Fontanelle Gallery, 2014

In family stories, dramatic or important life events tend to be mythologised into legend. One such event is a murder at Skillogalee Creek, north of Adelaide. The victim, John Mansforth, known as ‘the sergeant’, was a distant ancestor who worked as a shepherd on a farm by Skillogalee Creek. He was brutally bashed after a drunken argument at the nearby Port Henry Arms hotel. Accounts of this incident from 1850 survive in newspaper archives and in the biographies of Kudnarto, a Ngadjuri/Kaurna woman whose witness statements form part of a compelling account of evidence leading to the murderer’s arrest.

Text – The trouble with trouble