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 James A Searcy

James A Searcy

Carrollton, Carroll County, Kentucky, USA
Death 19 Nov 1913 (aged 52)
Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana, USA
Burial Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA
Plot M_176_10
Memorial ID 153895 · View Source
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Anaconda Standard
Anaconda, Montana
November 20, 1913
Page 8




Well-known contractor soaks towel in kerosene and wraps it around his head, then sets it on fire. Face badly disfigured.

James A. Searcy, on of the best known builders and contractors in Butte, committed suicide yesterday morning between 9 and 9:15 o'clock at his office in the Union Milling Company building, at 1120 Front street. The manner of his death was one of the most tragic and horrific that Butte has known. Going into his office, he apparently soaked a large Turkish towel with kerosene and, wrapping this about his head, set fire to it. The flames burned his face, head and shoulders so that he was hardly recognizable. Death must have ensued very shortly after he applied the match and was caused, either by suffocation from the fumes and smoke, or from inhaling the flames.

There is no question from the statements of his friends but that Mr. Searcy was insane when he ended his life in this manner. For several weeks he had been in poor health and brooding over financial losses. He had been unable to sleep at nights, and that he had been contemplating suicide is evident from remarks he made a few days before his death.

Left Home in Good Spirits.

Yesterday morning Mr. Searcy left his home, at 924 West Granite street, at about 7:40 o'clock. Mrs. Searcy, who is secretary of the planing mill company, expected to go to the mill later in the morning. He seemed to be in good spirits when he left home andmade that statement that he was afraid he would be late.

He had an engagement, he said, with a man who was coming after some lumber. He reached the office a little after 8 o'clock and went about his work in the usual manner.

About 9 o'clock Harry Brinck, a teamster employed by Dorach & Greenfield, whose offices are at 1034 Front street, and adjoining the Searcy establishment, went over to the warehouse where some chickens are kept by the firm by which he is employed.

Fire is Discovered.

As he went near the office of the Union Milling company he noticed smoke coming out of the cracks of the door and window. He ran to the door and tried to open it, but found it fastened. He pushed with all his might and succeeded in forcing it. A burst of flames came from within.

Brinck ran to the office of Dorsch & Greenfield and with Mr. Dorsch grabbed some buckets of water and ran back. They arrived in time to put out the fire before it had gained much headway.

A hole had been burned through the floor and the woodwork was badly scorched. Lying right in the center of the little office, with his face down, was Mr. Searcy's body. He was dead when they reached him.

Evidence of Suicide

The fire department had been summoned, but found little to do on its arrival, except to investigate the circumstances. A gallon can of kerosene partly filled stood by the side of Mr. Searcy's body. The burned remnants of a towel lay by his head and the uper part of his coat, vest and shirt were burned. The door to the office which had to be forced open had been fastened from the inside by hammering some large nails into the casing. These nails were bent in getting it open.

The Rev. Walter M. Jordan, pastor of the Christian church and a close friend of the dead man, was summoned and arrived about 15 minutes later. He superintended the sending of the body to the Sherman & Reed undertaking rooms.

Face Badly Disfigured.

Mrs. Searcy was notified of the death of her husband, but on account of the terrible manner in which the face had been disfigured, Mr. Jordan urged her not to go to the undertaking rooms.

James A. Searcy was a man of serling character and great industry. He was born at Carrollton, Ky., 52 years ago and his mother, four sisters and a brother still survive him. They all live back in his native state. He leaves a brother Robert. His sisters are Mrs. Jennie Davis, Mrs. Lydia Shirley and Misses Ida and Alta Searcy.

For the past 18 years Mr. Searcy had live in Butte, coming here from Salt Lake City. He went into the building and contracting work in Butte and during the time since has built many homes and other buildings in this vicinity. He was the owner of the Searcy flat buildings at924-34 West Granite street.

His first wife, who died before he came to Butte, was buried in Salt Lake and it is probable that his body will be taken there for interment.

Two years ago last June he was married to Miss Florence Reed, a well-known school teacher of Butte and a sister of Mrs. Albert Evans and Mrs. Black of this city.

Last spring Mr. Searcy formed the Union Milling company, the officers of which were himself, Mrs. Searcy and F. M. Searcy, a distant relative.

Struck on His Head.

In June, while he was at work on the roof of a bungalow being constructed by his brother-in-law, Mr. Evans, on Gold street, Mr. Searcy fell and struck on his head. The fall was a distance of about six feet and it is believed that it resulted in an injury to his brain that weakened his mind. From that time to the present friend had noticed that he seemed to suffer from a loss of memory at times. He would lose important papers and he worried over small matters.

A result of the mental condition w as that he made some heavy business losses. He was putting up the new mill on Front street where he had planned to manufacture doors and windows. The cost of this was greater than he anticipated and this added to his worries.

A few days ago he said to his wife that when he died he would prefer to be buried in his lot in the cemetery at Salt Lake.

Active in Church.

Mr. Searcy was a most devout and active member of the Christian church. He was one of the elders and officers and was alwayas ready and willing to do his share for the support of the church, both financially and in the way of personal work.

He was a member of the carpenters' union and of the Woodmen of the World. During the Lowry revival meetings he was one of those who helped to erect the tabernacle and donated his services to the cause.

Transcribed by GenealogyGirl. Copy of obituary available upon request.

Family Members





  • Imported from: UT State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 153895
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for James A Searcy (5 Jun 1861–19 Nov 1913), Find A Grave Memorial no. 153895, citing Mount Olivet Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Utah State Historical Society (contributor 4) .