John B. HARMON, manual training teacher in the four city schools
committed suicide early this morning by hanging himself in the barn
loft at his home in Hewittville, using a double strand of baling wire.
No note giving any reason for his act has been found by his family and
they are at a loss to assign any cause unless it was his worry over
being re-employed by the board of education for next year.
Joe Henson, member of the board, in a statement today, said that there
was not the slightest reason for worry by Mr. HARMON, for there has never
at any time been the least complaint made about his work.
He was awakened by an alarm clock at four o’clock this morning, as usual,
and got up after throwing a small flashlight on the clock to see what time
As he did so, Mrs. HARMON asked what time it was and he told her four o’clock.
He got up immediately and went out to the barn to do the chores and when he
did not return in half an hour as usual, to build the fire in the kitchen stove,
his wife became uneasy.
Five o’clock came and still he had not returned in the house. Twenty minutes
more and Mrs. HARMON called in their next to the youngest son, Joy, aged 14
years, and told him to go out and see if anything had happened to his father.
The boy dressed hurriedly and, going to the barn, noticed that the horse had
been fed, but his father was no where in sight. Climbing the loft ladder,
he made the grewsome discovery. The body was hanging from a rafter in the
middle of the barn near a pile of four bales of hay, which had apparently
been piled there by the dead man.
Judging from the position of the bales, he evidently climbed upon the hay,
fastened the wire around his neck and jumped off. Strange as it seems,
his neck was not cut by the wire.
Displaying a remarkable nerve, the fourteen year old son climbed into
the loft and, unaided, took the body down. Finding no signs of life,
he ran into the house with the terrible news.
A doctor was summoned but announced that the man had been dead for an
hour when he arrived a short time later.
Mr. HARMON was a deacon in the Christian church, assistant superintendent
in the Sunday School and only recently resigned as superintendent of the
Hewittville Sunday School after a service of several years.
John B. HARMON was born in Jefferson County near Dix, December 20, 1862.
He was the youngest of nine children born to Joseph HARMON and Nancy BROWN.
His father was a native of the Carolinas and his mother was born in Tennessee.
Joseph Harmon settled in Jefferson County in 1839 and lived there until he
died in 1909. Mrs. Harmon, mother of the local teacher, died in 1905.
Mr. Harmon began teaching school when he was but 16 years of age, and taught
practically all of the time since. Last July he filled out an application and
qualified for a teacher’s pension of $400, but he had not been receiving this
money as it is, according to law, paid only to retired teachers.
He began teaching near Dix and for four years remained in that vicinity. He
then moved to Sangamon County, where he taught in several country schools.
He was married to Miss Mary E. PIPPIN in Sangamon County, August 26, 1891.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. HARMON moved again to Jefferson County
where most of their nine children were born, and two died and were buried
there. It was in Dix that Mr. HARMON became a member of the Masonic Lodge.
He came with his family to Taylorville, 13 years ago and after a short time
in a country school was made the principal of the Hewettville school, near
which he built the present home of the family.
He is survived by his wife and seven children: Waldo B., rural carrier out
of Taylorville; Nancy I., Jessie, Ruby, June and Joy, twins, and Russel.
One sister, Mrs. Mary E. HARVVEY, who made her home with her brother and
his family here, also survives.