It saddened me to find this clipping about my great-grandmother’s younger brother. In genealogy, one sees births, marriages, and deaths but they are just dates on paper until you find the story behind those dates.
My great-grandmother Cordelia Jane Stone was married to John Thomas Martin and they had a young son, Archie. They lived not far from her brother William B. Stone and probably saw him often. What a shock it must have been to hear that he committed suicide.
Here’s the rest of the story, which I transcribed from The Leader newspaper of Virgil, Kansas (22 Jun 1900, Friday, page 1)
Destroyed By His Own Hand.
Last Friday morning a deep gloom was spread over our community by the startling report that W.E. Stone had committed suicide. The report seemed too awfully shocking to be true, but upon investigation, it was learned to be a fact and not a rumor.
On the evening of June 14th Mr. Stone’s wife was somewhat alarmed at the despondent actions of her husband but being a woman of more than ordinary nerve she did not become very much alarmed and after spending the evening with their neighbor, Mrs. W. L. Evans, returned to her home and retired as usual.
On the morning of the 15th, Mr. Stone arose and went about his morning work as usual for some time, when coming into the house he made inquiry concerning the carbolic acid, Mrs. Stone having anticipated his motives had emptied the poison out. After parlaying some time about the carbolic acid, he next sought the razor, but Mrs. Stone was again too shrewd for her despondent husband and had taken the razor and given it to a Mr. Cooper who was doing some farm work for Mr. Eble and had come to the house to get a mowing scythe.
But Mr. Stone having fully made up his mind could not be so easily thwarted and next sought his revolver, a 38 caliber, which his wife had locked up in the sewing machine drawer. Upon finding the drawer locked, he at once proceeded to break it open, whereupon Mrs. Stone’s courage failed and she started with her two little children to Mr. Evans. She had only gone a short distance when she heard the report of the pistol. Mr. Cooper in the meantime having returned to the field where Mr. Eble was, reported to him what he had observed and Mr. Eble at once started for the house but was only about halfway from where he was working to the house when the fatal shot was fired.
Coroner Dillan was called and after making an investigation, decided not to hold an inquest.
(on the same page of the paper, his obituary was printed)
W.B. Stone was born in Dekalb County, Mo April 5, 1868, and died at his home near Virgil, Kansas June 15, 1900, age 32 years, 2 months, 10 days.
He was converted and joined the Christian church when a boy, and remained a member of that church until he came to Kansas with his parents in 1884. After coming to Kans. He joined the U.B. church.
He was married to Ella Walker Dec. 24, 1891. To them were born three children one of which died in infancy.
Bro. Stone was a kind husband, good neighbor, an honest man and a hard worker. Many think that it was overwork and bad health that caused his untimely death. A.W. Potter
More about This Story
His wife’s full name was Margaret Ellen Walker. Their two children were
Dow Lafayette Stone 1893–1905 and Erick Asiel Stone 1898–1930. Just 5 years later, the eldest son died of typhoid fever at age 12. An earlier news report praised Dow for 3 years of perfect attendance at school.
How the Family Coped
Many times a widow with young children would remarry quickly to have the family taken care of. The news clippings below show that Ella rented out part of her home and also started selling hats from her home. (All bits of news from The Leader, Virgil KS newspaper)
June 1900 – Two weeks after William’s suicide, the Woodmen, a fraternal organization, came to plow the 47 acres of corn. Sixteen volunteers with their teams did the work. I’m sure they made fairly quick work of this job that would have taken William a long time on his own.
August 1900 – “Mrs. Ella Stone has purchased the house and lot owned by W. F. Osborn. Uncle Frank expects to move out on his farm south of town in a short time.”
Oct 1900 – “Miss Susie Pinon is staying with Mrs. Ella Stone and going to school.” (Rural students often had to board in town to continue their education on the high school level.)
March 1901 – Ella placed an advertisement in the paper, “I’ve just received an invoice of spring hats. Call at my residence, get prices, and see the latest styles.”
March 1902 – “Prof Reno and wife have moved into the front part of Mrs. Ella Stone’s house.”
March 1903 – “Mrs. Ella Stone has purchased M.C. Mallicoat’s house. She is having a porch put on the front of the building and a stable built at the back of the lot. W. A. Barnes is doing the carpenter work.”
Mar 1903 – “A. L. Walker moved last Monday into the house lately purchased by Mrs. Ella Stone of M. C. Mallicoat. P. L. Cranmer moved into Mr. Walker’s house.”