The Tragedy at Stringybark Creek

The events of the 26th of October 1878 were tragic for everyone. Three lives were lost and four lives were outlawed. Nothing would ever be the same again. Families were left with nothing but grief and heartbreak, which would forever stay with them. It is impossible to comprehend what either side was feeling, when the only thing each individual was fighting for was their own survival. These were split second decisions that had lasting consequences. Today is about, and should only be about, reflecting on and remembering all that was lost. Seeing as this page is dedicated to Joe, I feel it important to make mention of him within this context. Even though it may not have been his life that was lost, the existence he had always known very much was. Joe, a young man always willing to help a mate, had joined the Kelly brothers in sluicing gold and distilling whiskey. He never would have believed that this could lead to the death of three police and he himself becoming one of the most wanted men in the country. This tragedy would see his entire life altered. He would become an accessory to murder and as a result declared an outlaw. The trauma he would have experienced, that they all experienced, is unimaginable. The death of Kennedy, and the harrowing nature in which he died, was something that haunted Joe for a long time, with both he and Ned showing great remorse for what happened. In fact, in 1879, Joe expressed to Jack Sherritt that his mind was burdened by the death of Kennedy. Finally, Joe’s relationship with Bessie and Margret would be severed and changed forever. Surely Joe’s heart would have been broken by the news that Bessie, the woman he had loved, wanted nothing more to do with him.
A last point I feel I must raise, is that Joe took the rings because, as disagreeable as it may be, he liked them, and they were there. He had no past problem with either Scanlan or Lonigan, nor was he their murderer, and in taking the rings he was not doing so out of malice or to take souvenirs of what had occurred. And more to the point, he certainly wasn’t doing so as an act of trophy brandishing. Initially, he may have wished to see them sent back to the policemen’s family, or taken them as a reminder of the blood that had been shed and what had seen him branded an outlaw. Of course, like everything else that occurred on this day in 1878, no one can comprehend what was going through their minds. 

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