real Dan Kelly please stand up? (Press
Dan hanged in 1880 in place of his brother Ned?
Dan escape at Glenrowan?
Dan Kelly's great-grandniece, Ellen
Hollow, has responded for NedKellyBushranger
to the persistant rumours that Dan, and fellow gang member Steve Hart,
escaped the Glenrowan siege...
The Dan and Steve 'Great
Escape'. This unproven myth has been around for years and raises
it's head every so often.
There are three claims
to the identity of Daniel Kelly. Interestingly three of these people were
located in Queensland and another alleged identification was in South
The book "Tales and Legends of the Canberra Pioneers"
by Sam Shemuck, included an account of Dan Kelly's alleged escape but
it does not identify the alleged Dan Kelly by alias, the persons who claimed
they met Dan were two shearers Duncan Cameron and James Murty in South
Western NSW in about 1880.
In Ipswich there was a vagrant James Ryan, from the channel country Jack
Day and from the Towoomba area Charles Devine Tindall.
The escape story first appeared,
I believe, in "The Melbourne Truth" in the 1930's, then
in "People" magazine in the 1960's. These claims were
later reprinted in "The Australian Pensioner" as fortnightly
feature October - November 1983.In these articles the late Donald Hamlbeton
Johnson claimed to be the descendant of Steve Hart and his friend known
as Jack Day was alleged to be Dan Kelly.
"The Courier Mail" September 1996 revived the myth along
with "The Boarder Mail", when Gary Dean edited and published
the memoirs of the late Donald Hamlbeton Johnson, in a book titled "Horseman
Bold". This was the story which until recently to have been given
the most publicity. These memoirs lay claim to this gentleman being the
grand nephew of Steve Hart. The story also claims that Steve Hart went
by the name Fred Layton and that his associate and friend, a man known
as Jack Day, was Daniel Kelly. Jack Day never had issue according to the
story retold in both the book and the press articles above mentioned.
However, in the memoirs of Donald Hamlbeton Johnson there was made claim
to the knowledge of the location of the burial place. If this body was
produced for DNA testing there are suitable donors in Victoria myself
and two female descendants of Margaret Kelly and the great, great, grand
daughter of Dan's father's sister.
Another story given publicity
in Queensland over several years was the claim by another alleged Dan
Kelly, a vagrant named James Ryan who lived in the Ipswich area. He sort
out the press for publicity from time to time, beginning in the late 1920's
until his death in 1948. This tale has been given further publicity in
June 2002, both in the print and TV media, due to Cr Tully of Ipswich
who has proposed memorial to be placed to honour Ryan. The latest publication
launched September 2002 a book by Vince Allen "Burnt to
a Cinder ,Was I?" would appear to be a rehash of the James Ryan
November 1999, the Herald
Sun once again ran articles about the escape story, corresponding
with the release of Barry McArthur's book, which alleges it was Ned who
escaped and Dan who was hung.
On 27th September 2001 was the beginning of a further series of articles
to appear in the press, due to Gary Dean and Tim Anson exhuming the body
of Charles Devine Tindall for DNA testing in Toowoomba, Queensland. The
results of any DNA match have not been released.
put this rumour to bed once and for all, I have offered my DNA
for cross matching of Mitochondria DNA,
(Mitochondria DNA is only passed along the female line.)
Along with all the documentation to support my lineage, as has the
great, great grand daughter of Anne (nee Kelly) Ryan.
This offer has not been taken up.
It is not up
to me to speak on behalf of the Hart descendants, there are several suitable
female descendants of Steve Hart's sisters who's DNA could be matched
against the DNA of Fred Layton, or his descendants.
be proven, but worthy of some consideration is my family oral history.
Over the years as this and other stories have appeared in the press
or other publications, naturally the family have discussed and investigated
the possibility of any truth in these theories and rumours.
Background: Ellen Kelly
brought up Catherine's (Kate) three surviving children after her death,
one of whom was my grand mother. My late Mother and her brother lived
with their Mother Gertrude Cavanagh and Great Grandmother, Ellen Kelly,
from 1917 until her death 1923. The family moved back to the original
home for several reasons. Ellen was in poor physical health crippled with
arthritis. Jim Kelly was ageing and he was the only family member left
at home after the enlistment in the Armed Forces by both my grand uncle
Frederick Foster, and my grandfather Douglas Cavanagh.
my mother and her brother dismissed the story and were insistent that
the Dan Kelly and Steve Hart fleeing to Queensland story had no basis
There would have been contact made with the family. This never occurred.
My mother was sure they would have known.
Jim was never away from Greta for any length of time and certainly not
long enough to visit Queensland as claimed in the memoirs of Donald Hamlbeton
The bodies were very badly
burned, there is a photograph in Keith McMenomy's book "Ned Kelly
The Authentic Illustrated History". This is alleged to be the
charred body of either Dan or Steve. When animal carcasses are burned
they disintegrate more rapidly than if buried in a normal state, hence
I am not surprised that the graves may appear to be empty when probed
by steel spikes.
It is my belief that history is as it has been recorded.
Daniel Kelly and Steven Hart lie in unmarked graves in Greta Cemetery
in North Eastern Victoria.
29/06/02 'Will the real Dan
Kelly start spinning in his grave please?'
According to F2 network's smh.com
And now, folks, for the latest
episode in that great Australian drama, the Kelly Gang Show. Let's hear
it for ... the DNA of Dan Kelly.
The Kelly Gang, variously seen as murderous thugs, misguided young men
and Celtic saints, probably never entertained the notion of resting in
peace. And they won't. The latest Kelly movie, featuring Heath Ledger
as Ned, is well into production; the gang's armour was sorted out at the
Old Melbourne Gaol on Thursday; celebrations were held yesterday to mark
the 122nd anniversary of the siege at Glenrowan, Victoria, where the gang
died - well, almost certainly died; and moves are afoot to exhume two
bodies to prove that Dan Kelly escaped that shoot-out.
Gary Dean, of Glenrowan,
said that he would ask Queensland's Attorney-General for permission to
exhume a grave in Ipswich Cemetery, where Dan Kelly is believed by some
to be buried. Mr Dean believes Kelly is buried near Mount Isa, but he
wants to exhume a body in Ipswich to make sure.
The generally accepted view is that Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne
died in the siege. Ned was wounded in the legs, convicted and hanged.
The search for the DNA follows the theory that Dan and Hart survived the
fire, recovered and pursued new lives with fresh identities. The remains
of two bodies, burnt beyond recognition, were never identified.
Mr Dean has already taken DNA samples from the body of Charles Tindall,
who died in 1953 after having said he was Dan Kelly. The samples have
not yet been matched with any from the Kelly family line. But Mr Dean
believes Jack O'Day, buried on Headingley Station, 120km from Mount Isa,
was the man most likely to have been Dan. He was said to be the spitting
An Ipswich councillor, Paul Tully, is sticking with James Ryan,
a swagman buried in a pauper's grave at Ipswich. The Truth newspaper interviewed
Ryan in 1948, when he said: "I am Dan, brother of Ned. I rode
with Ned. For 53 years I have been a fugitive, with murder on my head."
John Harris, a farmer and grazier in the Brisbane Valley, recalled
yesterday how his parents had believed Ryan was Kelly. The swaggie had
burns across his shoulders and "DK" branded on his buttocks,
For full story go to www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/06/28/1023864657812.html
23/06/02 'Search for the
real Dan Kelly' (John Hay)
According to the Sunday Mail
Poor old Dan Kelly, younger
brother of Australia's favourite folk hero Ned. History has it that Dan,
19, and fellow Kelly gang member Steve Hart, 20, died in the siege of
the Glenrowan pub in 1880 and their bodies burned beyond recognition when
the hotel was set on fire by troopers to force them out. Their remains
were buried in Greta Cemetery in the heart of Kelly country in Victoria.
But 122 years later stories persist that they escaped and that Dan was
seen in South Africa and several locations in Australia. Representatives
of various Australian communities have claimed they have last resting
place of Dan Kelly. Historians joke that Dan has more graves than Toowong
Now Victorian researcher Gary
Dean intends to launch legal action to authorise exhumation of the
body of a swagman, James Ryan, who was buried in a pauper's grave at Ipswich,
to prove by DNA testing that he was Dan Kelly.
Ryan, who was 87 when decapitated by a train in 1948, claimed to be Dan
Kelly. In 1933, he gave a long interview to Brisbane's Truth newspaper
claiming he was Dan and detailing the alleged facts of the Glenrowan pub
siege. He told the newspaper: "I am Dan, brother of Ned. I rode
with Ned. For 53 years I have been a fugitive, with murder on my head.
I am here now to prove that I didn't die in the fire at Glenrowan, and
to tell the truth before it is too late." Ryan claimed that,
racked by agonising burns, he crawled into the scrub and watched the armoured
Ned Kelly's last stand against police and civilians. He was said to have
massive burns on his back and had the initials DK branded on his buttocks.
In 1934 he appeared at Brisbane's Sideshow Alley and no one ever disproved
his intimate knowledge of the Kelly gang or his claim to be Ned's brother.
Note: According to Channel 9 interview
(below) with Gary Dean last week, he does
not believe James Ryan was Dan Kelly.
Dan Kelly was also reported
to have been buried at Toowoomba and Mt Isa. The family of a Toowoomba
man, Charles Devine Tindall, who died in 1953, claimed he had told relatives
he was Dan Kelly. He had scars on his back and buttocks, which he claimed
were caused by the Glenrowan pub fire. In 2001 his family gave permission
for a sliver of bone to be taken from the grave for DNA testing, but no
result was ever released.
A man was buried in 1943 under
the name of Jack O'Day at Headingly Station, about 120km south-west of
Mt Isa. O'Day worked around Dirranbandi and travelled throughout the Burnett
region before moving further inland. He was said to be the spitting image
of Dan Kelly.
Veteran author and columnist
Lawrie Kavanagh made many trips around Queensland late last century with
artist Hugh Sawrey, interviewing old characters of the Outback. He reckoned
that Dan Kelly, 19, and Steve Hart, 20, were the Elvis Presleys of the
early 20th century, with regular sightings all over Australia. He dubbed
Dan Kelly the "Gadabout Ghost". Kavanagh was a non-believer
and wrote that whenever the Kelly legend was discussed, his reputed grave
was reported by older folk in different sites all over Australia. Kavanagh
wrote that his own father had "sighted" Dan Kelly in an Emerald
pub during the Depression. An old bloke came into the bar, showing drinkers
burn scars, hinting in conspiratorial asides that he was Dan Kelly and
recounting his miraculous escape from the 1880 Glenrowan battle for anyone
prepared to buy him grog.
In the early 1990s, people
in Murgon, west of Gympie, spoke of one of the district's horsebreakers,
Billy Meade, who died in the 1930s. Old people in the district who knew
him were convinced that he was Steve Hart.
In 1996, retired Townsville
builder Reg Gard broke a 70-year silence to reveal his father fed and
housed Dan in the 1920s. Mr Gard said he was seven years old when he met
Dan Kelly at his father's house in Kilcoy in 1926, and knew him for seven
years until the family left the bush town in 1933. He said he first met
Kelly when he walked in on his father talking to a stranger in their home.
His father said: "This is Dan Kelly. This is the bushranger."
Mr Gard said he was made to swear he would never reveal Kelly's identity.
He said: "He (Kelly) always used to sit facing the door. He always
had a big long revolver. I think it was an old British army .44 service
revolver. He'd sit there with it on his lap." Mr Gard said his father
would get groceries and corned beef for Kelly, who lived off the Cobb
& Co trail in an old timber-cutter's shed. He was badly burned on
his face and back. "He said he was in the Glenrowan fire all right,
but he was in the beer cellar which had iron grills on it." Mr Gard
said he believed his father met the Kellys when he humped a swag around
Then, believe it or not, there's
the claim that Ned Kelly ran away from the siege, leaving his homosexual
brother Dan to go to the gallows in his place. And why didn't the Victoria
police detect the switch? Well, they probably did, but they realised their
mistake and kept it quiet so they could collect the huge reward. That
was the theory expressed in 1999 by Barry McArthur, a schoolteacher who
researched the life of the Kelly gang. Mr McArthur said Dan Kelly had
a homosexual affair with Steve Hart, who often dressed in women's clothes.
Of small stature, Hart occasionally went to town dressed as a girl while
the gang was on the run. But, said Mr McArthur, that may have been more
than a casual disguise, pointing out that neither Hart nor Dan showed
any interest in women. He theorised that when Ned escaped Glenrowan, Dan
stayed loyal to his wounded partner and donned the Kelly armour to confront
police. So many bullets struck the armour, his face swelled and he was
unrecognisable. When police realised the truth, they kept it quiet when
Dan went on trial in Ned's place. They would have had egg on their faces
and reasoned that Ned would not come back to expose them. Mr McArthur
said Ned probably went into hiding before starting a new life, possibly
One of the most sensational
stories about Dan Kelly and Steve Hart was that they escaped at Glenrowan
and found their way to South Africa, where they fought in the Boer War
in the British army. William Bede Melville, a reporter for the Sydney
newspaper, The Star, who was covering the war said two men, who identified
themselves as Kelly and Hart, were brought to his hotel room in Pretoria
one night in 1902.
20/06/02 'Kelly expert wants
body tested' (added 11/06/02)
According to The Border Mail
Glenrowan historian Mr Gary
Dean has backed calls for the body of a man buried in Queensland to
be exhumed to clear up the mystery surrounding the Kelly Gang. The body
is that of Mr James Ryan, who claimed before his death in 1948
that he was Dan Kelly, Ned's brother. Mr Ryan, who was buried at Ipswich,
gave an interview in 1933 in which he said he had hidden under the Glenrowan
Hotel while his brother was involved in the shoot-out with police.
Considered an authority on
the history of the Kelly Gang, Mr Dean said he had viewed footage of the
interview several times. Mr Dean said while he was extremely doubtful
that Mr Ryan and Dan Kelly were the same person, there were many important
claims made during the interview that needed investigation. Mr Dean said
Mr Ryan's physical appearance was completely different to Dan's, particularly
his ears. "By studying this footage, I think it would be fair
to say that these claims by Ryan that he is Dan Kelly are wrong, but there
does need to be more investigation about it,'' Mr Dean said.
The debate about Mr Ryan's
identity followed claims by the family of Mr Charles Devine Tindall
that he was Dan Kelly. Mr Tindall, who died in 1953 and is buried
at Toowoomba, had told relatives that he had hidden in the Glenrowan Hotel's
cellar during the siege. Mr Dean said that a sliver of bone had been taken
from Mr Tindall's grave last year for DNA testing but no results were
available. "I really think that Mr Tindall may have some truth
in his story and perhaps may have even been in Glenrowan the night that
Dan Kelly and Steve Hart, who was also a member of the Kelly Gang, escaped
from police,'' he said. He said Mr Tindall might have helped Dan and
Hart escape. "There is certainly a fair bit in what Mr Tindall
said in the years leading up to his death which needs further investigation,''
Mr Dean said. He said that if Mr Tindall or Mr Ryan had been involved
in the shoot-out, they would have kept it to themselves for many years
because they would have been jailed for life.
19/06/02 A Current Affair
Extract from the Dan Kelly report
Paul Tulley is an Ipswitch
councilor who believes James Ryan's claim to be Dan Kelly was genuine.
Ryan claimed to have survived the Glenrowan siege and escaped to Queensland.
Ipswitch farmer Paul Harris was James Ryan's next-door neighbour.
He also believed the claim, and said Ryan was always referred to as 'Dan
Kelly'. He said that as a boy he saw burns on Ryan's body, which were
supposedly scars from the Glenrowan Inn fire.
James Ryan was 94 when he died after being decapitated by a coal train
on the Ipswitch train line. Tulley says he sincerely believes that it
is actually Dan Kelly buried in the gravesite marked 'James Ryan'. The
Ipswitch council has even erected an enormous Kelly tribute at Ryan's
Victorian Kelly gang historian
Gary Dean however, is skeptical. He said the story Ryan told of
his escape from Glenrowan was "nothing but a load of lies".
In a bid to find the truth the Kelly buff is leading the charge to have
the grave exhumed. Dean said, "I find it very difficult to go
ahead and exhume these people cause I don't believe that we should be
doing it, but I think that the story is so big, that we need to in this
Tulley explained that a 'probe'
would go down into the ground at the gravesite to about a depth of about
6 ft. He said, "Even after 50 years there would probably be some
residual material to once and for all to prove that a bushranger was buried
on this spot." When asked what if he was wrong he replied, "It
might be wrong, but it is a fascination that people have with the Kelly
gang in Australia and we need to prove once and for all if our history
books need to be rewritten!"
Ipswitch locals have another
theory, it has been suggested that Dan Kelly actually assumed Ned's identity
at the Glenrowan siege, in order to protect his older brother. Which to
their minds, means that it was actually Ned who escaped the fire and fled
to Queensland. Which in turn means that it was Dan hung at the OMG, and
Ned buried at Ipswitch.
The claim that Dan assumed Ned's identity
to "protect him" is quite simply fiction. Apart from the numerous
eyewitness identifications made of Ned after his capture at Glenrowan,
the Cliff Ogleby tests commissioned by The Age newspaper,
verified that his death mask matched perfectly 4
authentic photos of Ned, (including his Kyneton and Pentridge prison
photos). Putting to rest for good, the already tenuous theory, that Dan
was hung at the OMG in November 1880.
14/06/02 DNA bid over Kelly
gang mystery (Nadine Rofail) Source news.com.au
According to the Herald Sun, The Daily Telegraph and MX News
Kelly gang historians are
planning legal action to exhume the body of a swagman buried in Queensland
to prove he was Dan Kelly.
Ipswich City Councillor and historian Paul Tully said he backed
plans by Victorian Kelly gang researcher Gary Dean to have the
body of James Ryan exhumed for DNA testing. The swaggie was buried in
a pauper's grave in the Ipswich General Cemetery in 1948 after being decapitated
by a coal train.
Cr Tully said Mr Ryan, who was 87 when he was killed, had gone to the
offices of the Sunday Truth newspaper in Brisbane in 1933 to reveal his
involvement in the Kelly gang. He said he appeared at Brisbane's Sideshow
Alley in 1934 and no one was ever able to refute his intimate knowledge
of the Kelly family or his claim to be Ned's younger brother. "If
our history books have to be rewritten then such is life," Cr
Tully said. "I think James Ryan could well be Dan Kelly."
Cr Tully, who has researched the Kelly legend for 20 years, said traditionally
it was believed three of the four Kelly gang members died in a fire following
a siege at Glenrowan Inn on June 28, 1880. However, he said the supposed
remains of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were reduced to charcoal and have
never been positively identified, with many believing the pair escaped.
"People alive today remember the massive burns on (Mr Ryan's)
back which he claimed he received in the fire at Glenrowan as well as
the initials DK branded on his buttocks," Cr Tully said. "The
planned legal action could well solve this 122-year-old mystery."
Cr Tully said there were no known relatives of James Ryan to give permission
for the tests and court approval would have to be given.
He said Mr Dean, who could not be contacted today, believes the grave
of the Ipswich swagman is one of four, which could prove Dan Kelly escaped.
Mr Dean is already awaiting findings from DNA tests on remains of a Toowoomba
man who also claimed to be Dan Kelly.
14/06/02 Historian claims
Kelly brother buried in north Qld
According to ABC
A noted Kelly gang historian
claims an as yet undiscovered grave near Mount Isa, in north-western Queensland,
will prove a theory which could change Australian folklore.
Gary Dean believes
Dan Kelly, Ned's brother, escaped the 1880 siege at Glenrowan, in central
Victoria, to live until the age of 82 in Queensland's north-west. He believes
Dan Kelly was buried at Heddingly Station near Mount Isa in 1943.
Mr Dean says he attempted
to find the grave several years ago and failed, but is planning another
search. "We searched an enormous area...there's nobody alive that
has actually seen the grave and the only thing we had to go on was the
widow of a chap who actually had been there and seen the grave...we discovered
that it was actually the junction of the Templeman and the Georgina rivers,"
My thanks to the various sources who brought to
my attention some of the above articles and reports.
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