I was also angry that my sisters husband and our other neighbour had been named of being present, however it was actually Ned and Dan’s friends Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. We were treated very badly whilst my mother was in prison. There was Ellen and John who were still quite young and it was Grace and my job to look after them, even though Grace herself was still a mere child. Mother had given birth to Alice a week before she was put into gaol, but was allowed to nurse her in her cell. It was our job to maintain mothers selection, and raise the younger ones.
We also helped look after our brothers, who were then outlawed because of the shooting of the police at Stringy Bark Creek, in the Wombat Ranges. I often risked my life and health riding as a decoy for the police to follow, as my brothers would ride the other way. I frequently rode out to my brother’s hideouts alongside Maggie with food, clothes, ammunition and valuable information. Maggie, Tom Lloyd, Joseph Ryan and I would often go to Melbourne to obtain the cartridges of the calibre of the weapons the Kelly gang were using. The police were always on to us, however we were a lot smarter, and were able to purchase what was needed.
There was this one time when I was carrying a large package and I was on my return journey. Two detectives stopped me at Winton Railway Station for a spot check. They took the package to check, to their anger it was filled with women’s garments. No sooner had they gone, I opened the opposite window to where I had been sitting and slipped the ammunition package to the man waiting on the platform, he quickly disappeared into the bush. I will never forget the horrible memories I have of what the police officers did to us at Eleven-Mile-Creek when mother was not present.
I have had reoccurring nightmares my whole life; I will never forgive them for what they put us through at such a young age. The police would wake us from our sleep and make us walk before them. When examining houses of outlaws, we would be made to enter first, to prevent the outlaws from shooting the constables; we would be their first targets. The worst of all was Mr Brook Smith; he had less sense then any of them. He would throw our belongings around the house, kick down doors and scare the younger ones. Most of the time I could smell alcohol on his breath.
Maggie now Mrs Skillion after marrying William next door, never liked Mr Smiths conduct, she would often visit mother and tell her of the events they put us through. After hiding out in the hills for a couple of months the gang rode into Euroa and stuck up the bank taking i?? 2000, this time without killing. Early in 1979 they held up the Jerilderie Police Station, Hotel and Bank where Ned handed the accountant the famous ‘Jerilderie’ letter full of impassioned criticism for past injustices. However for a long time police were unable to find the gang.
Meanwhile the Kelly gang lay low and planned a showdown at Glenrowan, which began on the 26th of June 1880. They held sixty- two hostages all day while waiting for a train of Melbourne Police to arrive and join them. The police surrounded the hotel in the small hours in the morning. At dawn my brother in his famous suit of armour fired the first shot. Byrne was mortally injured in the shooting, and the bodies of Steve Hart and my other brother Dan were both burned when police set fire to the hotel, and Ned was taken prisoner. Ned was taken to Melbourne, patched up, hurriedly trailed and sentenced to death.
At ten o’clock am on the 11th of November 1880, my brother Ned Kelly was hanged in the Melbourne Goal2, the same goal in which my mother was being held. When mother was released from gaol, we were made to make full statements of the treatment we were put through. This is one of Ned’s last requests. Grace had grown into a beautiful fourteen-year-old girl, showing an uncanny resemblance to Ned, a lot more then either Maggie or myself. Although growing into a beautiful girl she was very bashful, from the three years of police treatment. However she was able to illustrate in few words the treatment with her report:
” On one occasion Detective Ward threatened to shoot me if I did not tell him where my brothers were, and he pulled out his revolver. The police used to come here and pull the things about. Mr Brook Smith was one of them. He used to chuck our milk, flour, and honey, on the floor. Once they pulled us in our nightclothes out of bed. Sergeant Steele was one of that party. “3 Even though our statements and appearance left mother with a good case to charge the police, she however said that she had no such charge to make. Leaving us to deal with our pain, and for the police to walk free.
The police never left us alone after the deaths of my brothers. I couldn’t bear it any more so I ran away to Sydney, where I earned myself some money performing in a Wild West Show, where I went by my middle name ‘Ada’. However, wherever I went I was recognised, and this annoyed me. I wanted to run from my past, so I ran to Adelaide where I performed in a show under a name of ‘Ada Hennessey’ and later ‘Kate Ambrose’. This is when I became seriously ill. I recovered very slowly, but when I did I worked as a barmaid at Hill Scott’s Hotel in South Adelaide.
I eventually gave it up and returned home where I regained my strength. On the 25th November 1888, I married William Henry Foster of Forbes, at the age of twenty-five. We married into the Church of England in Forbes. The Fosters were well-respected and quite well off. I continued to use my alias Ada and was known to all by this. I bore six children with William, Frederick Arthur was the first, Gertrude Eileen Ada soon followed and then came Arthur Douglas, Ethel Maude, Ruby Ellen and Catherine. However three of my beautiful children, Arthur, Ruby and Catherine died in infancy.
The hardest events that took place in my life, even above both my brothers deaths, and the only thing I could do was to blame myself. I also blamed those police officers that made my childhood hell, I don’t know why I blamed them but it just made it easier to blame others to relive my pain. I am now thirty-five years old and I am not well. I cannot live my life anymore. CATHERINE ADA FOSTER Kate Foster was reported missing on the 6th of October 1898, her body was found eight days later in a lagoon at Condobolin Road near Forbes, where she drowned.
There was no evidence to how she died; however, it is known that following the death of her sister Maggie, some two years earlier, Kate had become very depressed. Kate was buried in the Church of England section of the Forbes cemetery, with her three deceased children.
Kate’s children were taken by their uncle Jim- James Kelly, to their grandmother Ellen Kelly at Eleven-Mile-Creek. 1 www. nedkelly/history. com. au 2 www. nedkelly. com. au 3 Brown, Max Ned Kelly pp 178 Megan Prescott Year 12.