Sunday, January 08, 2023

The Richmond Poisoner

Whilst my post tonight is not about Child Criminals, is about children as the victims of crime. And it is related to my husband's family - but only by marriage, we hasten to add. Martha Needle Martha needle was an Australian serial killer known for poisoning her husband, three children, and prospective brother-in-law. She was hanged on 22 October 1894, at the age of 31. Martha was born in Morgan, South Australia in 1864 to a very poor family where she suffered a lot of physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather and mother. She left home when she was 13 and in 1881 married Henry Needle. It was apparently a happy marriage and they had three daughters. They moved to Melbourne but the marriage gradually deteriorated. Mabel, the eldest daughter died in 1885 after a short illness. Martha collected insurance upon her deatth. In 1889, Henry became ill and died after a lingering illness. Martha collected insurance for hin too. In 1890 and 1891 the other two daughters died after long slow illnesses which the doctor diagnosed as "wasting disease". Again Martha collected insurance.

Martha was avery attractive young woman which could be why the doctor did not become suspicious.

Martha then took a position as housekeeper to two young brothers - Louis and Otto Juncken. Otto fell in love with Martha, but the relationship was halted by his two brothers Louis and Herman who did not trust her. Louis then after several bouts of illness and recovery' finally died in 1894 of "inflammation of the stomach and membranes of the heart". Hermann, the third brother arrived frrom Adelaide to arrange the funeral, but was taked ill after eating a meal with Martha. He was treated by his doctor, but at this stage neither man was suspicious of Martha until Hermann had another meal with Martha and became violently ill again. Now the doctor became suspicious and had a sample of Hermann's vomit tested. It contained traces of arsenic and he called the police.

A trap was set for Martha and Hermann returned to take tea with Martha. She was caught in the act! A search of her cottage found a fresh tin of "Rough on Rats ". It was later discovered that she had purchased numerous tins of rat poison. The bodies of the rest of her victims were exhumed and found to contain arsenic. She was arrested, sent to trial and found guilty of murder on September 24, 1894. She was hanged on October 22nd 1894.

BTW, Henry was my husband's great, great uncle. I also discovered while researching Martha that in the 1920s a nephew of hers - Alexander Lee - was hanged in Adelaide for poisoning his wife and three of his seven children!!


Liz Needle, linking with Sepia Saturday 654

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Sepia Saturday 645

Oh Boy!! I nearly missed this week which would have been devastating as I have dozens of old school photos. Coming from 4 generations of teachers (at least), I seem to have been gifted with a variety of these old memories. Problem is what to choose - some of them may have been shown here before.

My Great great grandmother Marianne Heyne came to Australia in Australia in 1851, having previously founded a school in Dresden. She joined her son Ernst Bernhard Heyne in Melbourne - he had arrived in 1848, travelling as a tutor to a family. He was a mathematician, a botanist and an accomplished linguist. He was then employed as chief plantsman at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, then as secretary to Ferdinand von Mueller, the director of the Botanic Gardens.

In 1868 he moved to South Australia and married Laura Hanckel whose father was a book binder and book seller. They had 5 children - one died in infancy, but the three daughters went on to becaome some of the best known teachers in Adelaide.Their son Carl established a nursery business which is still run by his great grandchildren. Three of Carl's children went on to become teachers, including my mother. A number of the next generation (mine) also became teachers, but as I had 33 cousins, many of whom either were teachers or had children who became teachers, I have given up keeping count.

But I digress - the photos.

This is a photo of my great Aunt Laura with her class from The Advanced School for Girls in Adelaide. Laura went on the become the Senior Science Mistress at Adelaide Boys High School - a first ever for a woman in an all boys school. One of her senior science students was the late Sir Mark Oliphant, one of the scientists instrumental in developing the atomic bomb.

This is an earlier photo of Laura with a younger class. This was probably a primary school in the country. All young teachers then and even in my early teaching career had to do country service.

Ida , the youngest of the three sisters became profoundly deaf in her teen years, but nevertheless had a wonderful career as a language teacher at a prestigious girls college in Adelaide. Even in her late 90's she was regularly visited by her old students, so beloved was she. She is on the extreme left in the front row with, I believe, a group of student teachers. And below, celebrating her 90th birthday with some of her ex-students.

Agnes the eldest of the girls was probably the best known and was certainly remembered as a brilliant scholar and teacher - at the same time raising a very large family with a frequently absent husband. This next photo shows the three sisters with Agnes' eldest child.

And so to the next generation - my mother's. She was one of 10 children, 3 of whom became teachers. Mum was a primary school teacher, retiring when she was 69. She taught in many schools, both country and city. Her first appointment was to Minlaton , a country town many miles from Adelaide. She lived in a boarding house, sharing a room with her land lady because the other bedrooms housed two bank clerks, a stock agent and a male shop assistant. The land lady divided their rooms with hessian curtains for privacy!! Mum had 60 students in her classroom - Years 1,2 and 3. The Headmaster had Years 4, 5, 6 and 7 in another classroom.

This photo is a later class. Mum is on the right with the very "modern" bob.

My turn. This is the only photo I have of myself at school. I had more, but they were lost in one of our many shifts in the early days. This is in 1953 in my first year at high school.I am in the front row, second from the right.

Three aspiring young teachers me, my cousin, Jan Heyne and my best friend Kate. I think we rather fancied ourselves in those days.

And just to show that teachers are not always stern and serious. The school staff at Lobethal Primary all dressed up for Melbourne Cup Day(Australia's most famous horse race.) That's me in the centre in my Op Shop pink special.

That's it for me. Better late than never. Please excuse any typos - I did this in a hurry.

Liz Needle linking with Sepia Saturday 645

Monday, October 03, 2022


I had to share a few more of the beards that appear in my family albums.

I'm sure I have a few more, but these will d. There are some similarities in style here - especially the bare chin ones. I found that those who didn't have beards usually had moustaches. Very few clean shaven one back in the 19th centry Adelaide. Liz Needle - linking with - Sepia Saturday

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Sepia Saturday 641

Sepia Saturday is all about Beards and Books. Luckily my family files have a number of beards, from those of my early German immigrant ancestors to my modern day family.

Great Great Grandfather Heinrich Eduard Hanckel, although cleanshaven as a young man sported a lovely white beard in later age. He was a book binder and book seller and came to South Australia in 1850. Here is a link to the book theme.

A Great Great Grandfather on the maternal side was Johann Gottlieb Lehmann who arrived in South Australia on the Leontine in 1848. He hailed from Brandenburg, Prussia. He sported a fuller, longer beard than GGG Hanckel. His offspring also enjoyed their facial hair.

Coming down a generation. Great Grandfather Ernst Bernhard Heyne who married GGG Hanckel's daughter, Laura, also has a link to books. He was a Botanist, a linguist and a Horticulturist and wrote one of the first gardening books published in the colony of South Australia. "The Amateur Gardener for South Australia" went to at least 3 editions and even today is full of sound gardening principles and practices. Here he is as a younger man and the older version

The next couple of generations weren't into beards though some of them fancied their moustaches, but my generation, in middle age, took to berads with great gusto, as some of my cousins show you here.

But I think the classic of my generation comes from my husband's family of six boys. My husband Don, is the only clean shaven one, though he did grow a beard arond this time. Unfortunately his rathe sort neck meant the beard just did not suit him, so at the family's insistence, he shaved it off. Every now and then he threatens to grow it again and is immediately told he will suffer a family excommunication.

I actually found some more interesting beards in my family photos, but I am so frustrated with this new formatting system that I couldn't be bothered figuring it out. Maybe I will put them in another post when I am feeling more patient.
Meantime I hope you enjoy this post and pop along to the link to see how the others have got on with this theme.

Liz Needle linking with Sepia Saturday

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Busy Fingers

I find it very difficult to sit and do nothing on cold wintery nights, so I tend to pick up some handwork to do. This year as a change from my usual crocheting or cross stitch, I decided to go back to knitting. But what to knit - then Spotlight had a sale on baby wool. Just what I needed. Small quick items. But no new babies in the family, nor the likelihood of any for some years.

Then inspiration hit. The Chidren's Hospital. Surely they had some mothers come in who needed hand knitted woollies for their new borns. So my new craze began. Now, a few months later I have 20 little jimpers/cardigans and twelve little beanies to find homes for.

Just a few samples first

Now the whole lot.

Now to parcel them up and send the to the Children's Hospital. Hopefully they'll be able to find them good homes. Hmm what next??

Liz Needle

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Sepia Saturday 639 - Mothers and Prams

This week's image shows a woman with a baby in a pram. And for once I seem to have a number of them in my family archives. So here goes.

This one is of my husband's grandmother, Rosa Needle with three of her four children. The babies in the pram are twin boys - Frederick Alexander and Ronald Arthur - and their older sister Phyllis Rosa. Ronald went on to be my father-in-law, but Frederick sadly died when he was 14 years old.

This one taken in 1963 shows me with our eldest daughter - one of the early colour slides -taken at the Darwin Show.

And here both daughters with their own prams/pushers. I have to say these prams more often held puppies, kittens or rabbits - neither little girl being very interested in dolls.

Then along came baby brother and the girls were only too happy to push around a 'real' baby doll.

These last photos are not family ones, but a few that I have collected along the way. Enjoy.

Sharing with the dog!!

A fun way to be pushed along.

A rather precarious way to take baby for a ride. Can you imagine this being allowed these days!!

Thank you for viewing my blog. To see how my fellow Sepians have interpreted this theme please follow the link Sepia Saturday.

Liz Needle

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Sepia Saturday 638

I was quite amazed when I looked at the date on my last post and saw that it was October 9th - last year!! Where have the last 11 months gone and what have I been doung that kept me too busy to write up my blog? Maybe age has something to do with it. I find these days that I have less energy to achieve all that I used to do and less motivation to get off my backside and get things done. Not that I haven't been busy. The garden is looking very well considering that we have had a cold, wet winter and now that the Spring bulbs and flowering shrubs and trees are coming to life, I feel much more energised. I have spent a lot of time in front of the fire crocheting and knitting baby garments for charity and I have enjoyed that though at times my arthritis has made it painful. I will pit some photos up when I have found my camera. And I have also taken on the job of secretary for the local Lawn Bowls Club, so I guess I have not totally retreated into hibernation. So, now it is time to restart my blog!! This week I have decided to post to Sepia Saturday, a meme I have always enjoyed in the past. In fact my last post was for Sepia Saturday. The theme this week is to do with buses - I haven't many bus photos, but here is one of my favourites.
I think I have used it before, but your memories are probably as bad as mine.

This one was taken in 1951 while we were on holiday on Kangaroo Island just off the coast of South Australia. We were enjoying a tour of the island when the bus broke down and I used my new Box Browniw to get a shot of the gentlemen passengers all trying to contribute their expertise to get the bus back on the road.

The husband of one of my quilting friends spends his time restoring old 'double deckers' and the highlight of one of our quilting camps was a quilt shop hop in one of his beautiful buses. This photo is not of the quilt trip, but this is the bus we travelled on. My quilt camp photos are on a CD and the CD slot on my computer has given up the ghost!
And finally an "old bus" that was very dear to Don and I. This 1932 B Model ford was converted into a van and was Don's very first car. We painted it ourtselves and inside I decorated it with little paintings of beetles and bugs. This lovely old bus transported many of our friends to dances and picnics. With an old mattress in the back it made for travel in comfort in the days before seatbelts and other safety measures and it is still fondly remembered at college re-unions. >And that is it for buses from me.

Liz Needle - Linking with Sepia Saturday