A recent message on the Society’s Facebook page from Erik Wright, a historian from Paragould Arkansas USA, drew our attention to the case of a James Henry Trammell who escaped a murder charge in Paragould before coming to the attention of the authorities in Glebe.

James Henry Trammell in 1911. (Source: Erik Wright)
James Henry Trammell in 1911. (Source: Erik Wright)

James Henry Trammell aged 40 was arrested on 13 April 1922 and charged with maliciously setting fire to a house, part of the Church of England Home for Women on Avona Lane Glebe. Trammell was employed as a ‘manager’ there.

He was then charged with arson and a Coroner’s Court inquiry held.

Evidence was given that he’d been employed as a laundryman until 31 March and lived in a house on the premises.

The Glebe Fire Brigade, called after 2am on Sunday 9 April, broke open the front door which was nailed shut with a board across it, and forced the kitchen door. There was a strong smell of kerosene and a near empty tin was found.

Trammell said he didn’t know how the fire started as he was in Tamworth at the time with his wife, a sewing machine having been pawned to pay the fares. He didn’t return until 11 April. He had kerosene in the house and benzene to clean clothes. The furniture was insured for £200 and he valued the lino at £150.

He was not convicted, the Coroner finding the act committed by person/s unknown.

Trammell turns up again aged 78 in 1945 when he was caught selling butter in the Livingstone Hotel Petersham. An oyster seller of Fig St Pyrmont, he was charged with selling 1 cwt of butter, part of 252 cases stolen by a truck driver from Norco. Trammell was fined £5 for receiving plus £5 for selling it without coupons.

Trammel died at Campsie in 1966.

Primary sources: Sydney Sun 15 April 1922 p. 4; Sydney Sun 3 May 1922 p.2; Canberra Times 10 Feb 1945 p. 2; Canberra Times 20 Feb 1945 p. 4; Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser 20 Feb 1945 p. 6.
For more on this story, go to: http://www.kait8.com/story/32501913/the-great-escapes-paragould-historian-uncovers-truth-about-100-year-old-murder-case.