Barber County Kansas

The Barber County Index, July 22, 1903.


Hung Himself in a Shed on his Farm on Tuesday of Last Week

Just after the Index was taken off the press on Tuesday of last week the horrifying news was brought to town that J. W. Bierer had committed suicide at his ranch in Elm Mills township a little before noon.

On account of the fact that the neighbors were all considerable distance from home the news of the tragedy did not get to Medicine Lodge until half past three in the afternoon. Mr. Bierer accomplished his death by tying a rope around his neck and fastening it to a brace in his wagon shed. He mounted a barrel and kicked it over, but he was so near to the ground that he held his feet up in order to end his life.

During the forenoon while walking about the premises with his wife he saw a piece of rope on the ground and he remarked that he believed he would use it. Mrs. Bierer told him not to think of such a thing and be promised he wouldn't. They parted shortly afterwards - he going about his work at the barn and she to the house. A half hour afterward Mrs. Bierer sent the little boy out to see what his father was doing and he came back and reported that his papa "was standing there with a rope around his neck." Mrs. Bierer rushed out and untied the rope and tired to revive him but without success. When she reached him life was not quite gone but too far to be revived. Mrs. Bierer sent the boy to neighbors for assistance but no one got there until after 12 o'clock.

The news was brought to town by Dan Axtell. Sheriff Haun, County Attorney Tincher, Coroner Moore and W. S. Rubert hastened to the scene at once and arrived at about five o'clock. When they learned the facts they decided that an inquest was not necessary and Undertaker Williams prepared the body for burial.

For more than a month Mr. Bierer's mind has been noticeable affected. He realized that he was undergoing a mental derangement and he told many of his friends in Medicine Lodge that to him it seemed either death or insanity. He talked of death much and in his family worship prayed that he might die. He worried much about his affliction and seemed to be in constant fear that he might become violent and injure his family or his friends. Financial troubles led to his insanity. His stock and ranch had not prospered during the past year, his brothers owned the ranch and he had to ask them for assistance. His folks are all wealthy and he was not doing so well although he was not in bad circumstances - but it worried him nevertheless. Another thing that probably hastened him to suicide was the fact that Mrs. Bierer had told him that she was going to take him to a sanitarium for treatment on Thursday. He abhorred the asylum and it is thought that this is what caused him to take his life when he did.

The remains were sent to Hiawatha, his former home, on Wednesday. Mrs. Bierer and her two sisters, Mrs. McPherson and Mrs. Soloman, of Wichita who arrived on Tuesday night in response to a message, went in charge of the body. They were joined at Wichita by the deceased's brothers, Judge A. G. C. Bierer, of Guthrie, Ok., E. Bierer, B. B. Bierer and S. Bierer, and his brother-in-law, J. L. Shadel, all of Hiawatha. His father also survives him and resides at Hiawatha.

The Bierer ranch was owned by his brothers and at his suggestion it was offered for sale in the spring. His brothers were willing to furnish him money to conduct the ranch or to buy another elsewhere but it did not seem to relive him. They were aware of his condition and did all they could to restore his reason. Two of his brothers and brother-in-law were here recently doing what they could to cheer him up.

Mr. Bierer and family came to Barber county and took charge of the ranch ten miles north of this city about five years ago. They soon won confidence and friendship of their neighbors and also many Medicine Lodge people. He was a man of fine physique, nearly six feet tall, and until this spring, seemed to enjoy life. His changed appearance this spring was everybody's remark whenever he came to town.

They have only one child - a boy about seven years of age.

The misfortune is indeed a very sad one.

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

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