1861: John Charles Lowe  was born on Black Dog Creek, near Chiltern, on 14 Nov 1861 . His father, Charles Miller Lowe, was a Scottish immigrant (from Redgorton in Perthshire) who arrived during the 1850's goldrush. His mother, Bridget Dundon, was an Irish immigrant who arrived in 1855 as an 18yo. John was the 2nd of 8 children.
1862: A year after his birth his family moved to Docker's Plains (as selectors), but then sold out and moved to Wangaratta. In his biography he stated that during his school years :
1871: At around 10yo his family moved to Benalla. He then finished school at 12yo and went to work in a store, but soon after he lost a hand in a shooting accident , and so went back to school. After failing to get a clerical job or a positon as a pupil teacher, he had various odd jobs - often with his maternal grandfather. In 1876 his grandfather died and left him a horse and dray, which he then used to obtain various jobs.
1880: As an 18yo, John was employed to cart metal from Glenrowan to Benalla for the main street. As a result he became the first person taken hostage by the Kelly gang during the Glenrowan siege . When he died 70 years later he is believed to have been the last person alive to have witnessed the events at Glenrowan.
1881: The following year his father moved to Jingellic to work in a tin mine, and shortly after his mother and younger siblings followed, whilst John remained in Benalla. Over the next few years he moved around: Norvanan station in NSW (shooting kangaroo), then Benalla, then Jingellic (engine driving on a tin mine), Mount Alfred in NSW (mining), Arara (mining), Yarra Yarra (groom), Wagga Wagga. At this time time his parents had moved to Wagga Wagga as well.
1884: He then moved to Yarra in March 1884 to collect a race horse he owned, but the horse was injured so he ended up staying in Yarra for a year working as a groom.
1888: By 1888 John was back in Yarrawonga, eventually bringing his parents and two brothers and two sisters with him. Later in 1888 he married Margaret (Maggie) Moore in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Wangaratta . Maggie was the daughter and granddaughter of local pioneers - her maternal grandfather is referred to as the "Father of Wangaratta" after he was one of the original settlers in the area in 1839, and her maternal grandmother followed her convict father to the colony in the 1830's.
|John Charles Lowe (centre front) with his wife and children.|
Over the next 20 years, John had 9 children . He worked primarily as a carpenter, despite having only one hand.
1918: In 1918 he built the first hospital in Yarrawonga for his two older daughters who were nurses and ran it primarily as a small maternity hospital for only a few years in the early 1920's.
John also became very active in the community. He instigated the formation of the first football club, in which he played, and later umpired. He was also the driving force behind the selection and clearing of land for a football ground, which eventually was named in his honours (and remains the JC Lowe Oval to this day).
1920: John's wife predeceased him in 1920 aged 53.
1932: In 1932 he was made the second life member of the club (after his son Tom was made the first a year earlier). His oldest son was also a very good football player, playing for Collingwood in 1912 and 1913, and for Carlton in 1914 (including winning the premiership).
John was also the secretary of the local racing club and an active member of the Yarrawonga Fire Brigade, and was a trustee of Grove Park and Grove Pictures.
THE CAPTURE OF THE KELLYS APPENDIX 1. A TRANSCRIPT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTES Handwritten in 1939 by the author as background to his account of The Capture Of The Kellys.
1861 Nov 14, born on the Black Dog Creek near Chiltern. In '62 moved to Dockers Plains where my parents had selected land in '70. Sold out and move in to Wangaratta and when I came to school age had to walk 2 1/2 mile to school (no motor cars then).
While there I went to school regular but at every chance I got I would sneak away to a black's camp situated a little below the present show grounds on the river bank and put in many a day in bark canoe on the river and many a time eat roasted possum.
From there into Benalla early in '71 where I finished my schooling at the age of 13. I had my certificate and was sent to a store to learn the business. I was there for a few months when Good Friday came and the usual Easter holiday arrangements were made for a shooting party for the Friday. There were five adults each having a gun and three other boys like myself. On the way home the elders decided to let us boys have a shot to see who was the best shot. They put a bottle on a tree. Myself and another boy tied and we were to shoot off. I had first shot. The gun, a muzzle loader, burst and shattered my hand and it had to be amputated. I was taken to Wangaratta hospital where I was more than well treated and was back home in 3 1/2 weeks time. A short time after I was sent back to school for a couple of years and at the same time made numerous applications for clerical situations but failed to get one. The last was to the Education Department to become a pupil teacher. The reply I got was that they did not employ anyone that was in any way disabled. That killed me. I wrote no more.
At this time my grandfather (my mother's father) was living with us. He used to cart wood and did jobs of carting about the town and I took to going with him for wood and he had bought me a pony previously and I used to look after his cows, of which he always had a few. Also the neighbours' cattle, I used to bring them in and out of the bush for which I would mostly get a few shillings. At that time there was lots of open country around Benalla. I used to do a fair amount cattle droving from the Sale Yards for different people.
In 1876 my grandfather died and left his horse and dray to me. The horse being a new one he had just bought; a 3 year old and not properly broken in. I worked him around Benalla for some 4 or 5 years and made him the most tractable horse that I ever seen. Without reins you could drive him either forward of backwards by word of mouth and not put a hand on him. Everybody knew him and he would follow me like a dog in or out of harness.
The sergeant of police had a farm at Nalinga 20 miles down the Broken River. I would bring his cattle back and forward. I had the run of the station (police) yard where there was no other boys allowed in and as it was the time the Kellys were out, there was always a lot of mounted police there and I used to have a good time with them. It was great seeing them getting ready to go bush looking for the Kelly's. Pack horses getting loose and bucking around the yard spilling the packs and from six to ten mounted men with pack horses would leave at the one time and you could see them miles away. They always had a bright, shiny dish, bucket or frypan tied on top of the packs. This was in '78 and '79. In '80 the Kellys were caught at Glenrowan. I was well there and as I have written of their capture there is no need to make further mention of it here.
How I came to be there is thus. The council was remaking the main street in Benalla. I was working on it with my horse and dray and the contractor got me with 6 or 8 others to go to Glenrowan to put metal for the job in the railway trucks.
Early in '81 my father went to work on a tin mine at Jingellic on the Upper Murray and shortly after my mother and the youngest of the family moved to there also. Myself and two elder sisters remaining in Benalla. My next move was to Norvanan Station in NSW where I and two mates went in the dray to kill kangaroo. We each had rifles and 8 or 10 good kangaroo dogs. We stopped 3 months and done no good. We were getting 6 pence for each of the skins but at that time, a very low price. There were far more kangaroos than sheep on the station. We many a time fired at a kangaroo not 10 yards off and he would hop away and later we would find them lying dead and too far gone to skin. As it was summer time the dogs were not much good to us and we left the station slightly in debt and made back to Benalla with about 300 skins, 40 of them weighing 4 lbs each but the weevils had got to them and made them almost valueless. We were mugs at the game.
I then sold my horse and dray and made my way up to Jingellic where my parents were and got a job engine driving on a tin mine for a few months. Then I crossed the Murray River to Mount Alfred where I worked mining for a good while and I think it was the happiest time of my life. When I was not working or sleeping I was dancing. At the time there were no motor cars, gigs or buggies. The travelling was all done on horseback, girls and men alike, very often two on the one horse.
I then went to sheep station called Arara where there was a bit of gold mining doing and put in a few months prospecting and hunting. I always had a couple of good kangaroo dogs with me. Had a lot of fun but done no good. From that I went across the hills to Yarra Yarra Station and was groom there for nine months.
I then decided I would make for Wagga where in the interval of about two years, my parents had removed.
I did not stay long there. Work was scarce. I did a job of brick paving in the main street in New Town - a contract from the council. Also a couple of rooms I put down the floors which were the first in the carpentering line.
I then got word from Yarrawonga that a race horse that I had previously left with a friend had got hurt in a hurdle race at Mulwala. I then came to Yarra with the intention of taking him back to Wagga but he was not fit to travel which upset my intentions. I was going to ride him·back to Wagga. It was now the first week in March 1884 and my funds were very low so my friend who was a publican at the time sold out and he decided to start a livery and letting stable and offered me a job grooming. I worked for 12 months for him drawing very little money as I wanted to save. Things did [not] go too well for him; he got to owe money all over the town and done no good. He was a great gambler and did not attend to his business. After 12 months he did a moonlight flit (with all the horses, vehicles etc) to Shepparton. Looking to get my money, I thought it best to lend him a hand and to go with him. I still had my horse. We got to Shepparton and he sold the lot in the yards and told me to ride my horse to Benalla and he would square up with me. I waited a few days. He never turned up. Nobody saw him so I rode back to Yarra to get a few belongings I had left behind, clothes etc. At the hotel where the stable was I had later to pay for board I had some time previous, my boss having sent me there when he was away.
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