John O'Meally

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John O'Meally (1841 – 19 November 1863) was an Australian bushranger and criminal. He was one of Frank Gardiner's gang who robbed the gold escort coach at Eugowra. This was Australia's biggest gold robbery.

Early life change

O'Meally worked as a stockman, looking after cattle and sheep on his father's farm, Arramagong Station in the Lachlan River valley. His father, Paddy O'Meally, also ran a shanty (a very basic hotel), called "The Weddin Inn", on Emu Creek.[1] The inn was the only hotel in the district. John OMeally, and another one of Gardiner's gang, Alex Fordyce, sometimes worked at the shanty. The gold escort robbery was planned there.

Bush ranger with Frank Gardiner change

On 15 June 1862 the gold escort coach that took the gold from the goldfields of Forbes to Bathurst was robbed. This was one of Australia's biggest robberies. O'Meally and several of his friends were in the gang led by Frank Gardiner. A week after the robbery the police, led by Sir Frederick Pottinger, captured two of the robbers, Henry Manns, and Charlie Gilbert. Charlie Gilbert was the brother of gang member John Gilbert. John Gilbert had nearly been captured but was able to escape. He went straight to "The Weddin Inn", and together with Ben Hall and O'Meally, captured the police and released the prisoners.[2]

Bushranger with Ben Halls gang change

In July 1863, O'Meally and Gilbert tried to rob the bank at Carcoar in broad daylight.[2] This is believed to be the first daylight bank robbery in Australia.[3]

On 30 August 1863, O'Meally tried to rob John Barnes near Wallendbeen station (farm). Barnes owned shops in Cootamundra and Murrumburrah. O'Meally tried to take Barnes' saddle. Barnes rode off to try and get away, but O'Meally shot and killed him. Barnes is buried in the Cootamundra cemetery.[4]

The battle of Goimbla change

O'Meally was shot and killed while trying to rob Goimbla station (farm) near Eugowra, on 19 November 1863. This event became known as the "Battle of Goimbla." The Campbell family fought off the Ben Hall gang in during a two-hour battle.[5] The National Museum of Australia has several items in its collection about the battle.

  • A letter from the people of Forbes to David and Amelia Campbell.[1] The first person to sign the letter was author Rolf Boldrewood who later wrote the classic Australian bushranger novel, Robbery Under Arms.
  • A silk cloth, given to Amelia Campbell by the ladies of Upper and Middle Adelong. It has a message stitched into the silk praising Campbell's part in defending the farm.[2]
  • A silver tea urn, 490 mm (19 in) high. It was given to Amelia Campbell. It is engraved with the words: "The ladies of Upper & Middle Adelong present this token of esteem to Mrs Campbell, as an appreciation of her heroic conduct displayed during the attack at GOIMBLA by bushrangers on 19th Nov. 1863."[3]

John O'Meally is buried in an unmarked grave in the Anglican cemetery at Gooloogong.[6]

References change

  1. "Story of the Gold Escort Robbery". Eugowra. Archived from the original on 2009-02-07. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Penzig, Edgar F. (1972). "Gilbert, John". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  3. "Walkabout - Carcoar". Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  4. "Early history of Wallendbeen". Cootamundra Shire Council. Archived from the original on 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
  5. [ "Bushranging in the National Historical Collection"] (PDF). National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 2008-12-22. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  6. "Annexures, Resources, References and Reading". Eugowra. Archived from the original on 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2008-11-13.

Other websites change