Tag Archives: suicide

Suicides and Crime Genealogy–Know Your Burial Procedure

Suicides and Crime Genealogy–Know Your Burial Procedure


Photo by Robert McDonald- St. James Cemetery Walk


Some times it gets frustrating not finding church records or headstones for those searching their families genealogy. If one of your ancestors took a dram of Carbolic Acid or Paris Green, or charged with a felony, chances are you will have great difficulty in finding them.

Church law on suicides has never been as simple as many make out, in most cases it fell on the the locals to decide whether the body could be buried in the churchyard or not and indeed whether he would perform the funeral service in the church at the grave or not at all.

In the St, James Anglican Church cemetery in Carleton Place there are bodies buried on the outside of the fence near the road as they had been charged with a crime or committed suicide. The responsibility of deciding in what case the exceptions be made was once thrown upon the clergyman who had cure of all the souls in the parish where the suicide is to be buried.

In the year 1823 it was enacted that the body of a suicide should be buried privately between the hours of nine and twelve at night, with no religious ceremony. In 1882 this law was altered where every penalty was removed except that internment could not be solemnised by a burial service, and the body may now be committed to the earth at any time, and with such rites or prayers as those in charge of the funeral think fit or may be able to procure. It was now lawful for these to be buried in consecrated ground, although without the benefit of a religious service. It also brought to an end the tradition of driving a stake through the body and throwing lime over it.

Before 1880 no body could be buried in consecrated ground except with the service of the Church, which the incumbent of the parish or a person authorized by him was bound to perform; but the canons and prayer-book refused the use of the office for excommunicated persons, for some grievous and notorious crime, and no person able to testify of his repentance, unbaptized persons, and persons against whom a verdict of felony had been found. .




At a burial in a cemetery (as opposed to churchyards) there would have been the usual burial service (always assuming that there were mourners there to attend of course). It wouldn’t have been any different to any other funeral really, and the grave could have been in either consecrated or unconsecrated ground.

Not all ground in a cemetery is consecrated because if you think about it logically, there are burials for all different sorts of religions and creeds and it would not do for a Muslim for example to be buried in consecrated ground, or someone of the Jewish faith to be interred in such ground. These faiths usually have their own sections within cemetery grounds.

Deaths by suicide are eventually registered in the normal way however as the death is “unexpected” it will be reported to the Coroner and he will hold an inquest. If such a death occurred in your family in the past there should be some record within the coroner’s office – but not sure how long they keep the records – not all coroners keep them since the year dot!!



From - The Dominion Annual Register For the Twentieth Year of the Canadian
Union 1886.  Edited by Harry James Morgan.






Clipped from The Pittsburgh Press,  16 Jul 1911, Sun,  Page 2



Believe it or Not!!!-

Clipped from The Brandon Sun,  08 Jul 1975, Tue,  Page 12


Clipped from The Winnipeg Tribune,  24 Sep 1915, Fri,  Page 9


Clipped from The Coffeyville Daily Journal,  02 Jan 1897, Sat,  Page 2


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)



Twitching or Grave Dousing– Our Haunted Heritage

The Sad Lives of Young Mothers and Children in Early Carleton Place

The Non Kosher Grave — Our Haunted Heritage

Tales of the Tombstones — The Crozier Children




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Another Lanark Mystery– Paris Green

Another Lanark Mystery– Paris Green


In 1953 88 year-old Mrs. Esther Lauzon’s body was found decomposed near Lanark Village on a chilly day in October. She had been missing from her daughter’s home (Mrs. Allie Youill) in Carleton Place since February and her body located in a bush near the Lanark Village cemetery. Only two weathered five dollar bills in her pocket lay near her on a property owned by Gilbert Closs. Both local coroner Dr. A.C. Fowler and the OPP constable had decided that there had been no fowl play and she had been immediately laid to rest.

Posters of Esther had been circulated at the time of her disappearance, and although having no money she had paid $100 to Young’s Funeral Parlour in the village of Lanark for her funeral. What was never reported was that a bottle of Paris Green had been found next to her body, but none had been found in her body during the autopsy.

In December of 1953 her body was exhumed and in January an inquest was held. It was noted that Mrs. Lauzon had once owned a home in Lanark Village and sold it to move to Carleton Place with her daughter. At that time the money from the sale had been distributed to relatives which was later verified by the Carleton Place solicitor.

While living at her daughters,  poor Esther had become ill a few times and each time a packet of Paris Green in her bed.  The family had reported that Paris Green was also found in her trunk and at one time a suicide note was found along with it. A written report from Dr. Klotz showed no injuries  from foul play on her body at the time and again no Paris Green was found inside her body.

So what happened to poor Esther Lauzon? Had life just become too much for her? I guess we will never know, but did I found another name spelled wrong. Esther’s maiden name had been listed as DENT but in reality it was DENY and she had married her husband Sylvester in Almonte in 1899 and was already a widow at 28. Then I went searching again and I found a documented wedding certificate that her husband Sylvester was 23 and she was 33 and a widow.

More for the Lanark Murdoch Mystery pages..



Sylvester Lauzon and Esther Dent–Married on Wednesday, May 10, 1899 in Almonte, Lanark, Ontario.

Rootsweb–(Lanark Co); Sylvester LAUZON, 28, Labourer, Ramsay, France, parents not given, married Esther DENY, Widow, 33, Ramsey, Darling, d/o Jaochine MAYOR or MAJOR and Sophia CARDINAL, wit; Thomas LANCH and Catherine HORAN, 10 May 1899, Almonte–widow of Napoleon Denys


Name Sylvester Lauzon
Event Type Marriage
Event Date 10 May 1899
Event Place Almonte, Lanark, Ontario, Canada
Gender Male
Age 23
Birth Year (Estimated) 1876
Spouse’s Name Esther Deny
Spouse’s Gender Female
Spouse’s Age 33
Spouse’s Birth Year (Estimated) 1866
Spouse’s Father’s Name Joachine Major
Spouse’s Mother’s Name Sophie Cardinal

1903-1904—Paris Green- this was a form of suicide I had not yet read about when I began to write; most of the other cases were carbolic acid or other substances of that nature. I did have one or two cases that had Paris Green as the cause of death, and I found a few interesting things about this substance.

It was initially used in Paris as a rat poison, hence its name. It is also used in pigmentation and has an extremely vivid colour. In America it was blended with lead arsenate and used as a pesticide, so presumably it was not that difficult to get a hold of. Because of its vividness, it was used in paint, both as art and for practical purposes. In fact, Van Gogh and Monet experienced adverse side effects as a result of using this paint, and people who wore clothes dyed with this pigment usually died young, without the cause of death known at the time. Because of the extreme toxicity of Paris Green, it would be an ideal method for ending one’s life and easy to obtain because of its wide uses at the turn of the century.

1895–A 63-year-old male committed suicide by ingesting Paris Green.  His wife was awakened in the night by one of her children who was crying.  It was at this time that her husband informed her that he had poisoned himself.  She sent for two doctors, but neither arrived in time to help her husband.  She stated that he had been worried about the interest on their mortgage.  The case summary page in the file recorded the manner of death as, “suicide by poison while insane.”  I found this particularly interesting.  It seems to allude to the social stigma or assumptions surrounding suicide at this time.

1896-An unemployed Pittsburgh laborer died when he ingested Paris Green and thus poisoned himself.  According to History Magazine, Paris Green is an arsenic-based compound that was a popular pigment ingredient in paints, wallpapers, and fabrics




Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (US


For the Love of Paris Green –Another Local Murdoch Mystery?

Death from Corrosive Sublimate —Carleton Place’s Revere House

Bitten by the Kissing Bug — A Shocking Conclusion to the Life of Carleton Place’s Daniel E. Sheppard

The Strange Disappearance of Bertha Sumner of Carleton Place

So What Really Happened to Samuel Cram?

A Local Handmaids Tale? What Happened ?


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So What Really Happened to Samuel Cram?

So What Really Happened to Samuel Cram?



Photo taken at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


I saw this display at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum Friday night and became intrigued. What had made this clever, former school teacher in Beckwith drown? Surely there had to be more to the story. Nothing came up for awhile until I found it searching for something else. It was said he had sadly committed suicide.


December 3 1915-Almonte Gazette

Samuel Cram, an aged and esteemed resident of Carleton Place, was found drowned in shallow water near the power house Monday morning. He was 78 years of age and a few years ago underwent an operation on his head. Since then he has been a sufferer from neuralgia, although he was able to go about.




Clipped from The Ottawa Journal29 Nov 1915, MonPage 2



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)




Peter Cram of Beckwith Perth and High Street in Carleton Place

Searching for Elizabeth Cram–Updates on Andrew Waugh

A Local Handmaids Tale? What Happened ?

A Local Handmaids Tale? What Happened ?


If you are watching The Handmaid’s Tale or read Margaret Atwood’s book women did not have much liberty in the 1800s. It was stay at home until your father passed you on to your new husband.

I found two clippings. Same girl– they just misspelled her name on the second one above. Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 15 Nov 1895, Fri, Page 7 and posted them earlier this week.


Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 29 Nov 1895, Fri, Page 8

So what happened to her? I found this.

A Mysterious Case December 1895 —Last week a sensation was caused in Ottawa by the sudden and unaccountable disappearance of a young girl from Carleton Place. She was later reported found by her mother. Soon she disappeared once again and the matter was further shrouded in mystery by the receipt by friend of the missing girl, of a letter stating her determination to commit suicide.

It stated that the missing girl was seen on the streets since, but this report lacks confirmation, and the general opinion is that the unfortunate girl met her death at her own hands.

Celia in Princess Ida.jpg

From the time she was young, a woman was groomed for this role in life–dutiful wife and mother. Properly trained, she learned to sing, play piano or guitar, dance and be conversant about light literature of the day. She also learned French and the rules of etiquette as well as the art of conversation and the art of silence.

A girl was under her mother’s wing for the first few years of her social life. She used her mother’s visiting cards, or that of another female relative if her mother was dead. This same person usually served as her chaperone, as a single girl was never allowed out of the house by herself, especially in mixed company

Great care had to be taken at these public affairs, so as not to offend a possible suitor or his family. Following are some rules of conduct a proper female must adhere to:

  • She never approached people of higher rank, unless being introduced by a mutual friend.
  • People of lesser rank were always introduced to people of higher rank, and then only if the higher-ranking person had given his/her permission.
  • Even after being introduced, the person of higher rank did not have to maintain the acquaintance. They could ignore, or ‘cut’ the person of lower rank.
  • A single woman never addressed a gentleman without an introduction.
  • A single woman never walked out alone. Her chaperone had to be older and preferably married.
  • If she had progressed to the stage of courtship in which she walked out with a gentleman, they always walked apart. A gentleman could offer his hand over rough spots, the only contact he was allowed with a woman who was not his fiancée.
  • Proper women never rode alone in a closed carriage with a man who wasn’t a relative.
  • She would never call upon an unmarried gentleman at his place of residence.
  • She couldn’t receive a man at home if she was alone. Another family member had to be present in the room.
  • A gentlewoman never looked back after anyone in the street, or turned to stare at others at church, the opera, etc.
  • No impure conversations were held in front of single women.
  • No sexual contact was allowed before marriage. Innocence was demanded by men from girls in his class, and most especially from his future wife.
  • Intelligence was not encouraged, nor was any interest in politics

An unmarried woman of 21 could inherit and administer her own property. Even her father had no power over it. Once she married, however, all possessions reverted to her husband. She couldn’t even make a will for her personal property, while a husband could will his wife’s property to his illegitimate children. Therefore, marriage, although her aim in life, had to be very carefully contemplated.

Because many marriages were considered a business deal, few started with love. Although as the years passed, many couples grew tolerably fond of each other, often resulting in a bond almost as deep as love.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)


Just Like Internet Dating?— Circa 1913

Because You Loved Me — A Vintage Lanark Romance

The McArthur Love Story

Suicide – The Failsafe?



The Brett Pearson Run for Your Life

Bringing suicide and mental illness out of the shadows and into the light.

The annual Brett Pearson Run for Your Life is underway tomorrow, Saturday September 24, 2016.

5k RUN/WALK Fundraiser

For online registration and more information–Please go to the event page




All photos by Linda Seccaspina


In my dream I awake with tears in my eyes and remember the day that was going to be the last day of my life. I dressed slowly that morning as I glanced around at my surroundings and knew they could suddenly be a thing of the past. I had made up my mind, ran down the stairs and jumped on the bus to my destination. As I sat on the subway I closed my eyes as I went through the 6 minutes of darkness while the train went through the tube under the bay. It was almost like the dark before the storm and my fingers grasped the edge of the seat knowing there was no turning back.

I took the bus to the shore and watched the waves come in one by one. They were dark angry waves, and I walked towards them inviting them to take me away to sea. The edge of the waves tickled the tips of my shoes and beckoned me to walk further into the bay. I knew if I followed their dark directions I would be immersed in a riptide of  cold water with no chance to correct my mistake.



Instead I sat on a bench and wondered if I was going to suffer much when I carried out my mental ambition. I looked to the bridge and the fog still  hung like Christmas stockings on the edges of the gray metal. Maybe if the bridge was merciful that same fog would carry me down softly to the depths below and simply ease me down slowly into final peace.

I knew once I jumped it was going to be like hitting a concrete wall, and if I was lucky it would take me less than five minutes to drown in the cold water where the bay met the sea. If I made a mistake and jumped feet first I might survive and live in pain for the rest of my life. Did I want that? Was it not like what I was going through in real life?



For weeks I had thought of the bridge jumpers and mentally replayed them, fascinated that the end could be so near. As I walked along the narrow road to the bridge my fear suddenly disappeared.  I had walked its length once before and knew that in 4 seconds I could be flying towards what I considered final freedom of my mind.

Death might take seconds as my body would plunge deep into the salty water where no angels would be rescuing me just yet. It would not be a pretty death, and suddenly a silly thought of fish dining on my mortal remains scared me. Years of not being afraid to attempt the almost terminal extension of life had now been thwarted by the fear of fish.
In the years that passed I knew the bridge would always be there to beckon those who had given up. The clouds of pills and mental pain would remain for years until I realized life was not a mistake. Why?

Because we need to remember that we have all come too far to fail. Pass it on!

This piece in a longer form was used on many suicide prevention sites. Depression is like war– you either win or die trying.




Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

“Be kind— For Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle.”


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Carleton Place- Monday August 15-2016



For anyone that has suffered with mental health issues– a true story


Lila looked at the garden that was void of anything that might scream the word Spring. It had been a long year. She had recently lost her job due to what was known in hushed tones as “age restructuring”. In the short span of time that her notice and severance had been issued she was due to pay the closing fees on the new home she had just purchased. Had she known she was going to be out of a job the expensive acquisition would have been out of the question. As she looked at patches of snow melting under her feet, she wondered how she was going to make it financially.

Weeks passed and grief from the loss of her job began to set in. She began to wait until dark when the neighbours were asleep to groom on her back yard. Her constant worry was that the steep incline by the fence would cause her yard to flood once the heavy rains set in. Night after night she added fill to raise the yard and slept during the day only to wake when the birds had gone to bed. Her moods darkened, and the landscaping work became the sole focus of her life. Money was running out, but no one would hire a 65 year-old-woman, so all realities were shut out except the first signs of Spring.

No matter how hard she laboured, there seem to be no result from all her extensive knowledgeable work. Lila began to hear whispers coming from her home’s air vents and quickly assumed people were watching her. Maybe that was why the yard was not progressing she thought. The unknowns talking to her through the vents had control over everything she did. So Lila did what she thought was right. Even though it was the last thing she could afford, she paid $54.99 for a Norton Anti-Virus program. Now there would be complete browser support for her and her garden’s vulnerability protection. However, it did not seem to matter that Norton delivered up-to-the-minute protection with rapid pulse updates every 5 to 15 minutes. The voices continued and there was still no sign of Spring in her yard.

As time progressed Lila lost touch with the few friends she had. When a concerned neighbour called the police to check on her well-being, they found an emancipated woman who at first glance seemed to have no touch with reality. Lila knew she must put on the performance of her life in case they would take her away before Spring. She quickly and quietly told the voices in the vents to hush. Forcing a smile, she asked the police if they would like a cup of tea and quickly talked to them about the progress in her backyard. An hour later they left without Lila, confident they had made the right decision about her welfare.

Months down the road the monthly reports from Nortons displayed a complete report of the inner workings of Lila’s computer. There were details of her PC’s activities, threats caught, tune-up tasks performed and files backed up, but all the internet security in the world could not provide Lila’s present whereabouts. A few months later her house went up for sale and each prospective buyer noticed the same thing. It didn’t matter that it was the middle of May in sunny southern California, there was still no sign of Spring in Lila’s yard because in cold dark places, you can only dream of Spring.

This was a true story of a friend of mine who one day was there– and the next next day she disappeared– never to surface again.. as I said at the top:

“Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Suicide – The Failsafe

Voices Carry — Teen Suicide and Bullying

Suicide- Inner Voices that Carry

Suicide- Inner Voices that Carry






I awoke from a deep medicated sleep by voices laughing behind the hospital curtain. The nurses were chatting at their desk and I silently wondered if I knew any of them that might come in and give me a kind word. Suddenly I heard the voice of my former obstetrician and remained quiet hoping she would not know I was there. Hearing her footsteps fade into the distance I suddenly ached for her to be by my side to reassure me that everything would be okay. I longed to see her smile or even hear words of anger that attempting to take your life was not something you should do.






Seeing the light of the moon cast its glare on the floor I knew that I would have to relive this day for the rest of my life. How many times had I done this and how many more times would I want to do it again? I felt my still tear-stained cheeks and knew that the hours of crying had not helped. This time it had been close; so close that I could taste it. Death had called out to me to be his friend and my stupidity had left me still standing on the other side with the living.







In a depressed state I had consumed two bottles of Tylenol and not realized that they were time acting capsules. When I awoke at 2:30 that night one by one were exploding in my stomach without enough punch to finish my life.




As I drove to work I stopped every few miles and wretched on the side of the road. Why was I still here; was there a reason? I walked into my store, collapsed, and called a friend. Did I make a plea for help because I wanted to live this time? I told them I was okay and the phone fell out of my hand as I collapsed into a chair and heard her frantically calling out my name.









I gazed outside and saw the morning light break as I watched life pass by looking at me with silent voices. Fading shadows of my friend accompanied by men dressed in black suddenly began banging on the door. The small group were feverishly trying to get me to open the locked door and they refused to take no for an answer. My inner voice told me I was going to live even if I wanted to or not. I turned the door key slowly and they rushed me by ambulance to the nearest hospital. I was placed on a gurney while frantic speaking nurses worked hard to find the veins in my arm to start an IV.




With each movement they uttered angry words that I was going to live whether I liked it or not. The tears of self pity started to flow and would not stop. A nurse came in with an “activated charcoal” beverage and stood there while I drank the vicious liquid. Her mumbled words explained that consuming this liquid in large amounts was going to make it possible that I live. The room suddenly turned dark and I hoped I would drown in my tears but all I heard were voices telling me that I needed to live for tomorrow.







Hours later I was still surrounded by yellow curtains that offered me no hope or advice. My eyes were as swollen as the veins in my arms that still held the IV. There was a reason I was alive and I needed to understand that. Visions of former attempts flared through my mind as I saw stomach pumps and therapists all wanting to know why I wanted to die. I saw faded visions of conversation explaining how the voices of depression told me this was the only way to escape.




From the age of 6 I had been handed way too much to endure and it took its toll. No one could take away that feeling of family loss as it grew and multiplied until it took over my soul. Pills and doctors could not remove the sorrow and it grew like a large expanding tumour with every suicide attempt. My inner voices kept repeating I would have been better off dead as I pulled the curtains aside and looked out the window.




I sighed and looked at the moon, frightened of what I might find tomorrow knowing that tears are always something you can hide but inner voices carry on.