Oatlands, Oct. 14. - The recent murders committed by some of the black natives on Anne Geary and Alicia Gough, near the big lagoon, Oatlands, have filled the country with alarm and consternation.
Only a few days previous Mr. Bryant's hut at the Blue hills had been robbed by the Aborigines, notwithstanding that the hut was guarded by a man who had a musket in his possession, and several other men were close by. The natives were pursued by two armed men, but they succeeded in getting deliberately away with their plunder.
On Thursday last the 9th instant, Patrick Gough's wife said to her husband that she thought she heard the shrieks of a woman, on looking out he observed Anne Geary running towards his hut, she seemed greatly exhausted, and told Gough that she had seen the natives coming towards Mortimer's hut where she resided. Gough and two other men lost no time in proceeding to the hut to prevent the blacks from getting a gun and some ammunition which were there. One of the men (Bates) carried a gun, the other two had merely black sticks with them. When they arrived at Mortimer's hut they could perceive that the door had been forced open, and a number of things were strewed about the floor and outside the door, the gun, ammunition, with some blankets had disappeared.
On returning Gough was met by his eldest daughter Mary, covered with blood, calling upon her father to hasten home as the natives had killed her mother and sisters. Gough saw his wife about half a mile from the hut sitting on the ground, resting her back against the fence, with her infant child in her lap. The poor woman said - "My dear Gough, it is all over with me, I am killed by the natives.” She was covered wilh wounds and fainted. The man, half frantic, afforded her all the assistance in his power, tearing part of his shirt to make a bandage for her head. He then ran with all speed to his hut, where the first thing which presented itself to his view was his infant daughter Alicia lying breathless in front of the door with her arms extended, but although she had the appearance of being dead the vital spark was not quite extinct.
On entering the hut he found Anne Geary lying stretched on the floor, and on being removed to a sofa she vomited quantities of blood; she died about two hours after, and about midnight Alicia Gough, not more than four years of age, breathed her last. Gough's youngest child, an infant 13 months old, (Esther) had received several contusions, but of a slighter character than those inflicted on the others.
During the absence of Gough the hut had been robbed of six blankets, two sheets, three or four knives, a basin containing some eggs, and twenty dollars.
Mrs. Gough, who still remains in a very perilous situation, made shift to communicate to her husband that she fell on her knees before the savages, begging them to spare the lives of her “Picanninies”, and that one of them told her, in good English, that they should be all killed, they then repeated their blows to her head.
Dr. Hudspeth lost no time, when he heard of the fatal catastrophe, in visiting the hopeless family. It is this gentleman's opinion that Anne Geary came by her death principally from a deep gash into the brain, inflicted by an axe which was lying at the door with marks of blood on it. She had also other fractures of the skull with several spear wounds on the breast, which were considered mortal. The child Alicia Gough died from a contusion on the head, apparent from a waddy.
Mary, the eldest of Gough's daughters, an interesting child, seven years old, and although she cannot read, evincing considerable acuteness of understanding, said that the natives inflicted several wounds and bruises on her when they were attacking the other victims. She states that she made an attempt to carry her sister Alicia away from the blacks, when those barbarous savages struck them down with their waddies, and she fell down "as dead as a gum stick", and when she came to herself they had disappeared.
A Coroner's inquest was held on Saturday last, on the bodies of Anne Geary and Alicia Gough, when a verdict was returned of wilful murder against certain persons unknown, belonging to the Aboriginal tribes of the island.
Such are the particulars of the above horrid transactions, and by comparing what has latterly happened in other parts of the island, it can no longer be doubted that the natives have formed a systematic organised plan for carrying on a war of extermination against the white inhabitants of the colony.
In the instance of the above murders the design is evident, the movement on Mortimer's hut was merely a feint, contrived for the purpose of making a desperate attack on the Gough family. Their operations are now conducted with much cunning, and they seem perfectly able to calculate the chances of the probable opposition they may meet with; they acquire in every successive enterprise more confidence, and will also wait with great calmness till they observe whether the muskets in the hands of persons in pursuit missfire or not. This was the case with those who robbed Mr. Bryant's hut, but they were pursued by two men, both armed, one with a double-barrelled piece, both pieces missed fire, which when the natives saw, they dared them to come on, and then walked leisurely with their booty. It is scarcely possible to conceive but that human beings, let them be ever so low in the scale of the creation, must possess some innate feeling, dictating to them the heinousness and cowardice of murdering women with their infants in their arms, more so as from the English spoken among them, they must have some notions of our manners and principles of acting. Thus the warfare and deadly system carried on by the Aborigines receive daily a new character, and it will require some immediate, vigorous and efficient measures to repel attacks which if they be not speedily put a stop to, must render it impossible to guard the lives and property of the colonists against the most alarming consequences.
Amidst all those scenes of horrors, one gleam of hope appears on which to ground some expectation that the Aborigines might be induced to enter into a good understanding with white inhabitants. They seem to begin to hold in higher value than heretofore, blankets, clothing, knives, bread, and other articles of civilized life. They cannot long hope to acquire those things by casual plunder and precarious warfare. Once under the influence of new wants, they may, in order to satisfy them, endeavour to seek them by more peaceable and less bloody means, than they are at present acquainted with.
It is quite clear that the outrages at Bryant's, Mortimer's and Gough's were perpetrated by the same horde, consisting of about 20 men, no women or children, for the party of constables and soldiers which followed the natives from Gough's hut on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, picked up some of constable Prior's wearing apparel and bedding, and other things which had been stolen by the natives from Bryant's hut. These things were found at different fires which the natives fled from on seeing the approach of the party. They fled towards the Coal River from the big lagoon.