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Newspaper tells stories of suicide, death

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Suicide and death are sad things, but they happen every day. You never know what might be troubling someone before they turn to suicide, and you never know when death will come to someone you love or know. In my last “Back in the Day” column, I wrote about Edgar Hester of Creedmoor taking his life after four of his daughters were tragically killed by a lightning strike while working on the Hester family farm. The Hester girls died in 1937, and four years later, Edgar Hester shot himself in an upstairs bedroom over the guilt he still felt about having his girls out working in a storm. A local newspaper reported the sad news in 1931 about another Creedmoor man ending his life “over so much trouble.”

“Joseph Neathery, 53, shot himself in the abdomen at 10 o’clock at his home in Henderson. No members of the family were at home at the time. Some children in the adjoining garden of a neighbor heard the shot, and saw Neathery topple to the ground. Arriving on the scene before Mr. Neathery died, Henderson Chief of Police Langston asked Neathery why he did it, and the latter replied it was because of so much trouble. In the back yard of the home it appeared that Mr. Neathery had sat down on the ground, planted the stock of a double barrel shotgun into the ground, pointed the barrel into his abdomen and snapped the trigger by means of a fire poker, which was found lying near the gun. The deceased was born at Crystal Hill, Va. He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Bessie Neathery. Mr. Neathery operated a store in Creedmoor for many years and moved to Henderson and engaged in the school business. The funeral services will be held at the First Baptist Church in Henderson at 2:30 this afternoon and the body will be taken to Creedmoor for burial.”

Also in 1931, the mayor of Creedmoor passed away, not from suicide but from pneumonia. C. W. York, died at his home in Creedmoor at the age of 59 after an illness of 10 days. Mr. York had been mayor of Creedmoor since 1927, and was much thought of in the community. Funeral services were held at Creedmoor Methodist Church and conducted by Reverend W.L. Loy, pastor of the church, and assisted by Reverend C.L. Gillespie, pastor of Creedmoor Baptist Church.

E.D. Lyon, “a prominent man of Creedmoor,” according to a local newspaper, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C.A. Allen, in Creedmoor following a stroke of paralysis. Mr. Lyon had been unable to do any work for several years. Funeral services were held from home and interment was in the family burying grounds. Reverend B.E. Stanfield presided. Mr. Lyon was a faithful member of Bullock’s Methodist Church until his health failed.

In 1928, a Stovall man killed himself. A local paper ran a headline: “Mr. John P. Williams Ends Life In Fit Of Despondency.”

“Mr. John P. Williams, 67 years of age, took his own life at 9 o’clock Thursday morning, He had been an invalid for more than two years and the family guarded his movements with great care. He suffered with high blood pressure and often said that he welcomed death at any time. No one was present when Mr. Williams pulled the trigger that ended his life. Members of the family were in the yard and heard the shot, and when they entered the room they found Mr. Williams On the floor gasping for breath. The load of the gun had entered his side and ranged upward. His untimely death cast a shadow over the entire community. Mr. Williams was twice married and to each union five children survive.”

Lewis Bowling can be reached at PO Box 122, Oxford, NC, 27565 for comments or suggestions.

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