MURDER AT THE VINEYARD

Charles and Frencenne Lauffer with three of their children – 1903

It was 9.10 am Wednesday the 4th February 1903 when the picnic train puffed into Smith’s Mill Station, and a party of eight French picnickers alighted. They made their way to the Glen Hardy Cellars in Smith’s Mill (now known as Glen Forrest). After drinking most of the six bottles of wine that they had purchased, they made their way to Charles and Frencenne Lauffer’s vineyard, Helena River Nursery.

Charles and Frencenne had lived at their vineyard for sixteen years and together with their four children, were well known and respected by all that knew them.

Nobody could have predicted the tragic event that occured on that sunny Wednesday in February 1903. After a minor argument about the purchase of wine, a pistol was produced by one of the picnickers and Charles was fatally shot. Police were contacted and all the picnic party were shackled to a tree at the railway station, while waiting on the train to take them to Guildford lock-up.

To know more about this story, don’t hesitate to contact us at Mundaring and Hills Historical Society.

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