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Col Warner Lowder Vestal

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Col Warner Lowder Vestal

  • Birth 28 Nov 1839 Hendricks County, Indiana, USA
  • Death 15 Sep 1910 San Bernardino, San Bernardino County, California, USA
  • Burial San Bernardino, San Bernardino County, California, USA
  • Plot Lotus Lawn, Lot 132
  • Memorial ID 25768888

Obituary for Colonel Warner L. Vestal

from The Republican (Danville, Indiana)--issue of Thursday, September 22, 1910—page 1, columns 3-5:



Was Former Editor of This Paper—His Military Record

Col. Warner Vestal was found dead in his office in San Bernardino, Cal., Thursday morning, his death being caused by inhaling illuminating gas. Financial difficulties prompted the act, which seems to have been deliberately planned and had been attempted two nights before. The San Bernardino Daily Sun says:

“Having kept lonely vigil through the long night watches, with only his disappointed hopes for company, as the day broke yesterday morning, Colonel W.L. Vestal laid himself down in the long sleep that knows no mortal waking. He sought surcease from business cares, from the unlucky star which his touching farewell letter to friends says has followed him all his days—such surcease as only the lethal slumber could make certain, and as the sun broke over the mountains and flooded the valley that he loved, he himself opened the doors and set the imprisoned spirit free.”

He was seen about the office at five o'clock, and before six a news agent who shared the same office, coming to his daily work, found the body still warm, a duster wrapped about the head and a tube from a gas jet in his mouth.

For two years he had had financial troubles and his enterprises had been disappointments and he saw no way for relief. His obligations amounted to some $3,000.

His wife was informed of his fate, and after the first shock, rallied to give directions as to the new sad duties. The funeral was Sunday from the Elks' hall and at the grave the G.A.R. paid their last honors.

Warner L. Vestal was a former editor of this paper, then known as the Ledger. He laid aside his work and enlisted in the first call for troops in the war for the Union. He was born in Guilford township, Nov. 28, 1839, and at the age of 17 he went to Iowa, and in a printing office in Indianaola he learned his trade. In the winter of 1859-60 he returned to Indiana, and, with his brother, purchased the Ledger, and continued in charge until he enlisted. Mustered out in August, 1861, he enlisted in February, 1862, in the 53rd regiment as a private, being promoted until he became Colonel, and was mustered out as such in 1865. At Atlanta he was badly wounded July 22, 1864. Though still a cripple, he returned to his regiment and joined his command at Hilton Head, and later participated in the grand review at Washington.

In November, 1865, he and Miss Frances Young, of Washington, were married, and in 1867 he moved to Des Moines and was employed on the Register. In 1870 he moved to Storm Lake and edited the Pilot, continuing in charge until 1885. He was assistant secretary of the Iowa senate for several terms, was postmaster and mayor of his city. He went to California in 1886, and continued in the newspaper business at several towns. He was identified with many public movements and was highly esteemed as a progressive citizen.

In Danville he is kindly remembered, and his comrades unite in expressions of grief. Here, as well as in San Bernardino, tears have been shed over his last pathetic note, which reads:

“Failure, trouble and disappointment have followed me all the days of my life, and under the present awful mental anguish, I must end this mortal existence. Skyland Heights this season has been an utter and dismal failure. I had high hopes that it would prove a financial success. I am utterly unable to pay even a small portion of the amounts due to those who have in kindness and good faith furnished me with materials, goods and even money, and the humiliation and disgrace that would follow the knowledge of my absolute insolvency is greater than I can bear. For this final act of my life I beg such forgiveness and mercy as your generous hearts may accord. It is awful, but I can see no relief except in that sleep that is said to have no awakening. The fearful days and sleepless nights have wrought havoc and ruin to my brain and mind.

“W.L. Vestal.”

When Colonel Vestal was terribly wounded at the battle of Atlanta, and was left for dead on the field, the news reached Danville that he was dead, and the Ledger announced the fact, printing a sketch of his life. Col. Vestal kept this clipping for 46 years and made it an annual custom to read his “obituary” to his friends on July 22, the anniversary of his “death.”

The Ledger printed the biographical sketch and said:

“It is with regret that words cannot express that we are called upon to record the death of this gallant and meritorious officer. The news of his death reached town in a letter written by Mr. J.N. Scearce from Chattanooga to his wife. We have no particulars nor date further than he was wounded and died in two or three days.

“No officer or soldier that ever went from our county bore a better name as a brave or efficient officer, a tried and worthy soldier and a noble hearted and generous man. He wore the well deserved honors of his position with all becoming dignity and with as an unassuming a grace as he did those of the humble private. He was kind to his men and was almost worshipped by them.

“But he has fallen in the very morn of his manhood, another victim of that cruel monster, slavery. He fell at his post, battling for the cause of humanity and freedom. Green will live his memory in the hearts of his countrymen.”

The San Bernardino Sun editorially says in its tribute:

“San Bernardino mourns its most public spirited citizen. Not that he had wealth to give or that monuments and memorials have arisen at his bidding, but had he been blest with wealth, it must have blessed many others, for unselfishness was his characteristic and his desire to make others happy his consuming passion. But for what he did and for what he was, the tear swims in many an eye at thought of his untimely taking off. He was a noble soul, a fearless spirit, rich in friendships and in friends, who would have counted it a pleasure to have been of service had he but signaled his distress, and who to-day mourn because they did not know.

“Speech cannot contain our love. There was, there is, no gentler, stronger, manlier man.”

The funeral was yesterday morning.

Col. Vestal married Frances S. Young in Washington DC on 11 November 1865.

Family Members

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  • Created by: Eric Lowman
  • Added: 5 Apr 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 25768888
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Col Warner Lowder Vestal (28 Nov 1839–15 Sep 1910), Find A Grave Memorial no. 25768888, citing Mountain View Cemetery, San Bernardino, San Bernardino County, California, USA ; Maintained by Eric Lowman (contributor 46508697) .