Henry Cleveland (also known as Harry) was born at Cleveland Bay near Townsville in about 1864. He knew little of his mother (she may have passed away when he was an infant), but probably lived for several years with his father, brother and sister. From a young age, Henry was adopted by a white family who took him to Adelaide. By 1883, Henry was working as a coachman for the white family. His value to them is demonstrated by the fact that they took out a life insurance policy for him worth £200 (later increased to £500).[ref]Wagga Wagga Advertiser 18 September 1883: 4.[/ref] It is probable that the insurance would have been paid to his employers had Henry passed away at this point given the absence of his family.
At some point in the late 19th century, Henry left Adelaide and moved to Wyalong in southern Wiradjuri country where he worked as the tracker commencing in March 1901. One of his first cases was to investigate the theft of jewelry worth £21 from a local hotel – no trace of the thief was found.[ref]The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette 17 April 1901: 2.[/ref] In March 1903, Henry was part of a team of eight police who confronted 300 protesters at a lecture given by a visiting Protestant Reverend Dr Dill-Mckay. The crowd had gathered to express their displeasure even though Dill-McKay had promised not to say anything against the Catholic Church until he returned to Sydney. It was a dangerous scene – several shots were fired and other protesters were armed with clubs and slingshots – but Henry managed to emerge unscathed.[ref]Sydney Morning Herald 28 March 1903: 7; The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette 18 June 1904: 4 [/ref] Later in the year, Henry helped recapture two prisoners who had escaped from the Wyalong lock-up. They were found 300 feet underground in a mine near Yalgogrin.[ref]Southern Star 2 August 1903: 4; The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette: 12 August 1903: 2[/ref]
Aside from his skills as a tracker, Henry was a talented model ship builder, exhibiting one of his creations at the local horticultural show in October 1901.[ref]Australian Town and Country Journal 26 October 1901: 17.[/ref] He was also the proud owner of a silver pocket-watch given to him by a resident of Lake Cowal, a mining district between Wyalong and Condobolin. The watch was lost at Wyalong in April 1902.[ref]The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette 30 April 1902: 2.[/ref]
Henry Cleveland remained as the tracker at Wyalong until August 1908.[ref]Police Salary Registers 1901-1902 SARANSW 3/2993 Reel 1972; Police Salary Registers 1903-1907; SARANSW 11/16337 Reel 1971; Police Salary Register 1908 SARANSW 3/2994 Reel 1973.[/ref] He fell ill the following year and was taken to the Rookwood Asylum where he passed away on 31 July 1909. He was buried two days later in Rookwood Cemtery.[ref]Death Certificate of Henry Cleveland 1909/009339.[/ref] Henry was no known descendants.
This website explores the history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW from 1862 when the current NSW Police Force was established through to 1973 when the last tracker, Norman Walford, retired. You can read about the lives of individual trackers and some of the incredible tracking feats they...Learn More ►
There were over 200 NSW police stations that employed Aboriginal trackers between 1862 and 1973. Many were concentrated in the central-west and north-west of the state, the agricultural and pastoral heartland of NSW. This is because one of the main jobs of trackers was to pursue sheep, cattle and horse thieves. Trackers sometimes lived in small huts out the back...Learn More ►
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