[Editor: These are reports on an incident which was the basis for Henry Lawson’s poem “Johnson, alias Crow”; being extracts from the general news sections of The Brisbane Courier, regarding the death in custody of H. Johnson in 1891. A further extract has been included, related to the possibility that the Heinrich Johnson mentioned in Lawson’s poem was the same Heinrich Johnson who was jailed five years earlier for failing to pay child maintenance.]
[14 July 1891]
Mackay, July 13.
The prisoner Johnson, alias Crow, who has been under remand, charged with issuing a valueless cheque for £3 to J. Shacketon, a publican, died suddenly in the lookup at Eton on Saturday. The prisoner was awaiting the arrival of a bank official from Rockhampton, who arrived on Friday night, and in the ordinary course of things the case would have concluded on Saturday. At 6 o’clock on Saturday the prisoner complained of pains in the abdomen, and was attended to by the constable in charge, who gave him some painkiller, and applied hot fomentations. The prisoner seemed easier, and the constable left him, but hearing him fall a few minutes afterwards, returned, and found him crouching on his hands and knees. He said he was dying, and expired in half-an-hour. A post-mortem examination was held by Dr. M’Burney, and the contents of the stomach were sent to Brisbane for analysis.
The Brisbane Courier (Brisbane, Qld.), Tuesday 14 July 1891, page 5
[21 July 1891]
On Saturday last at Eton (says the Mackay Standard of the 18th instant) an inquiry into the death of H. Johnson, alias Crow, who expired suddenly in the Eton lookup on the same morning took place. On the 24th of June last the deceased was placed in custody charged with obtaining £3 by means of a valueless cheque, and remained there awaiting the arrival of a bank official from Rockhampton. On Saturday, at 6 a.m., the deceased complained of pains in the stomach, and Constable Griffin gave him a tablespoonful of painkiller, which eased him a little, and applied hot bandages to his stomach, after which he drank some hot tea and lay down. A few minutes after the constable heard a sound of a person falling, and on going in saw deceased in a crouching position, his face resting on his hands. When asked where he felt the pain, he placed his hand on the lower part of his stomach and replied, “I am dying.” He did not speak again, and in half-an-hour expired.
The Brisbane Courier (Brisbane, Qld.), Tuesday 21 July 1891, page 7
[27 February 1886]
Maintenance order. — Heinrich Johnson was charged with failing to comply with an order for the maintenance of his children, who are inmates of one of the orphanages. As the accused would offer no satisfactory agreement to contribute towards the support of his children, the bench sentenced him to three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.
The Brisbane Courier (Brisbane, Qld.), Saturday 27 February 1886, page 2
[Editor: Corrected “orphanges” to “orphanages”.]