Beautiful, 24-year-old Fairy McClain-Miller of Kokomo was a confident, headstrong woman, who loved life. She had recently ended a volatile on-again-off-again relationship with boyfriend Jesse Worley Osborn, and she relished her fresh start.
When she retired to her bed the night of April 7, 1908, she had no reason to fear she would die before dawn.
Even when Osborn, who was drunk out of his mind, barged uninvited into her bedroom and awakened her, she wasn’t afraid. She was angry. The more he pestered her, the angrier she became.
Nevertheless ... he leaned in and demanded a kiss. With that, she pushed him away and told him to leave or she would report his disgusting buffoonery to the one person Osborn cared about—his father.
Unfortunately, Fairy’s ultimatum was the grease that loosened Osborn’s slippery grip on his self-control. No sooner had her threat blown past her lips than he drew his revolver and fired it twice into her startled face.
Fairy was buried three days later in Kokomo’s Crown Point Cemetery. I visited her there on a sunny May day in 2017. The engraving on her unadorned marker reads simply, “Fairy.” As I stood there, I reflected on her strong character and the tragic, irreversible consequence she ultimately suffered for it.
We should not overlook, however, that what Fairy experienced was not unique to her or her time. She, like countless numbers of her self-assured, outspoken sisters—who lived before her and after—was punished by a spineless bully because he felt threatened by her audacious grit.
Nevertheless ... she persisted, if only in the hearts and minds of those who know her story and admire her audacity. •