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Colonial Cases

Kansas

Thomasville Times, 22 March 1873

"A USELESS LIFE."

SUICIDE OF A YOUNG LADY ON WYANDOTTE STREET - "I DO THIS RASH ACT BECAUSE I AM LEADING SUCH A USELESS LIFE."

    A singular case of suicide took place on Wyandotte street, near Fourteenth, on Thursday night.  It was an instance where no cause could be assigned for the terrible act, other than pure downright ennui.  A young lady, prepossessing, intelligent, and highly educated, surrounded by a beloved and loving father, mother, brother and sister, and a good comfortable home, went quietly and systematically to work and took her own life, and went  from this world unbidden, uncalled.

  Miss Ella Nye, the deceased was the daughter of Mr. Nye, furniture dealer and manufacturer of Eleventh street, a gentleman much respected in this city.  She was aged apparently about twenty or twenty-one years of age, was very fair; and was a young lady of more than ordinary abilities.  About four o'clock on Thursday afternoon, she left her home, which is a neat frame cottage upon the hill south-west of Kemp's brewery, and did not return for nearly one hour afterward.  Her family supposed she had merely gone out for a walk, paid little or no attention to her absence.  Nothing unusual was noticed about her demeanor, until about seven o'clock, when she called her father into her room and quietly informed him that she had taken poison.  The following note, left by her, is all the clue left to indicate the cause of her suicide:

"Darling Pa: I want to tell you why I do this rash act.  Because I am living such a useless life.  Forgive me, precious pa.  And, Darling Ned, grow up and strive to be a comfort to darling mother, pa, and sister."

She was evidently laboring under a severe fit of ennui, or "blues," as no other caused can be assigned for her conduct.  On the arrival of Dr. D. E. Dickerson, she stated to him that she had taken a teaspoonful of arsenic. - The physician then informed her that she would die.  She said, in response to a question asked by Dr. Dickerson, that she would like to have her life saved: but the poison had already commenced to circulate in her blood, and was then slowly doing its deadly work.

  An inquest was held at the residence of Mr Nye, yesterday afternoon, about three o'clock, by Coroner Sellman.  This was strenuously objected to by the parents of the deceased, but it could not be avoided.  The corpse looked very beautiful even in death. It was lying in a neat casket ready for shipment East, when the jury was convened.  Only three witnesses were examined, the members of the family being excused by the jury from testifying.

  Mrs. Ella Phillips was the first witness examined.  She stated that she was summoned to the bedside of the deceased about seven o'clock on Thursday evening.  She found her very sick, and asked her why she had taken the poison.  She responded by saying she thought she was leading a very useless life, and could be spared.  She appeared to be very anxious about her parents, and thought she would be better on the following day.  She died about twenty minutes to eight the next morning.

  Dr. A. G. Marsh, druggist, on Main St., between Fourteenth and Fifteenth, stated on oath that the young lady called at his store about half past three or four o'clock, on Thursday evening, and asked for ten cents worth of arsenic.  He inquired of her what use she had for the poison. She replied that it was to poison rats with.  She appeared to be very calm and ladylike. He put up about one ounce of arsenic in two envelopes, and labelled them - "Arsenic - Poison." He then handed the package to here, bidding her to be cautious how she used it, lest some  children might become possessed of portions of it.  She promised to be careful, bade Dr. March good evening and departed.

  Dr. D. E. Dickerson testified that he had been called upon about half past seven o'clock, on the previous evening, and found the deceased laboring under all the symptoms of one who had taken corrosive poison, vomiting and in great pain.  She told him that she had taken about one tea- spoonful and a half of arsenic about four o'clock in the afternoon  He then informed her that she must die, and asked her if she would like to recover.  She said she would.  She might have been saved if she had given notice of her action before the poison had become circulated in her system.  She gradually expired from that time, and ceased to breathe between seven and eight o'clock the next morning.

  After hearing the above evidence, the jury rendered the following verdict: "We, the jurors, render as out verdict, that the deceased came to her death by poison administered by her own hand."  .  .  .   [From the Kansas City Times.]

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School