An attempt was made today (Wednesday 5 August 1914) to rob Mr John Veale, Manager of the Johnson’s Reef company’s mine at California Gully.
Completing his business in the city, Mr Veale, in accordance with his usual custom, called at the office of the local director Mr J A Petrie to obtain a cheque for £592 representing a fortnight’s wages for the miners. After cashing the cheque, he drove home in a gig with Mr Willoughby for lunch. When returning to his office, Mr Veale noticed two men following him up to the office.
One of the men presented a reference, purporting to have been written by Mr J Highmore, manager of the Golden Pyke mine which had recently closed down, recommending them as honest workers. Told they could start work the next morning in No. 3 shaft, the would be thieves asked John to show them where the shaft was.
As he got up from the table, leaving the bag of money in the office, one of the men struck him over the head with a sandbag. The sandbag, however, burst, and Mr Veale raised the alarm.
A blacksmith, employed on the mine, reached the scene, but one of the men presented a revolver. Mr Veale thereupon also produced a revolver and at the sight of this the two men vanished. It appears that the robbery was premeditated. Thankfully the revolver wasn’t discharged.
John, my first cousin 3 times removed was 64 when this incident occurred. Born in St Just, Cornwall, November 1850, John like his ancestors, started tin mining at the age of 10. Five years later he arrived in Australia and rose to become a prominent and respected Mine Manager in the Bendigo district, retiring in 1921 at the age of 71.