Allanson disappearance a mystery

Historic: A map from the late 1800's shows Thomas Crampton's property in Allanson, with Ironstone Gully running through it. Photo: supplied.
Historic: A map from the late 1800's shows Thomas Crampton's property in Allanson, with Ironstone Gully running through it. Photo: supplied.

In mid- September 1894, three year-old Thomas Lisle Crampton went for a walk with his sister in bush land near their Allanson property.

Thomas’ sister, six year-old Daisy Crampton, had decided to turn back to head home but young Thomas didn’t follow. That was the last time anyone saw young Thomas Crampton. 

Upon Daisy’s return home, her father Thomas Crampton Senior, raised the alarm at the local saw mill, J.C Port’s Mill, that his son had gone missing. 

Perth-based genealogy blogger and researcher Jessica Barratt, has thoroughly researched the disappearance of Thomas Lisle Crampton, scouring old journals and police records to shine a light on what happened that fateful day in 1894. 

Thomas Lisle Crampton was Ms Barratt’s great-grandmother’s brother, and the mystery is something that has plagued her since she started researching her family ancestry eight years ago. 

“It was really after the death of my grandma that got me into researching my family tree,” she said. 

Ms Barratt said she had spent many hours researching what may have happened to Thomas, and had searched through numerous resources and visited Collie three times to try and find out more. 

A newspaper article of the day.

A newspaper article of the day.

“The Crampton family were living north of Allanson on a property that had a gully running through it and the gully was called Ironstone Gully,” she said. 

“It was about mid-September, five days after Thomas’ Birthday when he went missing. He and his sister went wandering from their home down the gully and apparently she had enough of whatever they were doing and wanted to go home.

“He was only three at the time and he wouldn’t follow her. You can imagine she probably was just in a huff and walked off.

“She went back home, and her dad, my second great-grandfather, was out kangaroo shooting at the time and when he got back he realised his son wasn’t there and went off searching and couldn’t find him.

“He then realised there was probably a little too much time had passed so he went to the mill in the area and raised the alarm there. 

Ms Barratt said it was at that point that the police were notified of the disappearance and sub-inspector Clifton from Bunbury police took on the investigation. “Thomas Crampton’s family and his wife’s family were searching everywhere in the area for the boy, but they never found him,” she said. “It was almost like the earth swallowed him.”

Ms Barratt said the newspapers reported widely on the disappearance. “One newspaper article from the day said the disappearance caused a lot of speculation, but they never speculated,” she said. 

“They had an Aboriginal tracker on the police force and he was searching, and I have so much faith in what they can see and understand about the environment and there was no mention of blood or anything.”

Ms Barratt said she had looked into if there were any existing police records from the time, and if the police had a database of discovered human remains, but didn’t find a trace.

The avid family historian said she was hoping someone in the area might know something about the case, possibly information that has been passed down through generations. 

There was different people involved in the search who lived in the Collie area and one man, Archie Fowler, commented on it in the 1930’s in the Collie Mail. 

“He provided quite a good description of it and how no one could discover what happened to him,” Ms Barratt said. “Archie was quoted as saying in the article “he just vanished”, he was also the one who said it caused a lot of speculation.”

Ms Barratt said she was still actively searching for and recording her family history. “I haven’t looked at this story for a little while because about two years ago it was almost like this was my focus, to find out more and more information to try and find anything, and I think it just reached a saturation point and I had to let it go for a little while,” she said. 

You can read more about the Barratt family history on Ms Barratt’s blog- or on Facebook. 

If you have any information you can contact Ms Barratt by email-