Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Sometimes I come across a life that is so dismal or so unknowable that I feel impelled to show it as an Immortal Nobody.

I first heard of Della when I married into the Kirkpatrick family so many years ago.  Della, who was long deceased, would have been my husband's aunt.  Let me give you a little background of the family so you'll know whereof we are talking.

The Kirkpatricks had been in Tennessee, right over the Alabama line, for several generations.  In the late 1930s a group of them made a move to California.  My husband was just a young tad when they settled in Compton. 

Joe and I met and married in college.  In getting to know his family, it wasn't long before I heard the name "Della" – but initially I only knew that she had an early death.  Later I heard reference to suicide; "shot herself" was whispered.  But no one ever told me the circumstances and Joe seemed not to know what happened either. 

Many years later, long after Joe and I were history, I took up genealogy but of course I wanted to get Kirkpatrick genealogical information for my kids.  Luckily, I learned that his Aunt Bettye, a baby sister to Della, had been collecting Kirkpatrick information for some time and she delightedly passed it all onto me, including  two Tennessee newspaper articles dating from 1929 that told the story of Della's demise but not much more than speculation as to "why?" 

Miss Kirkpatrick Commits Suicide
Refusal of Sufficient Money to Buy Trousseau Assigned as Reason

Richard City, Feb. 5 – Miss Della Kirkpatrick, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. W. Kirkpatrick died last night at the Dixie Hospital here from the effects of a pistol shot wound, self-inflicted earlier in the day.

Dr. Kirkpatrick stated that his daughter told him she was going to marry a man from Kansas City and asked him for money for her trousseau.  He gave her money, but not the amount she asked for, contending the sum he gave her was sufficient.  As she walked out of the door he heard the report of a pistol and found his daughter had shot herself through the heart.  She died of internal hemorrhage.

Prominent Richard City Girl Victim of Own Hand

So. Pittsburg, Reb. 5 – Funeral services will be held at 1 o'clock Wednesday morning for Miss Della Kirkpatrick, 23, who shot herself yesterday afternoon in the office of her father, Dr. J. W. Kirkpatrick, at Richard City, near here.

The entire community was shocked by the death of the young girl who was popular with a wide circle of friends.  Although she was conscious from the time of shooting until her death at nine o'clock, she never revealed her reasons for the rash act.

Miss Kirkpatrick was to have been married soon and had been making plans for the wedding.  It is thought that this may have had something to do with her act.

She came to her father's office late yesterday, bringing the pistol with her wrapped in newspaper.  After talking with his daughter for a while, Dr. Kirkpatrick stepped into another room and immediately heard the report of the pistol.  Running back to where she was, he found her lying bleeding on the floor.  The bullet entered her breast and penetrated the lung near her heart.

Miss Kirkpatrick was a member of the 1929 (sic) class of South Pittsburg High school and that year won the Civitan medal for highest grades.

Dr. Kirkpatrick is company physician for the Penn-Dixie Portland Cement company at Richard City.

If there is any additional explanation of her reasons for doing such a thing, they have passed into the big yon.  All we will know about her is that for some reason, she felt killing herself was a solution to her problem.  And she did it.

She is memorialized by a fine stone in the Kirkpatrick cemetery in Bridgeport, Alabama, and by a place in "Immortal Nobodies."   She fits, I think.

~RIP, Della~

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