The History of the Early Settlement of Norton County, Kansas

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he was justice of the peace.  I took my suit to Norton and employed J. R. Hamilton and beat her; then they arrested her for the costs.  We got no rest from that on.  In the spring of 1877 I noticed that Mr. Smith seemed very much worried and did not seem just right in his mind; he seemed to think the whole settlement was working against him.  I tried to get him let me send for some of the neighbors, but he said it was no use, they would not come.  On Saturday, April 14, I sent for Dr. Wilkison on Bow Creek, who told me that his brain was affected a little and if I could get him to come over to his house he could cure him in a short time, or if the neighbors would go and talk to him it would help him.  We got him to promise the doctor that he would go to his house and take my daughter, Mrs. Stotts, who was sick and was stopping with me at that time.  We were going on Monday, I had sent for John Landis and he came on Sunday the 15th. Mr. Smith talked with him and apparently seemed as well as ever.  After we ate dinner he got up and walked out; that was the last we saw of him until three weeks from that day one of the boys found him in the mill race which he had dug two years before.  We were unable to decide whether he committed suicide or not.  When he went out I told Mr. Landis how he had acted.  Mr. Landis said he thought he acted all right and we would find him soon." 

The following appeared in the Bee, published at that time by Nat. L. Baker:
A SAD AFFAIR
SUMNER SMITH COMMITS SUICIDE. 
On Sunday afternoon, April 15 [1877], Sumner Smith, a resident of Solomon township, this county, committed suicide by drowning himself.  The circumstances, as near as we can get at them, connected with the case, are substantially as follows: 

For the past year a very bitter neighborhood quarrel has been raging on the Solomon, and Mr. Smith and his family were included in the rumpus.  About four weeks ago a note was pinned on the door of his residence, and signed "15 citizens," informing him that he must leave the county at once or he would be mobbed.  This so worked upon the mind of the poor man that he went completely deranged, and neighbors had to be called in to watch him.  

On Sunday the 15 of April, just at dusk, he stepped outside the door on some pretext or other and that was the last seen of him.  Search was at once instituted, but to no avail.  Letters were sent to all parts of the country by his family and friends, but it amounted to nothing, and after a short time the search was abandoned.  On Sunday afternoon, the 6th inst, one of the boys went down into the tunnel which had been dug on his farm, and on which Mr. Smith contemplated building a mill, and there he caught a glimpse of his father's body floating.  The neighborhood was at once appraised of the fact, and they soon succeeded in removing the body from the tunnel, and then carried it to the house, where a coroner and jury were summoned who returned a verdict of suicide.  The poor man was buried the next day in the cemetery near the home he loved so well. 

Sumner Smith, notwithstanding all his faults, was a hard working man.  He had a home, like the rest of us, and humble though it was, he loved and labored hard for it.  His wife and babies, too, he loved with his great strong heart, and like the rest of us, he too loved to provide for them.  Then why could he not be permitted to pursue his way in peace?  He harmed no one.  If he had family troubles, they belonged alone to him and his God.  No man but Sumner Smith

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