The farm home of Josiah Bower, four miles northeast of this city, was the scene, Monday morning, of the most grim and ghastly horror which has ever occurred in Fulton county. This morning sun arose upon a horrifying spectacle, disclosing Josiah Bower's lifeless body, his head a mass of crushed bones, blood and fragments of brain while within the house laid his son-in-law, William Carr, groaning in agony with a bullet in his abdomen.
The horrible deed was committed by Josiah Bower himself, just at the break of day. He occupies a room at the northeast corner of the house with a door opening into the kitchen and dining room, to the east. Mr. Carr arose at an early hour to build a fire in the kitchen stove. He passed out of the house through the front door, secured an arm load of kindling and entered the kitchen from the east. The bed chamber where Mr. Bower was supposed to be sleeping was dark, for it was not yet day and the blinds were drewn down near to the bottom of the windows. Mr. Carr advanced with his kindling, unsuspecting, and stooped over at the stove. He had been in that posture but a few moments when a shot rang out from the entrance of the bedroom door, and a sharp sting in the vicinity of the lower chest told him that he had been pierced by a bullet. A glance revealed his assailant in the door and the entire situation dawned upon him in a moment. Not waiting to take a second glance at the threatening form of the would be murderer, the wounded man ran into the bed room just south of the kitchen, where his wife was still in bed, and fastened the door in order to baffle a further assault should that be attempted, and in excited tone told his wife, a daughter of the murderous Josiah, what had just taken place. Bower made no further attempt to kill his son-in-law, but was heard to leave the house hurriedly by the east door.
William Bower, a son of the dead man, who formerly was proprietor of a restaurant at the north end of town, now a resident of Akron, stayed all night at his father's house and was sleeping upstairs when the shot was fired. He was aroused by the noise and came down to see what had taken place.
People began coming to the house and the wounded man was placed on a couch and made as comfortable as possible. A hasty examination showed that the bullet had entered his body about six inches below the heart just over the first rib. The man suffered great pain and one of the neighbors was hurriedly dispatched for a physician. Dr. J.N. Rannels was first to arrive and he proceeded at once to make the man as comfortable as possible. He was groaning heavily and pleaded continuously with the physician to stop, while feeling about the cavity made by the bullet, with the hope of discovering its location.
For some time after the shooting nothing more had been heard of Josiah Bower. The family feared to make an inspection of the premises for the purpose of ascertaining his whereabouts, lest he might be in hiding still imbued with murderous intent, and only waiting for an opportunity to fire a shot at anyone who might appear. Harvey Gregson was one of the first on the scene and learning of the particulars of the case he persisted in making a search for Josiah, although entreated not to do so. Walking out he surveyed the premises in many quarters and was finally successful in finding the man, cold and lifeless, the entire upper portion of his head cloven by a bullet.
Josiah did not take the time to dress himself before committing the awful deed. When found, he was clad only in a gingham shirt and a pair of drawers, just as he had retired. He lay at the north side of a small barn, somewhat apart from the large one. As one walked from the road to where he lay, his bare feet came first into view, protruding from the corner of the barn. A sight of him was enough to make the stoutest heart sick. His head rested in a mass of blood. His face was ghastly pale and his eyes and mouth were open wide. The gun with which he accomplished his self-destruction was a Winchester repeating rifle of 44 caliber. His right hand clutched the barrel near the end, while his left was doubled under him. The lever of the gun was raised. It rested between his legs, the muzzle pointing toward his chin and one leg rested on the stock. It was easy to see how the death dealing shot was fired. The rifle was short and had been placed on the ground pointing upward. Bower held the muzzle to his head with his left hand, and getting it a little too near, a small piece was shot out of his thumb. His head was bent over upon the end of the barrel so that the bullet went almost straight up after passing through. This is shown by fragments of brain sprinkled upon the side of the barn, the highest about ten feet from the ground. The bullet struck the cornice of the roof, making a deep indenture and fell back again, burying itself in the earth. From appearances the gun was fired by his right hand. The bullet was about three quarters of an inch in length and three-eights of an inch in diameter. It entered the skull an inch above the right ear and apparently passed through edgewise, laying the forehead forward.
The body was left where it was found until Coroner Zook arrived and made his examination. Four men then picked it up and carried it into the barn where it was covered with a sheet. While on the way to the barn, half of the brains fell out on the ground exposing fully the interior. The Sentinel reporter, who was early on the scene, took up the gun when the coroner had noted its position, extracted eleven loads from the magazine and brought back the empty shell which contained the death dealing bullet.
In the mean time Dr. W.S. Safer arrived at the residence and began a thorough examination. Mr. Carr was still suffering much pain and was required to remain in a half sitting posture because of his agony. The doctor used a probe, tracing the bullet downward from where it entered. He detected that a portion of the lung had been pierced, and followed the course of the bullet for about two and a half inches. Here its course seemed to have deviated and it imbedded itself somewhere within the abdominal cavity. It is an exceedingly difficult thing to find a bullet which has plowed its way among the intestines and the physicians abandoned the search after discovering the point where the missile turned inward. No blood issued from the wound made by the bullet until it was forced out and unless there is internal hemorrhage there is hope for his recovery. Yet until more is learned about the position of the bullet it is hard to tell whether or not he can survive. Mr. Carr was taken with chills and hot irons and cloths were used freely.
It yet remains a mystery as to what weapon was used in shooting William Carr. It was not the rifle. This is made clear first by the size of the hole, and it is also known that if the rifle had been used, the bullet would have passed entirely though the body, for the gun is capable of easily sending a bullet through a two inch plank. On the bed which was occupied by Bowers laid a 32 caliber revolver and it was the belief of the entire household that this was used in shooting Carr. But it was not the revolver. The Sentinel reporter examined the weapon and found the inside of the barrel covered with dust, also every chamber loaded and dusty so that no shot was fired from it. What was used is not known. These were the only firearms which the family knows of his having possessed but the supposition is that he had another revolver secreted and carrying it out with him, threw it out of sight.
It is believed that a still greater tragedy was only narrowly averted. Last night Josiah at three different times tried to prevail over his son, William (Bower), who was there from Akron, to sleep with him, but owing to the narrowness of the bed, Will decided to sleep upstairs. Mrs. Carr informed the reporter that her father had threatened to kill William, and had he slept with him there is little doubt but that he would have been another victim.
The probability is that Josiah Bower was partially demonized by a sea of troubles. He is an old man now in his 66th year, a hard worker, and a man noted for bad temper. It was only a few months ago that his wife applied for and was granted a divorce in the Fulton Circuit Court. This trouble has preyed upon his mind to a great extent. Mr. Bower had formerly a good number of possessions, but by repeated reversed of various kinds he has been deprived of all save the farm where he lived. This land he has been trying to sell, but so far has failed to find a buyer. With him on this farm have lived for several years, his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. William Carr. It is stated that there has been many differences between them and himself. All that has taken place will not be known. For some time the old man has been in ill health and under a physicians care. Dr. Rannels has been waiting upon him, and it was only a short time ago that Josiah informed the doctor that he would never take another dose of medicine. " I want to die", he said, and lamentingly continued that he had nothing at all to live for. " Outrageous fortune" seems to have been frowning upon him in his reclining years, making life more and more unbearable until his mind gave way under the strain and with only the thoughts of death and revenge he committed the appalling crime. That his son Will was to be included in the deed was made plain for once during last night he arose from his bed and asked where Will was. Being informed he returned quietly to his room.
The coroner made an examination of his clothes and room with the hope of finding a written explanation left by the dead man, but that was not found. The old man's clothes were found under his pillow. A large number of papers and other articles were taken from his pockets. Among them was an account book and a pocket book containing $8,55 in cash, a confederate $50.00 bill and two checks on the Akron Exchange Bank, one calling for $43.65 and the other for $50.21, these being received for wheat which he had hauled a few days ago.
Drs. Schafer and Rannels went out again this afternoon to look after the wounded man.
NO DATE - ROCHESTER WEEKLY SENTINEL 1898
The burial of the remains of Josiah Bower, the suicide, was made at Akron at 2 o'clock this afternoon. William Carr, the wounded victim of Bower's murderous wrath is reported not so well today but not seriously worse. (Wednesday)
NO DATE - ROCHESTER WEEKLY SENTINEL 1898
William Carr, the man shot by his father-in-law, Josiah Bower, died Wednesday evening at an early hour. He suffered constantly from the shock and Drs. Shafer and Rannells are of the opinion that death resulted from the proximity of the wound to the heart. He leaves a wife and several children.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 1901, ROCHESTER SENTINEL
Sentinel readers remember the sensational murder and suicide calamity in which Josiah Bower a farmer living northeast of town, shot his son-in-law, Will Carr, and then blew his own brains out with a rifle. They also recall that Bower had made a will sometime before his tragic death in which he bequeathed his $3,500 worth of property to his sister, Mrs. Stephen Whittenberger and others, leaving his son and daughter unprovided for.
In will contest suit, in second trial the jury unanimously agreed that Bower was not competent to make a will and found in favor of the children, but Judge Capron set the verdict aside, necessitating a third trial, which was heard at Huntington. The verdict again was for the children.
Akron News - 1899 - 1900
Bower Will Case --
The famous Bower will case has been before the court at Rochester since last Monday morning. Our readers are mostly familiar with this case, doubtless, but some new readers have been added to our list since the double tragedy and distressing affair occurred so we repeat the main circumstances. Several years since Mr. Bower and his wife Jane were divorced and he paid her an alimony of $300. in the settlement with her. He owned a nice farm of about 80 acres in Newcastle township and was possessed of some personal property, after the settlement with his divorced wife. He made his will soon after and bequeathed all his property to his two children, Will Bower and Mrs. Minnie Carr. At that time he was living with the latter while her husband farmed the place. About the first of last November he became offended at his children and decided to change his will and did so, making his three sisters the sole legatees of his estate valued at $3000.
Early in the morning of Nov. 9, he made a murderous assault on his son- in- law, Carr, with a heavy gun, shooting him through the body while in the house and before the rest of the family were up. He then, in a half dressed manner, ran to the rear of the barn and shot himself where he was found dead soon after.
The children are trying to set the last will aside on the ground of the makers temporary insanity. The case was tried last spring but the jury disagreed 5 to 7 in favor of the defense. the case is again before the following jury and its outcome is awaiting with considerable interest especially in this part of the county where the family has lived most of their lives.
The jury selected are as follows: J.R. Eshelman, Andrew Oliver, Robert Newell, Frank Beattyk, Jos Murphey, W. Wellington, Isaac Coplen, Jacob H. Kaley, Wm. Johnson, Geo. W. Anderson, Ed Newcomer, and Henry Meckling.