Unfortunate Circumstances

The teenage years can be difficult for some people.  It’s the time they learn to forge a new path through the world; their own path.

At the same time, they’re at that stage between being a child and an adult, ready to make decisions but not completely sure what the right choice is for them. Combine that with changing hormones driving new physical changes, and it’s no wonder why, at times, teens can be moody and difficult.

Of course, the ideal situation is that they have someone to help guide them through the trials and tribulations of these years. They’re supposed to have a mentor, an individual with enough patience and understanding to both weather their mood swings and help them to gain wisdom from their mistakes.

In most cases, this would be their parents. They’re supposed to nurture, protect, and guide their children toward being productive human beings.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. What should happen and what actually does happen are usually two radically different things.

   15-year-old Bessie Slater showed a maturity beyond her years, probably thanks in large part to her father, Issac.

Issac was a wood turner at the Packard Piano Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and had provided well enough for his wife and five children that they owned the two-story brick house that they called home. Unfortunately, Issac was also an alcoholic who had been fired from his job in late 1900.

Packard Piano Logo
Issac Slater was employed with by the Packard Piano Company, whose logo is pictured here. Courtesy of the Packard Company Google Site

His wife was a seamstress, bringing money into the home by doing work for a local company. Her oldest son, who was eighteen, also had his own job and brought in his own money. In February 1901, Issac had only provided some potatoes and a bag of flour towards his family’s well being.

bloomingdale indiana
Bloomingdale, Indiana. Courtesy of Indiana Album.

Instead, he spent the majority of his money drinking, and he would often return home and beat his wife. On the night of February 19, 1901, he was drunk again when he overheard a conversation between his wife and son.

The son wanted to use his own money to fix a banjo that he owned. Issac’s wife didn’t mind, seeing as how the young man earned his own money and could pay for it himself. Isaac took a grand exception to this. He immediately began to berate the boy, telling him that he was selfish for wanting to repair a toy.

His wife gently disagreed with her husband, immediately sending Issac into a rage. Drunk, beligerent, and angry, he began to first scream at his wife and then to hit her.

This was far from the first time that this had happened in the Slater home. Issac frequently beat this wife and children, and Bessie and her brother were used to it by now. But, as common as this may have been in their lives, this time seemed different somehow.

In the middle of his onslaught, Issac grabbed his wife and threw her down. He seized her by the throat with both hands and began to squeeze, slowly choking the life from her. She struggled, but only managed to loosen his fingers enough to be able to scream that her husband was killing her.

Bessie heard her mother’s cries from her bedroom. She ran through the house to her mother’s side and tried desperately to pry Issac’s fingers loose. But it was useless. He seemed hell bent on committing murder this time, and nothing Bessie did seemed to help.

And then she remembered. Issac kept a loaded revolver in the house. Bessie herself had hidden it from him, afraid that in one of his drunken tempests he might kill someone. Quickly, she ran to retrieve it from its hiding place.

Grabbing the gun, Bessie returned and leveled it at her father. He was going to kill her mother. He was finally going to go too far. Calmly, she squeezed the trigger, and fired into her father’s back.

With a startled cry, Issac rolled off his wife and slumped to the floor. Her mother sat up, gasping for air. Bessie and her mother sent one of the younger siblings to run to the closest telephone and call the police.

   A short time later, the authorities arrived. Issac was taken to a local hospital while Bessie herself was taken to the police station for questioning.

Through the entire ordeal, she remained calm and composed. She took full responsibility for shooting her father, and felt absolutely no guilt about it whatsoever. Bessie explained that she adored her mother, and that if she hadn’t of shot Issac that night, he would have killed her.

At the hospital, Issac was examined by a doctor, who concluded that he would recover from his injury. When police questioned him about the shooting, Issac, who was still very drunk, belligerently told them that he had a great relationship with his family and there was nothing wrong. He told them it was none of their business, and that they should leave it alone.

For the most part, investigators  ignored him, choosing to believe the family’s side of the story. This wasn’t the first time they had dealt with Slater, and they knew that he was a violent drunk. His attitude did not impress them.

Bessie’s, however did. She had faced the entire situation with composed dignity, and with a maturity far beyond her 15 years. She too, had dealt with Issac before, and years of dealing with his abuse had wrought in her a particular strength of character.

She thanked the police for their time and help, promised to return to them during the next phase of their investigation, and went home to check on her mother. It wasn’t a surprise to anyone when she was found innocent of any wrong doing in the shooting.

It would have been great if Issac would have been a good dad, and Bessie wouldn’t have had to take on the responsibility of a grown woman at such a young age. But life doesn’t always give us what we want, and we can’t help who our family is. Or, in some cases, you can’t help who your family ends up with.

   Austin Miloy was a mean man, even in childhood. After returning from fighting in the Civil War, he settled in Bartholomew County in Indiana and began to build what would become a rather sinister reputation.

Argumentative and mean, Miloy was known to often push any point to physical violence. While just a few incidents would have probably been enough to cement his reputation, Austin had several to his credit, with a few of his exploits particularly standing out.

Once, Miloy was attacked by a man with a gun. Miloy disarmed his assailant and proceeded to severely beat the man with his own gun. Miloy was promptly arrested and thrown in the county jail. Not wanting to go to prison or be sent to the gallows, he somehow set the building on fire as a distraction and escaped.

Despite the stories, there were some, like William Jarrett, who didn’t mind his company.

By most accounts, Jarrett was not an intelligent person, and neither was  his wife, Hulda. They were very poor, but also very prolific, and as a result lived in a one-room shack with their five children. In 1894, Miloy was also living in the squalid home with them.

Miloy was having an affair with Jarrett’s wife, and the two intended to run away together. Hulda was unhappy with William because he couldn’t provide a decent home for her and the children. Perhaps she thought that Austin would do a better job.

Eventually, William found out about it, and, unsurprisingly, was very unhappy with his friend. The two argued about it, but must have still gotten along well enough to stay under the same roof.

One night, William and Austin began to argue again. Police were never able to determine what exactly was said because Hulda would never say, and neither would any of her children. In the end, it wasn’t what was said that was as important as what was done.

Miloy became infuriated with William, and with a sudden start, he jumped up from where he sat, grabbed an iron poker, and brought it crashing down on Jarrett’s head. Miloy swung again, this time striking Jarrett high on his chest.

After that, things get a little confusing – and more than a little odd.

Miloy immediately ran to a neighbors house and asked the man to go and fetch a doctor for Jarrett. The neighbor refused. At about the same time, one of Jarrett’s sons ran to a different neighbor for help. The boy related what had happened, but when he asked for help was also refused.

In an act that was almost completely out of character for him, Miloy returned to the Jarrett home and looked after him until the next morning. After sunrise, he again went and asked the same neighbor to get a doctor, which now he did. With help on its way, Miloy hid himself and waited for news of Jarrett’s condition.

Meanwhile, the doctor bound Jarrett’s wounds, and treated him as best as  he could. When asked his opinion, the doctor was sure that Jarrett would die before too long.

The neighbor returned home, and found Miloy still waiting for him. He explained what the doctor had said. Miloy, either satisfied or afraid of going to prison, promptly left the region. The police tracked him, but eventually lost the trail.

As it turned out, Jarrett didn’t die, but his marriage did. Through the entire ordeal, Hulda didn’t seem to care one way or the other if her husband lived or died. They separated and moved on  with their lives.

   As fate would have it, she somehow ended up with her old lover, Austin Miloy, who had evaded the law in the intervening years. Mrs. Jarrett became Mrs. Austin, and the new couple settled in Columbus, Indiana.

Columbus, Indiana.  Courtesy of Historic Columbus Indiana.

In what came as a surprise to no one, the marriage was not a happy one. Miloy was possibly an even worse provider than his predecessor was. As a Civil War veteran, he collected a regular pension check from the United States government. The couple lived off this money, or at least Miloy did.

In spite of making sure that his rival was still alive in 1894, Miloy was still mean and angry, and his reputation was still very much intact. He spent a good amount of his money getting drunk and he often came home from the bars and saloons to beat his wife.

His stepson, George, was the real provider of the family. Only twenty years old, he had a steady job and did his best to take care of his mother and the siblings that still lived with her.

One afternoon in late February 1901, Miloy came home and immediately began berating Hulda. He tore pictures down from the walls. He threw clothes into the stove fire, and other things out into the yard.

The next day, Miloy again came home drunk and started the process all over again. This time, he began throwing clothes and furniture into a pile, and shouted that he was going to set them on fire.

Hulda, terrified, ran to a neighbors house. Already furious, Austin grabbed an ax and followed her. He boldly went inside and dragged Hulda out of the neighbors home by her hair, throwing her to the ground outside. She scrambled to her feet, and ran back into her own house, still trying his best to get away from her homicidal husband.

Miloy went in right after her. Finding her, he raised his ax high, ready to deal one final abuse to his wife.

Suddenly, he stopped. Miloy’s face went slack, and the ax slipped from his hands. He slowly pitched forward, landing with a crash. Behind him stood George, his own ax in hand, now stained with his stepfather’s blood. Looking down at Austin, George delivered a second blow into Miloy’s head.

Austin Miloy, who had been a tyrant to his family and a terror to the county, was dead.

   The grim task complete, George went to check his mother. Hulda was alright, but was no doubt shaken by the events that had just transpired. George turned and walked out into the yard, where a few men were standing. They had come to see what was causing all of the commotion.

George freely confessed what he had done, showing no remorse for having protected his mother. While someone went to get the sheriff, he decided to walk to the police station and turn himself in.

When interviewed, George wasn’t really sorry that Miloy was dead, only that he had to be the one to kill him. Several people were almost glad that he was dead, and definitely believed that after so many years of abusing others, that he deserved to die.

George was exonerated of any wrong doing, with authorities saying that George only killed Miloy in order to defend his mother.

  Some have said that people are born into this world with a purpose. If that’s true, than was Issac Slater and Austin Miloy’s purpose to serve as an example of what not to be?

While Issac Slater chose only to abuse his wife and sometimes his children, Austin Miloy sought to damage nearly everyone and everything around him. Their destructive behavior caused not only physical trauma, but also deep psychological and emotional scars, as well.

Bessie Slater was so used to her father’s abuse that she thought nothing of it the night that she shot  him. She hid in her room while he raged, and only stepped in when she was sure Issac was going to kill her mother.

In many ways, George Jarrett was the same way. He choose to provide for  his family while simultaneously avoiding his stepfather. He obviously didn’t agree with Miloy’s actions or lifestyle, but must have felt that it wasn’t  his  place to say anything. Besides, how likely is it that Miloy would have attacked him when confronted with rebuke, as he had so many others during his lifetime?

Bessie and George did what they had to do to survive their circumstances. But when they needed to, they sadly had to step  in and defend their family from those who should have been loving and protecting them instead.


 You have been reading John Brassard Jr., the Kitchen Table Historian. Please stop over and have a seat at the table every week or so to hear new stories of true crime, disasters, the paranormal, and other weird and dark stories from America’s Heartland. 

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Daughter Shot Him. The  Star Press, 2/19/1901

Shot By His Daughter. The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 2/19/1901

Daughter Not a Murderess. The Star Press, 2/20/1901

Boy Kills His Stepfather. The Fort Wayne Sentinel, 2/28/1901

Killed Father to Save Mother. Columbus Republican, 3/7/1901

Malloy’s Remains. The Republic, 3/1/1901

Johnson County Banner. 4/26/1894.

Boy Brains His Stepfather. Hamilton County Ledger, 3/1/1901

A Probable Murder. The Indianapolis News, 4/18/1894

Indiana, Death Certificates – 1899-2011

U.S. Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001

find a grave.com

Austin Maloy. The Republic, 11/20/1894

Skull Crushed. The Republic, 4/18/1894



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