Shrill screams pierced the air. Residents who lived in the vicinity of Sergeant and Fourth Streets emerged from their homes at two o’clock in the afternoon to investigate the horrific screams. Two women were struggling in the street. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that one woman had the upper hand as she “had seized the other by the hair was applying a whip vigorously over her head and shoulders. Hence the screams.”
Spectators intervened and the two women were separated. The woman who wielded the whip, Mrs. John Essry, turned herself in to Officer Robinson. She explained that her husband had been courting Miss Anna Rosser, a young woman who still lived at home with her parents on Sergeant Avenue. After she discovered that her husband had taken Miss Rosser on a Sunday buggy ride the preceding week, Mrs. Essry decided that revenge was the best course of action.
She drove to the Rosser home and pretended to be looking for a young woman to work for her selling samples. While in the street, Mrs. Essry drew her whip and began beating Miss Rosser.
But the beating was not enough. The following week, Mrs. Essry once again unleashed her fury against Miss Rosser. This time she returned to the Rosser home armed with rocks. She began to bombard the house with rocks, breaking windows. The Rossers escaped out the back door and ran to a neighbor’s home as Mrs. Essry continued to assault the Rosser home until she managed to break down the door. Finding no one inside, she went to the neighbor’s home, but was given an evasive answer.
Mrs. Essry was not finished. She returned to the Rosser home, picked up a hatchet, and smashed what she could. “Doors, windows, furniture, stove and household fixtures” were destroyed. Spectators watched her frenzied hatchet attack but did not intervene. Joplin police officers arrived and took Mrs. Essry into custody.
She quickly bonded out of jail “as public sympathy is strong in her behalf. Her neighbors speak highly of her in her struggle to maintain five small children almost wholly without aid from her profligate husband.” Her husband’s advances towards Miss Rosser had driven her “wild.”
The girl’s mother had attempted to keep the two apart, but the girl “is at that giddy, gosling period when a waxed mustache, soft talk, and a musk befogged handkerchief would turn her head more in a minute than maternal precept could right in a day.” It was said that Miss Rosser had left town.