Smoking ace


It was over a darkened bar, on a hot summer afternoon, that I first heard a whisper regarding this incident; it was a couple of years ago, and I was running the Moora Club Inc. at the time. Exactly who told me of it, I don’t recall, other than it was a chap, local to the area, and senior in years. His recount of the incident, whilst sketchy, has been enough for me to unearth and revisit it once more.


Below is the story as reported in ‘The Advertiser, Adelaide, Thursday the 15th of June, 1905.  Read on.





Perth, June le.*

ït was not till nearly midnight that de-tails reached Perth of the tetfible tragedyenacted early on Tuesday, morning at War-rengabbie, the homestead of Mr. P. D. Fer-guson, situated seven miles from Moora.

The news was first brought there by. theowner of the station, who took into thetownship in custody; a’Chinaman, and thestory of the crime spread like wildfirethroughouc the district.

It was before the sun had risen that thetragedy took place. The victims were anEnglishman, Edward Ellis, and a China-man, Sing See, while another Englishman,E. B. Pearce, was very seriously -wounded.All the parties were in the employ of Mr.Ferguson, and from what can be gatheredfrom the murderer’s own account it appearsthafc while the doomed men were still asleephe crept into their room and killed themwith an axe. Apparently they diedinstantaneously) and an examination of thebodies showed that the wounds were of aghastly character. Mr. Pearce is badlywounded, but it is expected that he will

recover. I

The sole reason for the crime appears tibe that’ the Chinaman, Toby Ah Kin, wh<is now in custody, feared that theApthenwere going to rob him, and he ran amokThere was no trouble about his arrest. Hiallowed himself to be taken into cugtod;without difficulty^ and seemed eager to telall he knew about the affair. At half-paa7 o’clock yesterday morning Mr. Fergusoiarrived at Moora, accompanied by th<Chinaman, Toby Ah Kin. In the absenaof Constable Corry. Mr. Ferguson called 01Mr. George Bishop, who plays many partiin the quiet country town, and asked hinto obtain the keys of tbe local lockup. MrBishop naturally enquired what they wertwanted for, and Mr. Ferguson, pointing teToby, said, “A murder has been committedat my place by Toby, and I’m afraid twemen have been done to death. I wanlyou to get the keys and lock Toby up. ]must get Dr. Myles to see whether theyare dead or not.” Toby, who speaks goodEnglish, said, “They both dead rightenough, boss.”

On proceeding to Warrengabbie Toby’swords were found to be only too true.Just in that blackness which precedes dawnit was found that Toby, in tie ease of Mr.Ellis by one blow and in that of Sing Seeby many brutal blows with a blunt axe,had foully murdered both, whilst Pearcehad escaped in a marvellous manner. Pearcegot up early and on returning to his roomat 6 o’clock called Ellis, but got no an-swer. He entered the darkened room andreceived a blow with a blunt axe on theright leg and another on the wrist. He ranout followed by the Chinese. The latterwent towards the slaughter-yards, andPearce on returning to the room found thetwo dead. Asked if he knew any motivefor the outrage, Pearce said, “None, furtherthan that for the last two or three weeksToby seemed to think we wanted to robhim of his money. Otherwise we had al-ways been on the best of terms.

Mr. Ferguson states that after being calledby Pearce he dressed the Litter’s woundsand then met hisassailant, whom they called.Toby was armed with a butcher’s knife,and said, “I no harm you, boss; but I willkill that other (meaning Pearce). I wouldkill myself, but knife too blunt. You kui me, boss.” “I persuaded him to giverue the knife,” continued Mr. Ferguson,“and to accompany me to Moora. Heseemed quite indifferent, and told me thatif he had not thought they wanted hismoney, which amounted to about £70, hewould not have killed them. He expressedregret that he had not also killed Mr. A.V. Rankine, a man who until a week ortwo ago worked for me.”

On arriving ai Moora the murderer wentquietly to the lockup, and asked Mr. Bishopfor cigarettes and whisky.” 

Article origin – The Advertiser, Adelaide, Thursday, 15 June 1906. Source –

Click on the image above, ‘A tale they won’t believe’ – the account of the cannibal of Sarah Island, Weddings, Parties, Anything.


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