Monthly Archives:

The Battle of Broken Hill Part II


The Battle of Broken Hill Part II
Captured Rifles and flags – Photo: Broken Hill Historical Society
  With dead and wounded falling everywhere on the back of the train, “Tiger” Nyholm grabbed his rifle and began firing back at the two men on the hill. An alert was also raised, which went back to the Police Station at Broken Hill, some 3 kilometres away.
 Inspector Miller, in charge of the local police, sent a message to Lieut. Resch who assembled a squad of local military enforcement and volunteers riflemen. The men, now posse, set out towards the scene of the attack. Sergeant Gibson noticed two men climbing among the white quartz rocks just past the Cable Hotel, and halted to make enquiries as to if they had witnessed anything.
 The two men opened fire, and shot Mounted Constable Mills in the groin and thigh.  A gun fight broke out. The military and police force took cover, and slowly surrounded the bottom of the hill the two where the two men were hiding.
 The public in town, hearing the volley of shots, grabbed their rifles, men old and young, made their way out to the gun fight, and opened fire at the two men.


The gun fight lasted until 1pm, when the police, military and citizens rushed the mountain, shooting the men dead. Their two bodies’ lay ten metres apart, one, shot through the temple was very much dead, but the other man was still breathing, and clinging on to life, even with 16 bullet wounds in his body – he died on the way to hospital in the back of an ambulance.
 Such an outcry of rage was to come from the events that the public did not want the men buried in their local cemetery – police later removed the bodies and disposed of them in secret.

So who were the two men who undertook the first terrorist attack on Australian soil?
 Badsha Mahommed Ghul (1874 – 1915) was an ice cream vendor and Mullah Abdullah (1854-1915) was an Iman and Halal butcher – both men were from a region, known at the time as India’s North-West Frontier, which is a location now found within the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Picnic train at Broken Hill – photo provided by SLSA PRG280_1_15_1017
 Ghul had traveled to Australia and found work as a cameleer, but business was not good, so he found work in a local silver mine, but with the outbreak of the Great War, was fired after all German contracts were cancelled.
 He instead bought an ice cream cart from a local Italian, and became quite well known as the friendly sweet vendor in the town.

 Mullah Abdullah on the other hand was an older man with a grudge. He still wore his traditional clothing, and due to an old leg injury, walked with a hobble that slowed him incredibly. Local kids feared him, but also made fun of him, sometimes throwing stones at him and running off, knowing he could never catch them.
 He had been living in Broken Hill for 15 years and was seen in the local Islamic community as a religious Iman, sharing in daily prayer, and acting as the local Halal Butcher in Ghantown.
 He came in to dispute with the local Sanitary Inspector, Cornelious Brosnon, for not being a unionist and for what was considered his “barbaric practices”.
 Brosnon prosecuted Abdullah in 1914 for not slaughtering animals at the abattoirs as was the current established practice. He was ordered to pain a fine of One Pound, or face 7 days in gaol – he chose to pay the fine, but never forgot or forgave Brosnon. He was again fined only months later for not having brands on sheep he had slaughtered, this time he face 3 months gaol, or a fine of 3 po
unds, of which he could not pay.
 In a state of despair over his prospects, further tragedy struck him when a fire broke out in his uninsured two room house, which burnt to the ground, with all his possessions. Now a broken man, with no belongings and no purpose, he turned to his neighbor and friend, Ghul for comfort.
 Ghul recounted to his friend that the Sultan of Turkey had only recently called a Jihad on Australia’s allies who were going to war in Europe, he urged his friend that they would have great afterlives if they killed as many Australian’s as possible for their country and God.
 They concocted their plan, and with a Snider-Enfield carbine, a Martini-Henry Breech-loader rifle, a pistol and homemade bandoleers, they set out toward Silverton on the 1st of January 1915, to begin their war on Australia.

Billy Hughes – 7th Prime Minister of Australia
The aftermath of the day’s events were swift and dramatic, townsfolk rushed out to the train carriages and took souvenirs of bullet casings, they destroyed the ice cream cart for souvenirs, then set the local German Club on fire, cutting up the local fire hoses so it could not be extinguished.  The drunken mob soon headed towards Ghantown, ready to take their anger out on the rest of the local Islamic community. They were stopped by a small military force, bayonets ready, who blocked their path – the mob soon broke up and headed home.
 The attack soon become national headlines right across Australia, causing outrage and viscous attacks at Muslim sites around the country. Billy Hughes, the 7th Prime Minister of Australia declared that all “enemy aliens” must be incarcerated for the length of the war.  
 
 The Locomotive Engine that was involved in the conflict, the “Y 12” with build number 3536, is now thought to be the engine that resides in South Australia, National Railway Museum Port Adelaide. The engine saw over 70 years of service pulling ore carriages from mines around Broken Hill and Silverton



The Battle of Broken Hill Part II


The Battle of Broken Hill Part II
Captured Rifles and flags – Photo: Broken Hill Historical Society
  With dead and wounded falling everywhere on the back of the train, “Tiger” Nyholm grabbed his rifle and began firing back at the two men on the hill. An alert was also raised, which went back to the Police Station at Broken Hill, some 3 kilometres away.
 Inspector Miller, in charge of the local police, sent a message to Lieut. Resch who assembled a squad of local military enforcement and volunteers riflemen. The men, now posse, set out towards the scene of the attack. Sergeant Gibson noticed two men climbing among the white quartz rocks just past the Cable Hotel, and halted to make enquiries as to if they had witnessed anything.
 The two men opened fire, and shot Mounted Constable Mills in the groin and thigh.  A gun fight broke out. The military and police force took cover, and slowly surrounded the bottom of the hill the two where the two men were hiding.
 The public in town, hearing the volley of shots, grabbed their rifles, men old and young, made their way out to the gun fight, and opened fire at the two men.


The gun fight lasted until 1pm, when the police, military and citizens rushed the mountain, shooting the men dead. Their two bodies’ lay ten metres apart, one, shot through the temple was very much dead, but the other man was still breathing, and clinging on to life, even with 16 bullet wounds in his body – he died on the way to hospital in the back of an ambulance.
 Such an outcry of rage was to come from the events that the public did not want the men buried in their local cemetery – police later removed the bodies and disposed of them in secret.

So who were the two men who undertook the first terrorist attack on Australian soil?
 Badsha Mahommed Ghul (1874 – 1915) was an ice cream vendor and Mullah Abdullah (1854-1915) was an Iman and Halal butcher – both men were from a region, known at the time as India’s North-West Frontier, which is a location now found within the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Picnic train at Broken Hill – photo provided by SLSA PRG280_1_15_1017
 Ghul had traveled to Australia and found work as a cameleer, but business was not good, so he found work in a local silver mine, but with the outbreak of the Great War, was fired after all German contracts were cancelled.
 He instead bought an ice cream cart from a local Italian, and became quite well known as the friendly sweet vendor in the town.

 Mullah Abdullah on the other hand was an older man with a grudge. He still wore his traditional clothing, and due to an old leg injury, walked with a hobble that slowed him incredibly. Local kids feared him, but also made fun of him, sometimes throwing stones at him and running off, knowing he could never catch them.
 He had been living in Broken Hill for 15 years and was seen in the local Islamic community as a religious Iman, sharing in daily prayer, and acting as the local Halal Butcher in Ghantown.
 He came in to dispute with the local Sanitary Inspector, Cornelious Brosnon, for not being a unionist and for what was considered his “barbaric practices”.
 Brosnon prosecuted Abdullah in 1914 for not slaughtering animals at the abattoirs as was the current established practice. He was ordered to pain a fine of One Pound, or face 7 days in gaol – he chose to pay the fine, but never forgot or forgave Brosnon. He was again fined only months later for not having brands on sheep he had slaughtered, this time he face 3 months gaol, or a fine of 3 pounds, of which he could not pay.
 In a state of despair over his prospects, further tragedy struck him when a fire broke out in his uninsured two room house, which burnt to the ground, with all his possessions. Now a broken man, with no belongings and no purpose, he turned to his neighbor and friend, Ghul for comfort.
 Ghul recounted to his friend that the Sultan of Turkey had only recently called a Jihad on Australia’s allies who were going to war in Europe, he urged his friend that they would have great afterlives if they killed as many Australian’s as possible for their country and God.
 They concocted their plan, and with a Snider-Enfield carbine, a Martini-Henry Breech-loader rifle, a pistol and homemade bandoleers, they set out toward Silverton on the 1st of January 1915, to begin their war on Australia.

Billy Hughes – 7th Prime Minister of Australia
The aftermath of the day’s events were swift and dramatic, townsfolk rushed out to the train carriages and took souvenirs of bullet casings, they destroyed the ice cream cart for souvenirs, then set the local German Club on fire, cutting up the local fire hoses so it could not be extinguished.  The drunken mob soon headed towards Ghantown, ready to take their anger out on the rest of the local Islamic community. They were stopped by a small military force, bayonets ready, who blocked their path – the mob soon broke up and headed home.
 The attack soon become national headlines right across Australia, causing outrage and viscous attacks at Muslim sites around the country. Billy Hughes, the 7th Prime Minister of Australia declared that all “enemy aliens” must be incarcerated for the length of the war.  
 
 The Locomotive Engine that was involved in the conflict, the “Y 12” with build number 3536, is now thought to be the engine that resides in South Australia, National Railway Museum Port Adelaide. The engine saw over 70 years of service pulling ore carriages from mines around Broken Hill and Silverton



The Battle of Broken Hill – Part I


The Battle of Broken Hill Part I

Whilst this week’s story does not take place in South Australia, it does have a connection to our State, read on to find out more!

 Every New Year’s Day the locals of Broken Hill were treated to a picnic in Silverton, which included a train ride on one of 40 open ore carriages. The event was hosted by the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows annually. The 1915 event saw around 1200 people taking part, spread across the 40 open carriages being pulled by the “Y 12” steam locomotive.

 There was a happy party atmosphere on board the train and as it rounded a large sweeping bend, the train passed an ice-cream cart, painted white, with red words on the side reading “Lakovsky’s Delicious ITALIAN ICE CREAM. A Food fit for Children and Invalids” with a little red Turkish flag flying from the top of it.
 Two men wearing turbans were spotted on a rise across from the train line,  gunshots were heard. The picnic goers cheered with delight, thinking it was a salute to the glorious day they were above to have, until, people around them began to fall, wounded or dead.

 Once it was realised that the gun shots were not celebratory, but deadly, parents flung themselves over their children to protect them from the oncoming volley of bullet fire.

Alma Cowie, pictured 1911,
 killed during an attack at Broken Hill Jan 1st 
1915 Photo: Broken Hill Historical Society



Among the happy picnic goers, included 17 year old Alma Cowie and her boyfriend Clarence O’Brien, who were sitting together enjoying the train ride, dressed in their Sunday best, like all the travelers, and waiting to eat their packed picnic and cool homemade lemonade, after playing picnic games with the other revelers.
 They both stood up to get a better view of what was happening. While standing there, another loud gunshot sound cracked through the air, and something flew past the ear of Clarrie, he turned to Alma, only to see her falling to the floor, with the top of skull opened and bloody.

 The War in Europe, which Australia had entered only months before, had just come to Australia, and claimed its first causality.
 The train kept chugging on down the line while the two men took pot shots at the distressed passengers.

William Shaw, a sanitary worker and his family were on another carriage, William was soon another of the casualties, and his daughter, Lucy who was shot in the elbow, amongst the wounded.
 A cameraman, riding a motorcycle behind the train, Mr Alfred Millard, who intended to photograph the picnic event was shot dead, and another bullet, which missed it mark with the train passengers, killed a man named Jim Craig, who was out chopping wood.
 Amongst the shot and injured were Thomas Campbell a 70 year old tinsmith who was shot in the side.
George Stokes – a 14 year old boy who was shot in the shoulder and chest.
 Alma Crocker (wounds unknown).
 Rose Crabb – who was shot through the shoulder.
Constable Mills, who received bullet wounds to the groin and thing.
 Beryl Lane – who was shot in the jaw, and 23 year old Mary Kavanagh who was shot through the base of the skull.
  There would have been further casualties if it was not for the heroic effort of the train guard Eric “Tiger” Nyholm who was a crack shot with a rifle, and had begun shooting back at the men on the hill.

Some of the victims of the murderous attack by two aliens on New Year’s Day. From left to right — Master Geo. F. Stokes, wounded on the train; Mr Thos. Campbell, who was shot at his own door; Miss Alma P. Cowie, who was killed outright on the picnic train, being shot through the head; and Senior-Constable Mills, who was wounded in the battle with the police. Conlon Studios.

All up, six people lost their lives that New Year’s Day… next week’s, The Haunts of Adelaide will include the fate of to the two assailants and the connection to Adelaide.

The Battle of Broken Hill – Part I


The Battle of Broken Hill Part I

Whilst this week’s story does not take place in South Australia, it does have a connection to our State, read on to find out more!

 Every New Year’s Day the locals of Broken Hill were treated to a picnic in Silverton, which included a train ride on one of 40 open ore carriages. The event was hosted by the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows annually. The 1915 event saw around 1200 people taking part, spread across the 40 open carriages being pulled by the “Y 12” steam locomotive.

 There was a happy party atmosphere on board the train and as it rounded a large sweeping bend, the train passed an ice-cream cart, painted white, with red words on the side reading “Lakovsky’s Delicious ITALIAN ICE CREAM. A Food fit for Children and Invalids” with a little red Turkish flag flying from the top of it.
 Two men wearing turbans were spotted on a rise across from the train line,  gunshots were heard. The picnic goers cheered with delight, thinking it was a salute to the glorious day they were above to have, until, people around them began to fall, wounded or dead.

 Once it was realised that the gun shots were not celebratory, but deadly, parents flung themselves over their children to protect them from the oncoming volley of bullet fire.

Alma Cowie, pictured 1911,
 killed during an attack at Broken Hill Jan 1st 
1915 Photo: Broken Hill Historical Society



Among the happy picnic goers, included 17 year old Alma Cowie and her boyfriend Clarence O’Brien, who were sitting together enjoying the train ride, dressed in their Sunday best, like all the travelers, and waiting to eat their packed picnic and cool homemade lemonade, after playing picnic games with the other revelers.
 They both stood up to get a better view of what was happening. While standing there, another loud gunshot sound cracked through the air, and something flew past the ear of Clarrie, he turned to Alma, only to see her falling to the floor, with the top of skull opened and bloody.

 The War in Europe, which Australia had entered only months before, had just come to Australia, and claimed its first causality.
 The train kept chugging on down the line while the two men took pot shots at the distressed passengers.

William Shaw, a sanitary worker and his family were on another carriage, William was soon another of the casualties, and his daughter, Lucy who was shot in the elbow, amongst the wounded.
 A cameraman, riding a motorcycle behind the train, Mr Alfred Millard, who intended to photograph the picnic event was shot dead, and another bullet, which missed it mark with the train passengers, killed a man named Jim Craig, who was out chopping wood.
 Amongst the shot and injured were Thomas Campbell a 70 year old tinsmith who was shot in the side.
George Stokes – a 14 year old boy who was shot in the shoulder and chest.
 Alma Crocker (wounds unknown).
 Rose Crabb – who was shot through the shoulder.
Constable Mills, who received bullet wounds to the groin and thing.
 Beryl Lane – who was shot in the jaw, and 23 year old Mary Kavanagh who was shot through the base of the skull.
  There would have been further casualties if it was not for the heroic effort of the train guard Eric “Tiger” Nyholm who was a crack shot with a rifle, and had begun shooting back at the men on the hill.

Some of the victims of the murderous attack by two aliens on New Year’s Day. From left to right — Master Geo. F. Stokes, wounded on the train; Mr Thos. Campbell, who was shot at his own door; Miss Alma P. Cowie, who was killed outright on the picnic train, being shot through the head; and Senior-Constable Mills, who was wounded in the battle with the police. Conlon Studios.

All up, six people lost their lives that New Year’s Day… next week’s, The Haunts of Adelaide will include the fate of to the two assailants and the connection to Adelaide.

The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 8) – The Aftermath of a Famous Trial


The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 8) – The Aftermath of a Famous Trial
 Mary Schippan was now the most famous person in South Australia. Her trial had received media attention across the country, and celebration right across South Australia after the trial, and into the next day when local newspapers released special editions to get the word out of her Not Guilty verdict.
  The stay in Adelaide Gaol and the trial had worn young Mary and her family down. The public accusations and details about her sister’s death, and Mary’s sinful actions with Gustave Nitschke had ruined their reputations.
 The family had returned home in secret from Adelaide, and in the time Mary had been in prison, Matthes had seen to it that the house had been lime washed and everything cleaned from top to bottom.
Around Towitta a rumour began to take hold that in fact, it was Matthes who had done the brutual killing. The Rumour points to an Afghan Camel herder killed some years before near Sedan that Matthes had been accused, but acquitted of. And also a horse found in the sedan area that had been ridden very hard, this of course does not account for the fact that on the night in question Matthes was with family and friends in Flaxmans valley.
 Life for Mary was never the same again, continuously shunned and judged by her peers in the local towns, she tended to stick to the family farm and became withdrawn.
In 1908, Matthes decided to sell up and move away. The family moved into a 4 bedroom house at Light Pass near Nuriootpa.
Matthes Schippan died on the 31st of May 1911 aged 61.
Mary and her Mother Johanne lived on in the house, the boys had moved out and taken jobs in towns close by.
 Mary and her Mother lived in Light Pass until 1917 when Mary showed signs of having Tuberculosis and moved to Adelaide where she was confined in the Consumptive Home. Johanne moved to Mount Mary to live with August.
Mary grew sicker and sicker, and knowing death was not far away, went to Mount Mary to be with her brother and mother. It was here Mary died on July 4th 1919. She was buried at Bower Cemetery.
 Mary’s Mother lived until 1923 in Eudunda, supported by a small amount of money left to her by her daughter. She died on September 8th of that year.
Wilhelm never married. He eventually contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 42.
 Of the other members of the family – not much is known about their whereabouts and the activities they undertook after Mary’s trial.
Gustave Nitschke could not set foot anywhere in South Australia without being recognised, during the trial his photo had been splashed across newspapers across the State. He eventually moved interstate and legally changed his name to Gus Nicholls, married, and had six children. He died in 1954

The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 8) – The Aftermath of a Famous Trial


The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 8) – The Aftermath of a Famous Trial
 Mary Schippan was now the most famous person in South Australia. Her trial had received media attention across the country, and celebration right across South Australia after the trial, and into the next day when local newspapers released special editions to get the word out of her Not Guilty verdict.
  The stay in Adelaide Gaol and the trial had worn young Mary and her family down. The public accusations and details about her sister’s death, and Mary’s sinful actions with Gustave Nitschke had ruined their reputations.
 The family had returned home in secret from Adelaide, and in the time Mary had been in prison, Matthes had seen to it that the house had been lime washed and everything cleaned from top to bottom.
Around Towitta a rumour began to take hold that in fact, it was Matthes who had done the brutual killing. The Rumour points to an Afghan Camel herder killed some years before near Sedan that Matthes had been accused, but acquitted of. And also a horse found in the sedan area that had been ridden very hard, this of course does not account for the fact that on the night in question Matthes was with family and friends in Flaxmans valley.
 Life for Mary was never the same again, continuously shunned and judged by her peers in the local towns, she tended to stick to the family farm and became withdrawn.
In 1908, Matthes decided to sell up and move away. The family moved into a 4 bedroom house at Light Pass near Nuriootpa.
Matthes Schippan died on the 31st of May 1911 aged 61.
Mary and her Mother Johanne lived on in the house, the boys had moved out and taken jobs in towns close by.
 Mary and her Mother lived in Light Pass until 1917 when Mary showed signs of having Tuberculosis and moved to Adelaide where she was confined in the Consumptive Home. Johanne moved to Mount Mary to live with August.
Mary grew sicker and sicker, and knowing death was not far away, went to Mount Mary to be with her brother and mother. It was here Mary died on July 4th 1919. She was buried at Bower Cemetery.
 Mary’s Mother lived until 1923 in Eudunda, supported by a small amount of money left to her by her daughter. She died on September 8th of that year.
Wilhelm never married. He eventually contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 42.
 Of the other members of the family – not much is known about their whereabouts and the activities they undertook after Mary’s trial.
Gustave Nitschke could not set foot anywhere in South Australia without being recognised, during the trial his photo had been splashed across newspapers across the State. He eventually moved interstate and legally changed his name to Gus Nicholls, married, and had six children. He died in 1954

The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 7) – The Trial of Mary Schippan


 The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 7) – The Trial of Mary Schippan
 The young and naïve Mary Schippan was very much out of place in the harsh environment of the Adelaide Gaol. Amongst thieves and prostitutes, there was no friendly faces, and being accused of murder, set her apart from the lower crimes, with the few women that were doing time, avoiding her as best they could. Mary’s only constant visitor was Father Eital from the Lutheran Church, who was consoling Mary about her upcoming trial and the possibility of being hung for the crime.
The date for her trial was set for Tuesday March 4th1902.
Whilst Mary sat in Adelaide Gaol, an exhumation of her sister, Bertha had begun in Sedan Cemetery for a re-examination of the body for missed clues. Both the prosecution and the defence were gathering evidence and statements for the upcoming trial in March.
 Meanwhile, the general public where whipped up into a frenzy over the whole case, looking for any bit of information about it they could get, and on March 4th, a huge crowd of onlookers gathered in Victoria Square near the courthouse, a smaller crowd though, waited at the Adelaide Gaol to see if they could spot Mary as she was taken to the trial.
Mary’s parents and two brothers traveled to the city and were staying in Grenfell Street, they were to be called as witnesses again.
 The courthouse filled quickly that morning, but to the disappointment of the crowd the case against Mary was adjourned until the following morning.
 The following morning Mary was taken to the courthouse from the Adelaide Gaol, she sat and
 A few formalities were dealt with, and Mary was asked to offer her plea, of which she replied in a calm soft voice “I am not guilty Sir.”

waited in the Dock for Chief Justice Samuel Way to enter at precisely 10am.

 After the usual court hearing formalities, a jury was presented and the trial began. The Crown Solicitor Sinclair offered the opening argument about goings on that night, which ended with the following statement.
“The suggestion that the prosecution makes is that the deed was either prompted by jealousy arising from an invitation from Nitschke to Bertha to accompany him to Adelaide, or by fear that the knowledge of Mary’s misbehavior possessed by Bertha would be communicated to the Father upon his return home.
 I ask the jury not to allow sentiment to dictate their finding, and not to permit sympathy to dominate reason.”
 August and Wilhelm were called successively as witnesses for cross examination, and gave almost matching accounts, the same as they had in the inquest earlier in January. The followed by Mary’s Mother Johanne who was asked about the girl’s clothing.
 Court adjourned at 6:30pm that evening.
Police had to use diversionary tactics to take Mary back to the Adelaide Gaol as the crowd had grown to over 1500 people around the courthouse, trying to get a glimpse of her.
 The next day saw members of the Lambert and Henkes families called forth to give witness and statement from Detective Fraser, Mounted Constable McArthur and Gustave Nitschke.

Gustave Nischke was seen by the general public as a villain, and upon his leaving court that day, a large group of angry people began to follow him, as he sped up, they sped up too. It wasn’t until a police escort was presented that he was able to escape the angry crowd that looked as if it could riot at any minute.
On day 5 the defence mounted its case. Symon, for the defence, presented a well thought out and eloquent defence that lasted a full day. He detailed all events and possibilities that the prosecution had presented as motive and cause, and defended Mary, whilst in the same vein, destroying the reputation on Nitschke.
 In fact on the evening of day 5 of the hearing, the gathered crowd had become so angry towards the man, there was a good chance he would be lynched in the street. As he made his way down King William Street, the crowd turned angry, and he was struck in the face by two men. Nitschke ran to a nearby cab-rank for help, but they ignored him, so he ran to the Prince of Wales Hotel, where he was quickly turned away by the publican. Nitschke ran down the street dodging blows until police, hearing his screams, rescued him and escorted him away from the crowd, thus saving his life.
 Day 6, the courtroom was full, as were the streets outside. There was tension in the air as proceedings began again at 10am. Chief Justice Way then went about condensing the previous 5 days statements and evidence before conceding to the Jury for their verdict.
 Statements were made by both the prosecution and defence, and before retiring at 6:10pm to gather for their verdict, the jury asked for some of the clothing and the bed clothes to be delivered to them while they came to their conclusion.
The Jury returned to the courtroom at 8:06 pm that evening. The eerie glow of the now lit gas lamps and the total silence of everyone in the room led to an electric atmosphere. Mary sat in the witness box, quietly awaiting her fate.
Mary stood, grim and silent, as she waited for the Jury foreman to come forward and read out loud the verdict.
 When asked by the Crown if Mary Schippan was guilty of not guilty, John Bradley, the Jury foreman uttered “Not Guilty” in a nervous voice. Instantly the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, and outside the 3000 people gathered also began to cheer as the news spread through the crowd. Popular opinion was that Mary was innocent of the crime, and this was the outcome the public hoped for.
Meanwhile back in the courtroom, Chief Justice Way was shouting for order and trying to control the celebrations.
 Mary was reunited with her parents, and ushered out into a police cab, for 100 meters down King William Street people cheered for her, however, some of the crowd hung back at the courthouse, waiting to see Nitschke, and hurling abuse towards him.
Police had been prepared for this, and had set up a number of diversions to distract the crowd, secreting Nitschke out of the area and away to safety.
NEXT WEEK: The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 8) – The Aftermath of a Famous Trial

The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 7) – The Trial of Mary Schippan


 The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 7) – The Trial of Mary Schippan
 The young and naïve Mary Schippan was very much out of place in the harsh environment of the Adelaide Gaol. Amongst thieves and prostitutes, there was no friendly faces, and being accused of murder, set her apart from the lower crimes, with the few women that were doing time, avoiding her as best they could. Mary’s only constant visitor was Father Eital from the Lutheran Church, who was consoling Mary about her upcoming trial and the possibility of being hung for the crime.
The date for her trial was set for Tuesday March 4th1902.
Whilst Mary sat in Adelaide Gaol, an exhumation of her sister, Bertha had begun in Sedan Cemetery for a re-examination of the body for missed clues. Both the prosecution and the defence were gathering evidence and statements for the upcoming trial in March.
 Meanwhile, the general public where whipped up into a frenzy over the whole case, looking for any bit of information about it they could get, and on March 4th, a huge crowd of onlookers gathered in Victoria Square near the courthouse, a smaller crowd though, waited at the Adelaide Gaol to see if they could spot Mary as she was taken to the trial.
Mary’s parents and two brothers traveled to the city and were staying in Grenfell Street, they were to be called as witnesses again.
 The courthouse filled quickly that morning, but to the disappointment of the crowd the case against Mary was adjourned until the following morning.
 The following morning Mary was taken to the courthouse from the Adelaide Gaol, she sat and
 A few formalities were dealt with, and Mary was asked to offer her plea, of which she replied in a calm soft voice “I am not guilty Sir.”

waited in the Dock for Chief Justice Samuel Way to enter at precisely 10am.

 After the usual court hearing formalities, a jury was presented and the trial began. The Crown Solicitor Sinclair offered the opening argument about goings on that night, which ended with the following statement.
“The suggestion that the prosecution makes is that the deed was either prompted by jealousy arising from an invitation from Nitschke to Bertha to accompany him to Adelaide, or by fear that the knowledge of Mary’s misbehavior possessed by Bertha would be communicated to the Father upon his return home.
 I ask the jury not to allow sentiment to dictate their finding, and not to permit sympathy to dominate reason.”
 August and Wilhelm were called successively as witnesses for cross examination, and gave almost matching accounts, the same as they had in the inquest earlier in January. The followed by Mary’s Mother Johanne who was asked about the girl’s clothing.
 Court adjourned at 6:30pm that evening.
Police had to use diversionary tactics to take Mary back to the Adelaide Gaol as the crowd had grown to over 1500 people around the courthouse, trying to get a glimpse of her.
 The next day saw members of the Lambert and Henkes families called forth to give witness and statement from Detective Fraser, Mounted Constable McArthur and Gustave Nitschke.

Gustave Nischke was seen by the general public as a villain, and upon his leaving court that day, a large group of angry people began to follow him, as he sped up, they sped up too. It wasn’t until a police escort was presented that he was able to escape the angry crowd that looked as if it could riot at any minute.
On day 5 the defence mounted its case. Symon, for the defence, presented a well thought out and eloquent defence that lasted a full day. He detailed all events and possibilities that the prosecution had presented as motive and cause, and defended Mary, whilst in the same vein, destroying the reputation on Nitschke.
 In fact on the evening of day 5 of the hearing, the gathered crowd had become so angry towards the man, there was a good chance he would be lynched in the street. As he made his way down King William Street, the crowd turned angry, and he was struck in the face by two men. Nitschke ran to a nearby cab-rank for help, but they ignored him, so he ran to the Prince of Wales Hotel, where he was quickly turned away by the publican. Nitschke ran down the street dodging blows until police, hearing his screams, rescued him and escorted him away from the crowd, thus saving his life.
 Day 6, the courtroom was full, as were the streets outside. There was tension in the air as proceedings began again at 10am. Chief Justice Way then went about condensing the previous 5 days statements and evidence before conceding to the Jury for their verdict.
 Statements were made by both the prosecution and defence, and before retiring at 6:10pm to gather for their verdict, the jury asked for some of the clothing and the bed clothes to be delivered to them while they came to their conclusion.
The Jury returned to the courtroom at 8:06 pm that evening. The eerie glow of the now lit gas lamps and the total silence of everyone in the room led to an electric atmosphere. Mary sat in the witness box, quietly awaiting her fate.
Mary stood, grim and silent, as she waited for the Jury foreman to come forward and read out loud the verdict.
 When asked by the Crown if Mary Schippan was guilty of not guilty, John Bradley, the Jury foreman uttered “Not Guilty” in a nervous voice. Instantly the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, and outside the 3000 people gathered also began to cheer as the news spread through the crowd. Popular opinion was that Mary was innocent of the crime, and this was the outcome the public hoped for.
Meanwhile back in the courtroom, Chief Justice Way was shouting for order and trying to control the celebrations.
 Mary was reunited with her parents, and ushered out into a police cab, for 100 meters down King William Street people cheered for her, however, some of the crowd hung back at the courthouse, waiting to see Nitschke, and hurling abuse towards him.
Police had been prepared for this, and had set up a number of diversions to distract the crowd, secreting Nitschke out of the area and away to safety.
NEXT WEEK: The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 8) – The Aftermath of a Famous Trial

The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 6) –What the Inquest Found


The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 6) –What the Inquest Found
 Towitta could not handle the influx of people who had come to hear the slightest bit of news from the inquest, Sedan was overrun, and even Angaston’s overnight lodgings were full.
 August was the first to be called to the inquest, which was being overseen by Coroner Mulligan, with Detective Fraser taking the depositions and Detective Priest acting as Clerk. Wilhelm followed August – as the boys gave their statements, Mary and her Mother, Johanne, waited in the kitchen of the family home.
 The boys stories differed slightly from that of Mary’s original story, they stated, they had come home and the girls were already in bed, so they helped themselves to cake, before retiring themselves, Mary’s statement said she had cut the cut for the boys, before they had retired to bed.
 Dr Steel was next to be questioned, and his statements proved to be quite damning for Mary. After describing his initial examination of Bertha’s body as she lay dead on the floor, he then described the port-mortem examination and the findings there, but, it was his examination of Mary, on the morning after the murder that proved most news-worthy.
 Dr Steel stated that some the strips of clothing found near Bertha’s bod were missing from Mary’s night clothing, Mary also had scratched on her arms, bruising on her knees and upper thighs, but perhaps the most damning was Mary had complained of a sore neck, Dr Steel discovered Mary’s hair had not been pulled or was even out of place, and that the back of her neck had been recently washed.
 Matthes and Johanne were called upon next, but offered no new clues, or a clear motive for the attack. The inquest went on well into the night and was only adjourned until the next day because there was enough light to allow the clerk to take notes.
The next day the inquest began again at 8am. Mary was called to the witness chair at 10:20am. She wore a brown dress and white apron and was sworn in, something that wasn’t normally done at an inquest.
 An argument then broke out between the two solicitors over Mary giving evidence that may or may not incriminate her, and both men argued the point to the Coroner. Detective Fraser then told Mary she does not need to say anything she thinks may incriminate her.
 Mary answered all the questions asked of her for the next four and half hours, never wavering and never showing much emotion. Her story had not changed, but one piece of evidence was about to be brought forward that would change the case, and cause the biggest media sensation South Australia had ever seen at the time.

 Mary revealed she had been having relations with a man named “Gustave Nitschke”. The Police Solicitor jumped on this as a possible motive for the killing of Bertha, who, as it turned out, had known of Mary’s Trist with then older man.
 Gustave Nitschke was called to the inquest to give evidence, and spoke of having sex with Mary on a t least three occasions, one time on the Schippans parents bed, with Bertha in the room next door, possible watching through the cracks in the door. This of course in 1902 would have been scandalous, an unwed woman and man having sex and secret meetings.
 During Nitschke’s evidence he stated he had previously “spooned with Bertha, whilst another man spooned with Mary, and had often joked with Bertha about whisking her away to the city with him.
 It came to light that Nitschke had had sex with Mary on the night her parents had left for Flaxman’s Valley, December 17th 1901, just a few days before Bertha’s murder, but he had witnesses to prove he had been in Adelaide at the time of the murder.
 More witnesses were called during the afternoon, including Mary’s Mother and Dr Smith, the jury retired at 5 to 6pm and returned an hour later with their verdict on the matter.
At about 7pm that night the Jury’s verdict was read aloud by Coroner Mulligan:
 “We, the Jury, are all of the opinion that Johanne “Bertha” Elizabeth Schippan met her death on the first night of January, 1902, by having her throat cut by Mary Augusta Schippan.”
The room was silent.
Mary was called before Mr Mulligan and the murder charge was read out loud to her, and everyone present. She was then ordered to be arrested and to be transported to the Adelaide Gaol, where she would await trial for murder, a sentence that carried the
weight of being hung if found guilty.
 Mary’s Mother embraced her daughter, and refused the police to take her away, all the while Mary pleaded with her mother that she had not done the crime.
 The Police put Mary in a horse trap, and took her to the Angaston police cells where she was kept until the next morning, they then took her to Freeling train station and awaited the Kapunda train.
 The Police officer knew word was travelling, and a crowd had gathered at Gawler to get sight of Mary, a larger crowd was now gathering at the Adelaide Railway Station as the news of the young girl who had killed her sister made its way into Adelaide.
 The officer in charge of transporting Mary had other ideas to beat the crowd, and he disembarked from the train at North Adelaide, taking Mary straight to Adelaide Gaol.
NEXT WEEK: The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 7) –The Trial of Mary Schippan

The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 6) –What the Inquest Found


The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 6) –What the Inquest Found
 Towitta could not handle the influx of people who had come to hear the slightest bit of news from the inquest, Sedan was overrun, and even Angaston’s overnight lodgings were full.
 August was the first to be called to the inquest, which was being overseen by Coroner Mulligan, with Detective Fraser taking the depositions and Detective Priest acting as Clerk. Wilhelm followed August – as the boys gave their statements, Mary and her Mother, Johanne, waited in the kitchen of the family home.
 The boys stories differed slightly from that of Mary’s original story, they stated, they had come home and the girls were already in bed, so they helped themselves to cake, before retiring themselves, Mary’s statement said she had cut the cut for the boys, before they had retired to bed.
 Dr Steel was next to be questioned, and his statements proved to be quite damning for Mary. After describing his initial examination of Bertha’s body as she lay dead on the floor, he then described the port-mortem examination and the findings there, but, it was his examination of Mary, on the morning after the murder that proved most news-worthy.
 Dr Steel stated that some the strips of clothing found near Bertha’s bod were missing from Mary’s night clothing, Mary also had scratched on her arms, bruising on her knees and upper thighs, but perhaps the most damning was Mary had complained of a sore neck, Dr Steel discovered Mary’s hair had not been pulled or was even out of place, and that the back of her neck had been recently washed.
 Matthes and Johanne were called upon next, but offered no new clues, or a clear motive for the attack. The inquest went on well into the night and was only adjourned until the next day because there was enough light to allow the clerk to take notes.
The next day the inquest began again at 8am. Mary was called to the witness chair at 10:20am. She wore a brown dress and white apron and was sworn in, something that wasn’t normally done at an inquest.
 An argument then broke out between the two solicitors over Mary giving evidence that may or may not incriminate her, and both men argued the point to the Coroner. Detective Fraser then told Mary she does not need to say anything she thinks may incriminate her.
 Mary answered all the questions asked of her for the next four and half hours, never wavering and never showing much emotion. Her story had not changed, but one piece of evidence was about to be brought forward that would change the case, and cause the biggest media sensation South Australia had ever seen at the time.

 Mary revealed she had been having relations with a man named “Gustave Nitschke”. The Police Solicitor jumped on this as a possible motive for the killing of Bertha, who, as it turned out, had known of Mary’s Trist with then older man.
 Gustave Nitschke was called to the inquest to give evidence, and spoke of having sex with Mary on a t least three occasions, one time on the Schippans parents bed, with Bertha in the room next door, possible watching through the cracks in the door. This of course in 1902 would have been scandalous, an unwed woman and man having sex and secret meetings.
 During Nitschke’s evidence he stated he had previously “spooned with Bertha, whilst another man spooned with Mary, and had often joked with Bertha about whisking her away to the city with him.
 It came to light that Nitschke had had sex with Mary on the night her parents had left for Flaxman’s Valley, December 17th 1901, just a few days before Bertha’s murder, but he had witnesses to prove he had been in Adelaide at the time of the murder.
 More witnesses were called during the afternoon, including Mary’s Mother and Dr Smith, the jury retired at 5 to 6pm and returned an hour later with their verdict on the matter.
At about 7pm that night the Jury’s verdict was read aloud by Coroner Mulligan:
 “We, the Jury, are all of the opinion that Johanne “Bertha” Elizabeth Schippan met her death on the first night of January, 1902, by having her throat cut by Mary Augusta Schippan.”
The room was silent.
Mary was called before Mr Mulligan and the murder charge was read out loud to her, and everyone present. She was then ordered to be arrested and to be transported to the Adelaide Gaol, where she would await trial for murder, a sentence that carried the weight of being hung if found guilty.
 Mary’s Mother embraced her daughter, and refused the police to take her away, all the while Mary pleaded with her mother that she had not done the crime.
 The Police put Mary in a horse trap, and took her to the Angaston police cells where she was kept until the next morning, they then took her to Freeling train station and awaited the Kapunda train.
 The Police officer knew word was travelling, and a crowd had gathered at Gawler to get sight of Mary, a larger crowd was now gathering at the Adelaide Railway Station as the news of the young girl who had killed her sister made its way into Adelaide.
 The officer in charge of transporting Mary had other ideas to beat the crowd, and he disembarked from the train at North Adelaide, taking Mary straight to Adelaide Gaol.
NEXT WEEK: The Tragedy at Towitta (Part 7) –The Trial of Mary Schippan