The Real People

The Real People

Those involved in the Murder Case at Towitta, which was reported all over Australia.
Seldom, if ever, in the history of the State has a crime aroused so much interest, and been so generally, commented upon as the tragedy at Towitta. (The Advertiser)

All pictures on this page by courtesy of the State Library of South Australia.


The Schippan Homestead

The Kalgoorlie Western Argus wrote on 14 January 1902, The black tracker Thomas King has completed his search for tracks around Schippan's house at Towitta, and nothing is to be found. He followed the blood stains to the kitchen door, but there is no trace beyond there. He is certain that no man left the house at the time of the murder.

From the Advertiser 12 February 1902:
The trial of Mary Schippan on a charge of having murdered her sister, Bertha Schippan, at Towitta, was fixed for March 4. At present Mr. W. Foster and Mr. J. Moss Solomon have charge- of the defence, but it is understood that Mr. Paris Nesbit, K.C., will be retained as senior counsel. Many of the German sympathisers with, the family are so anxious that the "prisoner" shall have, the best legal assistance that they have volunteered to subscribe funds to secure either Mr. Paris. Nesbit, K.C., or Sir Josiah Symon, K.C., for the defence.

Detective Fraser completing Mary's statement.

Mr Schippan

Mrs Schippan

Gustave Schippan

Willie Schippan

Mary Augusta Schippan
charged with the murder of her sister Bertha

The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal of 6 March 1902 reported that; Hundreds of men and women, some of the latter carrying babies, gathered at the Criminal Court (In Adelaide) this morning, to hear the proceedings in the Towitta murder case, but were not allowed in, the small space available being occupied by those concerned in the case. The crowd fought at the doors, and several women were hurt before the troopers could break up the dense mass. Even then the crowd stayed outside the court. Mary Schippan, when charged with having murdered her sister Bertha on New Year's Day, quietly said, 'I am not guilty, sir.'

Detective Priest producing a piece of bloodstained rag

Our Angaston correspondent wrote on 11 February 1902: Detective Priest, with an officer from the Survey Office, arrived here on Monday morning, and after lunch proceeded to the scene of the Towitta tragedy. The presence of the surveyor is understood to indicate that a careful survey of Mr.Schippan's homestead and a portion of the surrounding country will be made. (Advertiser 11 February)

Mr Milligan, JP Coroner, arriving for the inquest

Witnesses - Mr Schippan, Gustave Nitschke and William Schippan

The Examiner of Tasmania reported on 11 March 1902 that Gustave Nitschke, who was the lover of Mary Schippan, now being tried for the murder of her sister, had an unpleasant experience this evening. His disclosure of his relations with Mary Schippan excited disgust, and when he left the Court House this evening he was followed by a crowd of from 2000 to 3000 persons and vigorously 'hooted. Nitschke also met with personal violence at the hands of a number of men.

The Brisbane Courier stated on 12 March 1902, THE TOWITTA MURDER. Our Adelaide correspondent telegraphs that Mary Augusta Schippan, who was charged with the murder of her sister Bertha at Towitta, has been acquitted.

The Advertiser 13 March. Mary Schippan, who on Tuesday evening was acquitted of a charge of murder in connection with the Towitta tragedy, left Adelaide for her home on Wednesday afternoon. Accompanied, by her family, she passed through Norwood at about 3 o'clock in a vehicle drawn by two horses, it being the intention of the family to journey to Towitta by way of Rhine Villa.

A brother of Mr. Schippan, who came to Adelaide for the purpose, took the party in his van to Mount Pleasant, where the eldest son of the family will meet them and take them home. A great crowd of people hung about the railway station in the afternoon in the hope of seeing the freed girl, but were much disappointed.

The Noon Lady of Towitta

If you would like to find out more,
please go to HOME PAGE for more information.
Thank you for visiting Flinders Ranges Research,
We hope you enjoy your stay and find the information useful.
This site has been designed and is maintained by FRR.