Sunday, May 6, 2018

On This Date in Minnesota History: May 6

May 6, 1899 – John C. Wagoner, a well-known character about Stillwater, went to bed at the St. Paul House last night and took a dose of morphine that ended his life. Wagoner had been boarding at the St. Paul House for some time, and early last week told some of his fellow boarders that he was getting tired of life and would someday take a dose that would land him in the hereafter. They regarded his talk as mere bosh, but Wagoner evidently meant what he said.

Yesterday he went to Fred Scott’s Drug Store and asked the clerk for ten grains of morphine, explaining that he was going to work on the drive and wanted the morphine because he was subject to cramps and pains when he worked in cold water. He went into his room about 9 p.m. and today the morning clerk at the hotel went to his room to call him. He didn’t respond and the clerk entered the room to find Wagoner lying on his bed attired in his best clothes and seemed to be enjoying a sound sleep. The clerk shook him and then discovered that he was dead. A box containing only a small amount of the morphine was lying on his pillow and some of the poison was on the floor.

Coroner Freligh was summoned this morning, and after examining the man and hearing the circumstances leading up to his self-destruction decided that an inquest was unnecessary. The body was removed to Belisle’s Morgue, and a brother, C. F. Wagoner of Eagle Lake, was notified.

Wagoner was about 58 years of age, and was chief packer in Custer’s expedition against the Indians. He was wounded while with Custer, and received a pension of $12 per month from the government.

George Armstrong Custer2

The Saint Paul Globe; “Suicide of Scout. John Wagoner, Who Was With Custer, Ends His life At Stillwater. Morphine Means Selected. Found Dead in His Room at the St. Paul House After Having Taken Nearly Ten Grains of the Deadly Drug.”; May 7, 1899; p. 9.

1Photo taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain March 19, 2017, as long as acknowledgement included.  


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