This is such a sad story, with a bit of a mystery behind it.
Emma Weeks White was a vibrant young lady in the first blush of youth. She was well-known and loved in her little community of Vinland, Kansas.
She married a man named Franklin White in June of 1898 and she was dead 5 months later.
It was ruled that she committed suicide and drowned herself in a well. Her husband found a suicide note, but her family wasn’t convinced. They thought that her husband may have had a part in her death.
Here are the newspaper clippings which I recently found…
15 Dec 1898, Lawrence Gazette, Lawrence, KS.
Nothing since the sudden and untimely death of Willard Allen has so moved the people of this community as the sad and tragic ending of the life of our young friend and neighbor, Emma Weeks White. We have known her all her life. In her infancy, in her childhood, maidenhood and as the happy bride of a good young man, a farmer near Hilsen. They were married the last day of June, and went to housekeeping immediately. Nothing seemed to mar their happiness until about four weeks ago, when she became slightly indisposed; but nothing that seemed of a serious nature, though she was unable to go to her sister’s wedding nor attend to her household duties. Her mother spent some time with her, and the sisters each had been with her. When the newly married sister left for Chautauqua the younger remained for some days, until it was supposed she was getting better and the sister returned to her school. A few days ago she conceived an idea that she was losing her mind. On Thursday morning her husband was preparing to take his hogs to market, but seeing the state of her mind he told her he would not go but would get some one to go for him.. She begged him to go; told him she was all right and he must attend to the business himself. She was so importuning that he reluctantly went, returning to find her gone. She left a note saying she was losing her mind, and they would find her in the stock well. The family are overwhelmed with grief, and the young husband seems inconsolable. She was always so light hearted and cheerful; the life of the home circle and society in which she moved. No one could love her without knowing her and it seems impossible that she should be tired of life when it looked as though it promised so much for her. We don’t know where to find words of sympathy, for we, that know the family so well, can only mourn and weep with them. The remains were taken to the M. E. church on Sunday morning and Rev. Parlett, who married her five months before, preached the funeral. The house was densely crowded and a more sorrowful audience we never saw; particularly her young friends with whom she had sung in the choir and had been intimate with all her life. The afflicted family have the sympathy of the neighborhood.
DROWNED IN A WELL.
15 Dec 1898, Lawrence Weekly World, Lawrence, KS
Mrs. Emma Weeks White Commits Suicide by Jumping into a Well.
The corner was summoned in Baldwin last Thursday in the case of Mrs. Emma Weeks White, who had committed suicide by jumping into an unused stock well at her home on the Barton farm, near Starr’s gap, a couple of miles north of Baldwin. She was the wife of Frank White and the daughter of Peter Weeks.
Mr, White went to Media yesterday with a load of hogs and could not find his wife when he returned. A note was found from Mrs. White in which she stated tha ther mind had been failing her since she was sick a month before and that she was going to kill herself. Mr. White called his neighbors and together they found a cape belonging to Mrs. White near the well. The body was seen in the water and was removed.
The only reason that can be assigned is that of temporary insanity. The funeral will be held Sunday.
16 Dec 1898, Lawrence Daily Journal, Lawrence, KS
The funeral services of Mrs. Emma Weeks White, whose body was found in a well near her home Thursday afternoon, were held in the Methodist church Sunday at 11 o’clock conducted by the pastor, Rev. Parlett. The house was crowded with loving friends and neighbors, come to pay the last sad rites to a young life so suddenly ended. The sympathy of the entire community goes out to the young husband and to the home circle thus sadly bereft.
Of course, there is no way of knowing what really happened.
Did her husband kill her and forge a letter?
Was she truly losing her mind from a sickness and did she commit suicide? The articles don’t mention what she may have been sick with, but they said that she was a “little indisposed”. I can’t imagine being inconsolable over being a little indisposed. Doesn’t that seem odd?
No matter what the reason for her death, it is so incredibly sad that she lost her life so early. Her family was absolutely devastated.