Lock Hospital – re Bon Marche a/c 69/2/9. Flannel & Co

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0042
Title: Lock Hospital – re Bon Marche a/c 69/2/9. Flannel & Co

Keywords: Bernier Island, Dorre Island, Lock Hospitals, Richard Pilmer, Henry Hunter, Boolgin Station, Bangemall, Robert Wilkinson, Peak Hill, clothing

[There are a number of items in this file that are discussions about clothing manufacture between Chief Protector Aborigines and the storekeeper at Fremantle Gaol, where the clothing for the department was made, as well as accounts for clothing and fabrics, which have not been transcribed – if further information is required, please contact Katitjin]

To: Sergeant Pilmer, Police Station, Roebourne
July 20, 1909
With reference to that portion of your letter of the 5th July asking to be supplied with 50 pairs of trousers, 50 shirts and 50 light leather belts, for indigent natives and discharged prisoners, I have to inform you that these cannot be sent at present, as the contracts for the supply of the necessary materials have only just been let, and it will be three or four months before they are to hand. The clothing mentioned will be forwarded to you as early as possible. The belts, however, have been ordered and these should be forwarded to you by the Gorgon, which is timed to leave Fremantle on the 24th instant.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

7 July 1909
Police Station Nullagine
To: Chief Protector of Aborigines
Herewith acknowledge having received from Port Hedland by camel team – one parcel containing 24 dresses, 12 pair trousers, and 12 shirts – clothing for indigent natives.
J Stow

Boolgin Station
5 July 1909
To: Chief Protector of Aborigines
I beg to acknowledge receipt of native rations, which came to hand on the 2nd of July. I regret to say that no blankets or clothing have come to hand. I wrote your Department some time ago, advising them that blankets and clothing should be available in April, again in May I wrote stating that the natives are very badly off for clothing and blankets, and enclosing a list of the names of the natives who have a just claim for blankets and clothing.
There are over 200 natives on this peninsula and when they see the natives of the south-west of them about Beagle Bay and the natives to the north-east of them, about Sunday Island, with their winter outfits, they naturally ask why they are being left out in the cold. The whole of these natives come to me for assistance, but I cannot afford to supply blankets and clothing or I would willingly do so.
For the past six weeks I have been sewing together the empty flour bags, to provide some sort of covering, but flour bags are a poor substitute for blankets and clothing. Many years ago, when I first came to the colony, I was given to understand that every native in Australia could get a fit out once a year, by simply asking for it. It was then known as the Queen’s bounty, and judging by the crown on the blankets, it is only reasonable to suppose that it is now the King’s bounty.
Assuming that it is state property I venture to remark that if the funds at the disposal of the Department being insufficient to provide blankets and clothing for the natives in this district, the matter could be brought under the notice of the Government, through our member for the district, for I am sure he would have the support of the settlers of the district in that respect. Trusting that a supply of blankets and clothing will be sent forward as soon as possible.
I am, Sir,
(signed) Henry Hunter
PS Rations will last till the end of September.
[Note] Original letter in 19/09

9 Aug, 1909
To: Isdell, Travelling Protector Aborigines, Fitzroy Crossing
Hunter Boolgin Station complaining absence blankets and clothing two hundred natives please look into and report when visiting.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

Police Station
To: Const Walker, Wiluna
The articles mentioned in attached voucher have been forwarded to you through Cobb & Co.
L Hunter

To: Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Receipt herewith for clothing recd for aged natives.
Please note
I could do with a dozen more dresses and a dozen shirts and trousers for the aged natives here of both sexes. Also some clothing for native girls under 9 years of age. Six of them are running about at the Natives Camp in rags.
When forwarding goods of any kind to Wiluna, please forward via Nannine whence they can be forwarded here for 1d per lb.
Wm Walker

The Storekeeper, Fremantle Prison
24 Aug, 1909
With reference to the 400 yards of denim forwarded to our Department recently by the Government Stores, I have to advise that this is required for trousers for this Department. Before making these up however, I shall be glad if you will make a sample pair, as Dr Lovegrove, Superintendent Medical Officer of the Lock Hospitals, advises that so far as trousers for the diseased natives are concerned, it would be better if these were made with running strings, somewhat like pyjamas. I shall be glad therefore, if you will have a sample pair made as early as possible, and forwarded to this Department.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

To: Chief Protector of Aborigines
11 hands safe. Genesta totally wrecked Dorre thirteenth. Dinghy stove in. Parted cable easterly gale, piled up rocks south and white beach all gear salvaged. Waited weather, proceeded Bernier hospital dinghy. Returned Carnarvon this morning per relief boat [remaining sentence blacked out]. No blankets clothing Dorre. Dresses shirts urgently required [remaining sentence blacked out].

Clothing – Dorre Island
There were no stocks of native clothing or blankets on hand. In connection with the manufacture of trousers for the native patiets, Dr Lovegrove desires that these shall be made with running strings, in place in buttons, as if made in this way, the work of dressing the patients will be far more handy. He asked me to see Dr Hickenbotham in connection with this matter, which I did, and he confirmed Dr Lovegrove’s view.

Angelo, Carnarvon
30 Aug, 1909
Send over soon as possible doctor will have go Dorre with men to instruct orderly treatment return doctor Bernier thence Carnarvon load Mauds be sure blankets per Minderoo gone Dorre otherwise no blankets Dorre provide men sufficient temporary clothing pending supplies Koombana
Chief Protector Aborigines

The Storekeeper, Fremantle Prison
Aug 30, 1909
Please consign per Koombana, to the Officer in Charge, Dorre Island, c/o Mr E H Angelo, Carnarvon, 25 pairs trousers and 25 shirts
Chief Protector Aborigines

Dairy Creek Station, Upper Gascoyne, WA
Aug 7, 1909
To: Chief Protector Aborigines
Would you kindly send clothing for eight old and infirm aborigines natives, six women and two men.
R E Lewis, for John Fitzpatrick

Dr F Lovegrove,
Bernier Island,
C/o Mr E H Angelo,
Sept 3, 1909
With reference to your requisition for 400 yds of striped galatea for dresses, I beg to advise that we are forwarding 100 yds of this galatea, and 300 yds of other material, as we were unable to buy the galatea under contract. The other material was used by the Lunacy Department for dresses, and I think your Matron will find it very suitable.
Chief Protector Aborigines

The Storekeeper, Fremantle Prison
With reference to the pyjama trousers for the natives,the sample is to hand, and I am returning it under cover this day. These trousers should be open for a few inches in the front, like ordinary pyjamas, otherwise the pattern will do. Please make up 50 pairs in this way, and consign them to “The Officer in Charge, Dorre Island, c/o Mr E H Angelo, Carnarvan.” I shall be glad also if you will advise me when these goods are consigned.
Chief Protector Aborigines

To: H A Herbert, Storekeeper, F[remantle] P[rison]
Sept 1, 1909
Dear Sir,
Yours of 6.7.09, I have not received invoice or clothing from the police of Carnarvon. I believe P C Grey is using them for the diseased natives, which he is collecting from the district and the natives on the relief are practically without clothing.
Yours Faithfully,
R Wilkinson

The Officer in Charge,
Police Station,
Oct 16, 1909
Some time in April, or early in May a consignment of clothing was sent by the Fremantle Prison to Mr R Wilkinson, Bangemall, c/o the Police, Carnarvon. Mr Wilkinson now advises me that he has never received this clothing, which for the use of indigent natives. He further states that he believes it is being used by Constable Gray, for the diseased natives which he is now collecting in the district. I shall be glad if you can let me have any information in regard to this matter.
Chief Protector Aborigines
[Appended letter]
29 Oct 1909
To: Sergt Stokes
I respectfully beg to note the remarks of the Chief Protector and I have to inform you that two parcels of clothing were received here at this Station addressed [?] Police from the Protector of Aborigines, and no address on them directing either of them to Bangemall. Neither have I received any advice that any parcel of clothing was forwarded to Bangemall from Aborigines Dept.
I had applied some time back for [?] clothes and took it they were sent in answer to my application. Const Gray informed me that the natives at Bangemall are not in want of any clothes. No doubt it advice had been sent to me and they had been properly addressed they would have reached Bangemall if these clothes had been intended for that place.
I may also state that most of the clothing was used by Const Gray to clothe the diseased natives which he was collecting for the Island.
Const Spry

Police Dept, Cue
Oct 21, 1909
To: Chief Protector Aborigines
Whilst at Peak Hill I saw 20 out the 30 odd indigent aborigines mostly females, some of the women were indecent for want of clothes and the camp … some arrangement would have to be made for getting their rations out to them. I recommend that about 20 dresses in one piece of some strong and warm material be sent at Police at Peak Hill for distribution. The nights are cold and the debilitated state of these unfortunates and the … [remaining two lines illegible]

To: Inspector Drewry, Police Station, Cue
28 Oct, 1909
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 21st instant; and in reply to inform you that 20 dresses will be sent to the Police, Peak Hill, for distribution.
C F Gale
Chief Protector of Aborigines
[Appended note]
To: P C Buck, Peak Hill
To note and inform me if more dresses are required but see that they are issued only in needful cases.
[Appended note]
Inspector Drewry,
I respectfully report having received per Geoff Carroll vans, this date, twenty dresses & twenty shirts. I respectfully ask to be supplied with another twenty dresses as there are a number of very old female natives who require dresses.
Louis Buck

To The Stores Manager
I attach an order for 1,500 yards of shirting for the aborigines, Item No 2,238. Will you please have this made up into shirts – 300 large size, and the remainder medium size, all shirts to be made very long, both back and front, delivery to be made to this Department.
Chief Protector of Aborigines|
2 Dec, 1909

Katitjin Notes:

Pilmer, Richard Henry (1866-1951)
Richard Henry Pilmer was a controversial policeman stationed in the north-west for many years. Born in New Zealand, he came to Western Australia as a surveyor in 1891, joined the police force in 1892, stationed in the north-west until 1899, during which time he gained a reputation as a violent and aggressive policeman, infamous for his use of a cat-of-nine-tails with Aboriginal prisoners. In 1897, he was a part of the police force trying to capture the Bunuba resistance leader, Jandamarra, and shot him in the hip. He enlisted in the Boer War and on his return in 1901, as a non-commissioned officer, he was so disliked by his men that when he landed in Fremantle he was pelted with potatoes, dough, and ink as he walked down the gangplank, which led to his nickname “Pelted Pilmer.” He was then stationed at Collie but was so unpopular that the townspeople made a petition to have him removed. Pilmer returned to the north-west until about 1911, when he was the leader of a punitive expedition on the Canning Stock Route, leaving from Leonora. Here is a newspaper item from the West Australian, June 9, 1901:

Ex-Policeman Pilmer
A Little of His Past
Pelted Pilmer, of the returned contingent is an illustraion of the way they manage things in the West. He was formerly employed in the Nor-West to bring in runaway niggers with chains round their necks for the squatters to try them. As the squatters owned the niggers, they would receive severe penalties and, perhaps, flogging was the chief. Pilmer did the flogging when nobody else would. He flogged 30 in one batch and received 10s per head for his labors. The ordinary cat-o’-nine tails would not satisfy him. He got a broom handle and fastened nine bullock hide strips with knots in them to both ends. The knots were about six inches apart. With this he flogged the blacks at the triangles and brought flesh and blood with every blow. He boasted that he worked so hard that he had to rub himself with eucalyptus afterwards, he was so stiff. Then he made a profit out of feeding his chain gangs of niggers, for whom he charged 7s per head per day, while he gave them nothing but kangaroo and flour water for food. This was how he made his money in the Derby district.

Constable Stow
Transferred from Hamelin Police Station at Karridale to Nullagine in 1907

Walker, William
William Walker was a police constable at Wiluna, who was also designated as a Protector of Aborigines. The conflict of interest arising from being both a police officer and a “Protector” was apparent even in those days, as attested by the following newspaper item:

Police Constable William Walker is entitled to write himself “protector of aboriginals” at Wiluna, in addition to his other duties. Walker has recently been charged with torturing his own black tracker by chaining him up for a night by the neck, a subject that might certainly be held to warrant some official investigation. But even allowing that is at present an “ex-parte” statement, isn’t it absurd that a constable should be appointed a deputy-protector of natives at all? In his former capacity it is his duty to put the fear of the white man’s law into the heart of our black brother Bill and to keep it there. It is his business to hunt the natives out of the town as much as possible, to shoot the native’s mangy dogs, to pursue and arrest the native for the numerous offences which that unfortunate person is mainly occupied in committing. In his latter capacity he is expected to physic the sick native, to clothe the naked one, to feed the old and infirm. It is likely the unsophisticated aborigines will go to zealous constables like Walker for succor, for relief, for protection? His very name strikes fear into their souls. His very presence in the neighbourhood is an inducement to them to cut and run. [Sunday Times 06.10.1907]

Hunter, Harry (1865-1941)
Harry Hunter is a controversial figure: he was a pearling master who set up a camp at Boolgin Creek and subsequently lived there. The following is an extract from the book “Harry Hunter and Sydney Hadley“:

“Harry Hunter walked down to his store, revolver on his hip as always, whip and knife in hand. He took out a large burlap sack and a length of rope, locked the door again, and went on down to the beach.” “Just above the edge of the sea, a rowing boat lay on the sand. Nearby a group of Aboriginal children was playing, one of them a big boy, almost full grown. Harry Hunter told that boy, ‘Row this boat’.” “Soon after they set off, he said, ‘This boat is too light. Pull across to the island and bring some rocks’. The boy did so, lowering them in carefully, so they wouldn’t go through the bottom, then rowed out to the deep water, where sharks pass down King Sound when the tide runs full” “Out there, Harry Hunter put his revolver to the boy’s head, killed him, put the body and rocks in the sack which he tied with the rope and dropped over the stern.” “Taking the oars, he rowed back to the mainland shore, pulled the boat up on the beach and walked away.” Jack Hunter.

Wilkinson, Robert
Robert Wilkinson was the owner and publican of the Bangemall Hotel. He found a large gold nugget while prospecting at Bangemall in 1904 and in 1905 was granted a license for the hotel with Mr Ayliffe. In 1912 the license was contested by the police because of the “ruinous and dilapidated” state of the building: “There were holes in the roof and with every fall of rain a part of the walls of the rooms came away…There was no accommodation and no beds, and travellers had to camp outside.”

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