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 Austin Melvin Knight

Austin Melvin Knight

Birth
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
Death 14 Aug 1878 (aged 48)
Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
Burial Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
Memorial ID 49146991 · View Source
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The New York Times
August 15, 1878
Tired of Life's Troubles.
A Well-Known Citizen of Orange Shoots Himself
Austin M. Knight's Suicide – Was He Financially Embarrassed – The Autopsy Discloses Progressive Disease of the Brain – What He Told A Friend One Day in Conversation.
A hush had fallen upon the pleasant village of Orange Junction, a portion of the town of East Orange, N.J., yesterday, in consequence of the strange suicide of Mr. Austin M. Knight, an active member of the Town Committee, and citizen of considerable local prominence. Mr. Knight was formerly a member of the heavy hide and leather house of Knight & Knapp, No. 83 Gold-street, this city, but for the last two years had had no partner. He relinquished the leather business upon the dissolution of the co-partnership with Knapp, and went into the oil commission business, in which he was engaged at the time of his death. On Saturday last some notes of his, to what amount is not stated, went to protest; but appears to be untrue that he failed or was seriously embarrassed. One of the notes was for $1,000, and there were probably other; but those who know most of his affairs declare that he could have borrowed $100,000 upon his simple word of honor, and say that financial difficulties were in no way instrumental in precipitating the catastrophe. "The last time I ever saw A. M. Knight," said an intimate acquaintance who lives at Orange Junction, "I dropped in at his office in Gold-street, and he asked me to come out and take a glass of lager with him. He wanted to talk to me, I went, of course, and he told me all about his troubles and losses, with tears in his eyes. They did not amount to anything, and would have been of no account whatever to a man in his right mind; but Knight had not been himself for many weeks, and I had been worrying about him considerably.' ‘Tel.,' he said, after going all over the matter, ‘I want to get out of this whirlpool; I'm tired to death with it. Let's emigrate to Kansas, you and I, and live in a log cabin together in the woods. This city life is a terrible wilderness to a man who is weary as I am." That interview was a week ago or more. His friend tried to comfort him, and told him the times would be better pretty soon, and ended by promising to emigrate to Kansas with him and live in a log cabin if they did not. A week ago last Monday he attended a meeting of the Town Committee, and was noticed to act very strangely. His manner was nervous and restless. He would leave the room abrubtly and return, talking incoherently to himself. When his attention was especially called to the business in hand, he would talk rationally enough for a moment, and then lapse into abstraction again. On Saturday, according to the statement of Dr. William Pierson, his family physician, he returned home completely exhausted, and requested that the doctor should be called in. Dr. Pierson was sent for, saw him, and peremptorily forbade any further attention to business. He had all the symptoms of progressive disease of the brain, but there was no delirium or brain fever. Dr. Pierson says that he was under surveillance in a quiet and unobtrusive manner for some time. One day he would come and tell his wife that she must stop buying at the market, as he did not know where the money was coming from to pay the bills, and they should all come to the poor house by and by. The next day he was in another mood, and prepared to sanction any outlay, on the ground that he was one of the heaviest men in the city. So life went on. To-day he was a pauper; to-morrow a millionaire; the third a pauper again. He heard strange noises at night, and would get up and explore the house from cellar to garret, revolver in hand, while Mrs. Knight followed with the night-lamp in her hand, trembling, but not daring to protest. "I hear them walking about," he would mutter at intervals. But the result always was that he went back to bed without shooting any burglars. Mrs. Knight obtained surreptitious possession of the revolver, and hid it in a closet near the bathroom. On Sunday afternoon he went out on the portico, sat down, and told Mrs. Knight to bring out the children – a couple of bright little creatures, of whom he was remarkably fond. When they were brought out to him his mood had evidently shifted, and he shouted nervously to take them away. It is a significant fact that the revolver was loaded with just three shells on that occasion. Mr. Knight obtained possession of the pistol again, and hid it in the closet behind some boxes. Yesterday morning Mr. Knight took breakfast with his family, and said he never felt better in his life. After breakfast Mrs. Knight handed him the morning paper, and asked him if he would not like to read the news. He replied, "Read it to me, my dear; I'm to lazy to read." He got up and went up stairs, after listening for a minute; and Mrs. Knight followed a moment later. Upon the landing she heard the report of a pistol, the sound proceeding apparently from the bath-room. She rushed in and him lying upon his face, breathing heavily. He lived an hour and a quarter after the shooting, but did not recover consciousness or make the least movement. Dr. Pierson says that he evidently lay down on the floor, place the muzzle at his temple and fired. The bullet pierced the right temporal bone, entering the brain at the base of the temporo-sphenold lobe, and, plowing its way in a diagonal direction, came out just behind the left ear. The right motor ganglion and the left motor cord lay within its course, and hence, during the hour and quarter that he survived the accident, the victim never move hand or foot. The great vascular tract was not pierced, and his respiration continued with a slow regularity peculiarly striking to the scientific eye. Dr. Pierson stated yesterday that the pulsations of the heart occurred regularly once at the extraordinary interval of 50 seconds during the whole hour and a quarter. The interval between the two last pulsations was 60 seconds, and that was the only variation. The case in this respect is one of the most singular on record, although there are instances in which after fright or fever, the pulsation of the heart has been reduced permanently to 40 per minute without apparent inconvenience to life. The body was removed to an adjoining bedroom, and County Physician P. V. Hewlett was notified. The shooting occurred at 7:15 A.M., and the victim expired at 8:31 A.M. The autopsy, performed by Drs. Pierson and Hewlett yesterday afternoon, developed abundant evidence of progressive disease of the brain. At the base of the skull the bones were found to be softened, the softening having involved the whole ethmold plate. The superincumbent membranes and nervous tissues were in a state of complete disorganization, the softening extending to, and involving portions of the ideo-motor tract. Both physicians agreed that the post mortem furnished sufficient cause for the act, and expressed surprise that he had not shot some one of the family. There will be no inquest, and the funeral will take place tomorrow. Mr. Knight leaves a wife and five children, three of whom are with there grandfather, John Leveridge in this city. He has been twice married, and leaves an estate valued at about $200,00, with six houses in East Orange. It is not believed that he was seriously embarrassed. Two years ago Mr. Knight's nervous system was seriously shocked by a fall from a carriage and the heated term this summer he had a slight sun-stroke. He was 45 years old.


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  • Created by: williamknight57
  • Added: 5 Mar 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 49146991
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Austin Melvin Knight (26 Sep 1829–14 Aug 1878), Find A Grave Memorial no. 49146991, citing Rosedale Cemetery, Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by williamknight57 (contributor 46842549) .