Shocking Tragedy at the Hospital
The Cinderella Dance
Notes and Comments - by Smiler
Wednesday, June 1, 1898
Absolutely the most sensational tragedy which has ever taken place since Coolgardie was discovered by Bayley, eventuated last night at the Government Hospital. As soon as the news became known about town, it created great excitement, as those connected with the terrible affair are well-known in Coolgardie society. We have had before the murder of Tagh Mahomet and the Six-Mile 'accident,' but never before has such a sensational and tragical occurrence disturbed the peaceful inhabitants of Coolgardie.
The history of the tragedy is very simple. It appears that Mrs Gold, a nurse at the hospital, intended going to the Cinderella Ball which took place last night at the Mechanics' Institute, and had assumed her evening dress for the occasion, when she was visited at her camp at the rear of the hospital by Mr Kenneth Snodgrass. How long he had been there or what took place is not known, but about 7.45 p.m. three shots were heard, both by the passers-by and the wardens and secretary. Mr A. McIntyre, formerly one of the warders, was passing the spot when the shots were fired, and was on the scene within a very few seconds. When he arrived both Nurse Gold and Mr Snodgrass were quite dead. Mr George McPhee, the secretary of the hospital, at the time was sitting on the verandah in front of his office when he heard the shots fired. Immediately one of the yardmen ran to the secretary's office, and without waiting for anything more the secretary rushed round to the scene of the tragedy. What he saw positively electrified him, as both Nurse Gold and her visitor were dead. Mr McPhee then went back to his office and rang up Dr McNeil (who arrived on horseback about five minutes afterwards), and the police (who were almost as quickly on the scene). Warden Finnerty was also rung up and nothing was touched till the bodies had been examined.
McPhee and McIntyre considered that both must have died instantaneously, as they were on the scene a few seconds after the shots were fired, and on feeling the pulses of Nurse Gold and Snodgrass, discovered that both were dead.
The revolver used in the tragedy was found about three feet from Snodgrass' hand. It was a five-chambered one, three chambers of which were found to be discharged.
In connection with this revolver, it may be stated that Snodgrass yesterday afternoon asked a friend for the loan of a revolver, as he was desirous of shooting some cats, which were a nuisance to him. The friend in question suggested that poison would be a more effective means of getting rid of the felines, but Snodgrass replied that he had tried that and the poison had only succeeded in killing some valuable dogs.
His friend then referred him to another gentleman, and upon the latter being afforded an explanation of why the revolver was required, it was immediately lent. This took place about five o'clock in the afternoon, and as the tragedy was not consummated till nearly 8 o'clock, the above facts will show that the crime was premeditated, and not done on the impulse of the moment.
When the bodies were examined, it was found that Mrs Gold had two wounds, one below the chin and the other in the left breast. The latter must have been the first shot. Snodgrass, after murdering the woman, deliberately put the revolver under his right jaw and fired, the bullet coming out through his temple. Both must have died instantaneously, Snodgrass making no mistake.
A resident of Montana, who was passing the hospital at the time of the tragedy, states that at about 7.50 he heard a noise which very much resembled the explosion of a toy pistol or cracker. He took no notice, but was startled by a second and much louder report. He then went over to the hospital when he he discovered the frightgul tragedy that had been enacted.
It is not, perhaps, difficult to discover the motive for the crime, which is ascribed to jealousy. It appears that Snodgrass was in the habit of visiting Nurse Gold about once a week, but nobody at the hospital ever saw anything to cavil at in their conduct, and not a breath of suspicion ever sullied either of their names. Nevertheless, jealousy is thought to have had a great deal to do with it, and we can only assume on the evidence before us that Snodgrass did not wish Nurse Gold to go to the Cinderella ball that evening, while his she insisted on going. Then Snodgrass, who had provided himself with the revolver, as mentioned before probably allowed his jealous passion to get the better of him, with the result detailed above. Nurse gold was shot about 3ft from the door of her camp, while Snodgrass' body was found about 8ft away.
Mrs Yarburgh-Gold, the murdered woman, was about thirty-three years of age. She was much esteemed in Coolgardie, and had a wide circle of friends. It was only a year ago that she was left a widow. During her husband's life here she resided in a cottage at East Toorak, and as her neighbours had Mr and Mrs Snodgrass. After Captain Gold's demise she appears to have become a close friend of Mrs Snodgrass, and when Snodgrass took the Bungalow Dining-rooms, in Hunt-street, she accompanied the family there. Subsequently Mrs Gold proceeded to Perth, and it was there she engaged as a probationer for the Coolgardie Government Hospital, entering upon her duties about five months ago. The deceased lady was the second wife of Captain Yarburgh-Gold, who died in Coolgardie on May 27, 1897. Captain Gold was a conspicuous figure in the British army and fought through the New Zealand war. He landed in Maoriland as far back as 1845, with the 65th Regiment, of which his father was colonel. He was twice wounded while leading assaults on the enemies rifle pits. He came of a family highly distinguished for its military services. Mrs Gold had a stepson holding a commission in the Army, and a step-daughter is married in New Zealand.
Kenneth Snodgrass, the murderer, was well known in Coolgardie, having been here for upwards of three years. He came of a good Melbourne family, and was about fifty-five years of age. In the early days he engaged entirely in mining, but when the bad times commenced he entered business as an accountant and mining agent. He was for a considerable period an auditor of the Coolgardie Council, and only retired from the position upon being defeated at the last election. When the Roads Board was instituted Snodgrass obtained the secretaryship, and as an instance of the relations between himself and Captain Gold, it may be stated that the latter took over the duties of the secretaryship during the absence of Snodgrass on a holiday in the eastern colonies at the beginning of last year. About ten months ago Snodgrass took the Bungalow Dining-rooms, in Hunt-street, but failing to make a success of the venture he retired after some eight weeks tenancy. Since then he had again devoted himself exclusively to mining business, and was interested in several claims at Kanowna. Snodgrass's connections in Melbourne are of the independent class. His sister is the widow of the late Sir William Clarke, Bart, having been that gentleman's second wife. The murderer was therefore an uncle by marriage of Sir Rupert Clarke, the present owner of the Westralian racehorse, Paul Pry...
A representative of the MINER waited upon Inspector McKenna last night and requested a statement, but the Inspector replied he could say absolutely nothing of the affair.
The inquest on the bodies of Snodgrass and Mrs Gold will be held this morning at 10 o'clock.
Thursday, June 2, 1898:
Inexplicable as the tragedy that occurred at the Government Hospital on Tuesday night appeared during the first hours of excitement, careful investigation yesterday only deepened the mystery surrounding the terrible deed. In the absence of a motive for the crime, and from the circumstances of the affair, it was not unnaturally concluded that jealousy prompted the murderer. A number of facts have come to light, however, which, if not removing, materially modify, that supposition. It now transpires that Mrs Snodgrass only came to Coolgardie about seven months ago. She then arrived to assist her husband, who had a month before entered upon the occupation of the Bungalow Dining Rooms. Before the death of Captain Yarburgh-Gold, Kenneth Snodgrass boarded with him and his wife at their residence at East Toorak. Both men manifested more than a common friendship for one another, and those who knew their relations say that Snodgrass, in his consideration for the older soldier, displayed more the attention of a son than an acquaintance. When death removed Captain Gold, Snodgrass undertook the arrangement of the obsequies, and did all in his power to ameliorate the conditions of the widow, who was left absolutely unprovided for. This he did apparently as a disinterested friend of the deceased, and the church and Masonic officials he came in contact with on the occasion credit him with having been influenced by the most generous motives. The funeral over, Mrs Gold was left to her own resources, and Snodgrass attended studiously to his business. Two or three months later, when Miss Robinson gave up the Bungalow, Snodgrass took over the concern and carried on the business of the dining-rooms with Mrs Gold as housekeeper. That neither deserved the faintest breath of suspicion is substantiated by the fact that a month later Mrs Snodgrass and her family came to the colony and took up their residence at the Bungalow, Mrs Gold remaining as hitherto. Unsuccessful before, Snodgrass failed to improve his fortune here, and in a few weeks he was compelled to retire. Mrs Snodgrass then went to live at Toorak with her family, which comprises seven children. Of these the youngest a boy and a girl are eight and six years of age respectively being pupils at the Church of England School. The other members of the family consist of a boy about thirteen years of age, and four girls of more mature years. Having no regular employment, Snodgrass experienced difficulty in eking out a livelihood… As a matter of fact, it is stated that he earned little or nothing for six months prior to his death. He was much worried in consequence, and, satisfied of the futility of remaining here, wrote to his relatives in Melbourne asking for assistance in order that he and his wife might return to Victoria. On the authority of a personal friend it is said that this request was not favourably responded to. The discouraging intelligence only arrived last week, and as a result Snodgrass had since been greatly depressed. His circumstances, indeed, became desperate, for on the afternoon of the crime a bailiff was put in possession of his home.
Early in the afternoon he was observed by several at the hospital, but as he was a frequent visitor there to the matron (a cousin of his), his daughter, a temporary assistant, and Mrs Gold, no notice was taken of his presence… About 5 o'clock he was again seen about the hospital, and one nurse states that she thought he was acting in a strange manner. He then appears to have gone home. By the incidents published yesterday Snodgrass must meanwhile have borrowed the revolver with which the fatal deed was committed. Shortly after 6 o'clock he was noticed passing down Hunt-street towards the Post Office, and just before 7 he interviewed somebody in town about an account that was due. The next time he was seen was after the tragedy, when he was lying dead on the grounds of the hospital.
The scene of the tragedy was, as reported yesterday, outside Nurse Gold's tent. To all those acquainted with the institution it is known that the nurses' camps extend in a line to the south and east of the main buildings. Each tent is detached, being separated in some instances by a space of fully twenty yards. That occupied by Mrs Gold is situated to the extreme north of the quarters of the nurses. It is a few feet south of No 6 Ward, and east of Wards No 7 and 8, standing apart from the other tents, and being almost opposite the Children's Hospital. The structure is built of Hessian, with a corrugated iron fly, and faces the road. Behind it stands a similar building, used as a store. Inside the camp provision is made for the accommodation of four nurses, a partition dividing it in half from north to south. That portion towards the road was occupied by Mrs Gold and Miss Janette Snodgrass, a daughter of the deceased. The back division was tenanted by two other nurses. At the time of the tragedy all nurses off duty were dressing for the Cinderella dance held in the Mechanics' Institute…
…At half-past 3 o'clock the funeral of Mrs Gold left the office. The coffin was covered in black and gold, and bore the following inscription:- "Elizabeth Yarburgh-Gold, age 32, died May 31, 1898." After the hearse came Dr McNeill in a buggy, as many nurses as could and officers of the hospital following. The funeral of Snodgrass left the institution at 4 o'clock. The coffin was covered in black and ormolu, and bore an inscription as follows:- "Kenneth Snodgrass, age 50, died May 31, 1898." Following the hearse were the widow and two adult daughters, Dr Seed and others. Mrs Gold was interred in the same grave as her husband, and the remains of Snodgrass were placed about 50ft away. The Ven Archdeacon Barton-Parkes read the burial service at both graves, murderer and victim being given the same service. Mr Alfred Read, undertaker, of Hunt-steet, conducted both funerals.
Wednesday, June 1, 1898
One of the enjoyable dances of the Coolgardie Cinderella Club was held last night at the Mechanics' Institute, and was attended by a large number. The hall was nicely decorated with a little bunting, and with a good floor a most enjoyable evening was spent. The music was supplied by Hansen's String Band.
The atmosphere for most of the day yesterday was unpleasantly and unseasonably close and oppressive, the glass reading dry bulb 74.0, wet 54.5, maximum 74.3, minimum 74.0. Weather forecast for the following twenty-four hours from May 31:- Very unsettled with heavy north-west squalls and rain throughout the southern portions of the colony, probably extending into the goldfields. Thunderstorms in places, coastal district particularly warned.
Some anonymous writers have been raising Cain because the nurses at the hospital receive and entertain visitors at that institution in their own time and at their own expense. I quite agree with them. The nurses have no right to receive any respectable friend after they have done their work for which they are paid. The nurses should go out and stand in the cold night air, after a hard day's work in the sick wards, and chat to their friends behind the ample shelter of a three-wire fence… If the nurses cannot be made to so receive their acquaintances… they should be forced to receive them in a room which has a thin door with a big key hole just the size to fit an ass's ear ; nothing smaller would suit. A padded stool and a foot-warmer should be at all times be kept just outside the door at the people's expense… Failing all these schemes, wouldn't it be as well to hobble the nurses to keep them from straying after dusk, for they are merely slaves, body and soul, and have no privileges, no liberty of body or mind as other women have. They are only fit to attend us when we are sick almost to death; only fit to alleviate our sufferings with a woman's tender skill and gentle tactful kindness; only fit to help us when most we need help; and then to be the recipient of our courageous, manly, out-spoken abuse and anonymous slander…