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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

William Shirkey - Civil War Soldier Buried in Farmer Cemetery


William Shirkey's family were settlers in Farmer Township very early, probably from 1840 - 1848, based on the birthplaces of his siblings on the censuses.  The family came from Pennsylvania and that was where William was born about 1835.
He lived with his parents, Hannah and William and at least nine siblings in the early days and continued to live with them even after coming back from the war.


William enlisted for a three month term with Company A, 38th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on August 26, 1861, serving until January 9, 1862, when he was mustered out in Columbia, Kentucky.  He returned to Farmer Township and farmed with his father.
Error in spelling, but unit and death date match.

On April 23, 1872, he married Sarah Randall.  Almost a twenty year difference in age existed between them.  He was about 35 or 36 when married, and Sarah was about 17 or 18.  The couple had two children, most sources agree - Oris (Otis?) born in 1875, and Stephen E. born about 1876.  

In the Veterans Census of 1890, William reported his disability was a heart disease.  No occupation was listed with him from the 1880 census on.  He did, however, serve on some veterans' committees and in 1901, the year of his death, he was listed as assistant Sunday School superintendent.  

In January, 1901, William's beloved wife, Sarah died.  His son, Oris had left for either Indiana or Illinois, and his son, Stephen, lived with him.  Stephen was a barber and in 1897 had built a new barber shop in Farmer.  Apparently, the loss of Sarah had a devastating effect on William, enough so that he did not feel like living himself.  On March 22, 1901, he ended it all.  The Defiance Express reported on that very day:



William Shirkey's obituary appeared in the Bryan Democrat on March 28, 1901:

"WAS A CASE OF SUICIDE.
William Shirkey Drank the Carbolic Acid.

Farmer Center Man Took His Own Life After Brooding Over the Death of His Wife.

John Norway and F. O. Hutchins of Farmer Center, were in the city Saturday on business in connection with the Farmer Canning company.  From them, more particulars were learned concerning the death of William Shirkey of that place.

The autopsy held discloses that Mr. Shirkey committed suicide.  The doctors found that his throat was burned and that his stomach bore evidences of being burned with the acid.

Two months ago the deceased's wife died and his loss preyed heavily upon his mind.  Before her death, he was in the habit of making daily visits among the stores there, as the pension he received enabled him to enjoy a life of ease.  At that time, he was a well known figure about the village.

When the remains of his wife were interred, his visits ceased and he began to live the life of a recluse.  From a happy spirit, he became a man always melancholy and with his son, remained alone, cooking their own meals.

Yesterday when the son came home to dinner, his father was in bed with the covers pulled over him.  He was breathng heavily.  All was not well and a physician was called, but too late, as death had resulted.  The suspicions that he had committed suicide were verified by the autopsy.

The bottle of carbolic acid was recognized by the attending physician as the same he had furnished for disinfectant purposes during the illness of his Mrs. Shirkey.  The amount of acid left in the bottle caused the doctor to think that the old gentleman had taken his own life.  Funeral Services were held Sunday." 

William was buried with his wife in Farmer Cemetery.

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