DARKE COUNTY — Shooting galleries have been a longtime amusement at county fairs.
At the Darke County Fair on Aug. 24, 1922, however, one woman decided to create a “shooting gallery” of her own, and it was far from amusing for the individuals who crossed her path.
Reba M. Fenwick, a resident of Muncie, Indiana, angered that her husband was attending the fair with another woman, purchased a .32 caliber revolver and hired a taxi to drive her all the way from her hometown to the fairgrounds.
The Aug. 25, 1922, edition of the Democratic Advocate recounts that the spurned wife located the couple in the fair’s amphitheater. After following the couple for a time, searching for the right moment to execute her vengeance, Fenwick fired a shot at the woman — Mildred Fourman — striking her in the legs.
As Fenwick aimed to fire a second shot, her husband, Vonnie Fenwick, attempted to knock the gun away from her. A stray bullet then struck the left leg of an innocent bystander, reported to be 15-year-old Sarah E. Baltzell of New Madison, Ohio.
According to the Advocate, Darke County Sheriff’s Deputy Budd Corwin, “rushed to the scene of the shooting, placing both Mr. and Mrs. Fenwick under arrest.”
The two gunshot victims were treated for their wounds and survived. Mr. Fenwick was released without charge.
An unrepentant Mrs. Fenwick was quoted as saying, “I am very sorry I shot the young girl and will do every thing I can do for her, but I am sorry I didn’t kill Mrs. Fourman. She will never live to break up another home if I can help it. That woman broke up our home.”
The Darke County Prosecutor charged Fenwick with shooting with intent to kill. After being found guilty in Darke County Common Pleas Court, she was sentenced on Feb. 27, 1923, to an “indeterminate period of imprisonment” in the Ohio Reformatory for Women and fined $200 plus court costs.
The sentence, though, didn’t stick. A series of appeals even led to a hearing before the United States Supreme Court and retrials in Darke County courts which lasted for years.
By 1932, 10 years after the incident, Fenwick died, apparently having avoided any punishment for the shooting. She is buried in Albany, Indiana.
Erik Martin may be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 937-569-4314.