On January 16th, 1880, an attempted robbery of the Queensland National Bank took place. The robber, later identified as Joseph Wells, entered the bank at 10am in the morning, and armed with a six chamber revolver, demanded money from the poor bank employees. Following a scuffle and the wounding of a Mr. Murphy who had come to help out, the robber ran off into the bush, and scampered up the so called “robbers tree” where he stayed until found and eventually lured to the ground. The trial of Joseph Wells was held in Toowoomba and the prisoner was charged with Robbery under Arms. He was the last person to be hung for this particular crime in Queensland, and was executed on 22 March 1880 at Brisbane Goal. He is buried at Toowong Cemetery.
The State Library holds a multi volume set of historical papers on Cunnamulla - A collection of papers on the history and other subjects to relating to Cunnamulla and district / prepared by members [of] the Warrego and South West Queensland Historical Society. In Volume 1, extracts from the Vincent Dowling Diaries (held at the Mitchell Library) relate the stories of the robbery, many referring to reports in the Queenslander newspaper, and from personal eye witness accounts.
Ruth Gardiner – Queensland Distributed Collections Coordinator, State Library of Queensland