James White claimed three squatting runs in the 1830’s which covered almost one hundred square miles. The runs were Burrangong, Spring Creek and Curraburrama.
Robert Cotterell a stockman working on Whites Curraburrama Station was the son of Robert Cotterell and Jane Regan.
William Regan was the manager of Curraburrama Station for James White and was married to James White’s niece, Eliza, John White’s daughter.
John Cowell was also employed on Curraburrama, he was the son of Sarah Fletcher and John Cowell from Tasmania. Sarah had been married to Thomas White who was a brother of James and John White.
Thomas White was killed in a horse riding accident and Sarah then married John Cowell. Cowell was later accidentally killed by a patron in a fight in his hotel.
Cotterell and Cowan began duffing cattle from neighbouring properties.
They sold some of the stolen cattle to Edward Taylor, a butcher, residing on McHenry’s Creek. Taylor also happened to be a nephew of James White. Cotterell had told Taylor the cattle belonged to Thomas White Jnr. of Humbug Creek when they actually belonged to Edward Jones.
Constable Sutherland came across the hides at a skin dealers premises and noted Jones brand on them. When Sutherland approached Taylor he revealed where he had purchased the stock.
Cotterell and Cowan were arrested and appeared in court at Young on April 9,1866, but were released when Jones did not want to pursue the matter.
This was the beginning of the bushranging career of Cotterell and the “Blue Cap” gang as it was known.
Cotterell suffered from ophthalmia, a condition of the eyes, which almost made him blind. To protect his eyes he wore a long blue shade which almost covered his face.
Jerry Duce began an association with Cotterell and convinced him to become a bushranger on the roads.
On June 27, 1867 they stole two horses and held up Watson Brothers’ Jerrabung Station.
The next day they held up Saunders’ Sydney Hotel at Spring Creek and raided the shepherds huts on Fowlers Bullock Creek Station.
They later robbed Taylor’s store as well as Lehmann’s store at Stoney Creek.
A shootout occurred between Sergeant McGee and the gang, with Cotterell being wounded.
Later in the day they raided the Chinese camps at Stoney Creek and Spring Creek, as they were leaving they fired a few shots into the store of Ah Kin.
To finish the day they visited two hotels on the Young Road belonging to Croker and Ray.
John Scott, known as Dick the Devil, joined the gang as did others from time to time.
Cotterell’s career came to an end in November 1867, near Humbug Creek, when he was captured by police.
He was taken to Young for a court appearance and then to Wagga Wagga for a trial.
His short but extensive career saw him sentenced to 10 years goal.
Young Historical Society – Brian James.
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