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Ferne Anderson
Birth: Jul. 5, 1896
Saline County
Kansas, USA
Death: Aug. 19, 1902
Saline County
Kansas, USA

The following is from the booklet, Gypsum Hill Cemetery Historical Walk, published by the City of Salina, Parks & Recreation and the Salina Public Library.

Anderson Family This Large tombsone stands as mute testimony to a tragic event that occurred one hot August day in 1902. On a farm in the current location of the Salina Country Club golf course, Joseph and Cora Anderson lived a seemingly normal life with their four children, ages 6 years to almost three months. On this morning Cora left her children with their father and went into Salina to do her weekly shopping. When she returned from town about one in the afternoon, she found her husband on the ground near the cistern, dying from self-inflicted gun shot woulds. She ran for help and when she and a neighbor returned and entered the houe, she discovered a note: "The children are in the cistern." It was thought that financial worries drove Joseph Anderson to drown his children and end his life. The funeral procession from the Anderson home to the cemetery involved three hearses and "more than a hundred rigs" that stretched out for a mile. The children were placed together in one grave, two small caskets with two children in each, resting side by side. Their mother later remarried and is buried nearby.

The members of the family who died that day were:
Joseph L. Anderson, father, aged 32 years, 2 months, 14 days
Ferne Anderson, aged 6 years, 1 month, 14 days
Lewis Anderson, aged 4 years, 2 months, 18 days
Elizabeth Anderson, aged 2 years, 4 months, 6 days
Grace Anderson, aged 2 months, 26 days

From the Salina Weekly Republican, Salina, Kansas, Friday, 22 Aug 1902.

Joe Anderson Drowns His Four
Children and Shoots Himself.
Father Lingers With Death Wound in His
Head—Bodies Recovered

From Tuesday's Daily
The worst crime ever perpetrated in Saline county occurred this morning at the home of Joe Anderson, east of town, when, in a fit of despondency, Anderson drowned his four children in a cistern and then took a revolver and shot himself. The man was still alive at the time a REPUBLICAN-JOURNAL reporter left the scene of the horrible crime at 3 o'clock, but it is hardly thought he can survive long.

The crime was committed while Mrs. Anderson was in Salina. She left home about 9:30 this morning to do some shopping. On her return home about 1 o'clock she discovered the body of her husband lying on the ground near the cistern. Nearly prostrated at the sight she hurried to Mr. Parsons, a near neighbor, and Albert Peterson, who drives Parsons' milk wagon, was sent to town for a physician and to notify the authorities.

While he was gone Mrs. Anderson returned home accompanied by several neighbors. Her first intimation of the drowning of the children was when she entered the front room and found the following note on the center table: "The children are in the cistern."

Imagine the sorrow that befell this woman when she realized the meaning that the few words conveyed. She became prostrated and the sight at the Anderson home is as sad as can be. No crime similar to this has ever been committed in Saline county.

The cistern is quite deep and it was almost filled with water. Drs. Armstrong were summoned as soon as possible but Anderson is slowly dying. His body lay beside the cistern where Maurice McAuliff, Albert Peterson and others were working to remove the bodies of the children from the cistern.

As late as 3 o'clock two bodies were recovered, but the others have probably been gotten out by this time. The following are the names and ages of the children; Fern, girl, aged 6 years; Louis, boy, aged 5 years; Bess, girl, age 3 years; baby girl, 4 months old.

Despondency was no doubt, the cause of the crime and the man must have been suffering from temporary insanity to have committed such an act. Anderson was about 32 years of age and had been married about 8 years. His wife is a daughter of Mr. And Mrs. C. Urmy. Mr. Urmy stated this afternoon that Mr. Anderson was at his house only yesterday and showed not the least signs of insanity. It is said, how ever, that he had threatened to commit suicide on one or two occasions before.

Anderson had been worrying a great deal of lately over a note of $600 which was about to fall due and as his crops are said to have been almost a failure, this is thought to have effected his mind and he seemed to think that he would be unable to realize the amount to meet the note. Thinking, probably, that his children might suffer he decided to end, not only his life, but the lives of his dear ones. The crime must have been committed before noon as there were no signs of dinner having been served. The children and man must have laid for several hours before discovered by his wife. Anderson had shown no signs of insanity about the home or to his friends, and those who knew him were unable to account for the crime at his hands. He is a son of the late J. M. Anderson and leaves a mother, four brothers and a sister. Anderson, after taking and dropping the children into the cistern, took a gun and fired a shot into his head from the back of his right ear.

No arrangements have been made for the funeral, as the wife and relatives of the man and children are almost prostrated with grief.

From the Salina Weekly Republican, Salina, Kansas, Friday, 29 Aug 1902

Bodies of Joe Anderson and
Children Buried.
Funeral a Very Sad One—Mother Un-
able to attend.

From Thursday's Daily.
The last sad scene in the most appalling tragedy ever enacted in Kansas was witnessed this morning at the home of Joseph Anderson, deceased, and at Gypsum Hill Cemetery where the remains were laid to rest. At a comparatively early hour this morning curious people began to assemble at the home and streams of friends with hearts filled with sympathy began pouring in from all directions until the whole road in front of the residence was almost blocked for nearly a quarter of a mile with rigs.

The funeral services began at about 10 o'clock and were conducted by Dr. Stauber of the Methodist church. This did not last very long but was very impressive. The Scripture reading was from the part of the Bible where it says, "Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven," and the funeral oration, while short, was well chosen and well rendered. The music was furnished by a quintet, consisting of Mrs. Starrett, Miss Blance Stauber, Mrs. Ralph, Clarence Wilson and Dr. Rush, with Miss Stella Hendricks, organist.

It was first thought that on account of the critical condition of Mrs. Anderson the singing might have to be left out of the services, but later it was decided to have the music and it seemed to relieve her to some extent. Her grief is too deep for tears and she lies prostrated and moans. The most touching scene of all was when the little ones one by one, were carried to her for the final farewell. Hardly an eye of those in the room was free from tears and many on the outside of the house were visibly effected by the awfulness of the deed and the great grief of the family. Many looked at the cistern where the children were drowned and there seemed to be a general spirit of awe and a feeling that "in the midst of life we are in death" thrown over the entire crowd.

There were six Odd Fellows who acted as pall bearers; their names are as follows; Joe Dnucan, [sic] John Bishop, John Blair, W. S. Farrar, S. C. Collins and C. F. Snyder.

Three hearses were used. Anderson's remains were put in one, and two children in each of the others. The procession was, without doubt, one of the largest ever seen in this county and notwithstanding the road was wide enough to allow any one to pass, every rig fell into line and slowly wended its way to the cemetery. There were more than a hundred rigs in line and it extended over a distance of about a mile. After the arrival at the cemetery the Odd Fellows took charge of his body and performed their burial services. The four children were buried in the same grave, the little caskets being placed side by side. The father was buried near them.

His mother arrived yesterday from Zion City, Ill., and attended the funeral. His wife was unable to attend the interment, and grave fears are entertained for her life and reason. Few women have ever been so unfortunate as to have to suffer such bereavement and without superhuman strength her recovery is doubtful. Among the hundreds of people this morning who were present there seemed to be only the one sentence, "Is it not awful!" on the lips of everybody.

The caskets of the little ones were opened for those who wished to look upon the pallid little marble like faces but the coffin of the suicide was not opened. This awful catastrophe has cast a gloom over the entire community and the entire population expresses sympathy for the poor wife and other relatives.

From the same edition.

Notorious Wichita Correspon-
Dent Again Before The Public.
An Untruthful Article Sent Out to The
Chicago Record.

Thursday's Daily.
Yesterday's Chicago Record Herald contained a special half column write-up of the Anderson affair that is almost wholly untrue and in every way bears evidence of the sensational Kansas correspondent whose home is at Wichita. The article was sent by telegram from Wichita on Tuesday night, the day the tragedy occurred. On Tuesday afternoon an associated press dispatch was sent out from here telling of the deed and was printed in the evening papers of the same date The Record-Herald being a morning paper, the notorious Wichita correspondent had plenty of time to enlarge on the item sent out by the Associated Press, which he did in a very sensational manner, imagining the greater part of the story furnished the Chicago paper. The man who sends out such untruths as this, should be run out of the state. The article contains hardly an iote [sic] of truth and is misleading in almost every sentence. Below we publish the article of the notorious Wichita man, whose reputation for truth and varacity [sic] has always been bad.

[Special to the Record-Herald]
Wichita, Kan., Aug. 19—Joseph Anderson, residing three miles east of Salina, this afternoon drowned his four children in a cistern and then shot himself while his wife was absent begging bread for the family.

When Mrs. Anderson returned from her mission, which had been successful, she found her husband lying on the floor bleeding to death, while a note on their bare dining table told the story of the awful deed. The oldest child drowned was 6 years, while the youngest was a baby of 4 months.

Failure of crops for several successive seasons was the direct cause of the murder. Anderson had once been a prosperous farmer in Kansas, but after four or five crop failures he left his farm and drifted from bad to worse. He had depended upon good wheat yield. It was killed by the recent hot winds.

He sold his team and all his farm machinery several weeks ago to get bread to feed his family. When this was gone he attempted to get work, but fell ill. Three days ago he told friends in Salina that he was penniless, and there was no hope for him. Someone advised him to go the the [sic] county and seek aid, but he refused, because his pride would not permit.

His widow said tonight that for several days he had talked about ending his life and those of his family. This noon she told him she was going over to a neighbors to get some medicine for one of the children. The visit was for the sole purpose of getting nourishment for herself and children. He found out after she had left why she was going, so he wrote this note:

"Wife—I see you are not too proud to accept the help of our neighbors. I will not accept aid from anyone, so I am going to kill the children and myself. You will find their bodies in the cistern. You can rustle better alone. I hope you will get along better without me, as I have never been much anyhow.

It is presumed that Anderson drowned the eldest children first, as the baby was still warm when taken from the water by neighbors, although there could not have been over five minutes' variation in the time of their deaths. Mrs. Jameson, one of the first women on the scene, said that Mrs. Anderson tried to jump into the cistern before they could fish out the children. While the undertaker was laying them out for dressing she slipped into the bed room and tried to cut her throat, but was restrained. Anderson shot himself through the head.

Family links: 
  Joseph L. Anderson (1870 - 1902)
  Cora Viola Urmey Anderson Catherman (1870 - 1960)
  Ferne Anderson (1896 - 1902)
  Lewis F. Anderson (1898 - 1902)*
  Elizabeth Anderson (1900 - 1902)*
  Grace A. Anderson (1902 - 1902)*
*Calculated relationship
Gypsum Hill Cemetery
Saline County
Kansas, USA
Plot: Block 3, Lot 11, Space 8A
Created by: sister7a
Record added: Aug 06, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 20816712
Ferne Anderson
Added by: sister7a
Ferne Anderson
Added by: sister7a
Ferne Anderson
Added by: sister7a
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