Suicide At Pottersville
History of Callaway County, MO
Transcribed by Heather Patten, May, 2004


To us, busy with the schemes and cares of this life, - so busy that we seldom allow ourselves to think that it must all end at last in death, - the desire to “shuffle off this mortal coil” before the death hour that stern fate has ordained for that dread event, is certain evidence of insanity. We can, perhaps, imagine that the aged, who have seen the companions of their youth fall off, one by one, by the wayside, until they seem almost alone in the world, and whose powers are wasted by disease, - we can, perhaps, imagine it possible for them to long for death. But to see one in the full flush of youthful manhood, untainted by disease, with health and energy and the bright promises of the future, beautiful as “apples of gold in pictures of silver,” such as ever flit before the vision of youth, - for such an one coolly and deliberately to resign it all, and descend willingly into that narrow grave whose very stillness makes our flesh creep, and whispers to us of horrible things – of the gloom, of corruption, of the worm, and of the awful uncertainty beyond, is bitterly incomprehensible.

Frank Shaier was one of these strange suicides. Several years ago, he left his friends in Germany, and having an uncle, Konstantine Shaier, living at Harrison, Ohio, he removed to that State. For some years he was employed in Cincinnati, driving a delivery wagon for a furniture house. He is said to have come to Missouri a year previous to his death, and to have worked the summer following his coming in the bottom opposite Claysville; and about seven weeks before his death he came into the Pottersville neighborhood, and began work at the pottery of the Caldwell Brothers. He was about twenty-four years of age, and impressed those who knew him, as a quiet, courteous, well-educated young man. He was industrious, and gave no evidence of derangement. He complained of pain in the head. On Wednesday before his death, he seems to have come to the conclusion to give up his life. Very quietly and very deliberately, though in a very bungling manner, he sought to accomplish his awful purpose. Going into a portion of the kiln where he would not be interrupted, he took off his apron, folded it up neatly, then removed his hat and laid both aside. With a stone hammer he commenced striking himself on the forehead, fracturing the bone and inflicting a ghastly wound. But this process was too tedious and painful; so, laying aside the hammer, he drew his knife and endeavored to cut into the wound and force the blade into the brain.

Failing in this, he stabbed himself several times. But fate seemed against him, for at every stroke the blade was stopped by a rib. Death seemed to avoid him. His patience was exhausted, and he gave up the attempt and came out of the kiln. Then a fellow saw him all mutilated and bloody. Others were called, and the would-be dead man was conveyed to his room. Drs. Brooks and Ramsey were summoned and dressed his wounds. They found the wound in the forehead three and a half inches long by two and a half across, and they removed from it several pieces of the skull bone. There were also severe gashes on the head, made by the knife, and several wounds in his side. The patient appeared to be perfectly rational, and said that every body was down on him, and he was tired of living. He survived until Saturday, the 21st instant, and then at mid-day, -

“One more unfortunate,

Weary of breath,

Rashly importunate,

Had gone to his death.”

The following is the verdict rendered by the coroner’s jury: -

State of Missouri, county of Callaway, ss:

An inquest at Pottersville, in the county of Callaway, on the 21st day of October, A. D., 1877, before me, R. R. Dunn, justice of the peace of said county, upon the view of Frank Shaier, then and there lying dead, A. J. Nichols, J. R. Ebersole, James R. Foster, R. Erwin, T. S. Dunn, R. T. Nichols, good and lawful men, householders of the township of Cedar, in the county aforesaid, who being sworn, and charged diligently to inquire, and true presentment make, how, and in what manner, and by whom, said Frank Shaier came to his death; upon their oaths, do here find that the said Frank Shaier came to his death by wounds inflicted with a stone hammer and knife, in his own hands. In witness whereof, as well the aforesaid coroner as the jurors aforesaid, have to this inquest put their names, at the place, and on the day and year aforesaid. R. R. Dunn, coroner; T. S. Dunn, J. Foster, A. J. Nichols, J. R. Ebersole, R. Erwin, Robert Nichols, jurors.

From the website History of Callaway County, MO

Transcribed by Heather Patten

Dreadful Sentiments...