Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Who killed Bertha Schippan?

Who killed Bertha Schippan? Was it her sister, a dishonest lover, the tyrannical father? Bertha Schippan was murdered on New Years Day in 1902 in the small town of Towitta, north of Sedan in the Barossa region. Mary, Bertha’s sister was charged with her sisters murder. There was speculation at the time of the trial that Bertha was murdered by her father, but with no evidence and a lack of motive, the case remains one of South Australia’s unsolved crimes.

This story has enthralled South Australians for over 100 years. Three books have recently been written dealing with the subject.

The trial of Mary Schippan written by Peter Donavan (2004) is an account of the trial based on newspaper cuttings of the day. This is a short book, it deals with the factual evidence presented at the trial.

The second novel is The Noon Lady of Towitta by Patricia Summerling published last year. Patricia an Adelaide historian, has written a non fiction novel based heavily on the events from the perspective of Mary. It tells the story of her early life living on the farm and her relationship with her family. It is engrossing read.

The third book, A Girl Like Me by Penny Matthews, is a blend of fact and fiction; told from the perspective of Bertha. It is written for young adults, tells a vividly imagined story of Bertha, particularly in the year leading up to her death.

Maybe from reading the three stories you may be able to solve the mystery.

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