Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
This article displays in one automatically-generated column. View the full page to see article in its original form.

THE WILLS TRAGEDY.

(bt an exe-witness.) (From anTextraorclinary to the Queensland Guardian, November 12.)

Orion Downs, 27th October.

About one o'clock on the morning of the 18th October, a servant in the employment of the late Mr. Wills arrived at Rainworth, Mr; Gregson's station, Uogoa, with the information that Mr. Wills' station had been attacked by the blacks on the previous afternoon, and all the party, as far as he knew, with the exception of another man and himself, killed. From his statement, it appeared that the blacks bad been frequenting the station for some days previous to the attack, but as their intercourse with the whites was apparently of the most friendly character, no dangerwas apprehended from their presence, and no adequate . precautions taken against surprise and violence. On the day of the attack, the blacks had been about the station before ' mid-day, and then left it. At this time the informant states that, feeling tired and exhausted with the heat, he had lain down in the shade of a bush to have a rest — a circumstance towhich he owes his escape from the terrible doom that awaited his companions. Having fallen asleep, he was awakened by the noise of loud and violent talking on the part of the blacks, and on looking out from his hiding-place, which only commanded a limited view of the scene, he saw several of the blacks attack one of the white women, who fell beneath their blows. Screams, shouts, and the dull crash of terrible blows followed, and told that the work of death had begun. In the midst of this one shot was fired, but apparently without effect, and the necessity of screening himself from observation prevented him from seeing who fired it. Probably, however, it was done by Mr. Wills, as one chamber of his revolver was afterwards found discharged. He waited in ' his place of concealment until a flock of sheep, with* out their shepherd, came in at sundown, when he crawled down amongst them and crept on hands and knees through the flock until he reached a better place, both for concealment and observation. The man shepherding the ram flock then came home with his sheep, and the two went up to the tents, where they found a horse ready saddled and tied to one of the drays. Both men were eager to avail themselves of the means of escape thus presented to one of them, and the dreadful disappointment of the one, and the scarcely less terrible joy of the other, must have presented a contrast of human feeling but seldom equalled in intensity. The informant was the fortunate man, and started immediately for G-regson's, . the other stating his intention to hide somewhere until relief should arrive.

Mr. Grregson immediately Bent information to his nearest neighbours, and the news was forwarded bb rapidly as fresh, horses and willing messengers could doit. Unfortunately, the native police force stationed in the district were at the furthest extremity of their patrol (about 200 miles) from the scene of the calamity, but every one eagerly assisted to forward the message requesting their immediate presence, and they received the news about SOhours after the occurrenceof the outrage. During the day another man arrived at Eainworth &om Wills'; . ■ - ■* Mr. Grregson' s station was named a rendezvous

' , «*-»&aW;"**- - ; ''---- ■•'■ ■■■ -"..-• ■> ,r— ..-,.,■ _„, _ y ' mae ' m m ''' ammmm ' Bm ' t '' mmm ''' mmlm '^ m ' ll ' K^^'^ l^^'^^'''t for thbEJ&Willuig-to give assistance ; and on Friday, . at sunsopithe following gentlemen and their serrants stSrtedforMr. Wills* • — Mesßrß. P'.M'lntosh, Gregsoni Thomson, Irving, Gahan, Baxter, M'Goiness, and Dick and Larry, aboriginals j Mr. Oregsrini having previously sent forward three menU^^p^med to succour any survivors that might^|remaiQ, and give assistance in any way they °B|P^ ';; The party, who put themselves under the leadership of Mr. M'lntosh, reached Wills' about half-past 12 a.m., and camped until daylight.;' Mr. Gregson's men had found the Bhepherd who was left behind alive and well, and the bodies of seventeen persons murdered by the blacks. Two shepherds were still unaccounted for, and hopes were- entertained that they might have escaped. Thirteen of the victims, including Mr. Wills, were found upon the head station ; three otherß, the overseer (Baker), his son, and a shepherd — about a mile and a half down theereek, where they were camping with a flock of ewes and lambs j and one, a shepherd, about a mile from the station, near the road to Rainworth.

17.— Henry Watt, a very old man, was found about a mile out on a plain, murdered in the same manner. This completed the number of dead bodies that have been found, and the heat of the weather rendered it necessary to bury them without delay. The corpses were dreadful and full of horror in themselves, and their presence while unburied had an influence more than usually depressing, from their number, and the hideous circumstances surrounding them. It. was therefore decided to bury them at once, and accordingly a large grave was dug near the tent into which sixteen of the bodies were put^-Mr. Wills being buried in a separate grave by bis neighbours themselves. When all was ready the service for the burial of the dead I •was read over them, the party standing round decently uncovered xrnd lending a strange interest to the scene from the presence of their arms and their watchful attitude. After the burial of the dead the rest of the day was devoted fo looking for the sheep and restoring to some kind of order the property of various kinds that was Btrewn about in all directions. It ■was impossible to guess what had been taken away by the blacks, but the search for personal effects, j clothing, &c., had evidently been prolonged and careful, and the empty state of all the private boxes, &c, woulfl' aeem to indicate that, it had not been made, in vain. In the afternoon, Mr. Richards arrived from Springsure. On the following morning (Sunday), after starting an efficient patrol to look for the missing men and sheep, eight of the party started after the blacks, to find the direction they had taken, and ascertain whether they had broken up, and, if so, whether any portion of them had gone in towards the stations recently formed. Being well armed, they were prepared to attack everything aboriginal that might be seen. The tracks of the blacks were found mall directions westerly from the station.. At a distance of about two miles was found a large camp, where they had killed and eaten a number of sheep, which' had been well butchered j this was probably immediately after the massacre. Prom this point they moved off in a westerly direction, taking with them a mob of sheep (ewes and lambs), judging from the tracks about 100. All along their tracks- for some distance the remains of dead Bheep. were -found, and frequent halts appear to have been made for the purpose of killing and eating sheep ; for the last two miles that the tracks were followed those of the sheep disappeared; and it was supposed that the number they had taken had by this time been either exhausted or abandoned, but as no further traces of them could be found doubtless the former was the case.' The track was followed about five miles (two. of which were in sorub) to where the blacks had camped on the night of the outrage. Dpwards of 50 fires were counted, the number pre-

sent was, therefore, probably not under 300, and., of. these 100 may be assumed as the number of fighting men. The presence of gins and children would seem to indicate that the attack was not premeditated, bat had been suggested by the unwary and practically defenceless state of the unfortunate victims. A number of letters and other papers, scraps of clothing, and some trifles of plunder, were found at the camp ; everything portable, that was of use being brought back by the party. The object of the party not being to follow the blacks at present, they returned to resume the search for the two missing men, and have the sheep counted. This was done, when about 800 were found missing, the - search for which was continued till dark without success. Mr. T. Wills {who was fortunately absent with two men when £$3|attack on the station occurred) arrived in the afternoon of this day (Sund&y, the 20th), he having only received the news "on the previous night. It waß arranged with his approval that the drays should be loaded with the most exposed portion of the property, and taken with the sheep to a point distant about six miles from Bainworth until future arrangements could be made. The two missing men were found about sunset, murdered within half-a-mile of the station ; they had been intercepted in an attempt to join the people at. the head station, and had apparently ■ been killed without resistance. Their names were George Elliot and Tom.

On the following morning (Monday, 21st), these bodies were buried where they were found, the service being read over them. And now the full extent of the dreadful sacrifice of life was ascertained, and an uncontrollable desire for vengeance took possession of every heart,, words of execration and pity" fell alike heedlessly upon the ear— the blood of strong men and helpless women, of greyhaired men and unconscious infants, spilled wantonly on every side, spoke to every heart in a language words could not interpret. Mr. Patton and Mr. Crawford arrived from Albinia Downs, and the missing sheep having been found, a party numbering eleven started in pursuit of the blacks. The track was easily followed in places, but they chose stony and difficult ground whenever they had it in their power. About midday on the second day of the pursuit, a large quantity of plunder, principally clothing, but including an immense variety of other articles, was found where it had been deposited by the blacks, and carefully covered with bark to protect it from the weather. This not only satisfied the party as to being on the right track, but also of the vicinity of the blacks themselves, an opinion that was confirmed by their discovering their camp, about tw© hours before sunset. The place was carefully noted, and the party then camped until half-past two a.m. on Wednesday morning, when their camp was stormed on foot with success. The nature of the ground prevented our bringing the horses near the camp without disturbing it.

Having heard dogs, supposed to belong to white men, bark repeatedly during the night, in a direction different from the position of the blacks' camp, a search was made in that direction, after the fight, which resulted in the discovery of & station belonging to Mr. Orr, L'lmpriere Creek, the men at which were apprised of what had occurred and put upon their guard. The party then came in to Sainworth, where they found a selection, of Native Police under the command of second Lieutenant Cave, who Btarted in pursuit of the blacks on the same day (Thursday, 24th' October).

We take the following additional particulars from the Boekhanypton Bulletin .• —

" The whole place was a total wreck. The only things left at the camp were the sugar, tea, tobacco, flour, and some pieces of iron and zinc. The boxes and cases were all broken open, and everything was taken away, amongst which, were blankets, a quantity of books, crockery, tools, axes, adzes, knives, some white-handled daggers, regatta shirts, trousers, clothing of every description, and other articles. In one case there were forty small pistols and a bag of bullets, all of which were taken. A canister of powder was emptied close to one of the fires, but it did not ignite. All the loaded arms in the tent were removed and placed upon the fire. These were all found with no other damage than two of the stocks slightly burned. A more complete outfit, it is stated, was never taken by any party.

Some of the women were found with their sewing in their hands; The cook was close by his fire ; the children were by their mothers. Immediately outside the camp, one of the bullock drivers, who had been engaged in drawing in logs for the sheep yard, was found dead by his bullocks, with his whip in his hand. The team was still yoked, and three of the bullocks strangled. . Another man who was assisting him, was also found dead. On. the morning of the murders, Baker the overseer, one of his sons, and another man, were sent about a mile and a half down the creek, with a horse and cart to form a station for the ewes and lambß j and the shepherds in charge of them went down to fold the sheep, and were to camp there for the night. Baker and son and third man evidently made a struggle for their lives. They^were putting up a tent at the time the attack was made, and they used the tent poles in defending them^ selves. Their bodies were very much mutilated, one of the men having bis leg nearly cut off with a blow from a sharp instrument. • . No person in the camp ever carried arms. There were ten or twelve stand of loaded' arms in the tent near where the ten were murdered. The day after Mr Wills arrived on the station, his bullock driver, William Aubrey, when out in search of his bullocks, met about fifty blacks. About thirty surrounded him closely ; they took off his hat and felt him.all over, and then took:some of the beads off their own heads and put them on his. Most of the. shepherds were met at different times and treated in a similar manner. The blackß were always unarmed. Mr. Wills, a few days previous to his death, when riding alone in search of timber, met a gin with a baby in her arms. She was apparently surprised on seeing him. He rode up tft^erj and took a silk handkerchief out of bis plnfit, and put it round the baby ; at this she appeared quite satisfied." \ . We hare received a private letter by the^pe&oe

i/from Mr. T. W. Wfflß (son of the late Mr. H. S. Wills), of Cullinguritga. After grief and horror at the dreadful occurrence which took place during his absence, his first thought seems to be for the future. So far, he say^yh^heep (10,000) are ' nearly all right, but unleßifadaifcional Native Police be forwarded, it will be impossible to get hands to gpvk the station. Mr. Wills expresses his strong -sympathy with his mother and sisters, and begs, for thejm sake, that; h^yjrißhes for police protection .inaybeafforded. . v <.

This article text was automatically generated and may include errors. View the full page to see article in its original form.
Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/HBH18611217.2.9

Bibliographic details

THE WILLS TRAGEDY., Hawke's Bay Herald, Volume 5, Issue 238, 17 December 1861

Word Count
2,456

THE WILLS TRAGEDY. Hawke's Bay Herald, Volume 5, Issue 238, 17 December 1861

Working