from Bendigo Advertiser Saturday April 1, 1893, page 5
HOW BUSH FIRES ARE CAUSED.
A DASTARDLY ACT.
What is evidently a most despicable and malicious act was perpetrated at Axedale on Wednesday evening, the victim being Mr. N. Ingham, the well-known quarry proprietor and hotel keeper of that place. On Tuesday after noon an elderly man named Charles Seward, a laborer, arrived by train in Axedale, having been engaged at the Government labor bureau in Melbourne, by Mr. P. J. Cooney, the teacher at the Campaspe East State School, to work for him for 8s per week. On Tuesday evening he camped on the river bank under the bridge at Axedale, and on Wednesday he did some odd jobs for Mr. Ingham, who, however, was dissatisfied with the manner in which the man performed his work.
They had a settlement, and Mr. Ingham told the fellow to move on. Seward asked for a glass of beer, but the request was refused. The man left the hotel muttering vengeance against the landlord. He took his swag and tramped off along the road to Toolleen.
A young man, named Johnson, a woodcarter in the employ of Mr. Minter, was driving a horse and load of wood into Axedale, when he discovered that he had lost a couple of wedges. He walked back along the road and suddenly came on Seward, whom he alleges he saw set fire to a fence in three different places. As soon as Seward saw that he was discovered,he remarked to Johnson, ” You saw me lighting my pipe, didn’t you?” Johnson replied that that excuse was ” too thin, ” as he had seen the man deliberately fire the fence, which belongs to Mr. Ingham.
Seward remarked that if Johnson said a word about the matter he would blow his brain out. He then walked off along the road towards Toolleen. The alarm was raised, and several persons attracted by the smoke hurried to the spot, and by their united efforts subdued the flames, but not before nearly half a mile of fencing and a quantity of grass had been destroyed.
Mounted constable Haydon, who is in charge of the police station at Axedale, was away on duty at the Wild Duck Creek during the day, and on his return home in the evening the matter was reported to him by Mr. Ingham.
The constable at once set off in chase of the offender, and nearing Toolleen, which is about 15 miles distant from Axedale, he noticed a man camping by the roadside. From the description that had been furnished him by Mr. Ingham, the constable arrested the fellow, and on bringing him back to the police station he was fully identified.
He was then locked up on a charge of wilfully and maliciously setting fire to the property. It was a fortunate circumstance that there was not any wind blowing at the time or the adjoining properties of Messrs. Heffernan, Cahill, Brown and others right down to the Clare Inn would probably have been destroyed.
The accused was brought into Bendigo on Thursday by Constable Baydon and, during the afternoon. Mr. J. R. Hoskins, J.P., attended at the Town Hall and remanded the accused, who denied the charge, until Thursday next.