I have written before about the tragic trail of suicides in the Stewart side of my family HERE and again HERE. I wasn’t prepared for the surprise I found on Ancestry this past month regarding a sister & brother of my third great grandfather William H. Stewart, who was the one who killed his wife and then shot himself in the out kitchen/ice storage of the Columbia Hotel in Caldwell, Ohio in 1914.
I was tying up a few loose leaves on my tree and stumbled upon yet another suicide – this time, the sister of William H. Stewart, named Anna May Barnes. Anna was born in 1876 in Muskingum County, Ohio near Hopewell. In 1907, she married a man named Samuel Barnes on the same day her brother (who I’ll write about in a bit), John Jackson Stewart married his wife Maggie Drum. They moved from Ohio to Pennsylvania somewhere around 1910. He worked for a pottery company in Pennsylvania according to the 1920 census, which is an odd coincidence since her father and brothers all worked at a pottery company in Ohio throughout the majority of their lives. I half wonder if Samuel didn’t know the Stewart family through working for the same company but there were many, many potteries in the area. (and still are, actually)
Somewhere, something went terribly wrong for Anna and in March of 1941, she drown herself in the Shenango River near their home. Her body was initially unidentified and was found floating along the shore near a canning factory. According to the newspaper articles that were sent to me from the New Castle library, her body was identified later by her landlady. There is no mention as to what would possess her to throw herself into a wintery cold river. Just baffling …
Her brother, John Jackson Stewart, has an equally tragic tale I’m still working on. As mentioned above, he married Maggie Drum in 1907 and by 1910, they were divorced already. If my trail is correct, John spent nearly 20 years in an asylum in Ohio. He eventually made his way to New Castle, Pennsylvania where Anna lived and died. (their father had family ties to this area) John’s death certificate says he lived in the Pennsylvania Lawrence County Home which was basically an old age home for the destitute. He died at age 66 at the New Castle Hospital in 1951 but from what, I can’t tell. The handwriting is terribly illegible but it appears to be “arterio” something or another possibly. Perhaps you can make it out if you click his death certificate to see for yourself. He was buried at the Lawrence County Home cemetery according to the death certificate, which would make sense since all his family had passed away by this point.
So spanning 3 generations of my Stewart family history, that makes 4 suicides and a brother reported to have mental health issues. And I’m still working on the other siblings and their lives. I half dread finding their death certificates for fear they died tragically as well but it wouldn’t surprise me at this point really. I just cannot help but wonder where or when this started. Was it some horrible life event or just a predisposition flaw in our DNA?