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The Ringgold Record, 1893

A SAD SUICIDE.

Levi S. Terwillinger (sic) of Poe Township
Takes his own Life.

TESTIMONY, VERDICT, ETC.

At about six o'clock last Saturday evening Mr. Levi S. TERWILLINGER (sic, should be TERWILLIGER), an old gentleman over 81 years of age was found hanging by the neck to a spaling on the farm of his son some four miles east of Mt. Ayr. He was dead when found and had apparently been so for some time. We have learned the following particulars which with the testimony and Coroner's verdict are given below.

Mr. TERWILLINGER has, it seems been acting rather queer of late and as if something was worrying him. He has been making his home with his son, Levi TERWILLINGER since last November, but has been a citizen of this county for many years and was at one time quite a prominent man. Of late years owing to his advanced years he has led a retired life.

It seems from the circumstances surround his death, that he must have first tried to drown himself, as on Sunday morning tracks of his shoes were found leading down into and up out of a little pond near by, his clothes were very wet and his shoes full of water. Either the depth of water was insuffcient, or else one time of strangling by the noose was enough or, perhaps he, like it is said of persons who attempt suicide and are then resuscitated had change his mind about quitting this life. Anyway it appears from the above that two attempts were made ere he was successful.

After quitting the water he, it seems, stepped about ten or twelve feet to one side of the path and choosing a young tree or sapling about three inches in diameter, divested himself of his pants and tied one leg around the tree a foot or so above his head, the other leg around his neck so as to bring the knot to the right side. He then appears to have assumed a sitting position which left his body not more than two feet from the ground, and died without a struggle as shown by the ground around, the weight of the body on the pantaloon leg closing his wind pipe and resulting in instant death.

Mr. and Mrs. Levi S. TERWILLINGER Jr., were in Mt. Ayr doing some trading leaving the children alone with their grandfather. He had appeared more than usually lively and jovial that day. He had started out for a walk, going past where his grandson Day TERWILLINGER was plowing corn. Not returning for some length of time, the children went in search of him but were unsuccessful. When he was found his hat and cane were lying at the foot of the tree.

The time of committing the deed is supposed to have been late in the afternoon probably between 4 o'clock and 6:30 o'clock at which time he was found by his daughter-in-law. She summoned Mr. CLAYTON who was passing by and he let the body down. His further acts will be noted in the testimony below.

Coroner FOX of Maloy was notified by telegraph and responded as speedily as possible after receiving word, but as the telegram did not reach him till after one o'clock Sunday morning it was after daylight before he reached the TERILLINGER homestead. He immediately impannelled a jury and the testimony and verdict which are given below are in accordance with the above.

_____________________

P. T. CLAYTON sworn: My name is P. T. CLAYTON aged 61 years, and live in Liberty township. I was coming home from town June 17th, and one of the little girls called me and said Grandpa was dead. I went down to the creek and found said Levi S. TERWILLINGER hanging to a sapling by his pantaloon dead. His clothing was wet and his shoes full of water. I untied the pantaloons from the sapling, felt for pulse but could not find it. I took the pantaloons from his neck and tried to resuscitate him but could not. I think he died by his own hand as there were no signs of any struggle.

Sarah TERWILLINGER sworn: I am the wife of Levi TERWILLINGER, the son of the dead person. He has been living with use since last November. By spells he seemed to be worrying about something. I saw him alive last about half past 1 o'clock p.m. He was lying on the bed. I next saw him hanging to a sapling down by the creek at 6:30 p.m. He had one leg of his pantaloons around his neck and the other around a small sapling. I thought perhaps he was not dead and called him three times but he did not answer. I thought that he intended to take his life, so I went to hunt for him. I have no suspicion of any foul play.

________________

FINDING OF JURORS:

STATE OF IOWA, Ringgold County,}ss.

An inquisition held in Poe township, Ringgold county, Iowa, on the 18th day of June 1893, before J. M. FOX, the Coroner of said county, upon the body of Levi S. TERWILLINGER, there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereunto subscribed. The said jurors upon their oaths do say that the said Levi S. TERWILLINGER came to his death by his own hands by hanging himself to a sapling on the 17th day of June, A. D. 1893.
J. A. LESAN.
Wm. CLARK.
D. E. ARMSTRONG.
Atttest: J. M. FOX, Coroner.

He felt the weight of years and this no doubt weakened his actions. His children have made his lonely days as pleasant for him as possible. The funeral services were held at 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon at his son's home in the presence of a large concourse of people and the body of the dead old father who had so rashly taken his own life, and so suddenly ushered his soul into the presence of his Maker, was laid away in the grave at the south [Rose Hill] cemetery by the side of mother and other loved ones gone on before, there to await the time when all secrets and mysteries shall be revealed. We cover him over with the mantle of charity broad and deep as the clods that rest upon the casket.

Terwillger gravestone.jpg Civil War Flags.jpg NOTE: Levi Stockwell TERWILLIGER was born May 10, 1812, Cayuga County, New York. He arrived in Ringgold County, Iowa in 1855.

Levi's son, Levi Stockwell TERWILLIGER, Jr., was born in 1842, and served during the Civil War with Company M of the 8th Iowa Cavalry. He died in 1916 and was interred beside his wife Sarah (1849-1934) at Sweet Home Cemetery, Lesanville east of Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa.

Day TERWILLIGER was born in 1879, and died in 1956 with interment at Sweet Home Cemetery. His wife Geneva was born in 1877, and died in 1969 with interment beside Day.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, 2008

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