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13 entries.
Glenda Glenda wrote on April 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm:
Does Andrew de Weerd, who commented on this site on Jan 9th, 2011, have a photo of the grave of Selby Jeremiah Spurling who shot himself in December 1892 after suffering for some time from a tumor in his stomach? I have wondered if my great grandfather Selby J. Spurling was buried at Roebourne cemetery and if there was ever a headstone placed upon it. Andrew says in his comment on this site that he took photos of old graves at Roebourne. Selby was well known in the district and there are newspaper articles on Trove website regarding his suicide. I have a letter from him to his wife Barbara Lediard Okey Spurling (nee Davis) in Guildford where he mentioned McRae and I don't know which McRae to whom he referred but apparently this McRae visited Selby's wife in Guildford and when he returned to Roebourne apparently had little to say about the visit to update Selby on his wife and his three children living in Guildford.
Admin Reply by: Fran
Hi Glenda,

There is a list of burials at the old Roebourne Cemetery here: I could not see your great grandfather's name though.

Andrew also very kindly sent me copies of the headstone photos he took and I also double checked those as well but no headstone unfortunately. What a sad ending for Selby. He must have been so desperate poor man. I hope you can find him Glenda.
Matthew Brierley Matthew Brierley from Perth wrote on February 25, 2018 at 4:57 pm:
Hi Fran, great web site and I see you have updated it recently. Are you planning to do a biography of Roderick McRae? Various McRae's seem to be threaded through a lot of the history of the Pilbara, a McRae was closely involved in the Flying Foam massacre.
Thank you very much for creating and maintaining this web site.
Admin Reply by: Fran
Hi Matthew, Yes, I will do one on Roderick, but the next on my list is Caroline Platt. She was a bit of a character 😉 Glad you enjoy the site.
Jasmine Pitt Jasmine Pitt from Perth wrote on March 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm:
Hi Fran,

Firstly I hope you receive this as I'm not sure how old your website is. Thank you for the interesting read and wow what a conspiracy. The reason I am contacting you as I came across the picture of the Burns family and being Aboriginal descent, I have been told that Thomas White Burns is my great great grandfather my great grandmother's name is Sylvia Burns (my mum's paternal grandmother) my family and I were over the moon when we had found a picture of him and his family as we are doing a family tree. I would also like to ask how did you go about getting a list of the police officers who served in Roebourne during this time (1890-1900) as we have been told that my mother's maternal grandmother's father was a police Sargent back in those days. Any information you can help for my research would be greatly appreciated. My family has strong ties to Roebourne/Whim creek area. A good story for you to look into as well is the death of my maternal great grandfather Keith McKay who owned Mundabullanga station in the early 1900's. Meant to be a conspiracy and cover up about the way he died in a plane crash in Port Hedland.

Thank you so much.
Admin Reply by: Fran
Hi Jasmine,
Thanks so much for your story. I will email you. ????
Margaret Sermon Margaret Sermon from Wonnerup wrote on March 17, 2014 at 8:57 pm:
I was enthralled with your story of the Roebourne Bank murders.
I have been researching the history of Hamersley Station ( with varying amounts of success ) and have been sidetracked by researching several of the families who lived in Roebourne and on various Pilbara stations.
I have been very interested in the Hall, McRae , Padbury and Straker lives
Your research is very comprehensive and your account of a little known event in our rich WA History is a well written and fascinating account of an amazing area of WA.
I look forward to further updates.
Admin Reply by: Fran
Thank you Margaret. Yes, I started out researching a murder case and got side-tracked as well. There are so many untold stories of just ordinary people and I find them fascinating.
Megan Williams Megan Williams from Australia wrote on May 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm:
This is so interesting, Fran. I can't wait to sit down and read through it all.
I hope you get to the bottom of this mystery one day. Maybe it will be made into a movie! smile
Admin Reply by: Fran
Yes Megan, Wouldn't that be great. I've often thought it would be a great Australian movie. I can picture it all in my mind's eye the fantastic and varied characters, backdrop of the northwest etc.
Joan Paasuke Joan Paasuke from Adelaide wrote on July 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm:
Hi Fran I do have a photo of the two Pontt brothers which I will send to you soon. (I need some help from one of my sons first as I am new to the technology of computers. I may also send more information on the brothers later -
Ineed to review what I have and type it up first .
The Pontts did originate from Germany but these two were bornin South Australia Augustus was born on 22June 1858 in Angus Park/ Tanunda, Barossa Valley , S.A.His birth name was Heinrich Marno August Pontt and he was known as Gus in his later years
William was born on 3 September 1856 at Schreiberau ,(south of Tanunda) Barossa Valley. S.A. is birth name was Friedrich Wilhelm Pontt and he was later known as William Henry Pontt or to the family as Willie.
Admin Reply by: Fran
Thank you so much Joan. I will email you. 🙂
Joan Paasuke Joan Paasuke from Adelaide wrote on July 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm:
I found your research on Roebourne Bank Murders extremely interesting. William and Augustus Pontt were my great uncles and I was interested to read of their presence and involvement in this case. Other than the fact that they were both involved in gold prospecting in knowledge of the two Pontt brothers is fairly sketchy. I will be interested to read their biographies when you have prepared them. Regards Joan
Admin Reply by: Fran
Hi Joan,
I hope to have their story up shortly. What I have has been gleaned from newspaper articles so if you have any information about them, e.g. their life before they came to W.A. (even tiny details) then that would be great.
Andrew de Weerd Andrew de Weerd from Karratha wrote on January 9, 2011 at 10:06 am:
I just spent 5 days in Karratha and visited a deserted Roebourne for a few hours on the final day of 2010. I stopped by the old cemetery and took photos of the 19th century graves completely unaware of this story of the bank murders. As I read this fascinating piece of history on this website for the first time this evening, I looked back on the photos of the headstones I took, and discovered all these remarkable personal histories that collided one day in January 1885. Your research is a treasure. Thank you so very much for putting up your website and sharing it with us.
Admin Reply by: Fran
Hi Andrew,
Thanks very much for your kind comments regarding my research. They're much appreciated.
A lot of emphasis is often placed on the nearby historic ghost town of Cossack, but Roebourne does have a fascinating social history that encapsulates tragedy and triumph and everything in between. I have only told one story.
Donna Kelly Donna Kelly from Karratha wrote on November 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm:
Just a note to say what a great read. I am a journalist and know how much work, just in writing, has gone into this apart from the staggering amount of research. Many thanks for your great work. Makes everything come alive. And makes you appreciate the region for its amazing history. Not all just mining!
Admin Reply by: Fran
Hi Donna,
I'm pleased you have found my website interesting.
Yes, the research does all take time but I seem to have infinite patience and tenacity. I just keep digging and chipping away as time permits.
Probably the hardest writing I am doing now is putting together my thoughts on the entire murder case, starting with the crime scene itself. There are some very odd aspects. I also found out a fact about Roderick McRae (unofficial murder suspect) not in any archive, that may or may not have a bearing upon the murder case and the way it was investigated. It is another odd piece in the puzzle that I am mulling over. The plot thickens LOL!
Lynn Nerdall Lynn Nerdall from Canberra wrote on September 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm:
Hi Fran, greatly enjoy sharing your research. I am interested in my great great grandmother's older brother Alexander Nicholson, a prospector who apparently committed suicide in the Roebourne Hotel in 1898. I suspect he was murdered so this story is of great interest. There seemed to have been an extraordinary number of "suicides" in Roebourne around that time, at least it is clear Thomas and Henry were murdered!
The historical details you have uncovered are fascinating, and I do thank you for your efforts and the sketches and photographs are wonderful. I look forward to future updates on the website.
Admin Reply by: Fran
Hi Lynn,
Thanks for your lovely comment. I'm so glad you find my website interesting. I just read an article reporting on the "suicide" of Alexander Nicholson It does seem a little odd and not the most efficient way of committing suicide. The poor man. As for the rash of other suicides I cannot say, other than life and conditions were very hard in the nor'west and I'm sure many people would have become very depressed. One of the interesting things in researching the Roebourne murder case is that I do come across interesting social history along the way such as that of your ancestor. It is often these long forgotten stories of events in an ordinary person's life that are the most interesting. Who says we have no history