Thursday, February 8, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 8

February 8, 1889 – A horrible tragedy took place a mile and a half south of Delano early this morning. It was reported that Joseph Berneck, a German widower and well-to-do farmer about 65 years old, had committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor. His wife was killed by a threshing machine boiler explosion some 14 years ago, a few miles from where Berneck met his tragic death.

The coroner, Dr. Pinneault, was summoned and an inquest held, and at 9 p.m. the jury returned a verdict that Berneck came to his death by the hands of some person or persons unknown.

The facts brought out seemed to be that the deceased rose much earlier than usual, that he gave some medicine to his brother who was sick, that he went outdoors and remained so long that the family became uneasy. His son-in-law, Mr. Martin, found the granary door barrel on the inside, but did not force it open. He called Joseph Berneck, Jr., who came and forced the door open, and there lay deceased in a pool of blood with his throat cut from ear to ear, the windpipe completely severed as well, and all parts of the throat clear to the spinal column. The deceased still held the razor in his hand.

The jurors say the cuts about the throat indicate that several gashes were made, and the manner in which they were made clearly indicate that some person or persons other than the deceased did the cutting. Still, this is a case where public opinion cannot safely make it out as murder without further evidence.

The Minneapolis Tribune; “Was it murder? Joseph Berneb (sic), of Delano, Found with His Throat Frightfully Cut.”; Feb. 9, 1889; p. 1.

St. Paul Daily Globe; “Cut His Throat.”; Feb. 9, 1889; p. 4.

Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain June 23, 2013, 
as long as acknowledgement included.


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