Thursday, November 6, 2014

Suicide of Charles C Applegate 1900

Applegate, Charles C.                                                 Lawrenceville Republican June 21, 1900

"Insane from gloomy broodings over a failure to realize cherished ambitions, Charles C. Applegate took his life early Friday morning, at his home in Petty Township. In one sentence the above is the cause and result of one of the most startling disasters that has ever befallen the County. The tragedy occurred at eight o'clock and the  hurrying of messengers in all directions on errands connected with the event soon spread the news far and near. A messenger reached the city about 10:30 and soon groups of surprised faces were earnestly talking over the affair. About two o'clock the corner arrived from St. Francisville and a dozen men went up to attend the inquest.

The body had been brought in from the cow barn where the tragedy occurred and was lying in the home. An examination of the body revealed two bullet holes passing through the heart about 1 inch apart. By the use of the probe the direction of the balls was found to be horizontal and on a direct line with the heart. Both balls lodged in the body. The revolver used was a Smith and Weston of 32- caliber. 

William Applegate testified that after breakfast he told the deceased that he would take the cows to pasture and come back and feed the colts. Deceased stated that he would feed the colts. William had taken the cows to pasture and returning by the cow barn was just entering the lot when he heard two shots in quick succession and hurried into the barn and found deceased in a semi -reclining position, sitting on the ground and leaning back on some hay.  He called to him twice and ran up to him and shook him but got no reply. Saw the revolver lying between his feet and rushed to the house from the barn and told the folks. He testified that the deceased had not been well for six months and had been gloomy and had once stated to him that “life is a failure so far as I'm concerned.” He had not been in his right mind for some time but never threatened himself. Witnesses thought he might have become overheated last harvest. Deceased seemed to all to be despondent.

Dr. J. C. Barr testified that he had talked with the deceased once just before his recent visit to Arkansas and noticed his  despondent mood.  From conversation with the deceased and his mother he was convinced deceased was insane and the killing was the act of the diseased mind. 

A letter was found in his coat pocket.  It was a long letter and perfectly written.  In it, the deceased gave a synopsis of his life, stating that it had been a failure. Everything in which he had engaged started out with glowing promise and ended in dismal disaster. He had contemplated killing himself for two years and had constantly tried to throw it off. He had joined societies, had taken trips and tried in every way to dispel the thought, but it was a last thought in the  night and first in the morning. The letter was full of tender bits of personal reference to the wife and children but clearly indicated a set purpose to commit suicide.

The jury then made up the following verdict: “We, the jury, find that C. C. Applegate came to his death by two shots from a pistol in his own hand at 8:00 AM Friday, June 15, 1900.”  The embalmer, E. R. Stocker took charge of the remains and funeral services occurred at the Pleasant Hill church in Petty Township, Sunday at 2:00 PM and interment was made in the family lot in the cemetery by the church, Rev. S. O. Stoltz of St. Francisville officiating. A very large audience was present.

Such was the closing scene of the early career of Charles C. Applegate. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and had a splendid literary education. He was also well versed in law and was law clerk in Cocklings Law Firm in New York with flattering prospects when he was called home at his father's death to take charge of the farm. He was married to Miss Gillespie, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Gillespie of Denison Township by whom three children --charming daughters were born. In society he was entertaining and was everywhere held in the highest esteem. He was in debt some but had a very valuable farm.


He held life insurance in the Michigan Mutual of Detroit for $10,000. The premium on the policy was due at 12 o'clock on the day of his death. He contemplated the day before upon coming to this city and paying the premium. He wrote out the check and had everything in readiness. He made a will and made complete disposal of the property. Then although careful of every detail, he harbored his disappointment until it robbed him of his reason and while it made him a physical wreck at the same time it made him a coward. To deliberately plan all, to the arranging of every detail and put it all into execution, required a wonderful command of the will. But to do the deed, to get rid of the unpleasant things of life and leave them heaped upon those he loved and loved him was a cowardice only born of a diseased mind."