Bluestocking Journal

Real history, through the eyes of a fictional person

Tag: suicide

Thursday, November 14, 1912

James Cain, a farmer, appeared at the Lewis store where Margaret Lowry works as a bookkeeper and asked to escort her home. Months earlier she had rejected him, and so she refused, but he persisted until she agreed. On South Randolph street near her home, he exclaimed, “This is a good place,” and hit her twice on the back of the head with a hammer. Her condition is critical. The mangled body of her attacker, which could only be identified by his ring and hat, was found scattered along the Illinois Central track; it is believed to be a suicide.

James Eaton, the man who went mad with drink on election day and tried to kill a man at the polling place, was arrested yesterday. He was at the side of his dying baby and pleaded to be allowed to stay, but he was taken to the jail.

A Chicago woman was placing lighted blessed candles on the graves of relatives, when her clothing caught fire. A man ran to her and wrapped her in his overcoat, quenching the flames, but she was fatally injured.

After those stories of horror, I don’t know what to make of this next one. At first I thought it might be a made-up story because of the names. In Philadelphia, Magistrate Coward decided that it is no crime to call a policeman a “gink.” Policeman Pill of the vice squad had arrested Jack Hanlon, a former pugilist, whom he accused of calling him a gink while Pill was on duty. Said the judge, “I’m called worse things than that a dozen times a day. I don’t care how you take it. If that is all that the man said you had no right to arrest him.” During cross-examination by Hanlon’s lawyer, Pill admitted that he did not even know what the word meant.

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Wednesday, October 23, 1912

After the first day’s investigation of the student riot at the Walker opera house, the university has expelled two students. The comedy company that was playing at the Walker that night is suing the city of Champaign. “Local authorities look upon the matter pretty much as a joke and the suits are regarded as farces. Chief of Police Keller said that the police, although practically rendered powerless, did all in their power.”

A Quincy man was arrested by postal authorities after having confessed to an unusual method of counterfeiting. He pasted together the unmarked parts of canceled stamps so as to make a new stamp. And of the many suicides reported in the “Illinois News by Telegraph” column, the suicide of Alfred J. Kilty, a Michigan furniture upholsterer, stood out. Found dying of poison in a Decatur cemetery, he had left a note saying it was “nobody’s business why he had attempted suicide and that he had fixed everything to suit himself.”

Finally, here is another local advertisement that references the current political scene:

Saturday, September 28, 1912

Here is the only local news that I found interesting today:

[On the back of this photograph is written “Illinois Theatre behind Flat Iron Building.” The photograph is from the website of the Champaign County Genealogical Society; go and check out their other historical photos, courtesy of the Champaign County Historical Archives. —Ed.]

Police say that a man who suicided in Pittsburgh was a member of a band of anarchists who meet each Sunday at a cobbler’s shop. He was, they say, assigned to kill President Taft, but he lost his nerve and threw himself in front of a train.

Saturday, September 14, 1912

The “wild man” in yesterday’s news appeared in court. His name is Francis Ganalan, and he told the jury, “I furnished the money to build the University of Illinois and the courthouse and all these big buildings around here are mine.” The jury decided that he was not insane, only “muddled as the result of a debauch,” and he was released. This morning a reporter found him on Race street, sitting on a pile of boards in front of yet another building he claims to own, and Mr. Ganalan declared that he would return to take possession of the farmhouse near Tolono where he was arrested. “The jury decided that I own the place and that the people who had me put off the place had no right there.” He sounds very confused to me, the poor fellow.

In Ohio, a group of eight wives dressed in men’s clothing and took a pretty young girl to a lonely spot in the dead of night, stripped her, and applied tar and feathers. They believed she had been flirting with their husbands.

In Tokyo, Japan, at the funeral of Emperor Mutsuhito, Count and Countess Nogi slew themselves with their own blades in front of hundreds of mourners. Apparently this is a Samurai tradition. “More than 100 Japanese have killed themselves in this manner, known as hari kari, since Emperor Mutsuhito died, August 13, last.”

Monday, September 9, 1912

Today was the first day of school in Urbana. That horrid Nellie person was in my class, and I don’t want to say any more about that. On to the paper!

A local woman, Mrs. Mary Frame, explains that she did not attempt suicide. She drank ice water and was seized with cramps, so she took a spoonful of laudanum. She claims she was “overcome by the heat and the effects of the ice water rather than by the drug.”

Whoever set the type for this article about an Urbana man getting a contract with a big orchestra must have been overcome with excitement, because part of the headline reads, “WILL PLAY FIRST VIOLIN WITH CINCINCINATTI SYMPHONY.” (Maybe he considers Cincinnati particularly sinful?) In any case, the orchestra’s board of directors includes President Taft’s wife, so it is particularly prestigious. Mr. Sol Cohen the violinist abandoned his plans for individual concert work because the New York managers wanted “from $3,000 to $5,000 to book him and from 5 to 10 per cent of his earnings. Mr. Cohen learned that, no matter how skilled an artist, they bleed him to the finish as long as he remains in their hands.”

I don’t really understand what is going on at the Mexican border, but apparently the situation is very grave, and senators have charged that President Taft might send the army into Mexico, make himself a “war president,” and “rely upon that to bring victory to himself and the Republican party in November.” The president declared that it would be “hard to conceive of a president who would use his office to throw the country into a way that experts have predicted could not end in less than two years, that would cost millions, that would mean the sacrifice of thousands of lives and ruin for years to come the basis of the nation’s friendship with the Central and South American republics.”

And even farther away from both my town and my understanding, rebels have taken over Yunan, a walled city of 100,000 inhabitants. The governor general was driven out by the town’s own army. “Yunan province is one of the most prosperous districts of China,” the article says, “inhabited by an intelligent class of people.”

Saturday, September 7, 1912

Good news! The doctors say that Bud Mars will recover!

The daughter of a wealthy Illinois farmer went insane from the heat and “blew her head off with a shotgun” near Aurora. I don’t suppose there’s any recovery possible from something like that.

There is a cursed house near St. Joseph, Missouri, that was built upon the unmarked grave of a murdered gypsy. During its twelve years in existence, eight people have died of violence. Each new tenant has been visited with illness and ill fortune, and the crops have failed while those on neighboring farms prospered.

Here is an example of wit: “Why are we so late?” asked the passenger, whose question is reported to the Boston Transcript. “Well, sir,” replied the conductor, “the train in front was behind, and the train was behind before, besides.”

And finally, “Joliet is suffering from the most serious ice famine in years and if the hot weather continues the suffering here will be acute. In order to keep their large customers, the companies are supplying only meat markets, saloons, hotels and restaurants. Private residences have been without ice since last week and hundreds of dollars’ worth of meat and dairy products have been spoiled.”