Photograph courtesy of Antiochiana, Antioch College.

Photograph courtesy of Antiochiana, Antioch College.

 

Pearl Means, daughter of William Means, was best known for her acting abilities and in 1893 became professor of Elocution at Antioch College.  It seems that Pearl was also an animal lover and animals rights advocate. According to a Cincinnati Enquirer article dated, June 7, 1894, Pearl became upset when a man “had been driving a very dejected specimen of the equine family.”, and immediately had him arrested for “cruelty to animals”.  It was decided that a jury made up of “respectable citizens” would determine whether it would be best for the horse to spend six months at pasture (which Pearl would pay for) and be returned to its owner or whether the animal should be put out of its misery.

The jury came to the decision that it would be best for the animal to be put to death.  According to the article, “When the final arrangements had been made Miss Means produced a beautiful revolver, which she skillfully handled and one shot was sufficient to end the unhappy days of the horse.

Just prior to her father’s death in 1921, Pearl’s sister, Gertrude Julian and her husband sold the property to Antioch College with the stipulation that Pearl and her father could remain in the house for the remainder of William’s life. Upon her father’s death, Pearl could not bring herself to leave the home that had been in her family for over fifty years. The headline of a local newspaper reported, “Woman Loses Battle to Retain Home; With Pets She Faces Cheerless Future”.

A year after her father’s death, Pearl refused to leave her family home and after repeated requests and offers of assistance to move Pearl from the home, Antioch College had no choice but to take legal action. Pearl was taken to court where she agreed that she no longer had a right to the property, but she still refused to leave. The constable was sent to serve her with official papers indicating that she needed to vacate the premises and when he arrived Pearl was waiting on the porch with a shotgun. The constable left and later returned with Sheriff Deputies who removed Pearl from the home and she was briefly retained in the county jail. The article goes on to say that Pearl and her dog stayed with a friend at the Little Antioch School which was just across the street from her family home. Pearl was not the only one who refused to move from the home, apparently her cat also refused to leave and continued to live on the front porch. Pearl was seen on the porch, feeding her cat, on a daily basis. Once Pearl left the home, Antioch College could make the necessary renovations on the property and the house served as a dormitory for Antioch College between 1922-1948.

While looking at a photograph of Pearl, it’s hard to imagine her pulling out a pistol and shooting a horse or waiting on the porch, with a shotgun, for the constable. What a woman Pearl must have been!  She was an actress, a professor of elocution, an animal lover and obviously skilled at using a gun.  I guess you could say that Pearl Means was a pistol!

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