Sunday History Photo / Person

Submitted: Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 06:47
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Paul Heinrich Matthias Foelsche (1831-1914), police inspector, was born on 30 March 1831 at Moorburg, near Hamburg, Germany, son of Matthias Foelsche. At 18 he enlisted in a German Hussar Regiment and at 25 migrated to South Australia. In November 1856 he was appointed trooper third class in the Mounted Police. He was transferred to Strathalbyn where on 5 January 1860 he married Charlotte Georgina Smith. He devoted much time to firearms and as an expert in colouring stocks and barrels his services were in great demand by local volunteer corps. While at Strathalbyn he was appointed sub-inspector in charge of the newly-formed Northern Territory Mounted Police. In January 1870 he arrived in the Northern Territory where he spent his remaining years apart from brief visits to Adelaide in 1884 and China in 1897.

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After establishing a modest home in Palmerston (Darwin) Foelsche sent for his wife and two daughters. He adapted well to the difficult environment and set an example to the settlers. He remained cheerful and optimistic when others were complaining of hardship and sacrifice. As 'the very best man that could have been selected for the position at that time' he became a great force in the community. He was an excellent conversationalist, speaking and understanding English as well as his German and was very popular. He became 'a perfect encyclopedia on Northern Territory affairs and people'. He also won repute as a dentist and had a large collection of the best dental instruments.

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As a policeman Foelsche was a 'veritable sleuthhound of the law', with a natural detective instinct and mental powers that made him dreaded by criminals. His knowledge of the law was such that he was said to be the best lawyer outside the South Australian Bar. He had a keen intellect, studious habits and a retentive memory. When stationed at Strathalbyn he was often selected for special duty where exceptional tact and discretion were required. Police Commissioner George Hamilton (1812-1883) considered him one of the most capable men in the police force, and Lord Kintore, governor of South Australia, described him as intelligent and efficient. In pursuit of his police duties Foelsche was unrelenting and displayed exceptional energy and courage when he led the search for native murderers. His cunning stratagems invariably led to the apprehension of suspects. Soon after he arrived in the Northern Territory he realized the difficulty in administering justice to the natives and made a systematic study of Aboriginal customs and language. On 2 August 1881 his authoritative paper, 'Notes on the Aborigines of North Australia', was read to the Royal Society of South Australia.

Here is one case typical of the punitive expeditions. On 30 June 1875 at the Roper River, a telegraph worker from Daly Waters had been killed, and his two mates badly wounded, probably by Mangarrayi men. As a consequence, Aboriginals along the length of the river were slaughtered by a massive party of police and civilians for four weeks solid in August 1875. Although the orders came from Inspector Paul Foelsche, the government’s attack dog in Darwin, an operation of such size and cost, with a blaze of publicity, would have required approval from the government of Premier Sir James Penn Boucaut. Foelsche issued these cryptic, but sinister, instructions: “I cannot give you orders to shoot all natives you come across, but circum-stances may occur for which I cannot provide definite instructions.Roper River blacks had to be “punished”. Foelsche wanted to go with them, but it was a large party, he said, with “too many tale-tellers”. He boasted in a letter to a friend, John Lewis, that he had sent his second-in-command, Corporal George Montagu, down to the Roper to “have a picnic with the natives”. Even the normally enthusiastic Northern Territory Times was sickened by “the indiscriminate ‘hunting’ of the natives there”, adding “there ought to be a show of reason in the measure of vengeance dealt out to them. Seven days earlier, the paper’s response to the death of a prospector in Arnhem Land had not been so mild: “Shoot those you cannot get at and hang those that you do catch on the nearest tree as an example to the rest.”

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Three years later, in January 1878 (when Boucaut was again premier), Foelsche dispatched a punitive party to Pine Creek, under Constable William Stretton, after a teamster was murdered. Seventeen Aboriginals were shot by Stretton’s men and an unknown number were shot by a civilian party. In another revealing letter to Lewis, Foelsche referred to this as “our Ni%ger Hunt”. He said he should have gone himself, but “could not have done better than [Stretton] did, so I am satisfied and so is the public here”. In a further letter he observed: “By the majority of the population here, the Aborigines are looked upon as beasts, destitute of reason and are treated as such.” Like the earlier Roper River expedition, those at Pine Creek were well publicised in the Territory press, suggesting that Foelsche again had official approval.

Foelsche was a useful botanical collector and correspondent for Ferdinand Mueller, who named in his honour Euc. Foelscheana, a well-known Northern Territory tree. In the territory a mountain, river, headland and street in Darwin bear his name. A notable Freemason, he helped to found the Port Darwin Lodge which was named after him. He retired from the police force in January 1904, and was awarded the Imperial Service Order. In his last two years he was confined to his chair and suffered much pain before he died on 31 January 1914.
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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 08:06

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 08:06
Great work as usual Doug.

Alan
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 10:00

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 10:00
Hi

You should also probably thank R.J. Noye for the first few paragraphs and Tony Roberts for the last few.

The compilation of the information is obviously interesting for ExplorOz forum readers and the concept is great...but in my opinion the sources should be aknowledged to be fair.

Cheers
Greg
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Reply By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 08:34

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 08:34
The handwriting on those certificates is most impressive.
Not these days eh !
Stan
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Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 16:52

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 16:52
Thank you, Doug.

... and some folk wonder why we need reconciliation...

Min
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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 20:44

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 20:44
Hullo Min

x2

Very informative as usual and always something I just wouldn't discover myself.

I can't quite describe how I felt when I read about the treatment of the aborigines and how thye were described - gut churning is about about as close as I can get.

Cheers
Andrew
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Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 18:32

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 18:32
Thanks Doug for another great Sunday History post. We always look forward to your regular contribution & feel that that EO would not quite be the same without these informative & interesting info on our history.

Dunno why, but I seldom acknowledge your effort!! But please keep it up as many of us are more than a little interested as can be seen by the many views of your popular Sunday post. Cheers & best wishes.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 20:18

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 20:18
Hi

"Dunno why, but I seldom acknowledge your effort!! "

Maybe because it only took ~10 minutes of Googling and some cut and pasting :)

Preferable also to acknowledge the people who have actually did the work (research and compiling info)..

Plagiarism

No specific law against it but its not a good look IMHO. Could be unintentional in this instance so my comments are generalised.

iseers
Greg

Note: In the interests of fourum harmony this post has been edited to remove some words that some forum members found offensive.
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Follow Up By: Off-track - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 20:52

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 20:52
Not nearly as dishonourable as your responses on this thread. Seriously, pull it in mate.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 21:14

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 21:14
Thanks Doug, I also enjoy your interesting post every Sunday and I don`t give a rats a _ _ _ where you get the info from, at least you contribute something positive.
Keep up the great work.

"No specific law against it but a dishonourable past time IMHO."

Greg,

IMHO you would do better to keep YHO to yourself.

Scrubby.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 21:41

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 21:41
Hi

Glad you agree with me on the dishonourable bit. Maybe we (him and I) both qualify...but two wrongs don’t make a right. So..Seriously, pull it in mate :)

Not wanting to get into any long heated discussion here - situation is clear. Just suggesting that some acknowledgement of the source of the information is warranted - especially considering most, if not all of the OP's original post is someone else’s work (in this case) ..all copied word for word.

Just my opinion. If you or anyone else think it is Ok ..fine. But if you went to heaps of effort, wrote an article and someone just copied it with no mention of your contribution (100%) - how would you feel? Please be honest if you care to answer this question.

I do a lot of writing and plagiarism is not tolerated...but maybe its ignored elsewhere. Apologies if I have it wrong.

Cheers
Greg

PS: No big deal either way...as stated concept is good...bit of improvement on execution required ..IMHO.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 21:48

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 21:48
Crikey! You dont all barrack for Collingwood do you :)

As I said concept is good - not sure I need to be abused for just suggesting a list of references would be a good idea.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 22:20

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 22:20
i do recall puting up something about the "Roll Clouds" as seen up here, also got abused about it being "cut n pastes" ..................
Really Greg if you cant be bothered to do the same EVERY Sunday without fail then dont run people down that DO BOTHER to add usefull posts....
And just on pathetic details if you are so insistent .... all of the information about any form of history is a copy from a past writing, it simply would not be history if it had not been written before ...........
Even my kids could tell me that .... um derrrr
:-)
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 22:40

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 22:40
Hello

Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ) posted"

"it simply would not be history if it had not been written before"

Subject matter (history subject, a painting, a song or a book) is not the point..it’s about copying something and not giving the person who actually created it any credit (or asking permission to use it in some cases). As far as "history” goes feel free to do some research and write something but it is important to acknowledge the source (get your kids to ask their school teacher if you cant figure out why).

I think I see the brickwall I have run up against now.

Cut and paste away guys.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Off-track - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 22:53

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 22:53
Technically you are right, but when it comes to relaying the information you were about as subtle as a bus smash and quite insulting to the SHP.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 23:20

Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 23:20
Hi

At last, a sign of intelligent life...

Fair enough - I may have come across as a bit harsh... but didnt think it was that bad.. and just because the West Coast Eagles won again doesnt mean I need to be called rude names:) Anyway.. sincere apologies to all I have offended. It's just a 4WD Forum after all and not Scientific America, my mistake. Back in box.

Cheers
Greg

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Follow Up By: Member - Ed C (QLD) - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 20:21

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 20:21
Greg makes a very valid point, re acknowledgement of source of material used,
and FWIW, I agree with it..

Simply a matter of courtesy.....

That's not to say that I don't appreciate Doug's input, but you blokes are flaming Greg unnecessarily IMO, so I'll stand over here with him, and double the size of your target.... ;-))


:)

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Reply By: Member - Dunworkin (WA) - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 01:14

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 01:14
Thanks yet again Doug for the SHL, a great story as usual.

The Explorer siad : " But if you went to heaps of effort, wrote an article and someone just copied it with no mention of your contribution (100%) - how would you feel? Please be honest if you care to answer this question. "

Geez if I was able to write a piece that interested someone so much that they wanted to cut and paste it somewhere else I would be ecstatic that I had written something worthy of such an action, it wouldn't bother me if they hadn't acknowledged my work, but then I'm not a professional writer..... LOL


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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Monday, May 21, 2012 at 17:59

Monday, May 21, 2012 at 17:59
Hi

Yeah many different scenarios. If you were a professional writer chances are you would be mighty upset (at least) with no aknowledgement whatsoever. May well be no issue here but ...maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it (understatement:)

Cheers
Greg
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Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 00:05

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 00:05
I'm with Explorer here. It appears that not many people on this forum have a proper understanding of copyright - and the strength of copyright laws.
We have many lawyers around the world who constantly seek out copyright infringements, and these infringements are regarded as serious by the courts.

Many people make a living from writing and photography. Many people don't care about what happens to anything they've written or photos they've taken. They might change their views pretty rapidly when they see something they've written or a good photo they've taken, being used by someone else to make a lot of money!

Just because something is on the 'net, doesn't mean it's there for the taking. Gary Larson, the cartoonist of the "Far Side" animal cartoons, is particularly hot on copyright infringement.
He makes his living from his cartooning, and if you swipe his cartoons and post them somewhere, you're infringing his copyright.

http://www.creators.com/a-note-from-gary-larson.html

I appreciate Doug's research and stories - but a very basic requirement of using other people's written information, is to at least give them credit.
Failure to do so, and copying and pasting wholesale, will most certainly invite threatening lawyers letters - and the writers, photographers, and lawyers, have the law on their side.

Cheers - Ron.
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