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Crime File: The Legend of Ben Hall

Think of Australian bushrangers and Captain Thunderbolt, Ned Kelly, Captain Moonlite and the subject of today’s Crime File, Ben Hall, come to mind.

Ben Hall was born near Forbes in western NSW on 9 May 1837, to ex-convict parents Elizabeth Sommers and Benjamin Hall. Raised to work on the land, in his youth Ben worked as a stockman for ex-convict John Walsh of Wheogo Station near Forbes.

In 1856, the strikingly handsome Ben Hall married Bridget Walsh, one of John Walsh’s daughters and settled down in a partnership with another son-in-law, John McGuire, to run 7000 hectares at Sandy Creek, near Wheogo. When John Walsh died in 1858, the two men helped his widow Elizabeth, her daughter Kitty, and Kitty’s husband, John Brown, to run Wheogo Station as well.

The ambitious Ben Hall came to be known as an honest trader and a reliable friend to his neighbours in the district. It was a life that Ben Hall loved, and he was content to spend it as a hard-working husband and father and keeper of the land.

But it was not to last and a series of events in his life saw him turn to become the most wanted bushranger in Australia’s history.

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John Stanley