his back was turned, Bob Ford shot him from behind. James was 34 years-old. Ford was forever after known as “that dirty little coward

Alexander Franklin “Frank” James, aka: “Buck” (1840-1915) — Frank was the brother of Jesse James, frank_james_at_farm_at_age_70riding with the James-Younger Gang on most of their robberies. Later, when the Youngers were arrested in the Northfield, Minnesota raid, Frank was a member of the James Gang. After Jesse was killed, he surrendered to authorities in 1882. He was tried and acquitted by a sympathetic Missouri jury. The last thirty years of Frank James’ life saw him not as an illustrious outlaw but as a farmer, shoe salesman, race track starter, and directing a Wild West show. Frank died quietly in 1915 and is buried at Hill Park Cemetery in Independence, Missouri


Thomas Coleman (Cole) Younger (1844-1916) – Cole was an outlaw and the leader of the Younger Gang. He coleyounger3was wounded and captured following the Northfield bank raid on September 7, 1876. After serving more than twenty years in prison, Cole was paroled in 1901 but was not allowed to leave the State of Minnesota. Cole, along with brother Jim sold tombstones and insurance in Minnesota. Cole received an official pardon in 1903 and returned home to Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Cole reunited with Frank James in a touring Wild West show for a time and also went on the lecture circuit preaching the evils of crime. He was known as an elderly churchgoer in his hometown and died quietly in 1916. He is buried in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

James “Jim” Younger (1848-1902) – Jim, a member of the Younger gang was captured and imprisoned after jimyounger3the failed Northfield, Minnesota bank raid on September 7, 1876. Jim was paroled in 1901 and fell in love with a newspaper writer, Alice Miller, but was not permitted to marry under the strict parole terms handed down by the state. Despondent, he killed himself on October 19, 1902. His body was returned to his home where is buried in the Lee Summit Historical Cemetery In Lees Summit, Missouri.

bobyounger2Robert “Bob” Younger – The youngest of the Younger brothers, Bob was severely wounded in the 1876 Northfield raid on September 21, 1876. He was sent to prison, but contracted tuberculosis and died on September 16, 1889. His body was returned to his home where is buried in the Lee Summit Historical Cemetery In Lees Summit, Missouri.









 Robert Ford’s letter to Governor Thomas Crittenden

Ford wrote a letter to Governor Thomas Crittenden, telling his version of how he killed Jesse James (April, 1882) 



“On the morning of April 3, Jess and I went downtown, as usual, before breakfast, for the papers. We got to the house about eight o’clock and sat down in the front room. Jess was sitting with his back to me, reading the St. Louis Republican. I picked up the Times, and the first thing I saw in big headlines was the story about Dick Liddil’s surrender. Just then Mrs. James came in and said breakfast was ready. Beside me was a chair with a shawl on it, and as quick as a flash I lifted it and shoved the paper under. Jess couldn’t have seen me, but he got up, walked over to the chair, picked up the shawl and threw it on the bed, and taking the paper, went out to the kitchen. I felt that the jig was up, but I followed and sat down at the table opposite Jess.
Mrs. James poured out the coffee and then sat down at one end of the table. Jesse spread the paper on the table in front of him and began to look over the headlines. All at once Jess said: “Hello, here. The surrender of Dick Liddil.” And he looked across at me with a glare in his eyes.
“Young man, I thought you told me you didn’t know that Dick Liddil had surrendered,” he said.
I told him I didn’t know it.
“‘Well,” he said, “it’s very strange. He surrendered three weeks ago and you was right there in the neighborhood. It looks fishy.”
He continued to glare at me, and I got up and went into the front room. In a minute I heard Jess push his chair back and walk to the door. He came in smiling, and said pleasantly: “Well, Bob, it’s all right, anyway.”
Instantly his real purpose flashed upon my mind. I knew I had not fooled him. He was too sharp for that. He knew at that moment as well as I did that I was there to betray him. But he was not going to kill me in the presence of his wife and children. He walked over to the bed, and deliberately unbuckled his belt, with four revolvers in it, and threw it on the bed. It was the first time in my life I had seen him without that belt on, and I knew that he threw it off to further quiet any suspicions I might have.
He seemed to want to busy himself with something to make an impression on my mind that he had forgotten the incident at the breakfast table, and said: “That picture is awful dusty.” There wasn’t a speck of dust that I could see on the picture, but he stood a chair beneath it and then got upon it and began to dust the picture on the wall.
As he stood there, unarmed, with his back to me, it came to me suddenly, ‘Now or never is your chance. If you don’t get him now he’ll get you tonight.’ Without further thought or a moment’s delay I pulled my revolver and leveled it as I sat. He heard the hammer click as I cocked it with my thumb and started to turn as I pulled the trigger. The ball struck him just behind the ear and he fell like a log, dead.”

The Life Of Ned Kelly

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2008 by deadbutdreamin

Ned Kelly

John “Red” Kelly, the father of Ned Kelly, was born and raised in Ireland, where he was convicted of criminal acts sometime during his adulthood. There is uncertainty surrounding the exact nature of his crime as most of Ireland’s court records were destroyed during the Irish Civil War. Ian Jones claims that Red Kelly stole two pigs and was an informer, but the claim is contested in Kenneally who said ‘Red’ was a patriot.Red Kelly was sentenced to seven years of penal servitude and transported to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) and arrived in 1843.

After his release in 1848, Red Kelly moved to Victoria Australia and found work in Beveridge at the farm of James Quinn. At the age of 30 he married Quinn’s daughter Ellen, then 18. Their first child died early, but Ellen then gave birth to a daughter, Annie, in 1853. Seven of their children survived past infancy.

Their first son, Edward (Ned), was born in Beveridge, Victoria just north of Melbourne in June 1855.

Ned was baptised by an Augustinian priest, Charles O’Hea. As a boy, he obtained some basic schooling and once risked his life to save another boy, Richard Shelton, from drowning. As a reward he was given a green sash by the boy’s family, which he wore under his armour during his final showdown with police in 1880.shelton

The Kellys were suspected many times of cattle or horse stealing, though never convicted. Red Kelly was arrested when he killed and skinned a calf claimed to be the property of his neighbour. He was found innocent of theft, but guilty of removing the brand from the skin and given the option of a twenty-five pound fine or a sentence of six months with hard labour. Without money to pay the fine Red served his sentence in Kilmore gaol, with the sentence having an ultimately fatal effect on his health. The saga surrounding Red, and his treatment by the police, made a strong impression on his son Ned.

Red Kelly died at Avenel, Victoria on 27 December 1866 when Ned was eleven and a half years old. It was at this time that the Kelly family acquired land and moved to the Greta area of Victoria, which to this day is known as “Kelly Country”.

In all, eighteen charges were brought against members of Ned’s immediate family before he was declared an outlaw, while only half that number resulted in guilty verdicts. This is a highly unusual ratio for the time, and is one of the reasons that has caused many to posit that Ned’s family was unfairly targeted from the time they moved to North-East Victoria. Perhaps the move was necessary because of Ellen’s squabbles with family members and her appearances in court over family disputes. Antony O’Brien however argued that Victoria’s colonial policing had nothing to do with winning a conviction, rather the determinant of one’s criminality was the arrest. Further, O’Brien argued, using the “Statistics of Victoria” crime figures that the region’s or family’s or national criminality was determined not by individual arrests, but rather by the total number of arrests.

 Harry Power

Harry Power was born Henry Johnson at Waterford, Ireland in 1819. He and his family migrated toharry20power England in the 1830’s where he worked as a piecer in the Woolen Mills at Ashton, Lancashire. He was sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing a pair of shoes in 1840. He arrived in Tasmania during May 1842. By 1847 Henry Johnson received a ticket-of-leave so he travelled to the mainland where he worked as a horse dealer in Geelong and Maryborough.

In 1855, he received a thirteen year sentence for horse stealing and shooting a police trooper. During his stint Power served time in various prisons including some time aboard the prison hulk ‘Success’ anchored off Williamstown in Hobson’s Bay. Released in 1862 and now under the name of Harry Power, he was posted ‘illegally at large’ after ignoring his conditions of release. Subsequently a reward was placed on his head. Harry moved to the North East of Victoria where, in 1864,  he was arrested for horse stealing and sentenced at Beechworth Courthouse to seven years imprisonment at Pentridge Prison in Coburg.

In 1869, only a few months before he was released, Power escaped by hiding in a hole in a new section of prison wall. He then returned to North East Victoria where he was responsible for a spate of armed robberies of travellers, coaches and horses. His territory ranged from Kyneton to Bairnsdale, across the Divide and deep into Gippsland and, and up to southern NSW. He once held up the Mansfield-Jamieson coach twice in a week. It was here that Harry Power became known as the ‘Gentleman Bushranger’ until he was finally caught in the middle of 1870. For the charge of three armed robberies he was sentenced to a fifteen years imprisonment with hard labour to be served at Pentridge, although he probably committed more than ninety offences while at large.

“I will teach you things you would pay guineas to learn! Give attention to me, Ned, and I will reveal to you every secret of me daring trade”
Power to young Ned The Last Outlaw

Harry Power survived his prison term, being released in 1885, an old and sick man. For a period afterwards he acted as a tour guide aboard the hulk ‘Success’ under the title “The last of the Bushrangers”. Harry Power was made famous by being credited with tutoring a young Ned Kelly in the ways of bushranging during 1870. It was a brief affair, one where Ned made only five pounds and which nearly cost him his life. Ned was also arrested as Harry’s accomplice in May 1870, however, the charge was dismissed.

Superintendent Nicolson grapples with a sleepy Harry Power during a dawn capture in his mountain hideout, while Superintendent Hare and Sergeant Montfort move in.country_power_02

During 1891 Power made his last trip to the North East where it was reported he slipped and drowned whilst fishing in the Murray River near Swan Hill. He survived his famous apprentice by eleven years. Mrs Kelly may have been half right when she called him a “brown paper bushranger” but his death signified the end to the “Golden Days of Bushranging” for Victoria’s North East


Ned Kelly Letter to Sgt. James Babington

In 1869, the 14-year-old Ned Kelly was arrested for assaulting a Chinese pig farmer named Ah Fook. Ah Fook claimed that he had been robbed by Ned, who stated that Ah Fook had a row with his sister Annie. Kelly spent ten days in custody before the charges were dismissed. From then on the police regarded him as a “juvenile bushranger”.kelly2a

The following year, he was arrested and accused of being an accomplice of bushranger Harry Power. No evidence was produced in court and he was released after a month. Historians tend to disagree over this episode: some see it as evidence of police harassment; others believe that Kelly’s relatives intimidated the witnesses, making them reluctant to give evidence. Ned’s grandfather, James Quinn, owned a huge piece of land at the headwaters of the King River known as Glenmore Station, where Power was ultimately arrested.

In October 1870, Kelly was arrested again for assaulting a hawker, Jeremiah McCormack, and for his part in sending McCormack’s childless wife an indecent note that had calves’ testicles enclosed. This was a result of a row earlier that day caused when McCormack accused a friend of the Kellys, Ben Gould, of using his horse without permission. Gould wrote the note, and Kelly passed it on to one of his cousins to give to the woman. He was sentenced to three months’ hard labour on each charge.history_nedboxing

Ned aged 19, taken by photographer Chidley from Melbourne. The photo celebrates the victory over “Wild” Wright in a 20 round bare–nuckle fight on August 8, 1874 at Beechworth to settle an old score over a stolen horse and it’s three year jail sentence.isaiah2




Upon his release Kelly returned home. There he met Isaiah “Wild” Wright who had arrived in the area on a chestnut mare. The mare had gone missing and since Wright needed to go back to Mansfield he asked Kelly to find and keep it until his return. Kelly found the mare and used it to go to town. He always maintained that he had no idea that the mare actually belonged to the Mansfield postmaster and that Wright had stolen it. While riding through Greta, Ned was approached by police constable Hall who, from the description of the animal, knew the horse was stolen property. When his attempt to arrest Kelly turned into a fight, Hall drew his gun and tried to shoot him, but Kelly overpowered the policeman and humiliated him by riding him like a horse. Hall later struck Kelly several times with his revolver after he had been arrested. After just three weeks of freedom, the 16-year-old Kelly was sentenced to three years imprisonment along with his brother-in-law Alex Gunn. “Wild” Wright got only eighteen months.

While Kelly was in prison, his brothers Jim (aged 12) and Dan (aged 10) were arrested by Constable Flood for riding a horse that did not belong to them. The horse had been lent to them by a farmer for whom they had been doing some work, but the boys spent a night in the cells before the matter wascountry_lloyd1 cleared.

Two years later, Jim Kelly was arrested for cattle-rustling. He and his family claimed that he did not know that some of the cattle did not belong to his employer and cousin Tom Lloyd. Jim was given a five-year sentence, but as O’Brien pointed out the receiver of the ‘stolen stock’ James Dixon was not prosecuted as he was ‘a gentleman’

In October 1877, Gustav and William Baumgarten were arrested for supplying stolen horses to Ned Kelly and were later sentenced in 1878. William served time in Pentridge Prison, Melbourne

Following Red Kelly’s death, Ned’s mother, Ellen, married a Californian named George King, with whom she had three children. He, Ned and Dan became involved in a cattle rustling operation.

On the 15 April 1878, Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick arrived at Benalla suffering from wounds to his fitzpatrickleft wrist. He claimed that he had been attacked by Ned, Dan, Ellen, their associate Bricky Williamson and Ned’s brother-in-law, Bill Skilling. Fitzpatrick claimed that all except Ellen had been armed with revolvers. Williamson and Skilling were arrested for their part in the affair. Ned and Dan were nowhere to be found, but Ellen was taken into custody along with her baby, Alice. She was still in prison at the time of Ned’s execution. (Ellen would outlive her most famous son by several decades and died on 27 March 1923).

kate kellyThe Kellys claimed that Fitzpatrick came into their house to question Dan over a cattle duffing incident. While there, he made a pass at Ellen’s daughter Kate. Her mother hit his hand with a coal shovel and the men knocked Fitzpatrick to the floor. They then bandaged his injured wrist, and he had left saying that no real harm had been done. No guns, they claimed, were used during the incident, and Ned was not involved since he had been away in New South Wales. The belief that Ned was in New South Wales is still disputed, although Fitzpatrick’s testimony of events is coloured by the fact that he was later dismissed from the force for drunkenness and perjury.

The trial at Beechworthbeechworth_yesteryear

Ellen Kelly, Skillon and Williamson appeared on 9 October 1878 before Judge Redmond Barry charged with attempted murder and were convicted on Fitzpatrick’s unsupported evidence. Barry stated that if Ned were present he would ‘give him 15 years’

Dan and Ned Kelly doubted they could convince the police of their story. Instead they went into hiding, where they were later joined by friends Joe Byrne and Steve Hart.

Stringybark Creek


On 25 October 1878, Sergeant Kennedy set off to search for the Kellys, accompanied by Constables McIntyre, Lonigan, and Scanlon. The wanted men were suspected of being in the Wombat Ranges north of Mansfield, Victoria. The police set up a camp near two shepherd huts at Stringybark Creek in a heavily timbered area. A second police party had set off from Greata near the Wangaratta end, with the intention of closing in on Ned in a pincer movement.history_kennedy

The Mansfield team of police under Kennedy on arrival at Stringybark split into two groups: Kennedy and Scanlon went in search of the Kellys, while the others, Lonigan and McIntyre remained to guard their camp. Brown suggested in, Australian Son (1948) that Sgt. Kennedy was tipped off as to the whereabouts of the Kellys. O’Brien (1999) drew attention to the 1881 Royal Commission’s questioning of McIntyre, which explored a possibility that Kennedy and Scanlon may have searched for the Kellys to gain a reward for themselves. Jones stated  that Kennedy and Scanlon had once split a reward for the arrest of ‘Wild Wright’. O’Brien’s research focus on the practice of splitting rewards highlighting that it was known as ‘going whacks’.

The Mansfield police team (Lonigan and McIntyre) remaining in the base camp fired at parrots, unaware they were only a mile away from the Kelly camp. Alerted by the shooting, the Kellys searched and discovered the well-armed police camped near the “shingle hut” at Stringybark Creek. Although the police were disguised as prospectors, they had pack horses with leather strap arrangements suitable for carrying out bodies.

Ned Kelly and his brother Dan considered their chances of survival against the well-armed party and decided to overpower the two officers, then wait for the two others to return. According to Jones  the Kellys knew that that a police member (Strahan), from Greta team boasted he would shoot Ned ‘like a dog’ and Kelly believed these police were that Greta party. He was unaware of the Mansfield group. Ned’s plan was for the police to surrender, allowing the Kellys to take their arms and horses. Ned and Dan advanced to the police camp, ordering them to surrender. Constable McIntyre threw his arms up. Lonigan drew his revolver and Ned shot him. Lonigan staggered some distance, and collapsed dead.findkennedy1

When the other two police returned to camp, Constable McIntyre, at Ned’s direction, called on them to surrender. Scanlon went for his pistol; Ned fired. Scanlon was killed. Kennedy ran, firing as he sought cover moving from tree to tree. In an exchange of gunfire, Kennedy was mortally shot. Ned fired a fatal shot into Kennedy. McIntyre, in the confusion, escaped on horseback uninjured.

The exact place at Germans Creek where this occurred has only recently been identified. On leaving the scene Ned stole Sergeant Kennedy’s handwritten note for his wife and his gold fob watch. Asked later why he stole the watch, Ned replied, “What’s the use of a watch to a dead man?” Kennedy’s watch was returned to his kin many years later.


In response to these killings the Victorian parliament passed the Felons’ Apprehension Act which outlawed the gang and made it possible for anyone to shoot them. There was no need for the outlaws to be arrested and for there to be a trial. The Act was based on the 1865 Act passed in New South Wales which declared Ben Hall and his gang outlaws.



  Bank robberies



On the 10 December 1878, the gang raided the National Bank at Euroa. They had already taken a number of hostages at Faithful Creek station and went to the bank claiming to be delivering a message from McCauley, the station manager. They got into the bank and held up the manager, Scott, and his two tellers. After obtaining all the money available, the outlaws ordered Scott, along with his wife, family, maids and tellers to accompany them to Faithful Creek where they were locked up with the other hostages, who included the station’s staff and some passing hawkers and sportsmen.

It is claimed that Ned, posing as a policeman, took one of the men prisoner on the grounds of being the “notorious Ned Kelly”. The man was locked up in the storeroom saying that he would report the “officer” to his superiors. It was only then that he was told who his captor was.

The outlaws gave an exhibition of horsemanship which entertained and surprised their hostages. After having supper, and telling the hostages not to raise the alarm for another three hours, they left. The entire crime was carried out without injury and the gang netted £2000, a large sum in those days.



The raid on Jerilderie is particularly noteworthy for its boldness and cunning. The gang arrived in the town on Saturday 8 February 1879. They broke into the local police station and imprisoned police officers Richards and Devine in their own cell. The outlaws then changed into the police uniforms and mixed with the locals, claiming to be reinforcements from Sydney.

On Monday the gang rounded up various people and forced them into the back parlour of the Royal Mail Hotel. While Dan Kelly and Steve Hart kept the hostages busy with “drinks on the house” , Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne robbed the local bank of about two thousand pounds. Kelly also burned all the townspeople’s mortgage deeds in the bank.

The Jerilderie Letterjerilderie_letterpg56

Months prior to arriving in Jerilderie, and with help from Joe Byrne, Ned Kelly dictated a lengthy letter for publication describing his view of his activities and the treatment of his family and, more generally, the treatment of Irish Catholics by the police and the English and Irish Protestant squatters.

Kennedy kept firing from behind the tree my brother Dan advanced and Kennedy ran. I followed him he stopped behind another tree and fired again. I shot him in the armpit and he dropped his revolver and ran I fired again with the gun as he slewed around to surrender. I did not know that he had dropped his revolver, the bullet passed through the right side of his chest and he could not live or I would have let him go…”
from the Jerilderie Letter

The Jerilderie Letter, as it is called, is a document of 7,391 words and has become a famous piece of Australian literature. Kelly had written a previous letter (14 December 1878) to a member of Parliament stating his grievances, but the correspondence had been suppressed from the public. The letter highlights the various incidents that led to him becoming an outlaw .

The letter was never published and was concealed until re-discovered in 1930. It was then published by the Melbourne Herald.

The Jerilderie Letter

The handwritten document was donated anonymously to the State Library of Victoria in 2000. Historian Alex McDermott says of the Letter, “… even now it’s hard to defy his voice. With this letter Kelly inserts himself into history, on his own terms, with his own voice…We hear the living speaker in a way that no other document in our history achieves…” Kelly’s language is colorful, rough and full of metaphors; it is “one of the most extraordinary documents in Australian history”.nedcarrington






Capture, trial and execution



Byrne started plans with Kelly for another bank raid in Benalla in 1880. However, they were becoming increasingly concerned about Sherritt who they feared was being targeted by police as an informant. While Byrne had previously used Sherritt as a double agent to persuade the police that the gang was planning a raid in the Goulburn River rather than at Jerilderie, both Kelly and Byrne believed that he had turned informant. This prompted Byrne to murder Sherritt as an informer on 26 June 1880.

The following day, the Kelly Gang took over Glenrowan, first tearing up the railway line in anticipation of a special trainload of police being sent to capture them. They held over 60 people hostage in the town. Tom Curnow, the schoolmaster of the local school who had won Kelly’s trust, escaped and warned the train crew who in turn told the police. This enabled 34 police to surround the Glenrowan Hotel where the bushrangers had again shouted the bar.

Joe Byrne death picture


On Tuesday morning, to the disgust of some of the onlookers, the body was taken outside and slung up against a door to be photographed. The features were composed in a natural way and easily recognised. The face had full, fine forehead, blue eyes, downy moustache and a bushy beard covering a full chin, whilst the curly hair had recently been cut. The figure was of a well built, lithe young fellow and the face beautiful, nevertheless the spectacle was repulsive. The hands were clenched in the agony of death and covered with blood. Blood stained the blue sack coat and strapped tweed trousers, which, even in death, Joe wore with loose grace.
Max Brown Australian Son

Joe Byrne is believed to have been heavily involved in designing the armour worn by all members of the Gang at the siege of Glenrowan. This did not stop him from being shot in the groin by a stray bullet which severed his femoral artery. Eyewitnesses at the hotel claimed that a moment before the bullet struck Joe Byrne dead, he offered the toast “Here’s to the bold Kelly Gang!”. Another report states that he said “Many more years in the bush for the Kelly Gang!”. He died from loss of blood on June 28, 1880. The next day his body was hung on the door of the lock-up at Benalla and photographed by the press. His family did not claim the body and the police refused to hand it over to sympathisers, fearing a funeral would become a rallying point for the simmering rebellion. He was buried on the same day as Sherritt. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart also died on the day of the siege by gang_kellytaking poison while Ned Kelly was captured and tried in Melbourne. gang_hartNed Kelly was hanged at Melbourne Jail on November 11, 1880. There is a legend that Kelly and Byrne had drafted a Declaration of a Republic of Northeast Victoria which was discovered in Kelly’s possession at his capture and was destroyed by the Victorian Government.

The gang members donned their now-famous armour. It is not known exactly who made the armour, although it was likely forged from stolen and donated plow parts. Each man’s armour weighed about 96 pounds (44 kg); all four had helmets, and Byrne’s was said to be the most well done, with the brow reaching down to the nose piece, almost forming two eye slits.

While holed up in the Glenrowan Inn, the Kelly gang’s attempt to derail the police train failed due to 2229_02_fullthe bravery of a released hostage, schoolmaster Thomas Curnow. Curnow convinced Ned to let him go and then as soon as he was released he alerted the authorities, at great risk to his own life, by standing on the railway line near sunrise and waving a lantern wrapped in his red scarf. The police then stopped the train before it would have been derailed and laid siege to the inn.

At about dawn on Monday 28 June, Ned Kelly emerged from the inn in his suit of armour. He marched towards the police, firing his gun at them, while their bullets bounced off his armour. His lower limbs, however, were unprotected and he was shot repeatedly in the legs. The other Kelly Gang members died in the hotel; Joe Byrne allegedly perished due to loss of blood due to a gunshot wound that severed his femoral artery, and Dan Kelly and Steve Hart committed suicide (according to witness Matthew Gibney). The police suffered only one minor injury: Superintendent Francis Hare, the senior officer on the scene, received a slight wound to his wrist, then fled the battle. For his cowardice the Royal Commission later suspended Hare from the Victorian Police Force. Several hostages were also shot, two fatally.

Ned Kelly survived to stand trial, and was sentenced to death by the Irish-born judge Sir Redmond Barry. This case was extraordinary in that there were exchanges between the prisoner Kelly and the judge, and the case has been the subject of attention by historians and lawyers. When the judge uttered the customary words “May God have mercy on your soul”, Kelly replied “I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there when I go”.He was hanged on 11 November 1880 at the Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Constable Lonigan. Although two newspapers (The Age and The Herald) reported Kelly’s last words as “Such is life”, another source, Kelly’s gaol warden, wrote in his diary that when Kelly was prompted to say his last words, the prisoner opened his mouth and mumbled something that he couldn’t hear. Sir Redmond Barry died of the effects of a carbuncle on his neck on 23 November 1880, twelve days after Kelly.kelly_barry

Although the exact number is unknown, it is estimated that a petition to spare Kelly’s life attracted over 30,000 signatures.ned20hanged


 Grave discovered

On 9 March 2008 it was announced that Australian archaeologists believed they had found Kelly’s grave on the site of an abandoned prison. The bones were uncovered at a mass grave, and Kelly’s are among those of thirty-two felons who had been executed by hanging. Historians had discovered records which suggested that Kelly’s remains were buried at Pentridge prison after having been removed from the Old Melbourne Gaol when it closed in 1929. Jeremy Smith, a senior archaeologist with Heritage Victoria said, “We believe we have conclusively found the burial site but that is very different from finding the remains.”

Forensic pathologists have examined the bones, which are much decayed and jumbled with the remains of others, making identification difficult. However, Kelly’s remains were identified by an old wrist injury and by the fact that his head was removed for phrenological study. Mrs. Ellen Hollow, Kelly’s 62-year old great-niece, offered to supply her own DNA to help identify Kelly’s bones.


 The Kelly aftermath and the lessons

Some dismiss the Kelly Outbreak as simply a spate of criminality. These included: Boxhall, The Story of Australian Bushrangers (1899), Henry Giles Turner, History of the Colony of Victoria (1904) and several police writers of the time like Hare and more modern writers like Penzig (1988) who wrote legitimizing narratives about law and order and moral justification.

Others, commencing with Kenneally (1929), and McQuilton (1979) and Jones (1995), perceived the Kelly Outbreak and the problems of Victoria’s Land Selection Acts post-1860s as interlinked. McQuilton identified Kelly as the “social bandit” who was caught up in unresolved social contradictions – that is, the selector-squatter conflicts over land – and that Kelly gave the selectors the leadership they so lacked. O’Brien (1999) identified a leaderless rural malaise in Northeastern Victoria as early as 1872-73, around land, policing and the Impounding Act.

After Ned Kelly’s death, the Victorian Royal Commission (1881-83) into the Victorian Police Force led to many changes to the nature of policing in the colony.

Though the Kelly Gang was destroyed in 1880, for almost seven years a serious threat of a second outbreak existed because of major problems around land settlement and selection (McQuilton, Ch. 10).

McQuilton suggested two police officers involved in the pursuit of the Kelly Gang — namely, Superintendent John Sadleir (1833-1919), author of Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer, and Inspector W.B. Montford — averted the Second Outbreak by coming to understand that the unresolved social contradiction in Northeastern Victoria was around land, not crime, and by their good work in aiding small selectors.superintendent20john20sadleir                                                                         Superintendent John sadleir



November 2007 auctioning of claimed Kelly revolver

On 13 November 2007, a weapon claimed to be Constable Fitzpatrick’s service revolver was auctioned for approximately $70,000 in Melbourne and is now located in Westbury Tasmania.picture200741

The vendor’s representative, Tom Thompson, claimed that the revolver was left by Constable Fitzpatrick at the Kelly house after the melee in 1878, given to Kate Kelly, and then (much later) found in a house or shed in Forbes, New South Wales.

According to press reports in the days following the auction, firearms experts assessed the revolver as being of a design (a copy of an English Webley .32 revolver) not manufactured until 1884, well after the claimed provenance had the weapon changing hands from Constable Fitzpatrick to the Kellys. In addition, a stamp on the gun which the auction catalogue interpreted as R*C, an indication that the revolver was of the Royal Constabulary, was instead read as a European manufacturer’s proof mark.

Further, evidence by Constable Fitzpatrick said that when he left the Kelly homestead after the incident, he had his revolver and handcuffs;ned-kelly-pic

 Cultural effect

Ned Kelly’s armour on display in the Victoria State Library

Ellen Kelly

Probably the saddest part of the whole Kelly saga would be that of Ned and Dan’s dear ellen22mother Ellen. This tough, and resilient woman outlived 7 of her children, was in gaol the whole time her sons Ned and Dan were on the run, she had to suffer hearing from the prison warders the events of Stringybark Creek and of her son Dan’s eventual demise at Glenrowan, which must have been unimaginable…and finally, was in the very same gaol as Ned on the day of his execution.

Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick must have been a name that rang in Mrs Kelly’s ears for many years…

On Fitzpatrick’s perjured evidence, Mrs Kelly was lagged for 3 years hard labour in the Pentridge Dungeons, with a two week old baby in arms for “aiding and abetting in an attempt to murder Constable Fitzpatrick”

A few short months later, Fitzpatrick was dismissed from the Victorian Police Force because he “could not be trusted out of sight and never did his duty

Mrs Kelly’s words probably best explain the persecution she and her family had to suffer at the hands of unscrupulous Police…

“The police have treated my children very badly. I have three very
young ones, and had one only a fortnight old when I got into trouble
(referring to her recent imprisonment in connexion with the assault on
Constable Fitzpatrick at Greta). That child I took to Melbourne with
me; but I left Kate and Grace and the younger children behind. The
police used to treat them very ill. They used to take them out of bed
at night, and make them walk before them. The police made the children
go first when examining a house, so as to prevent the outlaws, if in the
house, from suddenly shooting them. Kate is now only about 16 years
old, and is still a mere child. She is older than Grace. Mrs. Skillion
is married, and, of course, knew more than the others, who are mere
children. She is not in the house now. Mr. Brook Smith was the worst-
behaved of the force, and had less sense than any of them. He used to
throw things out of the house, and he came in once to the lock-up
staggering drunk. I did not like his conduct. That was at Benalla. I
wonder they allowed a man to behave as he did to an unfortunate
woman. He wanted me to say things that were not true. My holding
comprises 88 acres, but it is not all fenced in. The Crown will not
give me a title. If they did I could sell at once and leave this locality.
I was entitled to a lease a long time ago, but they are keeping it back.
Perhaps, if I had a lease, I might stay for a while, if they would let me
alone. I want to live quietly. The police keep coming backwards and
forwards, and saying there are ‘reports, reports.’ As to the papers,
there was nothing but lies in them from the beginning. I would sooner
be closer to a school, on account of my children. If I had anything
forward I would soon go away from here.”
Upon being asked whether any of her children had any complaint to
make, Mrs. Kelly knocked at the front door, and called out to her
daughter Grace to open it. Grace did so, and after much persuasion on
the part of her mother, came to the open door, but speedily retreated
behind it. She seems about 14 or 15 years old, and bears a much greater
resemblance to her brother ned than either Mrs. Skillion or Miss Kate
Kelly do. Most of the party, seeing that the girl was bashful, withdrew
from the house, and then Grace made a statement to Mr. Longmore
and one or two others to the effect that one of her brother Ned’s last
requests was that his sisters should make full statements as to how the
police had treated them. She then continued as follows:
“On one occasion Detective Ward threatened to shoot me if I did
not tell him where my brothers were, and he pulled out his revolver.
The police used to come here and pull the things about. Mr. Brook
Smith was one of them. He used to chuck our milk, flour, and honey,
on the floor. Once they pulled us in our night clothes out of bed.
Sergeant Steele was one of that party.”

Mrs. Kelly further stated that when she “came out” her children’s
clothes were rotten, because of their having been thrown out of doors
by the police. The police, also, had destroyed a clock and a lot of
pictures, and had threatened to pull down the house over their heads.
She was understood to make a statement to the effect that the police
had made improper overtures to some of her daughters, but she
afterwards said that she had no such charge to make.


The pain Mrs Kelly must have felt when the prison clock rang out at 11:00 am on the 11th November 1880… Knowing her son walked a lonely path to his demise

It’s very hard to give this lady the credit she deserves, no one has documented Ellen ellenkellyKelly’s life thoroughly. She was a pioneer in her own right and a proud and unconquered lady.

Ellen Kelly died at Greta Victoria,  on the 27th March 1923 – A Dignified Lady


I had not seen Ned for two years and I was shocked at the grimness in his face. He was still weak, his face was full of bruises, his hands were bandaged. He could not walk and laid in bed. But those dark, hazel eyes were still the same, still sharp, sparkling, though the lines about them had deepened.

– Ellen Kelly


 Ned Kelly as a political icon

In the time since his execution, Ned Kelly has been mythologized among some into a Robin Hood,a political revolutionary and a figure of Irish Catholic and working-class resistance to the establishment and British colonial ties. It is claimed that Kelly’s bank robberies were to fund the push for a “Republic of the North-East of Victoria”, and that the police found a declaration of the republic in his pocket when he was captured, which has led to him being seen as an icon by some in the Australian republicanism cause.




 bush ballad from joe byrne

My name is Ned Kelly,byrne
I’m known adversely well.
My ranks are free,
my name is law,
Wherever I do dwell.
My friends are all united,
my mates are lying near.
We sleep beneath shady trees,
No danger do we fear.





The Kelly Gang

Name: Edward Kelly
Born: ~1855
Died: 11th November 1880, Melbourne Gaol, Australia, aged 25 (cause – executed)
Nationality: Australian born (Irish heritage)
Description: height 5’10”, brown hair and whiskers, hazel eyes, dark eyebrows
Religion: Roman Catholic
Marital status: Never married, (no known children)
Parents: John Kelly  and Ellen Quinn  both Irish born, met and married in Australia.
Siblings: Mary b.1851 (d.1851), Anne (Annie) b.1853, Margaret (Maggie) b.1857, James (Jim) b.1859, Daniel (Dan) b.1861, Catherine (Kate) b.1863, Grace b.1865. Half siblings: Ellen Frost (illegitimate) b.1870, Ellen King b.1873, John King b.1875, Alice King b.1878.

 Name: Joseph Byrne
Born: 1857
Died: 28th June 1880, Glenrowan, Australia, (cause – shot)
Nationality: Australian born (Irish heritage)
Description: height 5′ 9½”, fair hair and complexion, fair moustache, grey-blue eyes, (academically inclined, could speak Cantonese, opium user, excellent marksman)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Marital status: Never married, (no known children)
Parents: Patrick Byrne and Margaret White

Name: Steven Hart
Born: 1859 at Three Mile Creek, near Wangaratta
Died: 28th June 1880, Glenrowan, Victoria, (cause – unknown, possibly suicide)
Nationality: Australian born (Irish heritage)
Description: height about 5′ 8″, dark brown hair, fair complexion, hazel eyes, slight build, (excellent horseman)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Marital status: Never married, (no known children)
Parents: Richard Hart and Bridget Young (both Irish

Name: Daniel Kelly
Born: June 1861
Died: 28th June 1880, Glenrowan, Australia, (cause – unknown, possibly suicide)
Nationality: Australian born (Irish heritage)
Description: height about 5′ 6″, dark brown hair, dark eyes
Religion: Roman Catholic
Marital status: Never married, (no known children)
Parents: John Kelly and Ellen Quinn 

Siblings: Mary b.1851 (d.1851), Anne (Annie) b.1853,Edward Kelly (ned) b.1855,Margaret (Maggie) b.1857, James (Jim) b.1859, , Catherine (Kate) b.1863, Grace b.1865. Half siblings: Ellen Frost (illegitimate) b.1870, Ellen King b.1873, John King b.1875, Alice King b.1878


source from