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Montgomery: Not Your Average Mayberry

Some said jealousy was to blame for a double tragedy in 1893.

Can you stand another murder story? I hope so, because this one just jumped out at me from the pages of an 1893 Newspaper, The Aurora Daily Express, and I want to share it with you.

The scene was the street in front of Daniel Keck’s house on Main Street, a short distance from the Montgomery Methodist Church. It was a quiet Saturday night two days before Christmas. The target was Ella (Daisy) Ravatte, 16; whose father George Ravatte owned a small farm south of the Stove Works on Sard Avenue. The shooter was Adolphus Adcock, a rejected would-be suitor. Daisy left the Christmas program at the Montgomery Methodist Church with a friend when she was grabbed from behind and shot in the back. Adcock threw away the revolver and then pulled out a jack knife and slit his own throat. Daisy was rushed into Daniel Keck’s house and medical assistance was summoned.

The friend with her was Will Yates. At the trial he testified that he was not courting Miss Ravatte. He had met her only recently at a party at Towner’s house, but believed that the trouble with Adcock grew from that.

Adcock, 24, a distant relative of the Ravatte family, had moved here from Canada. He was enamored of Daisy, but she did not like him “to monopolize her society” and he became insanely jealous.

The Aurora Daily Express described the shooting:  “… they were on the way back to the church. Adcock stepped up to Yates and put the revolver close to his neck and told him to get out. Yates hesitated whereupon he said again, “Do you hear what I say, you get out.” Yates stepped back a few paces and the girl started to run toward the church.

“Stop or I will shoot,” Adcock called after her. He fired one ball, striking the ground to the right of her. He then fired again, this time striking the girl in the back."

The Chicago Inter Ocean Newspaper offered a different take on the incident:

PROMPTED BY JEALOUSY/ A Young Man at Aurora Shoots His Sweetheart and Stabs Himself."

The bitter jealousy inspired in the breast of Adolphus L. Adcock, a young man in Montgomery, the pretty little southern suburb of Aurora, by the fancied neglect of his sweetheart, Miss Ella Louisa Revatte, culminated in a shocking double tragedy last evening. Ella Revatte is the 16-year-old daughter of John Revatte, a wealthy market gardener of Montgomery, and was passionately loved by Adcock, who was employed by Revatte and lived with the family.

Ella did not reciprocate the tender affections of her lover, who was driven fairly wild by the repulses with which he was met. Saturday evening a Christmas entertainment was given at the village church and Ella Revatte started to attend it. She was closely followed by Adcock, who overtook her walking with another young man.

Without a moment’s hesitancy Adcock walked up to Miss Revatte, drew her from her escort, and deliberately fired a forty-two-caliber bullet into her back. Then giving the revolver a toss the murderer drew and opened a pocket knife with which he slashed his own throat in a frightful manner and fell senseless to the ground. Assistance was soon on hand, and the body of Miss Revatte was carried to a neighbor’s house, where the physicians found that the ball entered beneath the right shoulder-blade, and after fracturing a rib penetrated the lung.  She cannot live. The police removed Adcock to the Aurora City Hospital, where the four frightful gashes in his neck were sewed up. There is little chance that he will live to be prosecuted for the murder. The affair has created a profound sensation in Aurora.”

I copied the entire article because I think you will enjoy the quaint style of the writing, and the different interpretation of events. The newspapers expected that neither would survive. In spite of the lack of antibiotics, or advanced treatments, the medical staff at the Aurora City Hospital worked tirelessly on both of them.

At the trial, Yates testified that he thought one bullet was intended for him. The gun used was described as a revolver.

After the shooting, Adcock pulled out his jack knife and slashed his own throat several times, partially severing the windpipe; then fell to the ground bleeding.  A crowd gathered and had it not appeared he was about to die, he would have been lynched.

Jim Yard was one of the first witnesses on the scene. He took the knife from Adcock, pulling it out of his windpipe. The Aurora police arrived, rolled him onto a stretcher and put him in the patrol wagon for a hasty trip to the hospital. The doctor said that he had one chance in a hundred of surviving.

Daisy endured a probe for the bullet until it became too dangerous, and they had to leave it alone. The doctor determined it was in her left lung, very near her heart. Her chances were estimated to be one in five. Fortunately for all, Daisy survived, as did Adcock.

At the trial, and during the cross examination, Adcock asked the doctor if the girl might cough up the bullet. The doctor replied in the affirmative. Then, Adcock asked if she would then get well. He was told that she would never recover the full use of the lung. Adcock was indicted for assault with intent to kill.

Little is known about the Ravatte family. As for the others mentioned in the story, Will Yates was the son of George Yates and uncle to Florence Yates Killian and Gladys Yates Schade. The Yates family lived on Baseline Road. Jim Yard was a popular figure about town. A lifelong bachelor, he lived in the house he built at 218 South River Street. He was one of the founders of the Montgomery Methodist Church and the proud owner of the first automobile in town. The Daniel Keck house stood at the corner of Clinton and Main Streets. 

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