John & Son (25 March 1884)
Contact: Crystal Wendt
Surnames: Westfall, Hendren
----Sources: Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark County, Wis.) 25 March 1884
A SAD TALE
One of the saddest occurrences in the history of the city is chronicled this issue. An old man of seventy commits suicide in a fit of despondency and a few hours later his son, aged about twenty, dies as the sequence of a long illness.
John Westfall, who has been a resident of this city for several years, has been very unfortunate this winter. His son has been confirmed to his bed all winter, his own family is large and he has had the care of another family, who resided in his home since coming from Germany last fall.
The old man has tried to make two ends meet by sawing wood around town. His many troubles have caused many spells of despondency bordering on insanity, but as in one of these spells had he done any injury to himself, the family paid little attention when on Thursday last he took the butcher knife and left the house saying he was going to the woods to look for herbs. But, as he did not put in an appearance at night, the family became very uneasy and the next morning a search was made which proved unavailing till Friday about three o’clock in the afternoon, when his body was found in the woods about a mile from his home. He had traveled about in the woods for a couple of miles and then sitting down on a log had severed the arteries in his wrist with the butcher knife and stuck the knife in the log. From appearances it seems that he then tried to stop the flow of the blood, as his face was covered with blood, and the wound looked as though he had spit tobacco juice on it. Then becoming alarmed he tried to walk, but when he arose was so weak from loss of blood that he fell, when he began to roll over in the snow, reaching in this manner a distance of several feet from the log before this struggles ceased.
During his absence before he was found, his sick son had become aware that he was missing and worried over it a great deal. When news reached the home that the body had been found, in the excitement some member of the family rushed into the room exclaiming that he had been found, and in answer to a query as to whether he was hurt replied that his wrist was cut. The boy hearing this asked how bad the cut was, and was told that it was bad enough for him to bleed to death, but was not told that his father was dead. From this time the boy became steadily worse and about twelve o’clock Friday night died.
An inquest was held over the father’s body Friday evening, and a verdict rendered that deceased came to his death by his own hand during a fit of despondency caused by family troubles.
Both father and son were buried Saturday afternoon from the Presbyterian Church, Rev. W. T. Hendren officiating. This is perhaps the saddest funeral ever held taking place from that church.
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