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Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

More Despondent Vets Commit Suicide

Posted By on July 8, 2015

The following is a small sample of Civil War veteran suicides that took place around the turn of the century.

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From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 28 April 1900:

A Veteran Commit Suicide

Lancaster, 28 April, 1900 — John A. Taylor, a veteran of the Civil War, committed suicide last night by taking strychnine.  He had met business reverses lately and was despondent.

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From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 17 September 1901:

DESPONDENT OVER AGE WILLI HANGS HIMSELF

George W. Willi, an old soldier of 1112 Plum Avenue [Harrisburg], hanged himself this morning in a fit of despondency.  The man was 73 years old and generally of a very cheerful disposition.  This morning he ate breakfast with his family and seemed to be in his normal condition.

Shortly before eleven o’clock his wife missed him and went to look for him throughout the house. There was no answer to her frequent calls and accompanied by several of the family she went to the top floor of the house.  They found the aged man hanging to the attic door with a heavy window cord tightly knotted around his neck.

Their screams of alarm soon brought in several of the neighbors who took the corpse from the door.

Mr. Willi, beside his wife, is survived by several children.  He has quite a Civil War record, belonged to Post 116, G.A.R., and was well known in the upper end of town.

No inquest was held as the Coroner, after his investigation, was satisfied that the an committed suicide during a temporary aberration of the mind, the result of illness.  His remains will be taken to Port Royal on Friday for interment.

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From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 9 January 1897:

Too Proud to Ask a Pension

New York, 9 January 1897 — Ludwig Schuster, a war veteran, killed himself.  His wife died a year ago, and a little grocery in he had invested his savings, failed.  He could get no work and said that he was too proud to apply for a pension.

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From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 11 July 1899:

A VETERAN’S SUICIDE

Suffering from Old Wounds He Did Not Want to Live

Philadelphia, 11 July 1899 — Reuben Haines, aged 59 years, a veteran of the Civil War, committed suicide at his home here today by inhaling illuminating gas.  He had long been a sufferer from the effects of wounds received while in the army and this is said to have been the cause of his act.  He belonged to the Twenty-Sixth [26th Pennsylvania Infantry] and later the Ninty-Ninth [99th Pennsylvania Infantry] Pennsylvania Volunteers.  He spent eleven months [as a prisoner of war] in Libby, Salisbury, and Danville Prisons.  He leaves a wife and seven children.

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From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 27 July 1899:

Suicide in Middletown

Aged James Graham Shoots Himself in His Yard

James Graham, aged 63, of Middletown, shot himself in the head about 7:30 this morning in the yard of his home on Water Street, while despondent.  He was a veteran of the Civil War and unmarried.  His body will be sent to Lancaster tomorrow for cremation.  Coroner Krause swore a jury.  A verdict of death by suicide was rendered.

From the Harrisburg Telegraph, 28 July 1899:

Graham Suicide

Decided Upon in a Fit of Despondency Because of Ill-Health

The body of the late James S. Graham, who suicided in the yard of his Middletown home yesterday morning, as told in last evening’s Telegraph, will be taken to Lancaster this afternoon or tomorrow morning for incineration.  This is following the wishes of the dead as expressed in a letter written to E. L. Croll.  In another letter mailed just before his death to L. C. Ramble, of Middletown, he states that he has a sister, Mrs. Jane Troxel, living at Higland Park, Illinois.

Mr. Graham had been in ill health for some time and became very despondent over it, finally deciding on suicide.  Yesterday morning he went to the store of F. A. Parthemore, purchased a 38-calibre revolver and had it loaded.  From thence he went home and into the yard, where he placed the weapon against his right temple and fired, the ball passing entirely through the head, and coming out just above the eye.

The unfortunate man was born in Annville [Lebanon County] 68 years ago, and lived with his sister, Mrs. Troxel, in Burlington, Iowa.  He came to Middletown about ten years ago.  He was a veteran of the Civil War and came out of the conflict with a lieutenant’s commission.  After cremation, the ashes will be placed in an urn and interred beside the body of his brother, the late Thomas Graham, in Middletown Cemetery.


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