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No75 October 2010

Page history last edited by helen.halm@... 10 years, 6 months ago



October 2010 by Dawn Juers

No 75


Well we are back from our holiday, travelling to north Queensland but heading up through Broken Hill this time. My grateful thanks to Bill Cox, Helen Halm and Frodo for their wonderful input in editing the ‘History Room News’ whilst I was on holiday. Each issue was excellent. I must say that we have a very happy band of volunteers in the History Room, each with their own expertise and what’s more WE HAVE FUN!


Last month we were busy with outside visits and visitors to the History Room. Peter Barclay gave a very professional power point presentation on ‘Heritage and the Internet’ to the Victor Harbor group of University of the Third Age and put a great deal of preparation into his speech. We had several visits from the Goolwa Primary School pupils who are researching some of the local heritage buildings and I gave a talk on the workings of the History Room to the Goolwa Ladies Probus.


This month has started in the same mode with a visit from Lexia, Margaret and Graham from the Yankalilla District Historical Society on the 7th October.


Part of Peter’s presentation was ‘Record Search Pilot Web Site’. Family Search is digitising and re-indexing all the microfilmed records in the Salt Lake City Family History Library. The site at http://pilot.familysearch.org is the Pilot Web Site which provides access to original source documents from many areas of the world.


In the Search section of the Web site includes a number of record collections you can search to find a specific ancestor and the Browse section includes collections of digital records of a specific city, town or church. Scottish records, namely Scotland Births and Baptisms 1564-1950 and Scotland Marriages 1561-1910 are available to be searched.


With all the wet weather Queensland has had lately, I thought I just had to show this rainmaking machine on display at Charleville. In 1902, the longest running drought in Qld history had brought the residents of Charleville to their knees. Rain was the only key to their survival. The Vortex Gun, used in 6000 locations across Europe seemed to hold the answer. Invented by Austrian scientist Albert Stiger in the 1880’s the 4metre high, steel cannons were a shining example of emerging technology. The guns, fired horizontally into clouds had successfully protected European crops from hail, so to expect the rapidly rising charges from the guns to force clouds to release rain seemed a logical step. Six ounces of gunpowder was ignited causing an explosion forcing gas up through the funnel. The gun sits on a tripod as shown. *


Experiments conducted at Charleville, Roma & Harrisville were unsuccessful.

Some of the guns exploded when they were fired, narrowly missing onlookers. Finally, with public interest in the guns waning, there came a more positive reason for abandoning the trials – soaking rains finally fell at the end of 1902. Most of the 13 Stiger Vortex Guns manufactured in Qld were broken up for scrap but two guns remain to tell the story at Charleville.



While I was in Broken Hill I was able to do some research at the Broken Hill Family History Group office, which is situated in the beautiful Trades Hall. There wasn’t much on the family I was researching, but a mention of a court case sent me to the Broken Hill Library where they hold microfilm copies of the ‘Barrier Hill Miner’.

All of you who have done research in the newspapers know how time consuming it can be (especially when the other half is waiting!) but I came away with quite a bit of information. I was told that sometimes the ‘Barrier Hill Miner’ printed up to three copies in the one day if there was urgent news. It became frustrating after I had been following the case and not find any mention of the sentence on 23rd April, but thanks to the Australian Newspaper Digitisation Program I was able to follow the report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28th July – 3month’s later! http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/home has a search facility that makes it so easy. If you feel so inclined you can even participate in correcting some of the digitised script (very addictive).


The Broken Hill Library informed me that the ‘Barrier Hill Miner’ will be digitised at the end of this year, so hopefully it will be added to the Historic Australian Newspapers site.

September 1895 – James Elfenbein charged with ‘Alleged Cattle Stealing’. Total value of missing goods was £70.  (Barrier Hill Miner)

31st March 1896 – Wilcannia Quarter Sessions. Defendant failed to appear. (Sydney Morning Herald).

9TH April 1896 – Charged with absconding bail whilst awaiting trial at Wilcannia. Apprehended in Adelaide and

remanded to the Broken Hill Gaol pending his trial in the Local Court on April 22nd. (Barrier Hill Miner).

22rd April 1896 – Jury could not agree and at 9pm were locked up for the night. (Barrier Hill Miner)

23rd April 1896 – Jury were brought into court at 10am. The jury foreman said that there was no possibility of them agreeing in the case. As they had been locked up for the night the Judge released them from further attendance.

A new jury was selected and the case was heard later that same day. The defendant was charged with stealing one cow and a second count of receiving. (Barrier Hill Miner)

28th July 1896 –Wilcannia Quarter Sessions. Sentenced to 6month’s hard labour at Wilcannia Gaol. (Sydney Morning Herald).


* for pictures see History_Room_News_75.pdf


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