Yester Year Stories, Backed with Today's Research


NOTES: This date of death (per these news items) is Saturday, June 29, 1895. The deceased is buried in a rural Plymouth County cemetery known as the Mathwig-Wetrosky family cemetery. The Long property (per Plymouth Co. twp maps) was 80 acres located just north of the Mathwig family farm in the same section as the pioneer family cemetery.

The LeMars Semi-Weekly Post
Tuesday, July 2, 1895

Blood has again been spilled at Neptune. This time Markus Long, who lives two miles south and a mile west of “Happy Corner,” decided that life was not worth the living and took the pistol route.

Long laid most cool and deliberate plans for his self-murder and carried them out in every detail. He came to LeMars early Saturday morning and, after settling several business affairs went to Moore’s, formerly Pew Bros. hardware store where he purchased a revolver of L. F. Button. Long said he wanted a gun to kill dogs and was very particular to get a good one, sure to kill. In a few hours Long returned and complained that the revolver would not fire. He said he had gone two miles on the way home before he tried the weapon and found it wouldn’t work. Upon examination it was found that the clerk had given him rim fire cartridges for a center firing gun. The right cartridges were secured but the old man would not be satisfied until the clerk had tested the revolver by firing down an elevator shaft.

Hardly fifteen minutes after Long had arrived home he was sitting dead on the edge of a bed in a dismal 8x10 bedroom. He had sent the children to the barn with a team, locked himself in the room, took a good drink of whiskey, placed the muzzle of the weapon back of his right ear and the dull report which Mrs. Long heard as she came up from the field ended this life for Markus Long.

Coroner Gray was called Saturday night but was unable to hold an inquest until yesterday morning. After appointing M. J. Delahunt, Richard Burke and M. Konkel as his jury, Mrs. Annie Long, L. F. Button, Joe Long and Fred Blumer were examined and the above facts developed.

A verdict was returned that Long came to his death by a bullet wound in his neck inflicted by a revolver in his own hands.

The inquisition failed to uncover any reason for Long’s action. He as about 63 years old and had served in the Civil War. A pension of six dollars was granted to Long but he expected an increase to ten dollars. The last voucher which he received Friday, called for only six dollars. This may have troubled the old fellow and lead him to the deed.

Long came to Plymouth county in 1870 and settled on his 80 acres in Lincoln township. He has not been a very successful farmer and the little place is laden with a $500 mortgage. The home is one of the most barren places imaginable, roughly plastered, broken here and there, destitute of furniture save a few broken chairs and a rudely made table. Fifteen children have known this place as home; two are dead and eight still remain with the mother, the others having reached the age to battle for themselves.

The remains were buried in a neighboring cemetery immediately after the inquest.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
July 4, 1895

Markus Long, an Old Veteran, Kills Himself.
Thought He Ought to Have a Bigger Allowance from the Government—He had a Good Farm in Stanton Township

From Monday’s daily.
Last Saturday afternoon another suicide was added to the already long list of tragedies in Stanton township, ten miles south of LeMars. The victim of his own folly was Markus Long, a well known settler and prosperous farmer. He leaves a wife and thirteen children, some of them small, to take care of the farm and themselves. There are eight boys in the family and some of the oldest live at home.

The reason of the suicide is not exactly known but all the inferences from Long’s conduct lately point to but one probably cause—he has been dissatisfied about his pension money and worried because it was not increased. He was an old solider and his army record a most excellent one. He belonged to Company A, 16th United States Regulars, infantry. He served his country well and was wounded by a shell in the battle of Chattanooga. His right hip was fractured and that caused the lameness which has been noticeable since. Long was sixty-three years old and has been drawing a pension of four dollars a month for several years. He generally came to LeMars at the end of each quarter and had George C. Smith, the insurance agent and pension solicitor, help him in making out the vouchers to be returned to the department at Washington. About a year ago, he began to complain to Smith that he was not getting pension enough. Smith undertook getting him an increase and succeeded in raising it to six dollars a month. This was seven months ago. The increase did not satisfy the old man, and he thought that he ought to have twelve dollars a month.

Last Friday afternoon one of his sons went to the post office at Neptune and brought his father a letter from the pension bureau at Washington. This contained his quarterly allowance of eighteen dollars and a letter which he told his wife he did not understand. He made a few complaints that he was not getting enough pension money and told the family that he would have to go to LeMars and see George Smith about getting an increase. He postponed the trip to town until Saturday morning. Strange to say, after getting to town, he did not go to Smith’s office after all. Mr. Smith told the SENTINEL reporter that he happened to meet Long on the street Saturday and had a few minutes’ talk with him. Long made no reference to pension matters and did not produce the letter which he had come to have explained. His movements about town are not known exactly, but he went over to the Plymouth Mills and adjusted a storage account. He had wheat in store in the elevator and said he wanted cash rather than the flour which he usually took. Will Boyd paid him the money, about eight dollars, and noticed that the old man appeared rather nervous.

Shortly before noon, L. F. Button, a clerk in Moore’s hardware store, was looking at a revolver in the store when Long came in. He remarked, “Got a revolver, have you? That is what I want to buy.” Button showed him several revolvers. One was too small to kill anything, another was too cheap for him to shoot, and various other reasons were given for not taking particular guns. He finally decided on a Columbia Arms company revolver, a 32-caliber. He seemed rather afraid of it and asked Button if he would shoot it off once to see if it was any good. They stepped to the back of the store and the clerk shot down the elevator shaft. The old man paid for the gun and started up the street. In about half an hour he came back and said that he had tried the gun after he left town and it wouldn’t shoot. “I want to shoot dogs with it,” he said. Button went to another store and secured another style of cartridge. These proved satisfactory.

Before finally starting for home Long bought a half pint flask of whisky. Before he had more than started, the time had come for the noon shift at the store, and Button remarked to R. H. Dawson, who relieved him, “that he had just sold a gun to an old man and he thought that the old fellow intended to shoot himself.” The presentiment proved only too true, for about three o’clock Long reached home. He saw that his wife was in the garden. He did not unhitch the team, but went into the bedroom and sent the small children away who were in the house. Later Coroner Gray found about one-fifth of the whisky gone when he arrived, so the old man could not have drank a great deal of it. He braced his nerves, however, took off his coat and fired the fatal shot just behind and above his right ear. One was enough, and when the terrorized family reached the bedroom where he lay, the brain matter and blood was oozing from the gaping wound.

The neighbors were notified, but Coroner Gray was not sent for until evening. He did not get out to the farm until late and decided to postpone the inquest until this morning.

The neighbors can account for the act by no other theory than that of the pension failure. Long has had considerable trouble with a neighbor, Herman Epling, who had his boys arrested a year ago for stealing parts of a harness and a pitchfork. Justice Steiner discharged the boys for want of evidence and the interest in that died out long ago. Long was considered rather eccentric in character, but an honest, straightforward man who seemed prosperous and contented. His farm is a good one and the crops are all well cared for and looking fine.

Coroner Gray accompanied Ed. C. Clay and L. F. Button went to the scene of the suicide this morning. A jury of three neighbors was sworn. Button and members of the family testified and the jury brought in a verdict that Long met his death by a pistol shot fired by his own hand.

LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel
July 11, 1895

The family of Marcus Long, who committed suicide recently, is not left in such good circumstances as at first thought. He left a farm of eighty acres in Lincoln township, but there is a mortgage of $800 on it, besides other debts in the neighborhood of $400.

Markus Long died 29 Jun 1895 [*Beely & Fissel Funeral Home record notes that he committed suicide & is buried in the Mathwig Cemetery, Lincoln Twp]

His Tombstone Photo Page Link