Suicidal Behavior Affects Some Early Southern Oregon Settlers

Jul 29, 2014

 History writer Barbara Hegne describes some early cases of strange diseases and suicidal behavior in her book titled Settling The Rogue Valley: The Tough Times—The Forgotten People.

Hegne speculates that toxins such as mercury, lead, cyanide, strychnine and glycerin may have seeped into drinking water from the working mines of that era. She gives the example of Annie Brown Earnshaw, who lived in 1860 on Sterling Creek south of Jacksonville.  One morning Earnshaw rose early, fixed breakfast for her husband, and mysteriously went into convulsions and died.  She was only 19 and had never been critically sick in her life. Among the suicides Hegne mentions was Henry Shock, who in 1861 walked to Hopwood’s Mill near today’s Central Point, Ore., and said he wanted to blow his brains out.  Attempts to talk him out of it failed.  In another case, William Krause, a well-mannered and friendly German cabinetmaker became delirious and tried to cut his wrists with a chisel.  That didn’t work, so he tried to saw off his arm.  Still alive, Krause hanged himself, but the cross-beam broke. He finally ended his life by shooting himself behind the Bella Union Saloon in Jacksonville. 
 Source: Hegne, Barbara.  Settling The Rogue Valley: The Tough Times—The Forgotten People.  Eagle Point, Ore. 1995.