James Galloway, longtime evening supervisor in the Mallet Chemistry Library, has published a book chronicling a fascinating but little-known episode in Austin’s history: The Servant Girl Murders: Austin, Texas 1885.
The book gathers extensive primary source materials and original research and puts it all together to tell the story of a frightening and ultimately unsolved crime wave in the capital city during the time when UT was in its infancy. The tale is complete with clues, suspects, detectives, gory details and an elusive perpetrator that had the population of Austin on edge in 1885.
During the course of that year, six women, one man, and one child were murdered in their sleep by a silent, axe-wielding killer. Many more were attacked. The police and Pinkertons alike were powerless to stop the crimes. Then the murders ended as mysteriously as they began. Who was responsible? How was the person able to escape detection and capture? And why did the murders stop? James adds an accompanying essay that examines these still-tantalizing questions.
David Flaxbart is Head Librarian of the Mallet Chemistry Library.