|Notes for Joseph Josiah GREEN|
|Extract from "The Herald", Friday 14th, 1902|
His varied experiences/ Tales of prison life/Interesting Narratives.
In a remote part of Gippsland on the flat lying land that stretches away for miles on the side of "the strait" connecting Lakes Wellington and Victoria, is the home of a remarkable man, familiarly known as "Old Joe Green". He has in his time played many parts, but notwithstanding an age that carries him well past the ninth decade, he is not yet the lean and slippered pantaloon, as depicted by the great poet. Mr Green was born in Warwickshire (Eng.) in the dim distant past when the last century was but a gay juvenile of nine short summers, and on the 19th of May next he will celebrate his ninety-third birthday. In the year 1830, Mr Green set sail for Tasmania. A tall and vigorous young man of twenty-one, he had no difficulty in gaining admission to the police force of Van Dieman's Land, as it was then called. Men were wanted, and Mr Green was put on duty at 1s 9p and his keep the same afternoon he stepped ashore from ship.
CHASE AFTER BUSHRANGERS
Of those eventful days at the convict settlement he is now full of interesting anecdote. On an experience of 1832 -- seventy years ago -- he lays claim to being the oldest Victorian colonist. It was a chase in a whaleboat after two bushrangers, who had stolen a boat and crossed over to Australia. "We did not as look much for these fellows," said the old policeman. "It was as much as we could do to look after ourselves and guard against the depredations of the blacks. I believe the stolen boat belonged to Henty. We saw nothing of the convicts, and after a fortnight had lapsed, we returned to the settlement. There were six of us in that boat and I am the only one now living."
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
Escapes of convicts were frequent occurrences. "I remember one occasion" said Mr. Green, "when twenty men escaped. I learned of by means of semaphores and ball signals, and I and George Excel, knowing that they would make for a certain boat that was in a handy position, went down and turned it bottom upwards and sate on it. We had not been there long before a gun was fired out of the bush and the shot passed right between us. That was rather too warm to be comfortable, but we did not know who had fired. The men managed to get away for a time, but all were subsequently retaken. I took one of them myself. He went to a selector's hut, not to rob it, but to ask for work. I got 10 pound for that fellow."
HE KNEW BUCKLEY
William Buckley, the wild white man, he knew well, and tells the story of how he commenced his remarkable career and gained such confidence with the aborigines. Buckley was one of three convicts who escaped from Lieutenant Collins' party in 1804, when camped not far from the present site of Sorrento. After wandering about for many days, his companions left him to give themselves up, but were never afterwards heard of. Buckley, said Mr. Green, accidentally came across the skeleton of a blackfellow which had been "buried" in a hollow tree in the costomary native fashion, with his boomerang and other implements by his side, and he promptly took possession of everything he thought might prove useful to defend himself in case of attempts at recapture. The natives observed the white man emerging from the sacred tree of there dead with the latter's belongings, and, in there superstitious way, reasoned it out something after this terse fashion --"Tumble down blackfellow, rise up as white man." Henceforward Buckley was as one of themselves.
"They wanted me to write a book of my life and experiences," said the nonagenarian, as he slowly filled his pipe, "but my memory is not as good as it was. I can remember every detail of some things that took place before most of the present generations were born, but others that have occurred more recently I quite forget for the moment. But they all come back to me at some time or another, they all come back now, there was the mutiny amongst the convicts. A judge named Brown came down to try the men who had been committed. He white hair and eye brows as black as coal He was to try the men and execute within three days -- Lawler and Morton - were acquitted. The first murder was committed as the convicts were being led out of the dormitory. Morris was the doorkeeper of the lumbar yard and they got an axe and split his head in halves. A convict named Prendergast smeared the unfortunate man's brains over the door and then bit his nose off and spit it into his empty skull."
"Then they turned into the cook-house and split open the head of Stephen Smith with an axe. One of the other cooks crept up under the fireplace of one of the coppers and saved his life, thus. They next rushed across to the lime kiln hut. Three constables who had been on night duty - Saxon, Tynan and Ryan - were in bed there. Westward, alias Jacky Jacky was leading the mutineers and with an American axe he chopped Tynan's head open. Saxon woke and said, "Ah Jackey, I know you." Those were the last words he ever uttered. Mick was on a stretcher at the foot of the other two, but he managed to make his escape. Close to this hut Jack Little and Burn McCarty, two of the prisoners, attached Overseer Clark and threw him in the limekiln, but the cook Sandy Clegg got him out. Twenty-four of the convicts were sentenced to one hundred lashes apiece, one to twenty five, and twelve were executed. They were hung six at a time and bullock wagons were waiting close by to take them to the burial ground. It was an awful place. We had hangings and floggings every day."
TAKING OF THE LADY FRANKLIN
"I'll tell you about the taking of the Lady Franklin. She was a barque that was used to take prisoners from Hobart Town to Norfolk Island. The prisoners, of whom there was about 100 long-sentence men aboard, took her without firing a shot or striking a blow. They simply rose in force, overpowered and imprisoned the solders and crew, cut the rigging so that the vessel could not be sailed in pursuit of them, left a boy in charge to liberate the men after two hours had elapsed, and then manned the boats and cleared off. Only three of the convicts were afterwards heard of. Their names were Merry, Clegg and Davis, and they were captured on one of the South Sea Islands. They were placed in a vessel in Sydney Harbour. In the morning Clegg was missing. His irons were lying on the deck with blood on them, and he was never heard of again. What became of him? Well, these Norfolk Islanders thought nothing of attempting a fourteen or fifteen mile swim. The other two men were taken back to Tasmania and were tried by Judge Owen and were dealt with leniently because they had injured nobody in the taking of the vessel. They were only sentenced to five years- a light term in those days. "
There was one narrative that Mr. Green never tires to tell of. It has reference to a wonderful snakebite cure. There was a prisoner named Charley Underwood who had been transferred from Sydney and was one of Mr. Green's gang at Port Arthur, who was always asserting that he had an absolute cure for snake poison. "One day a venomous kind of snake was discovered and, anxious to test the man's credibility, I asked him what he could do with it. Without the slightest hesitation he picked it up and placed it in his bosom. Subsequently he got out a ticket of leave, and having prepared some of the antidote, gathered a number of snakes and gave a public exhibition. He picked up a black snake and put on his under lip, which it immediately gripped in its teeth and hung to. Then he applied some of his cure."
"The public and some doctors who had gone to see him were not satisfied, so he invited them to a place called Noehloftie, which was notorious as the home of numerous snakes. A big reptile was found, and Underwood let it bite him on the arm. He then applied his antidote and was cured. Afterwards he lived next door to me in Murray Street Hobart, and had a large collection of snakes there. They were so much under his control that he used to put them round the neck of a nine year old neighbour's child, named Mary Ann Ashley. He afterwards toured the country."
"And what became of him? "
"He got drunk on one occasion, was bitten and died."
"And his secret went with him?"
"Yes. He offered to make the cure known, if the Government would give him a sum equal to 1.5 pence per head of population. The offer was refused. He gave me a bottle of the cure, but before I had occasion to use it the bottle broke. A Mrs. Poole of Port Albert had a bottle and one time when I was stung by a sea scorpion and was nearly dead with pain, I got some from her and it cured me in an instant. I also know a man named Pat Mosan who was bitten by a snake whilst picking up wood and was cured out of the same bottle."
It was not until the early forties that Mr.Green came over to Victoria to permanently take up his residence, and although his experience here were of more peaceful nature, they were not uneventful. For many years he earned his living hunting wild horses and pigs, and shooting kangaroos, emus, and other wild game. When the wharves were being built, he purchased the Emu Cutter and supplied rations to the men who were getting the timber from Sealer's Cove and Boggy Creek. Afterwards pastoral pursuits engaged his attention.
A WONDERFUL CONSTITUTION
His strong constitution has carried him through it all with hardly a day's sickness. Five year's ago he underwent the one serious operation of his life, and despite his advanced age, came through the ordeal splendidly. Curiously enough, it was not until he had to come to Melbourne for the operation that he saw for the first time the great city that had sprung out of the few scattered houses he passed through in the forties. The operation was necessitated by a growth near the left eye, and Doctor Bird who performed it, told him that he was the oldest man who had ever been operated upon under chloroform in the Melbourne Hospital. To cover the flesh laid bare by the surgeon's knife, a piece of skin was removed from his thigh and other pieces were obtained from a medical gentleman's arms, and "transplanted" to his face. All that now remains to indicate the spot operated upon is a scarcely noticeable scar.
"The greatest blow I've had of recent years" said this old colonist, as he gazed dimly across his son's homestead, "is the failure of my eyes. I've always been a great reader and up to the last I used to take the "Weekly Times" but it's no good now. I consulted an oculist and he told me that I would never see to read again. But I'm thankful that they are yet good enough to lead me about. My general health? Well, I'm a bit 'dicky' in the morning, but after dinner I'm as right as the bank. As for toothache or headache, well I don't know what they are. When a tooth gets loose, I send along for my son 'Jos.' and he pulls them out with the pliers. "
And the old man of ninety three summers, who even now is able to walk about with but accasional aid from a stick, rose from the seat in the shade of the gum tree where we had been chatting and sauntered off down the paddocks with a steadier step than many a man twenty years his junior.
Remember By His Grandaughter
As an old man with a long white beard. Chased a cheeky aborigane up a tree over a loaf of bread. The native made him wrape it in paper.- Florenze Green
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