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Hart, Stephen (Steve) (1859–1880)

Stephen Hart was born at the Three Mile Creek, near the racecourse, South Wangaratta, and at the time of his death was 21 years of age. His father, who (writes the Daily Telegraph) is a farmer, and has been in the district twenty-two years, came originally from New South Wales, and is now nearly 60 years of age, while his mother is about 50. There were four boys and three girls—Mrs. O'Leary is the eldest, Richard next, Stephen next, Ettie (Edith) and another sister, and Nicholas, a jockey, who died at Wagga from inflammation of the lungs, consequent on heavy cold, acquired while going with Mr. Hoysted to Wagga races about eighteen months ago. Richard is still working about the district, and has a selection near his father, while Ettie is at service at Wangaratta; the former will be about twenty-six, and the latter eighteen years of age; and Tom (the youngest), from twelve to thirteen. Steve went to the Wangaratta Roman Catholic school, till about fifteen years of age, and then got with T. O'Brien, Bill Monaghan, and the Clancys, all of whom were horse-dealing. The first time he got into trouble he was arrested by Sergeant Steele for stealing horses from David Green, of Winton, but was convicted of illegally using, and sentenced to four months' imprisonment. After this he received similar sentences on two other charges—in all, twelve months, which he served in Beechworth gaol. He met Dan Kelly there, as having been convicted of riotous assault and indecent conduct at Winton. It was at this time that both lads laid the foundation of their friendship, which lasted till death. When Steve came out of gaol, Sergeant Steele advised him to be honest, and got his promise that he would. He commenced to work with his brother at fencing, but one day he took a sudden freak, and giving a few blows with the axe, threw it down, swearing he would have a short life and a merry one, saddled his chesnut mare, and told his brother he would go shearing in New South Wales. This was the last that was heard of him until the Euroa bank robbery. The family denied knowing he was with the Kellys, but it was always suspected by Sergeant Steele, who taxed the family with it. After some weeks Steele told his father to get Steve to report himself to the police, otherwise he would be shot as an accomplice of the Kellys. Between the time he left home and the murders (about twelve months) he was working at a saw mill near Mansfield, and even after the murders was not suspected of being mates with the gang, so that he was able to ride about in female attire, and even was known afterwards to have ridden through Mansfield to the Wombat and into Benalla. Hart's portrait shows a slight girlish figure, about the middle height, with dark features, aud possessing a low forehead, and cruel, sensual mouth. Steve Hart was well acquainted with the Jerilderie country, he having come down with the Clancys, who had friends close to the town. Hart and the others used to bring mobs of horses, and were even suspected of "duffing," but it could never be proved against them. The Hart and Kelly families were not very intimate until Dan and Steve met in gaol, and after the murders, when they took common cause against the police.

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'Hart, Stephen (Steve) (1859–1880)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hart-stephen-steve-13575/text24299, accessed 25 November 2017.

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