John W. Sullivan Commits Suicide Monday Evening

Discouraged Over Poor Health and Worried Over Several Matters Apparently Led to The Rash Act. Funeral Held Today.

Disheartened over having continual poor health and brooding over the death of his mother, John W. Sullivan of this city, took his own life at about 6:00 o’clock Monday evening by shooting himself, using a .38 caliber revolver. Death was instantaneous. The ball entered about the center of his forehead. The deceased was aged 57 years, 11 months and 12 days. He was single.

Mr. Sullivan was of a quiet, congenial disposition and we are safe in saying that he did not have an enemy on earth. At one time he conducted a restaurant in Rushville, but since disposing of his business there, traveled considerable, peddling various articles. Of late years, however, he has been going from town to town stamping names on key-ring designs, as his health would not permit him to engage in hard manual labor. Long about July of last year at Golden, Illinois, he had the misfortune of having a very heavy box dropped on his foot, injuring it badly. Since that time he has complained very much about his foot hurting him. Physicians were of the opinion that of late there was not much the matter with his foot and that most of his trouble was imaginary.

Since the death of his mother last November, he and his brother Lemuell have been living alone in the home occupied by their parents, which is located in the northeast part of town.

Through the day Lemuell stated that his brother seemed as cheerful as usual, but at supper he broke down and cried, saying that his foot bothered him during the night before, that he did not know if he would live until morning. He said for Lemuell to wash the dishes and he would lay down and rest, then they would go down and visit their brother Dave. As Lem stopped in an adjoining room to get his coat, he heard a shot. At first he thought it was fired by Earl Moose, a neighbor. He went in John’s room and found that his brother had shot himself. The revolver used was an old one that belonged to his father and had been in the home many years, according to testimony at the inquest.

Several letters written by the deceased was found in his room, indicating that he had cleverly planned to end his life. Two were hanging on nails on the wall at two different places, one in his suit case and one on the dresser. In the letters, he complained of his poor health and mentioned the various relatives who were to get his property. According to one letter, he had planned to end his life four months ago, but was discouraged by one of his brothers.

According to one of his letters, he had an accident insurance policy and made settlement with the company and his foot continued to bother him and he worried over the settlement.

The following is a copy of one letter:

“I did this shooting myself.—J. W. Sullivan.
"I was tired of living, good-bye and God bless you all.”
“P. S.: You will find more written with my bonds in suit case. Look on the wall here and you will find more written here in this room.”

Deputy Coroner H. T. Baxter took charge of the body. He impaneled the following Jurymen: Andy Mummert, A. N. Price, Frank Gain, W. M. Hughes, T. M. Camp and Lewis Schisler. At 8:00 o’clock, Tuesday morning at the Horton undertaking parlors, an inquest was held.

Lemuell Sullivan, a brother of the deceased, was the first witness called. He testified as follows, “I reside in Astoria; my occupation is that of a common laborer; I and my brother John W., both bachelors, resided together since the death of our mother, last November. Brother John made the statement to me that he would rather be dead; that his heart bothered him the night before and did not know whether he would live till morning. He had considerable trouble with his foot. Through the day he seemed cheerful but at the supper table he broke down and cried. He said his foot hurt him; for me to wash the dishes and he would lay down and rest then we would go down to brother Dave’s. When I stepped into the room to get my coat, I told him I was ready, then I heard the report of the shot. I thought at first it was a gun fired by our neighbor, Earl Moose, who lives in the adjoining property. I went into John’s room and found that he had shot himself. He had not been in the room more than two minutes before the shot was fired. When I went to his side he still had the revolver in his hands. This was about 6 o’clock. The revolver belonged to my father. John was aged about 58 years of age.”

Earl Moose was examined, he being the first to enter the home following the tragedy. His testimony follows. “I was working in my barn when my little daughter called me to come, telling me that John Sullivan had shot himself. I ran into their house and found him lying on a bed. I said ‘My God, John, what have you done?’ Upon examination I found that he was dead. I called Dr. Price. John was with me in the afternoon and talked about the berries. He said people don’t seem to be like they used to be. He came over again as I was starting up town. I asked him if he wanted to go up town, and he said no. I saw him once after that. I live the next door to Sullivans. This happened at 6 o’clock.”

After hearing the evidence, the Jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased came to his death about 6 o’clock Monday evening, June 6, by a bullet wound, self-inflicted.

* * *

John W. Sullivan was born in Astoria township, June 24, 1869. He is survived by the following brothers and sisters: Mrs. Isabell Stambaugh, George Sullivan, David Sullivan, Thomas Sullivan, Lemuell Sullivan, Mrs. Otis Lind, Mrs. Dorsey Lind, all of Astoria and Fred Sullivan of Adair.

According to the wishes of the dead man, funeral services were held today at 10 o’clock at the U. B. church, conducted by Rev. W. R. Seitzinger. Burial in the Astoria cemetery.


Published in the Argus-Search Light on 6/8/1927


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