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Liebler is remembered in Fremantle by the facade of an 1880 building which stood in Cliff Street near the corner with High Street: the rest of the buildings behind having been demolished in 1967. His first names are unknown. He was apparently an Austrian who arrived in the colony about 1876, and was engaged in the pearling trade. He must have done well, as he owned two rows of cottages, ten of them on Queens Square and two in Adelaide Street. His last enterprise was the prestigious office in Cliff Street. It may be conjectured that he over-extended his resources with this last building, as it appears that he shot himself dead just north of Guildford in 1881.
LIEBLER, J. A. Arr. c.1876 or earlier and made voyages to W.A. each year thereafter. Fremantle. Pearl merchant (1876 Alm). His remains were found 23.8.1881.
Inquirer and Commercial News 1881:
Mr. LIEBLER. — No farther particulars of the whereabouts of Mr. Liebler have been received during the past week. A belief strongly prevails that he has perished in the bush. Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 4 May 1881: 4.
I have heard vague rumors of the lost man, Liebler. It is asserted that he left Fremantle in the Bessie, that he was seen at Mauritius, and other stories are current. If he left this colony, where such precautions are in force, in a small craft like the Bessie how is it the police are not cognizant of the fact? Perth, June 8, 1881. Victorian Express (Geraldton) Wednesday 15 June, 1881: 2.
Eastern Districts Chronicle:
It is given out that Mr. Liebler, the dealer in diamonds, who was reported to have been lost in the bush in this colony some months ago, has turned up in South Australia. It appears that this gentleman was recognized by a visitor from Western Australia, while listening to the playing of the Austrian Band. This turning up of this gentleman in sthe other Colonies, does not appear to have been at all unexpected. Eastern Districts Chronicle (York) Friday 17 June 1881: 2.
The mystery which has so long hung over the fate of the late Mr. Liebler has at last been dispelled. It will be remembered that on the 14th of last April the unfortunate gentleman left the Freemasons' Hotel in Guildford, saying he was going out " to pluck the flowers," and never returned. Search parties went out, and the police were supposed to have scoured the neighbourhood, but all in vain. However about a month ago a herd-boy named Dixon while driving his cattle to pasture found a wristband of a shirt containing a gold sleeve link, but thinking it was only a brass button he did not report his discovery. Last Monday morning the boy was again driving his herd to feed when he noticed three of his cows chewing some rib bones, and on going to the spot to drive them on was horrified at finding a human skull. Of course the police were at once informed of the discovery and telegrams having been sent to Fremantle a number of gentlemen proceeded to Guildford by the next train. Upon hastening to the spot they found that the body had been almost entirely devoured, and that only the skull, a few bones, and some tattered remains of clothing were to be seen. Upon searching about however the cane and jewellery which belonged to the deceased were found, and also a small six-chambered revolver, having two of the chambers empty. The body was found about two miles from Guildford, 55 yards from a much used wood track, and only 270 yards from the main road, which runs to Albion Town. It was clear that the deceased must have crossed Barker's bridge, and walked on till he came to the road leading to the race-course, then proceeding along the wood track he turned off into the bush and laid down under a small clump of banksia trees to die. Of course the exact cause of death—whether he committed suicide or whether he died of exhaustion—will never be known. An inquest was held next day, and the jury returned a verdict of "death from some cause or causes unknown. " Dr. Waylen however deposed that he had attended the deceased for heart complaint. The clothing, jewellery, &c., were fully identified, and upon some fragments of the shirt being washed the name—J. A. Liebler—was found marked on a piece of the linen, Mr. Herbert of this town has applied for the remains, and intends to remove them to Fremantle for burial. We understand that the deceased was an Austrian by birth, and that his life was insured for £1000, but that both the policy and his will are in England. The Herald (Fremantle) Saturday 20 August 1881: 3.
We are informed that, since the inquest held upon the remains of the late Mr. Liebler, the police have discovered a pistol bullet on the spot where the remains of the deceased were found. This gives additional colour to the supposition that the deceased died by his own hand. The remains were conveyed by train on Saturday evening to Fremantle, for burial, and were interred on the following day, in the presence of a considerable number of the deceased's late friends. West Australian, Tuesday 23 August 1881: 2.
The police are evidently determined not to be beaten. Though assisted by the black trackers they ignominiously failed to find the late Mr. Liebler when he strayed a couple of miles from an hotel in the middle of Guildford. But since the remains of the unfortunate gentleman have been discovered, and the spot to be searched has been narrowed down to a circle with a diameter of about three yards, our indomitable protectors of person and guardians of property, having redoubled their indefatigable exertions, now report that they have succeeded in finding a - bullet! A pity it is that they do not expend a little of their very superfluous and rarely exerted energy upon some more practical and useful object, say for instance the apprehension of the absconder McAllen, who we need hardly say has never been heard of since he so coolly walked off from legal custody. The Herald (Fremantle) Saturday 17 December 1881: 3.
Last Monday at Fremantle the Pier Hotel was sold for £2,400, the purchaser being the occupying tenant Mr. J. G. Flindell. The auctioneers were Messrs. Thompson, Sendey, & Co. The late Mr. Liebler's real property was sold by Mr. P. Webster yesterday and realised £3,481 10s.—the two principal properties—the block in Queen Square containing 10 cottages, was knocked down to Mr. D. Connor for £1560; and the two cottages in Adelaide-street were secured by the trustees of the estate of the late Mr McLean for £1,130. The rest of the property fetched equally good prices. The Herald (Fremantle) Saturday 17 December 1881: 1.
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