Thursday, August 06, 2009

"Double Suicides"

This is entirely morbid I know, but it is also a very sad part of our gay and lesbian history. Strong and loving connections have been made time and time again between two people who aren't aloud to love. Their families, society, jobs, in fact every aspect of their lives tell them that their love is wrong. In some cases these couples, possibly inspired by Romeo and Juliet, take their own lives.

When a double suicide occurs, it is almost always between two lovers. And from time to time I run across cases in which the lovers were of the same gender. These old articles usually don't give a cause for the deaths, or try desperately to make some sense out of them. In a few cases one of the two may have had the opportunity to express their love for the other, making their reasons clear. Whatever the circumstances, these cases are tragic ones.

This post is a cross-reference tool for the different cases that I run across as I find them. I will list them here in chronological order. If I have additional information on the case, I will make a separate post for them and link them together. If I don't, I'll transcribe the information directly to this post.

1869, September 2: From the New York Herald (New York, New York) - Hoboken - Attempted Double Suicide - Mary Williams and Mary Johnson, two youthful damsels, were committed to prison yesterday for attempting to drown themselves near the Elysian Fields.

1871, November 23: From the Indiana Progress (Indiana, Pennsylvania) - A Double Suicide. A lewistown (Maine) paper says that Mr. Cobb saw two young ladies sitting on the Auburn shore of the river, on the very verge of West Pitch. Mr. Cobb's daughter also noticed the girls, and thought it very strange that they should be sitting so near the very dangerous place. The more noticeable became the fact when he saw them jump up and trip lightly and carelessly down the precipitous, rocky, and slippery bank, where they removed their outer garments. Miss Cobb then said to her father that she believed they meditated drowning themselves, and so possessed with this idea was she that she resolved to still watch them and see what they were proposing to do. After removing their outer garments, including their hats, she saw the girls return to the spot where they had been sitting and resume their seats. In a few minutes, not far from 1 o'clock, the train from Bangor came thundering by, the track being about 200 or 300 feet from where they sat. Miss Cobb says that while the train was passing that point she saw the girls rise, each throw her arms around the other's waist, and in his embrace they, with apparently one consent, leaped from the shore into the falls. Miss Cobb turned to her father. "Father, they have jumped togehter into the falls." Mr. Cobb, who a moment before had seen them sitting on the shore, looked at once out of the window, commanding a full view of the scene. No girls were to be seen - nothing but the garments they had left on the shore. The facts speedily became known, and crowds gathered in the vicinity of the scene of the terrible tragedy, but nothing could be seen but the garments, bearing silent and at the same time sad witness of the tragedy. An examination by Mr. Cobb, who saw the movements of the girls, and by one or two other gentlemen, who noticed where the sat, but did not happen to see them when they took the fatal leap, established that the two suicides - as they seemd to have leaped from the point where they first sat down - threw themselves from the flat rock which forms a level platform close to the water's edge, near the foot of the first descent of West Pitch, which, as everybody hereabouts knows, consists of two falls. The first is a slight plunge upon a table-rock; then a light fall of a hundred feet, more or less; then a great cataract, with, at present, a fearfull fall of water, rolling down into a chasm many feet from the base of the first fall. Here, just beyond the base of the first fall, they seem to have thrown themselves into the river. Miss Cobb saw them no more. Late in the afternoon, Miss Starbird, from Attburn, and other, identified the clothing left by the suicides on the West Pitch sone as belonging to Ada Brown of Buckfield, and Anna Wood of Hartford, young girls 14 and 16 years of age. Miss Brown's eldest sister has been at work in the city, and is frantic with grief at the sad tragedy. She left int he afternoon to carry the sad news to her parents. We understand both the Wood and Brown girls were at room, on the Bates Corporation, Thursday night, reaching there at ten p.m. Friday morning the leder sister of Ada carried Ada's breakfast to her room, where both the girls then were. She left Ada with the understanding that she would be in the mill at 8 o'clock. Ada did not go into the mill as promised. As she did not make her appearance at dinner, the elder sister became alarmed, and going out learned of the suicide of the two girls, whom she at once surmised might be Ada and Miss Wood. A party of lumbermen, in a buttcaux, dragged the river for the bodies Friday afternoon, but discovered no traces of them. The cause of the sad suicide is only conjectured as being the "old story" but will be more definitely known when there shall be an inquest over the bodies on their discovery.

1879, May 14: From the Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) - DOUBLE SUICIDE. Burlington, Ia., May 8 - Two young men, August Miller and John Miller, friends but not relatives, attempted suicide this morning. The former was successful, having used a pistol, and the later used a knife with probably fatal effect. They lived in different parts of the city, and it is not known whether they had a mutual understanding.

1886, December 25
: Lizzie Hart and Sadie Bigelow in Boston, Massachusetts.

1891, March 5: From the Idaho Statesman (Boise City, Idaho) - Double Suicide - "Cincinnati, Ohio, March 4 - L. Franentna? of St. Louis, and Ernest Salinger of Philadelphia, two students at the Hebrew Union college in this city, were found died in their room this morning. The young men took their own lives, according to a preconcerted arrangement. It is asserted by fellow students that the young men must have been demented on the subject of hypnotism. Salinger for a long time has been a firm believer in it. Franentna fimly scoffed at it, but [?at?erly] Salinger had won him over and seemed to have complete control over him. For some time past Franentna has been falling off mentally and physically, and frequently complained of pains in his head. they left a joint note asking that their families be notified, but [vouc?sa?ing] no explanation. Salinger was still alive when found and said before expiring they had agreed to die together. His diary had an entry, saying he was going to end his never ceasing pain.

1891, March 28: Portia Hill Doyle and Jessie Rigley in White Oaks, New Mexico.

1891, August 2: From the San Antonio Daily Express (San Antonio, Texas) - Double Suicide at Fort Worth. "Fort Worth, Tex., Aug. 1, - [Special] - Mrs. Jack Sanders, wife of a horse trailer, and Silence? Morgan, a woman of the town, recently from Birmingham, Ala., took morphine with suicidal intent and at midnight are both pronounced too far gone to recover.

1891, September 2: From the Indiana Progress (Indiana, Pennsylvania) - A double suicide by hanging occurred in the county jail at Buffalo, N. Y. The victims were two insane women - Anna Gorosowski and Catharine Schmidt.

1892, May 13: From the Tyrone Daily Herald (Tyrone, Pennsylvania) - TWO WOMEN SUICIDE - "LONDON, May 13. - The bodies of two women, clasped in each others arms, were found yesterday in Highgate pond, north of London. Heavy stones had been placed in the pockets of both women, who thus far are unidentified. The motive for the double suicide is unknown."

1893, March 11: From the Evening News (Lincoln, Nebraska) - A Double Suicide - "Chicago, March 11 - [Special] - Charles Fiala and John Hinch considered life a failure, being unable to get work and shot themselves this morning. Both died in a short time.

1894, October 18:
From the Middletown Daily Argus (Middletown, New York) - Probably a Double Suicide - "Harris Olney and James Dalton were found dead in a room at the Metropolitan hotel, Kent avenue and Grand street. They had retired leaving the gas turned on full head. Olney, who was 2[8?] years of age and resided in Brooklyn was at one time a jockey, and Dalton was connected with race tracks.

1896, April 25:
From the Daily Huronite (Huron, South Dakota) - "THEY DIED TOGETHER. Wisconsin Girls Commit Suicide in a Sensational Manner. MILWAUKEE, April 25 - A special to The Wisconsin from Menomonie, Wis., says: Edna Varney and Emma Cunningham, aged 16 and 15 years, respectively, committed suicide by drowning in the mill pond at Downsville, nine miles north of this city. They were last seen on Tuesday evening. A clock, watch and bottle of laudannum were found on the bank of the mill dam. Letters have also been found which throw some light on the cause of the double suicide. The names of prominent parties are mentioned in the letter, and Downsville people are in a fever of excitement in consequence.

1897, February 11: 2 unknown men in Grand Island, Nebraksa.

1897, April 28: Dr. J. C. McCall and Frank Boley

1897, November 5: From the Boyden Reporter (Boyden, Iowa) - COMMIT SUICIDE TOGEHTER - Two St. Paul Cigar Makers Jump From High Bridge to River and Both are Drowned. - "St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 2 - Jacob Amos, married, age 44 years, and Henry Bergenkreuger, single, aged 38 years, committed suicide yesterday in a sensational mannger. They had been visiting numerous saloons together during the day, and were both under the influence of liquor. They went across the Smith bridge to a point where it is 200 feet above the Mississippi river and jumped over the railing. The second man leaped before the first struck the water. One sank immediately, but the other came up and floated down stream a short distance before sinking from sight. There were a number of eye witnesses to the double suicide. Amos was treasurer of the Cigarmakers' union, but it is not known whether his accounts were all right, an investigation not yet being possible.

1898, August 17
: Bessie Foust and Maud Hoffnagle

1899, April 11: From the Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) - Double Suicide Attempted "Columbus, O A sensational attempt at double suicide was made last night by Gertie Leland, aged 18, and Daisy Null, aged 17. The girls were housekeepers for Oliver Frazee. Both swallowed carbolic acid and laid down to die. The Leland girl's arms were tightly clasped about Miss Null. Miss Null may die. Miss Leland is the daughter of Francis Leland, of Spikersville, Ind. Miss Null always lived here. No cause is known.

1899, November 1
: From the Tyrone Daily Herald (Tyrone, Pennsylvania) - "Two men, apparently laborers, were asphyxiated in a Chicago hotel. It is believed to be a case of double suicide.

1899, December 26: From the Trenton Times (Trenton, New Jersey) - Mystery at Niagara Falls. "Buffalo, Dec 26 - A special to The Express from Niagara Falls says that last evening two young men whose names are unknown were driven to the cliff above the promenade at the whirlpool rapids on the Canadian side of the river and were lowered to the promenade. Note returning in an hour, a search was made for them. As no trace of the men could be found the police was notified. Foot prints of the two men in the snow were followed to the extreme end of the promenade toward the whirlpool. Farther along the bank there were signs of a body having fallen in the snow, and the footprints of only one man could be discerned. Owing to the darkness the search had to be discontinued, but men are stationed along the river on the watch for the appearance of either of the men. The police are inclined to look on the mysterious affair as a case of murder and suicide or double suicide.

1900, October 14: From the Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) - TWO KILLED BY A TRAIN - "Pana, Ill., Oct. 13 - Donald Breker and Antone Ruchem were killed today by a Big Four passenger train while walking on the tracks. Many think it a case of double suicide.

1900, September 8: From the Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) - "Deadwood, S. D. - News has been received here of the suicide of Robert Truax and Patrick Nagle, mining men, in the vicinity of Hill City. Truax shot himself in the ear and Nagle shot himself through the heart.

1911, October 22: From the Washington Post (Washington, D.C.) - Student Life in Germany - The schoolboy duel, with its attendant double tragedy, which has just shocked Germany, is ascribed to the fact that both lads were students of pessimistic and cynical literature and devoted admirers of Nietzsche and Oscar Wilde. The theory is now advanced that their duel was merely a blind to hide a carefully planned double suicide. Indeed, school-boy suicides are becoming almost epidemic in Germany, and the suicide of a boy of 14 and a murder by a boy of 11 are reported simultaneously with the foregoing tragedy.

1 comment:

BOONE SOMMERFELD said...

Hello Dale, I recently stumbled upon a comment you made years ago on another blogger's post about Orie "Francis" Anderson, the World Champion Women's billiard player who turned out to be a man when he commited suicuide in 1928. In the post, you mentioned that you have done some research and that you may write an article about the subject. I am a distant relative of Orie's and I'm looking into family history or geneology and I was curious if you would mind sharing with me any materials you found in your search.

My email address is campo.del.verano@gmail.com in case you'd like to contact me.

Thanks