Thomas, John Henry

Personal Details

First nameJohn
Middle nameHenry
Date of death19/07/1895


John was the son of John Thomas and Emma Richards.

Cemetery Record

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CemeteryShearing Shed
LocationBowen Downs

Qld Ref: 1895/000024

Alleged Poisoning
At Bowen Downs
The following had appeared in the Brisbane Courier:
Barcaldine July 19
The Western Champion’s Muttaburra correspondent had just wired as follows: “A special messenger arrived last night form Bowen Downs Station, stating that seven men showed symptoms of poisoning yesterday afternoon. No deaths had occurred at the time the messenger left Bowen Downs. The police magistrate, accompanied by a doctor and police, left for Bowen Downs early this morning.
Barcaldine July 20
The Western Champion has just received the following urgent wire form Aramac: ‘Forty-nine fresh cased of poisoning have occurred at Bowen Downs. This time strychnine is suspected, and it is believed the poison was put in the meat and sago pudding eaten by the men.’
A letter received today states that scenes at the shed at Bowen Downs are beyond description, human beings are contorting themselves in all shapes and forms in all directions. A man called ‘Thomas’ has succumbed. He is unknown; it is thought that his name was an assumed one. Richardson one of five brothers, reported to be the son of Mr. W Richardson of the Hit-or-Miss Farm near Barcaldine, and Christie Schulz, both well-known shearers, are said to be very bad.
Sargeant Malone has passed through for Bowen Downs. He left Barcaldine at half past 10 this morning. The Aramac and Muttaburra police are already there.
No suspicions rest on anyone.
Barcaldine July 21
According to a report sent direct to the Western Champion form Bowen Downs, the forty-nine fresh cases from Aramac include the fresh cases previously reported from Muttaburra. The shearer’s mess only was affected.
A second death is expected.
Barcaldine July 22
An official inquiry was commenced at Bowen Downs yesterday into the recent poisoning cases there. Constable Ward arrived at Barcaldine this afternoon from Bowen Downs, which place he left on Saturday evening. He brought with him in sealed packets on a pack-horse samples of the poisoned food, and he proceeds with them to Longreach by to-night’s train. Inspector Lamond is expected to arrive to-day, when the samples will be sent to Rockhampton for analysis.
One can hardly believe the poisoning to have been the result of accident on both occasions. It is possible that some strychnine carelessly left about might have become mixed with the flour, or with the salt used in making the bread; but for poison to have been dropped into a sago tin and distributed throughout the food points directly to intentional crime. Mr. Fraser, manager of the station, did all he could to relieve those who were poisoned, and an antic taken in time, followed by a dose of brandy, no doubt did much to counteract the poison.
Barcaldine, July 23
A letter received from Bowen Downs Station states that Thomas, one of the men poisoned there, and whose death has already been reported, died in frightful agony, his screams being terrible
Rockhampton, July 23
The poisoning cased at Bowen Downs have evidently created a bit of a scare in the West. A firm in town received yesterday a wire from a station in the West requesting them to forward at once antidotes against poisoning by arsenic or strychnine for 200 men. the wire concluded that such supplies will have to be included in every searing order in future
The government have decided to offer a reward of £2000 for information which will lead to the conviction of the person who put the poison in the food at Bowen Downs, and the owners of the station have supplemented the amount by offering a reward of £500. The contents of the stomach of the deceased man Thomas have been analysed, and found to contain poison. A staff of detectives and other police are at the station, and every effort is being made to discover the means by which the poison was placed in the food/
[Source: Worker (Brisbane, Qld. : 1890 – 1955), Saturday 27 July 1895, page 2]