HOW AN EARLY SETTLER DESTROYED HIS LIFE
BY S. C. Turnbo
A pathetic incident that occurred in the pioneer days of St. Clair County, Mo. was told me by Dick Drake who was mostly reared in that section. Said he, "One Sunday in 1849 while we lived on the south side of the Osage River 7 miles below Oceola I and my father rode out to hunt for our cows that had been gone several days. Thinking it best to make inquiry for the cattle we rode two miles to where Billy Walter lived who was 6 feet tall, on riding up to the yard fence my father hallooed hello and Mr. Walter came out of the house and to the yard fence and conversed with my father but he could not give us any in information about our cows. It was known that Walters and his wife had got into trouble and was parted which occurred only a few days previous and the man and his little girl whose name was Mary was living there alone. It was one half a mile from Mr. Walters to the widow Redmans and as we rode away from Walters father said we would go there to make further inquiry. We rode very slow and when we had went a quarter of a mile from Walters house the little girl come running up behind us with a sack in her hand saying as she passed us that her father had sent her to Mrs. Redmans to borrow meal. The child after the widow woman had loaned her the meal hurried back home and while we were at Mrs. Redmans house the girl come running back crying and said that when she got back home the door was closed and on pushing it open she found her father hanging by the neck dead. I and my father and Mrs. Redman and all her children hurried to Walters house and found it true as the little girl had said. Father and I give the alarm to the neighbors as soon as we could ride to the houses and the authorities held an inquest over the dead body and the verdict was that he had met death by his own hands.
The man had used a rope made of hemp and tied one end of it around his neck and the other end to a joist and was hanging at the bed post in a kneeling position. He wore a pair of heavy boots with flat head tacks driven thick all over the heels and soles. In his dying struggles he had kicked in a violent way during the awful contortions while he was strangling to death until the heads of the tacks had marked the floor for 3 and 4 feet from the body. This was 4 miles south of the Osage River and one mile from Wableau Creek. It was supposed that the man had sent his little daughter away to borrow the meal so as to give him a chance to be alone in order to put an end to his existence.
Springfield-Greene County Library