On a weekend where the focus is on one Ballarat man who went to his death by the hangman's noose, there's another tale being told of a purported attempt to revive an executed felon - by electricity.
While attempted murderer Charles Bushby's death mask has returned to the gaol where he was executed, noted Ballarat storyteller and supernatural phenomena investigator Nathaniel Buchanan - Eerie Nate - is telling the altogether more awful story of James Johnston, another Ballarat man who met his end with his neck in the noose.
Johnston murdered his wife and four children in December 1890, shooting Mary Gourlay Johnston at point blank range in the head and smothering his offspring Mary, Ruby, Gordon and Pearl. He attempted to poison himself, and so nearly succeeded that several newspaper reports erroneously had him dead in the hospital.
He survived, and despite a public appeal to spare him from the gallows, he was hanged on May 18, 1891. Throughout his trial he was unable to speak, and communicated to his defence lawyer via chalk and slate, as he said his tongue was paralysed by the administering of the poison he used.
Eerie Nate contends that, following his execution, Johnston's body was conveyed to a place where,'in proper Frankenstein fashion,' an attempt to resuscitate him was made via the newly fashionable mode of galvanisation - essentially an early and crude form of defibrillation.
The use of electricity to bring the dead back to life reanimation -was a fad of the C19, but it did lead to today's resuscitation technology. However, the methods were sometimes - messy - and Mr Buchanan will explain more in his lectures, to be held in the basement of Craig's Hotel at 10.30am and 2.30pm.
Was Johnston revived? Did it happen at all? Find out at Craig's Hotel this weekend.