It is a dark damp day; the rain is beating down on the corrugated iron of my four-roomed cottage on Condobolin Road. It is still early hours, however my husband William has already left to visit his parents Frederick and Mary on their property, as the wind and rain has brought down two of their great gum trees. My children are still sleeping soundly. I am not feeling well again today, I have not felt well since Maggie’s death, some two years ago. My head has not felt right; it tells me to do things that women shouldn’t even think of. I am not a well human being; I do not feel anymore, this haunts me. I feel great remorse and pity for myself.
I am however fit to right my story, my life. My name is Catherine Ada Foster, however I am better known as Kate Kelly, sister of the renowned Ned Kelly. I was born in Beveridge on the 12th of July 1863, as the seventh child born to my parents John ‘Red’ Kelly and Ellen Quinn. Mary, the eldest is the sister I never knew, as she passed away at infancy. Second born was Anne then came Edward- everyone knowing him as Ned, then Margaret, James and Daniel. At the young age of just three years old in 1866, many events took place that changed my life; my little sister Grace came into the world around the same time we as a family moved to Avenel.
That year my father John Kelly also passed away of dropsy, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the body tissues, or cavities causing swelling or distension of the affected parts. This left my mother a widow and seven children fatherless, so we moved in with my aunt in Greta. After living there for twelve months, mother took up her own selection on the Eleven-Mile-Creek in the Glenrowan district, and there we moved into a newly erected two-roomed hut built by Ned.
In Greta, I attended school and upon finishing I spent my time helping mother with the younger children, as she had remarried George King in 1874, and had two more children, Ellen and John- making a family of eleven, most of us being exceptional horsemen. It was just five years before in 1969 when Ned was first bought before the police court for two cases, at just fifteen years of age. He was charged with assault of a fowl and pig dealer named Ah Fook, and secondly aiding a bushranger, Harry Power, in some of his robberies. Luckily for Ned and Mother, he was found not guilty in both cases.
However before the end of that year, Ned was convicted again for assault and indecent behaviour resulting in six months hard labor. Our family name was becoming well known around our area, as the police were giving us a bad name for petty things my older brother did. When Ned was released from prison, just three weeks later he received a beautiful brown mare off a friend he met during his labor times. However the police were on to him and arrested Ned as the horse was stolen, Ned had no idea of this, but this didn’t seem to matter to the police as he received three years hard labor.
I was about fifteen years of age when the suitor Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick became attracted to me. He did not have a good name for himself, already fathering two children to different mothers. He tried to pose as a friend of the family, however my brothers were not fools to be reckoned with, and they did not trust him. On the 15th of April 1878, Fitzpatrick rode up to our house and Dan went outside. He asked Dan to go to Greta with him, as he had a warrant for stealing Whitty’s horses. Dan refused and asked to see the warrant, and Fitzpatrick said he had none.
My mother told Fitzpatrick he had no business on her premises so he pulled out his revolver and said he would blow her brains out if she interfered. Mother said that Ned was present and he would come out and ram the revolver down his throat. It was obvious that Fitzpatrick had been drinking. As he was sitting on the stool waiting for Dan to finish his meal, I in my course of duties passed by him and he tried to kiss me. All my brothers tried to stop him. Fitzpatrick was drunk, they were sober but his story was believed above ours.
He stated that my mother had struck him with a fire shovel, Dan had beaten him and Ned had shot him in the wrist and wounded him. He also incriminated William Williamson and Maggies husband William Skillion who he insisted on being there when the incident took place. The outcome resulted in long harsh sentences for mother, and our neighbours Skillion and Williamson. Ned and Dan hadn’t waited for their arrest and fled into the Wombat Ranges. 1 I was very angry that even the doctor who attended Fitzpatrick’s wounds, did not confirm that there was a bullet wound, and also that there was a strong smell of liquor on his breath.