CHARLES D. SMITH GRAVESTONE PHOTO
The Erie Record, Apr. 16, 1909
Died: Apr. 10, 1909
Erie Man Took His Life to
DESPONDENT OVER ILL HEALTH
C. D. Smith Believed He
Mentally and Physically
Feeble and Plan-
ned Escape In His Own Way.
Last Saturday morning there occurred one of the greatest tragedies that has been enacted in Erie for many months. C. D. Smith, one of the respected citizens of the town was found dead on the second floor of his barn. He had taken his own life by cutting his throat with a razor. When he was found at noon his lifeless body was surrounded by a pool of blood and he had probably been dead for two hours or more.
The body was first discovered by the manís daughter, Mrs. Anna Ashford of Elsmore, who had been visiting here. It was at the noon hour and dinner had been waiting for several minutes. Finally Mrs. Ashford went to the barn in search of her father and was almost overcome by the discovery she made. Her brother C. F. Smith, was in the house and as soon as he learned of his fatherís fate rushed to the barn but soon returned only to verify the report that his father was dead. As soon as help could be summoned the body was removed to a building across the alley and the outward traces of the deed removed before the body was taken to the home..
Nothing could have given a greater surprise to the people of Erie. Among his acquaintances there were few who had suspected that Mr. Smithís mind was suffering from any great burdens. He was attending daily to his duties as local oil inspector, which occupied a considerable amount of his time. He was naturally genial and apparently happy, although recently he had been more quiet and reserved than usual. On several occasions recently the members of the family had noticed that he had been acting strangely and his condition had been the cause of much worry to them, but their fears were never known to the public.
It is quite evident now that Mr. Smith was in a demended condition and that for some time he had been developing a plan to take his own life. About two weeks before his death he had consulted a prominent attorney here who, in his criminal practice had made a study of the different forms of insanity. Mr. Smith asked about all the forms of insanity and seemed particularly interested in the description of the symptoms by which they were known. It is the opinion of the relatives and friends that Mr. Smith felt that a mental feebleness was coming upon him and could not bear the though of losing his mind. His mental unrest was doubtless further increased by a threatened renewal of paralysis from which he suffered about two years ago. Considering these things and other evidences of mental trouble that had been noticed by the family, it is believed that Mr. Smith became deeply despondent and took his life as the only means of escape from a condition of insanity and helplessness.
Saturday morning, Mr. Smith had made his usual trip down town to get his morning mail and on his return stopped at the Alderson Brothers hardware and furniture store where he selected and purchased a new razor. Evidently he had gone from there directly to his own barn where he climbed to the second floor and immediately put the razor to the use for which it was purchased. When the body was discovered the razor was laying under the hand that had directed the stroke and its case was in his coat pocket. The cost had never been removed from the razor handle. The dead manís throat was deeply cut and the wound extended from one ear to the other. There was a cut across the left wrist also. The theory is that this wrist wound was made first, and Mr. Smith, fearing that death by this process would be too slow resorted to cutting his throat.
Mrs. Smith was so shocked by the news of her husbandís death that for several hours her condition alarmed the other members of the family. She required constant medical attention for some time but is now able to be up again.
Funeral services were conducted at the home Sunday afternoon. Reverend A. S. Gwinn of the Baptist church made a short address and the remainder of the services were in charge of the G. A. R. Post of which he was a member. The remains were taken to the Erie cemetery for burial.
Charles Dallis Smith was born in Putnam county, Indiana, June 19, 1844, and died April 10, 1909, aged 64 years, 10 months and 10 days. He was united in marriage to Elizabeth Ferguson April 18, 1867. To this union were born five children, all of whom together with the wife survive him. The sons are Clarence W. Smith of Erie, Walter L. Smith of Coffeyville, and Clyde F. Smith of Erie, and the daughters are Mrs. Nellie S. Garvin of Erie and Mrs. Anna E, Ashford of Elsmore. In 1861 C. D. Smith enlisted in the Union army and served with Company F. 133rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry, until the end of the struggle. He had a brilliant military record and took a great deal of pride in the possession of a letter from President Abraham Lincoln in which reference was made to his military service. After the war he learned the mercantile business and in 1872 engaged in business for himself. In 1871 he was appointed postmaster at Manhattan, Indiana, and held the office until 1884, when he resigned and moved west locating in Erie. He was associated with John R. Garvin in the mercantile business here for a number of years but retired about four years ago.