Monday, November 21, 2016

Gertrude Grace Johnson

It took me several days to research this story and find out all I could about Gertrude. I Wish I could have found more.

Here are  the facts:

Gertrude Grace Johnson was born on 13 Aug 1895  in Garra, New South Wales Australia. To Charles Arthur Johnson &  Susan Staines. She was number 6 of 8 children born to this family. All born in Australia. 

Gertrude was a part of the'free love religious cult' and had been a member for six years by 1919.  Little is known about the inner workings of the Free Love Mission. It was said that there was a lot of sex going on between members even married couples.  I suppose it's not much different than the 1960s free love movement in America. It was quite shocking for the time. She became acquainted with the group near Molong in rural NSW, where she had embraced its doctrine of free love, faith healing, and intermarital sex. “There is no condemnation for those who believed in Christ Jesus”, the sect members were said to take drugs, fornicate with multiple partners and bear children outside of wedlock.

“The sect ran their meetings in Sydney - they used to cry, roll on the floor and howl, and if anyone did not agree with them they cut them out,” stated one news report.
Gertrude Ligores was a young woman, she was 25 years-old.


Gertrude got married in February of 1919 in Redfern, to  Daniel  Ligores was a Filipino traveling showman turned Salvation Army cook who was working in Kent St in Surry Hills. 

Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved into the Free Love Mission at 62 Regent St, Redfern, also known as the Abode of Love, and the Apostolic Faith Mission by its leader, a man called Cummings.


For a time they were happy but Gertie’s relationship with other members increasingly bothered Ligores.

He knew she was having an affair with its charismatic leader, and in the weeks before the murder had described the Mission as “nothing more than a den of prostitutes and profligates”.

“Daniel Ligores became quite jealous with other men looking at his wife and as he alleges, sleeping with his wife, so he decided they should leave,” Ms. Campbell   curator and author at the Justice and Police Museum in Sydney said
“But Gertrude it seems was spiritually and possibly sexually satisfied with her religion and she didn’t want to leave.”

When a leadership schism erupted within the Mission, Ligores saw his chance to break free. During a meeting one night, rival leader Hall had demanded, “as much right at Cummings to touch every woman in the house”.

Ligores stormed down to Redfern police station, returning with two detectives, who ordered the Mission to disband.

Gertie was packed off to Parkes, in central New South Wales, and Ligores demanded an end to her involvement with the group.

Two months later after a heartfelt letter promising to stay true to her husband, she returned and they moved to Woolloomooloo. But the Mission’s members were soon knocking on their door in a bid to lure them back to the sex cult.


Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved into the Free Love Mission at 62 Regent St, Redfern, also known as the Abode of Love, and the Apostolic Faith Mission by its leader, a man called Cummings.

For a time they were happy but Gertie’s relationship with other members increasingly bothered Ligores.

He knew she was having an affair with its charismatic leader, and in the weeks before the murder had described the Mission as “nothing more than a den of prostitutes and profligates”.


Two months later after a heartfelt letter promising to stay true to her husband, she returned and they moved to Woolloomooloo. But the Mission’s members were soon knocking on their door in a bid to lure them back to the sex cult.

I believe Daniel became Paranoid at this point and was scared of losing his wife to these people. I think he just wanted his wife to himself, which is a reasonable request considering. 

 He told his boss he would shoot his wife and give himself up to the police if she didn’t cut her ties.


He beat her black and blue multiple times.

Their landlady reported  violent fights coming from their place Gertrude slapped him and he punched her. Others reported the same findings. So there was a lot of violence going on between them. 

On Aug 7, 1920, Daniel left work early scared that his wife might be with another man. He stated “I was in a very troubled state of mind because I thought my wife was not true to me ...” he later told an inquest. “We walked along Belmore Park where we sat on a bench for about 10 minutes and then got up and went along Elizabeth Street to Holt’s Place.”



 Free Love Mission was in this building in Sydney, Australia






The Murder

Holt Place, off Elizabeth Street, in late November 1920.






The Police Report
“It’s believed he sought her out, he followed her and found her in the street, it seems he then punched her and beat her and there was an argument between the two of them.

“He pulled out a revolver which he claimed he only carried to protect himself when he was carrying large amounts of money around … he shot her four times and all of those shots could have caused her death. He wasn’t intending to maim or scare her, he wanted her dead.”

The Mission had established a breakaway sect in Holt Place and when he got there, Ligores lost control: “At Holt’s Place I went mad and I don’t remember what I did to her,” he said.

Daniel's plea to the jury : “I beg to state I am entirely innocent of the crime ... When the tragedy occurred, I was in a state of frenzy, I’d drowned my sorrow in drink. This is a terrible blow to me.”













On November 23, Daniel Ligores was sentenced to death, although the jury asked for mercy and he did not hang.

He did not hang but there is no futher records of Daniel, I presume he died in prison and was buried where other prisoners are buried. 






Mug shot of Daniel Ligores, around November 1920, probably Darlinghurst Police Station.

Special Photograph no. 249. Enraged over his wife's participation in a Surry Hills-based 'free love religious cult' (variously called 'Abode of Love' or 'Free Love Mission' by the newspapers, or 'Apostolic Faith Mission' by its leader), Daniel Ligores, Salvation Army cook, of 110 Palmer Street Darlinghurst, shot his wife Gertrude Grace Ligores dead at the mission's premises in Holt Place, off Elizabeth Street, in late November 1920.
This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These "special photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal, style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics."

31256

New South Wales. Police Dept.
City of Shadows at the Justice & Police Museum, Sydney, November 2005-January 2007.
Glass plate negative:






Gertrude died 7 Aug 1920 by the hands of the husband. No matter the reason and no matter how badly he felt after, she is dead.  She is presumably buried in Rockwood Cemetery I have yet to find her.
I looked through genealogies on several website trying to find a photo of her had no such luck. Sorry Gertie I tried. 




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