George R. Watt

Company E, 20th Illinois Volunteer Infantry


Submitted by Judy Simpson

Clinton Public
February 1, 1895


Tired of Life
An Old Soldier Takes Strychnine

The startling news came to Clinton yesterday afternoon that George R. WATT had committed suicide at his home in the village of DeWitt. Yesterday at noon, as George was going home to his dinner, someone met him on the road and saw him licking a powder from a piece of white paper. The neighbor thought that George was taking medicine, as the paper looked like that used for putting up prescription powders. George went into the house and sat down at the dinner table, but he was seized with a nervous chill and got up and went into an adjoining room and laid down on the bed. George called his wife to him and then told her the terrible story, that he had taken strychnine and that in a few minutes he would be a dead man. Mrs. Watt could hardly realize that such a thing could be possible, but seeing that her husband was suffering, she called in Drs. Bishop and Taylor. Dr. Taylor asked him what he had done, and George coolly told him that he had taken strychnine and that he did not want him to do anything for him. Dr. Taylor attempted to insert a stomach pump in order to relieve George of the poison, but his efforts were unavailing, as George's throat had begun to contract from the effects of the terrible drug. The doctor then went to his office for some other appliances, but by the time he returned George was in the last throes of death and in a few minutes the last spark of life had fled.

George R. Watt was born in DeWitt township about fifty-two years ago. He was the son of Elijah WATT, one of the early settlers of the county. George was raised on a farm and had received a good country school education. When the war broke out he was one of the first of the young men who stepped into line in the courthouse square when Col. Lemon called for recruits, and he became a member of Co. E, Twentieth Illinois Infantry. He served over four years, having veteranized, and was discharged on the 16th of July, 1865, with the rank of sergeant. No braver man than George R. Watt ever followed the old flag or shouldered a musket. After the war, he came home and got married and went to farming. Then he moved to Kansas and bought a farm of his own and lived there several years. After returning to his old home in DeWitt he bought a country store and was doing well when a fire broke out one night and cleaned him out. George lost heavily and had but small insurance, but he went to work with a will and was fast making up his losses. He served as postmaster of DeWitt during the last half of President Harrison's administration, but was promptly removed when the Democrats came into power. They had no offices for old soldiers. At the last spring election, George was elected a collector for DeWitt township.

A wife and six children mourn the untimely death of a kind husband and father. One of his daughters, Miss Elva, is a teacher in the public schools in Kenney. His oldest son had charge of the store in DeWitt. George was making money, and the outlook for the future of himself and family was bright and pleasant. He carried $2500 life insurance, which is for the benefit of his wife and children. He was a member of the Grand Army and of the Masonic fraternity. The funeral will occur tomorrow morning from his home in DeWitt. The members of Co. E, Twentieth Regiment, will be the pall bearers. The Masons and Grand Army will conduct the funeral services. A number of Grand Army men from Clinton will go up to DeWitt on the train tomorrow morning to follow their old comrade to the tomb.

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