Was he shot or did he fall? Lonely death a mystery

The final resting place for George Sales.
The final resting place for George Sales.

IT WAS a lonely death that created a huge mystery in Kyogle and its surrounding areas in 1920.

The fire was burning and the billy was boiling. Food was on the table alongside half a can of fresh milk.

The owner of this scene, a 45 year-old single man and farmer by the name of George Sales was lying on the floor, his lungs filling with blood and a wound above his left eye.

He had been found on August 1 in his hut at Fawcett's Creek and unconscious, according to The Northern Star.

"A doctor was summoned and Sales was removed to the hospital, where he died...having never regained consciousness." the paper reported.

There was no clear indication as to how Sales was found in this situation and the rumours started to fly.

Some thought he had been kicked in the head by his horse and somehow managed to struggle his way back to the hut, while others suspected foul play.

It became known as the George Sales mystery, and was even referred to in another court case of assault in Kyogle court.

"He then threw the stick at me," the complainant was reported as saying, in the Casino and Kyogle Courier and North Coast Advertiser.

"If it had hit me there would have been another George Sales mystery."

A coronial inquiry was held into George's death a few weeks later, but no further clues came to light as to how he was fatally injured.

The medical practitioner John Thomas Jones, who conducted a post-mortem examination on George's body said at the inquiry, that just falling against the door jamb would not have caused the injuries he saw.

Other witnesses who arrived on the scene on that fateful day said they saw no evidence of a struggle, or blood anywhere else in the room except on the floor where they found George.

None of George's possessions had been stolen and witnesses confirmed he wasn't a heavy drinker, nor a quarrelsome person.

The inquiry concluded George's death was caused by fractures of the skull but no evidence showed whether the fracture was accidental or otherwise.

George was finally laid to rest in Kyogle cemetery just over a week after his death. His grave was unable to be located.


* 'Tragedy at Kyogle - Mysterious Affair', The Northern Star, Thursday, August 5, 1920, Page 5.

* 'Man found unconscious and dies', The Kyogle Examiner, Wednesday, August 4, 1920, Page 2.

* 'The Fawcett's Creek Mystery', The Kyogle Examiner, Saturday, August 7, 1920, Page 2.

* 'You're a liar', Casino and Kyogle Courier and North Coast Advertiser, Saturday, November 20, 1920, Page 4.

* 'Who killed George Sales?', The Kyogle Examiner, Saturday, August 21, Page 1.

* 'NSW, Australia, Registers of Coroners Inquests 1821-1937',, Accessed August 4, 2017.

Topics:  fawcett's creek george william sales kyogle tales from the grave

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