The Life of John A Patten

The most gruesome spectacle ever seen here were mortal remains of Jno. A. Patton who committed suicide on the Normal School campus on Wednesday evening at about 6:45 o'clock by shooting himself through the brain. The citizens were thrown in a great excitement and more than three hundred people went to the scene of the tragedy and shuddered when they saw that the man was literally saturated in blood from his fore head to his abdomen. Some of the women were so horrified when they saw the dead man that they were visibly affected. The desponded man shot himself almost in the center of the forehead and at the place where the bullet had entered was a blood clot the size of an ordinary child's fist. He wore glasses and his eyes were sunk into his head and even these were filled with blood clots.
He came to the keystone House on Monday evening and registered, giving his address as Pennsylvania. During the time he was here he was seen aimlessly wondering around town. The hotel proprietor, Mr. Dries, assigned a room to the stranger communicating with the room where he and his wife slept. During Tuesday night a commotion was heard in the new-comer's apartment and Mr. Dries inquired if he could assist him to something. He responded in the negative saying that he was all right again. He had his door open all night. On Wednesday morning the stranger did not show up for breakfast, and when asked if he was not hungry said that he only wanted a glass of water. With this request he was obliged. He remained in bed the greater part of the day and when asked if nothing could be done for him he replied, "No, I won't be here long." The supposition is that the deranged man took a dose of poison, which did not work the desired effect, but made him very ill. He got up about l:00 and in the afternoon was seen at more than a half dozen different places in town, including Hope Cemetery, Fairview stock farm, Whiteoak Street and other places. People are of the impression that he hunted for a place to end his sufferings. Shortly before 6 o'clock he was seen down town.
The shooting is supposed to have been committed at about 6:45 p.m. The wonderer ended his life on the Normal School campus, opposite the old baseball diamond, and sat down with his back turned toward the institution and the public highway. When found he was seated on a board I by I ½ feet against the foot of a tree. He was found at7:10 o'clock p.m., by Harry W. Kutz, who was hunting a turkey nest, and he went to Lewis R. Rothermel, who was sitting on a Normal School veranda, the two went to the body and they touched one of the hands. He wore a derby and had a brown mustache. His left hand was on his stomach and his right arm extended and legs straight and parallel. He wore a mixed suit; a polka-dot shirt, and cuffs of the same material. A 32 caliber revolver, with two empty chambers, was found by the right side. He wore kid’s shoes. He had placed the weapon almost in the center of the forehead and there was a hole almost an inch in circumference. In the absence of the deputy coroner Dr. H. W. Saul, Justice of the Peace C. J. Rhode empanelled the following jury: Dr. N. Z. Dunkelberger, A. W. Fritch, U. J. Miller, D. A. Dries, Wm. S. Rhode and J. P. Grimley. These held an inquest over the remains and found a 32-calibre revolver with two empty and three full chambers, a key ring with two keys, a pocket knife and a purse containing 39 cents, a handkerchief and an old rag in which he undoubtedly carried his revolver.
The most valuable document that the jury found in one of his coat pockets was a note evidently written in his own hand. Following are the contents of the notes that appeared on the paper. The words set in italics were underscored "To some kind Christian friends: Don’t bury me like an Animal. I am far from home. No family, no friends. I am no Drunkard and no bum. But afflicted. No money and alone and forsaken and nearly blind. Now please bury me kindly and God will reward your kindness. Yours, J. A. P. The man it is supposed was deranged.

What might have saddened his heart that he committed the deed was probably his physical condition. First, he was ruptured, second, nearly blind and his locomotion of such a nature that it was disturbing to people who saw him walk. The man is supposed to have been between 50 and 55 years of age and about five feet seven inches tall; The jury agreed upon the following verdict: That Jno. A. Patton, a stranger to us came to his death through a bullet wound in his head and that the deed was committed by his own hands, between the hours of 6 and 7 o'clock p.m. on July13, 1904, on the Keystone State Normal School Campus.

Funeral Director J. H. Stump, of town took charge of the remains and prepared him for burial. The funeral was held on Thursday evening and he was given a Christian burial, as he had requested. Rev. F. K. Bernd, of Normal Hill, conducted short services at the grave on Hope Cemetery in the midst of three or four hundred people. Deceased was dressed in his own suit with a white button shirt and a neat black tie in a plain casket. Twenty-nine dollars were collected to defray the funeral expenses. The pall bearers were: John Geiger, Henry Neitz, Robert Davis and Chas Smith.

News Concerning the Suicide Rumor has it that the man has a wife and three children in Montgomery County, about four miles from Willow Grove. The report was brought here by Mrs. B. F. Reider's mother who came the other day and who knows the man well. The name, age and description of the man given in the newspaper corresponds with the party the lady claims she knows. It has also been said there was continued strife in the family. Mrs. Reider has a picture of the man that committed suicide, although this photograph was taken about eighteen years ago and, of course, is much younger looking than the self-destroyer did.

Filter John A Patten's Timeline by the following Memory Categories

Photo Album

Military Service

Civil War: Union