The Pelaw Main Sensation – John and Ellen Heber
As noted in my earlier post today, I found some newspaper reports in 1903 in relation to the attempted murder of Ellen Heber by John Heber. Throughout the reports below, it indicates that Ellen was afraid of her husband and that she believed he would kill her one day but refused to take any action against him, even after the attempt to kill her. There are other reports throughout the 1890’s with John being charged with various offences, such as drunkenness & indecent exposure.
John Heber and Ellen McCormack were married in 1884 at Lochinvar, New South Wales.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) issue Thursday 2 April 1903
ATTEMPTED WIFE MURDER. HUSBAND USES AN AXE AND A RAZOR CUTS HIS OWN THROAT.
WEST MAITLAND, Wednesday
A terrible sensation occured at Pelaw Main, colliery town nine miles south of Maitland, this afternoon, when John Heber, a miner, attacked his wife with a tomahawk, indicting dreadful wounds to the head and face. He also cut her throat with a razor, and then cut his own throat. He was arrested by Constable Smith and brought to Maitland hospital in a weak state, but his wounds are not of a fatal nature. Mrs. Heber is in a very weak state from loss of blood. No hopes are entertained of her recovery. The couple resided in Maitland for some time, and Mrs. Heber had complained to the police of his treatment, but refused to take any action to have him restrained.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) Friday 3 April 1903
ATTEMPTED WIFE MURDER. ASSAILANT OUT OF DANGER.
WEST MAITLAND, Thursday.
John Heber, who murderously assaulted his wife at Pelaw Main yesterday and cut his own throat, is now out of danger. His wife was brought to Maitland Hospital to-die, and still lies in a critical state, although the doctors now entertain a hope of recovery. She recovered consciousness prior to her depositions being taken this morning.
Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907)
Wednesday 8 April 1903
Sensation at Maitland.
A sensation was caused at the mining town ship of Pelaw, a few miles south of Maitland, on Wednesday, by a man named John Heber, who attempted to kill his wife, afterwards cutting his own throat.
It is said Heber and his wife had not lived ‘ too happily, the man continually finding fault with his wife. They had lived in Maitland, and there on one occasion the police interfered to protect her from his violence. Mrs. Heber had stated to different persons that she was afraid of her husband killing her some-day, but she would take no action against him when advised to do so.
Heber was In Maitland, and he reached home, lt is said, under the Influence of drinks At about 5 o’clock he quarrelled with his wife and during the altercation he rushed at her with a shingling-hammer. It is believed that he first struck her with the blade and then with the head of the hammer. A knife and razor were also used. The woman has a dreadful gash on the right side of her head; and of number of contused wounds on the head and face.
After tho murderous assault on his wife, Heber used either the knife or the razor in inflicting gash on his own throat, about 31n long, but it is not thought to so serious, as no artery was severed.
Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954) Friday 24 April 1903
New South Wales.
John Heber, a miner, was charged at the West Maitland Police Court yesterday with inflicting grievous bodily harm on his wife, whom he recently tried to kill. The woman refused to give evidence, but Heber’ was committed for trial on other testimony. Ball was refused
Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 – 1907) Wednesday 29 April 1903
The Pelaw Main Sensation.
In connection with the sensation which occurred at the new mining township, Pelaw Main, to the south of Maitland, at the beginning of the month, John Heber, on remand, was charged at the Maitland Police Court with maliciously wounding his wife, Helen Heber, with intent to do grievous, bodily harm.
The medical evidence-was that Mrs. Heber had been severely handled, and rendered unconscious; that she had sustained severe incised wounds on the head, and her face was much – bruised and swollen.
A shingling hammer, and a blood-stained, brick, with which the Injuries were caused, were produced.
The accused’s wife, who appeared in court with her head swathed in- bandages, declined to give evidence against her husband.
Heber, who was greatly agitated and continuously paced up and down the dock had nothing to say, and was committed for trial at the Quarter Session at East Maitland on June 16. Bail was refused’.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954) Friday 19 June 1903
The Maitland Quarter Sessions were resumed this morning before Judge Fitzhardinge. John Heber was convicted of maliciously wounding his wife, Mary Heber, at Pelaw Main on April 1, and was sentenced to 12 mouths’ imprisonment, at the expropriation of his sentence to enter into security of £40 with two sureties of £10 each, to be of good behaviour for a further period of three years.
It appears from the above and later reports that John did a lot of drinking and was violent when doing so. I’ve also noticed from reviewing WW1 service records for John & Ellen’s 3 sons (Augustus, Laurence & Vincent) and along with their cousin Joseph, they were all charged and convicted of drunkenness, disobedience, absent without leave and disorderly conduct throughout their service in WW1.
John’s father, Paul Heber died in 1892 and from reading the report of his death, Paul was well received in the community and his mourned by many.
“Mr. Heber was an old colonist – one of the hardy pioneers of the land – and a man who has laboured long and diligently in this part of the colony. He was a native of Germany, and came to this colony 38years ago – when he was only l8 years old – and he has reared a large family of sons and daughters, who now, with their mother, mourn his sudden death.”
John Heber died in 1918. There are no reports listing his death or a funeral notice.
Ellen Heber died in 1949 at the age of 86
- Posted in: Heber