Richard Pilmer

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]

[Letter]
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

[Letter]
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
Protector

[Letter]
Boolgin Station
5 July 1909
To: Chief Protector of Aborigines
Sir,
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

[Telegram]
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

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

[Letter]
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
Protector

[Letter}
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

[Telegram]
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].
Brodribb

[Report]
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.
Brodribb

[Telegram]
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

[Letter]
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

[Letter]
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

[Letter]
Dr F Lovegrove,
Bernier Island,
C/o Mr E H Angelo,
Carnarvon
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

[Letter]
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

[Letter]
Bangemall
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

[Letter]
The Officer in Charge,
Police Station,
Carnarvon
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

[Report]
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]
Drewry

[Letter]
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.
Drewry
1.11.09
[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
3/12/09

[Letter]
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.”

Lock hospitals – fit subjects for

State Records Archive
Consignment: 652
Item: 1909/0015
Title: Lock Hospital – fit subjects for

Keywords: Lock hospitals, Mulga Downs Station, Winnie, Cooberong, Wineri, Richard Pilmer, Arthur Adams, Oobagooma Station, Bernier Island, Dorre Island, Cuteen, Yambanum, Jimmy, Elvire Station, Ruby Plains Station, James Isdell

[Memo]
Police Station
Tableland
28 Dec 1908
Sergt Pilmer
I beg to report for the information of the Chief Protector of Aborigines that when I visited Mulga Downs Stn on the 8th inst. I inspected an Abo Native woman named Winnie @ Cooberong or Wineri who is suffering from a severe form of venereal disease and who Mr Miller the manager considers a fit subject for the lock hospital.
I am also of the same opinion.
She is about 35 yrs of age and is unable to perform any work and is totally dependent upon the station for her sustenance.
S W Hardy

[Memo]
Chief Protector, Perth
28/12/08
Submitted for your information. Mulga Downs Station is 180 miles from Roebourne. It will be a costly matter getting this unfortunate woman down. However, I await your instructions.
R H Pilmer
Aborigines Dept Recd Jan 7 1909

[Telegram]
22 Jan 1909
From Roebourne
To Police Station Perth
Four female two male diseased natives Marble Bar Station please advise what be done with them
Sergt Pilmer

[Telegram]
2 Feb 1909
From Derby
To Chief Protector Aborigines, Perth
Two natives male and female suffering venereal disease from Obagooma now hospital where shall they be sent
McCarthy, acting sub

[Telegram]
1 Feb 1909
From Derby
To Lovegrove, Medical, Perth
Imperative that two venerial [sic] natives now in Derby hospital be transferred by this boat to Bernier Island retreat.
Adams

[Memo]
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
Please deal with attached telegram from Dr Adams at Derby
[Signature illegible]
Colonial Secretary’s Dept
Medical Public Health
3 Feb 1909

[Telegram]
3 Feb 1909
Resident Magistrate
Derby
Men’s island hospital not ready for patients. Women must be kept until next batch of women patients sent Bernier. Instructions will be given when to collect patients of both sexes.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Telegram]
3 Feb 1909
Sergeant Pilmer
Roebourne
Men’s island hospital not yet ready for patients. Waiting to transport both sexes from inland at one expense. Patients mentioned must stay until further instructions
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Letter]
From District Medical Office, Derby
To Acting Sub-Inspector, Police Dept, Derby
Jan 15th 1909
Sir,
I beg to inform you that on the evening of the 13th inst two aboriginals were delivered into my charge by Police Constable B H Fletcher suffering from extensive venereal disease. These natives named Cuteen (female) and Yambanum alias Jimmy (male) have been entered into the hospital as patients, there to remain until such time as your department undertakes their transference to the Bernier Island retreat.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
Arthur R Adams DMO

[Report]
Police Department
West Kimberley
Roebourne Station
Jan 15 1909
Report of B H Fletcher Const
Relative to 2 diseased (venereal) natives found in Native camps at Obagamma
I have to report finding 2 Ab Natives Cuteen and Yambanum in the natives camps at Obagamma on the 28th December 1908. There were over 80 natives camped there and these 2 were in a frightful condition and I thought it my duty to bring them in to the Derby Hospital.
I handed these 2 natives to Dr Adams RMO on the 13th Jan 09.
B H Fletcher

[Memo on the bottom of the above report]
Actg S I McCarthy
Forwarded.
J T Brodie 15/1/09
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
Forwarded. Please see Dr Adam’s letter attached. I request to be instructed as to when these diseased natives will be sent away and where to.
J M McCarthy
Acting Sub-Insp
16/1/09

[Telegram]
From Derby
To Chf Protr Aborigines, Perth
6 Feb 1909
Yours of third inst the two venereal natives decamped from hospital see memo to Lovegrove in post it is impossible to control diseased unless isolation area and appurtenances be gazetted as reserve within meaning of aborigines act they cannot be legally detained in Derby lockup.
Resident Magistrate

[Telegram]
From Halls Creek
To Aborigines Dept, Perth
20 Feb 1909
Visited Elvire and Ruby. At Elvire male aborigine bad chronic venereal. Arranged man camped there feed him eighteen pence a day. Cannot walk or ride. Can get him Halls Creek per sulky hire pound per day. Say three pounds. Cruel to leave him where he is. Two women many months in relief camp. Very bad chronic cases should be sent immediately Bernier. Teamster refuses take diseased natives. No vehicles Halls Creek. Only alternative spring cart from Wyndham. Wrong to keep them lingering relief camp.
Isdell

[Telegram]
Isdell, Halls Creek
Your wire re diseased natives relief camps. Hospital for men not quite ready. When it is instructions will be issued collection natives both sexes and send them down together in one batch to save expense. In meantime have all arrangements ready for transport to coast all syphilitic natives so that when time comes there will be no delay. What would cost hire be spring cart from Wyndham.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Telegram]
From Port Hedland
To Dept of Aborigines, Perth
25 Feb 1909
Aboriginals Nelly & Tommy bad venereal disease cases. Here no hospital. Please advise as to disposal.
Browne, Resident Magistrate

[Telegram]
To Resident Magistrate, Port Hedland
Please have temporary shelter made if necessary. Also see to their well being as far as possible. Dorre Island not quite ready for males. The two sexes will be sent down together very shortly from different stations. Will advise.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Telegram]
From Halls Creek
To Aborigines Dept, Perth
26 Feb 1909
Owing to heavy rains setting in, engaged vehicle bringing in sick native from Elvire. Arrived today, three days hire three pounds thirteen days, sustenance at Elvire nineteen shillings and sixpence. Please authorise Magistrate pay amounts.
Isdell

[Telegram]
To Resident Magistrate, Halls Creek
From Aborigines Dept, Perth
27 Feb 1909
Please pay for transport etcetera sick natives from Elvire three pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Telegram]
From Halls Creek
To Aborigines Dept
1 Mar 1909
In accordance wire received 23rd, telegraphed Sergt Wyndham reply sixty two pounds. Sum preposterous. Strongly advise most economical police aborigine depts. Combine purchase large tilted spring cart leading shaft harness. Ship Wyndham first steamer. Use of Halls Creek can always hire horses settle. All future transport difficulty and heavy expense same convenience wanted Fitzroy Crossing. No possible getting vehicle Halls Creek made diligent enquiry.
Isdell

[Letter]
(Stamped: Received Medical Public Health Dept 11 Mar 1909)
To PMO, Medical Dept, Perth
From District Medical Officer
Derby
Jan 27, 1909
Sir,
I beg to report that two aboriginals suffering from venereal disease were delivered into my charge by the local police on the 13th inst. These natives, named Yambanum @Jimmy and Cuteen, were entered as in-patients (nos 322 & 323 on the Admittance Register) of the Derby Hospital. They were in an extremely loathsome condition, the female (Cuteen) in particular with mass of condylomata from sacrum to pubes, including inner aspect of upper third of thighs. Considerable improvement occurred under treatment while awaiting shipment for the “Retreat” at Bernier Island: howbut the shippers declined to take any more diseased natives, and not receiving reply to my wire of the 25th inst (the Derby Police are also awaiting instructions from the Head Office) the SS Bullsea left without them on yesterday afternoon. Early this morn both patients absconded from the hospital, again illustrating the futility of treatment without an isolation reserve being gazetted, and a “Contagious Disease Act” being in force.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
Arthur R Adams
DMO

[Memo]
To Chief Protector of Aborigines
From Principal Medical Officer
2 Mar 1909
Will you please reply to Dr Adam’s letter, direct, in regard to the matters referred to, in the attached letter
M Hope
PMO

[Letter]
To The Resident Magistrate, Derby
Mar 29, 1909
Your letter to the PMO of Jan 27th has been passed on to me for answer. I am taking steps to have a reserve under the Aborigines Act declared at each port along our northern coast, and such reserves will include the area on which hospitals are built. By referring to section 12 of this Act you will notice that the Minister may cause any aboriginal to be removed and kept within the boundaries of a reserve etc, and that any aboriginal who may refuse to be kept within the boundaries of such reserve shall be guilty of an offence. The Solicitor General informs me that as soon as these reserves are proclaimed, it will be your duty to receive any natives suffering from venereal disease, and immediately wire down to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary the names of such aboriginals, when the Minister will wire up to you instructions to keep such diseased natives within the boundaries of the reserve. On receipt of the telegraphic instructions you will be in a legal position to detain the native in the hospital, and if he escapes you will have power to issue a warrant for his arrest, and to bring him back again. For your information, I beg to state that I am having very considerable difficulty with the steamship companies in getting diseased natives down from our northern ports to the lock hospitals. They have one and all refused to bring them down on the same conditions as the first lot was sent, and I believe that we shall have to charter a special steamer, and make every effort to collect as many natives suffering from these diseases as possible, in order that we can bring them down to the islands in sufficient number to pay us for the charter of the boat.
Chief Protector of Aborigines

[Telegram]
Wyndham
21/4/09
To Chief Protector of Aborigines, Perth
Six halfcaste, two aboriginal children sent Broome per Junee today for Beagle Bay, also two females for Bernier.
Resident Magistrate

[Telegram]
Apr 23rd, 1909
To Resident Magistrate, Wyndham
Under no circumstances send full blooded aboriginals away from their own country to Missions without approval. Do not wish any more venereal patients sent south until after winter. Please advise Police
Chief Protector

[Telegram]
27 Apr 1909
To Police, Broome
Two diseased native women being sent from Wyndham to Broome per Junee. Doctor instructed treat them out patients until can be sent Bernier. Please meet and arrange for rations.
Chief Protector Aborigines

[Letter]
From Resident Magistrate, Derby
To Chief Protector, Aborigines Dept, Perth
19th April, 1909
Sir,
I am in receipt of your answer dated March 29th last.
I thank you for the concise information contained therein, and I am pleased to note that my recommendation of “Reserves” for diseased natives (including the areas on which hospitals are built), so long formulated (as far back as September 1907) are within sight of realization.
Your directions will be duly observed.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
Arthur R Adams RM & DMO

Katitjin Notes:

Oobagooma Station, also spelled Obagama, Obaguma, was a cattle station about 80 north of Derby. It was established by the McLarty family in 1884 and is now a uranium mining property, zoned as a military training area and closed to the public.

Dr Arthur Reginald Adams was a government medical officer working in the north-west region for many years as a doctor and as resident magistrate. He was a doctor in Collie in 1902 and then moved up to Derby where he was the only doctor from 1907 – 1910. He was very popular and the townspeople of Derby, Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing and Turkey Creek all signed a petition for his reinstatement in 1910 and again in 1913, at which time he was resident magistrate in Onslow. He was also resident magistrate in Esperance for some years. He finally retired in Onslow in 1940, where he had been resident magistrate since 1933.

Richard Henry Pilmer (1866-1951) 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.

James Isdell was a pastoralist, parliamentarian, and traveling protector of Aborigines. Although he expresses compassion in his communications in this record, he was more notoriously known for being the instigator of the Canning Stock Route and an “enthusiastic child removalist.” The following quote is from a chapter by Robert Manne, in the book Genocide and settler society: frontier violence and stolen indigenous children in Australian history (2004), edited by A. Dirk Moses:

The most enthusiastic West Australian child removalist in these early days was James Isdell, the former pastoralist and parliamentarian, who was appointed traveling protector for the north in 1907. On 13 Nov 1908, Isdell wrote from the Fitzroy River district to the Chief Inspector, Charles Gale. “I consider it a great scandal to allow any of these half-caste girls to remain with the natives.” On 15 Jan 1909, Gale issued Isdell with the authority to “collect all half-caste boys and girls” and to transport them to Beagle Bay. Isdell expressed his gratitude: “It should have been done years ago.” By May 1909, he was able to report from Wyndham that the entire East Kimberley region had been “cleaned up.”
Isdell was aware that sentimentalists from the south sometimes wrote letters to newspapers “detailing the cruelty and harrowing grief of the mothers.” He regarded such complaints as nonsensical. “Let them visit and reside for a while” in one of the native camps and see for themselves “the open indecency and immorality and hear the vile conversations ordinarily carried on which these young children see, listen to, and repeat.” Isdell did not believe that the Aboriginal mother felt the forcible removal of her child more deeply than did a bitch the loss of a pup. “I would not hesitate,” he wrote, “to separate any half-caste from its Aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic momentary grief might be at the time. They soon forget their offspring.” “All Aboriginal women,” he explained in letters to Gale “are prostitutes at heart” and all Aborigines are “dirty, filthy, immoral.” (Moses 2004, 222-223)