Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Death of John A. Irvine as Reported in the Walton Reporter

I've previously reported in my 100 years ago in Bovina blog entry about the death of John Irvine on New Year's Day 1918. John was the father of Isabell Russell. The Walton Reporter has kindly given me permission to present the article of John's death that was published in that paper in January 1918. It is the longest report I have seen on his death, with details I had not seen before.


Former Bovina Supervisor Had Been Melancholy - Hanged Himself in Barn.

(Special to the Reporter.)

Residents of Bovina were shocked to learn that John A. Irvine had taken his life by hanging himself on New Year’s Day. He had been melancholy for some days, and on Monday was in Delhi village; while there he complained to friends of having a pain at the base of his brain.

Tuesday afternoon at about four o’clock he went to his safe to get a paper, and while bending over seemed to fall backwards. His relatives thought nothing of the matter, but noticed that he took a paper from the safe and going to the stove threw it into the fire. He then proceeded to the barn; after he had been there about an hour his son-in-law Cecil Russell, thought he would go out and see what Mr. Irvine was doing. Going into the barn he did not find him. Russell surmised something was wrong and went at once to look for a coil of new rope that hung against the wall. He did not find the rope. He then felt that Mr. Irvine had taken it and feared to search, but proceeded to the next floor when a most horrible sight presented itself. There, resting on his knees was the form of the unfortunate man with the rope about his neck partly hanging from a beam above. Russell at once cut the rope and rushed to the house.

Dr. Whitcomb was hastily summoned and arrived in a few minutes. He found that life was extinct. Coroner Woods of Delhi was sent for and after investigating ordered the body removed to the house. It was found that suicide was most strangely arranged. Mr. Irvine had removed about twenty feet of the rope from the coil without cutting the cords that held it together. He then placed a barrel beside the steps that led to the upper lift, and standing about half way up the stairs, threw the rope over the beam. He then placed his arm through the coil of rope and drawing it tightly tied the end around his neck. Then he stepped off the barrel. He had not calculated properly for when the rope became taut his knees rested on the floor. He must have hugged the coil close to his body while he slowly strangled to death. Had he thrown his arm out the coil would have slipped from his arm.

John Irvine was about fifty years of age and highly respected by everyone. He was supervisor for years and was an able representative of his town. Three of his sons, Lloyd, William and Dr. Lester, were home spending the New Year. Another son, Clifton, is in the west. He is also survived by his wife and daughter, Mrs. Russell, who lived with them.

I was particularly interested in the description of his health issue and that it was a pain at the base of his brain. His son William died of a brain tumor in 1929 in Seattle, Washington at the age of 41. His other children all survived into old age. Isabell was the last surviving child of John Irvine, dying in 1985 at the age of 88. 

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