Barber County Kansas

The Barber County Index, February 11, 1903.


John H. Johnson Took His Life Saturday Night.


Found Dead Near His Hotel at Midnight Horribly Cut in the Throat.

Never in the history of Medicine Lodge were our people so horribly shocked over the act of one man as they were on Sunday morning when it was announced that John H Johnson, proprietor of the Central Hotel, had committed suicide by cutting his throat. The wound was inflicted with the small blade of an ordinary pocket knife, on the right side of his neck below the ear. There were many incisions on his face, neck and hands showing that he accomplished his death under great difficulty.

The family and close friends of Mr. Johnson say that he had been acting strangely for several weeks and his condition was discussed by physicians but no one believed that his mind was in so serious condition that would be led to any violence, but there seemed to be an undercurrent operating on his mind until reason was dethroned and a useful life was ended and an honorable citizen removed.

The family first missed him about 9 o'clock and, being familiar with his recent peculiar actions, at once became alarmed. A search was at once instituted by quite a number of people. It was supposed at first that he had left town but it was soon learned that he had been seen since the train left and many of those nearest to him suspected that the worst was true. Men searched everywhere and finally at half past twelve his body was found stiff and cold behind a part of an old pig pen not more than 100 feet back of the hotel. E. Van Horn, one of the boarders, was the first to find him. Seward L. Field and County Attorney Tincher were close to him and Mr. Van Horn called to them as soon as he discovered Mr. Johnson's body.

From the blood stains seen on the ground on Sunday morning it was clear that he first cut himself back of the hotel near the kitchen door and the fatal wound was inflicted behind the old board structure where he was found. He was in a kneeling position as if engaged in prayer and this is supposed to have been his last act. He had manifested much interest in the Bible during the past few weeks. It is believed that he knew that his mind was failing but he was careful to conceal it from his family. There is no doubt that he was insane by the time of the cutting from the manner in which it was done.

The shock to the family was beyond the power of words to convey and the tragedy is a most lamentable one. It again emphasizes the fact that trouble and misfortune come to all in some form.

The cause leading to Mr. Johnson's insanity is supposed to be chronic ailment and possibly over work. He was an aggressive, industrious man and sometimes worked day and night incessantly against the advice of his family.

Financially everything was a success with him and no trouble of that nature ever occupied his mind, especially not in recent years.

Funeral services were held at the hotel residence on Monday afternoon, February 9th. Rev. W. J. Weber, pastor of the M. E. church, conducted the services. A large concourse of people attended, thus paying a last respect and tribute to one whom they have known so long and well.

John H. Johnson was 58 years, 3 months and 4 days. He is survived by a wife and three children - Mrs. S. I. Field, and Charley and Zeal Johnson.

He was born at Bishop, Auckland county, England, Nov. 3, 1844, and came to America at the tender age of eight years. On June 24, 1874, he was married to Emma Murray at Deerfield, Missouri, to which union the three children above named were born.

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson came to Sharon, this county, in 1884, and conducted a hotel and livery business until 1891 when they came to Medicine Lodge and engaged in the hotel business which they have since conducted. Mr. Johnson started empty handed, was left without parents in boyhood to fight life's battles and has gone through all of the privations known to humanity. He leaves his family in excellent financial circumstances. He owned the Central hotel, a substantial two story frame building, unencumbered, besides other real estate and a large bank account. His industry, his integrity, his love of home and dear ones stands as a monument to his memory and every Medicine Lodge citizen bows his head in sorrow when he reflects that John H. Johnson is gone.

To those who mourn, the Index can only say, we mourn with you. Many of us have passed through the same sad experience though not so shocking in its nature, and the sympathy of everybody goes out to them.

The members of the family desire to express their heartfelt gratitude for the many expressions of sympathy, and kindly acts of assistance shown them by their friends in this time of sorrow. They will not be soon forgotten.

Mrs. Emma Johnson.
Charles M. Johnson.
Zeal Johnson.
Mettie M. Field.

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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