My GG (Great Grandmother) used to tell me (how lucky was I!) stories of how her mother, Anne Craig GGG(Great, Great Grandmother) would go out to help both the Bushrangers and the Police after both sides were injured in a “skirmish”. One of her stories stays vividly in mind.
On this particular night, it was cold and stormy. There came a knock at the door. GGG went to the door to find an injured man.
He was a bush ranger, who had been shot by the police. He needed help, he had been shot. GGG removed a bullet from his leg. She helped him to get going on his way, and just before dawn a policeman arrived at her door.
He had been sent by his commanding officer to get GGG and take her to the Police Barracks where she treated two of the officers for bullet wounds as well!
As time went by the police found out about her helping the bushrangers. They told her that she was not to do so again, however, she had different ideas about that though!
At that time if it was found that if you did not tell what you knew about the outlaws, they would not harm you or rob you. So nobody told the police anything, and didn’t have any worries from the bushrangers.
The police knew this and were far from happy. The police (she said) of that era, did some awful things to people trying to force them to tell what they knew.
The aboriginal trackers who were called out to search for the robbers often lead the police in the wrong direction to give the robbers time to escape.
GGG continued to help both parties. In order to protect her, the bushrangers devised a plan.
After another “skirmish” when someone was injured, they would send a black tracker with a spare horse, to her house in the middle of the night.
She would then be blindfolded and helped on the horse. She would cling to the saddle for grim death, while the tracker led her horse safely to where the injured men were.
She would then treat them, be blindfolded and be taken home again the same way. So if she was questioned, she really did not know where she had been.
At this time, (the 1860’s – 1870’s) the Gold Fields at Forbes were producing large quantities of gold. Many bush rangers worked in the area. It must be pointed out that many, though not all, of these so – called bush rangers were not really bad people – but through bad times and circumstances they had chosen this wild life for survival. GG was adamant about this!
One such man was John O’Meally.
John’s mother had led a very hard life. I will include his story as well here.
His mother, Mrs O’Meally, lived not far from GGG home and was the victim of a stroke. GGG sent my GG to her home for assistance for Mrs O’Meally, who had been left almost blind, and with one arm badly impaired.
My young GG would read to Mrs O’Meally, and massage her arm every day.
Mrs O’Meally often bemoaned the fact that her Johnny was not a bad man, but rather a weak man who had fallen in to the bad company of Johnny Gilbert and Ben Hall.
He had joined their gang and had taken part in the attack on “Goimbla” Station, Eugowra, my families home town – and had consequently been killed. This happened in November 1863