Suicide at Niagara Falls ….

Daughter of US Senator John Norvell of Michigan

Daughter of US Senator John Norvell of Michigan

In 1849, a series of strange stories appeared in the Michigan newspapers. On December 6, 1849, a long account told of the “suicide” of Isabella Gibson Norvell Miller who, demented after the death of a daughter, went to Niagara Falls in November and threw herself over the Falls. At this time 26 years old, she had four children, two of whom had died.

Daily Sanduskian
Dec 3 1849
Sandusky, Ohio

Melancholy Occurrence

Niagara Falls Nov 27

Our village this morning thrown into deep gloom by a report that a young lady had probably committed suicide here, during some time last nigh, which is undoubtedly too true. The circumstances are as follows: The train cars yesterday morning brought hither a young woman of fine personal appearance, and about thirty-five years of age, having with her two bright looking boys, four and six years old. After taking rooms at the Eagle Hotel, she called for writing material and nothing more was known of her until this morning.— Between seven and eight o’clock, the bell of the room she had occupied was rung by the little boys. They were inquiring for their mother. Upon the table were found three letters—one directed to Major Miller, U.S.A. and one to Hon. John Norvell, Detroit, Mich., and one to the proprietor if the Eagle Hotel, (a copy of which I send you)—also the ringlets of one side of her head, her gold watch, two trunks of clothing, a silk purse containing some gold and silver coins and her wedding ring.

The children (state that their mother had bid them good-by and kissed them, after they had gone to bed—that they had last come from Winchester, Virginia, and that their father was in Florida. No cause can be assigned for the act. She appeared perfectly rational throughout yesterday, and not the least symptom of insanity was noticed. Nothing has yet been found to throw ihe least light upon the matter.

Enough has been found to warrant the belief that the unfortunate lady leaped from the bridge that leads to Goat Island and was swept over the Falls. Upon the second pier was found her bonnet, which had been trodden upon. Her black crape shawl was found tied to the railing of the bridge, to let her down upon the pier which is some six feet below the railing. She undoubtedly did this to indicate to those who should look for her, that her mind was made up For the fearful leap into the yawning chasm below. Her father has been telegraphed.

Letter Addressed by Mrs. Miller to Mr. White, of the Eagle Hotel: To the proprietor of the Eagle hotel:

My mind is made up. I have no wish to live any longer. I shall go where my body will never be recovered. No one shall gaze on my mangled remains. Please take care of my two little boys till they can be sent to Detroit where, their grand-parents reside. They are the sons of Major Miller of the army, now in Florida, and grandsons of Hon. John Norvell, Detroit. Michigan. Please forward my letters and protect my children till some of their children till some of their relatives can come for them. MRS. J. G. MILLER.

(her story continues below, Did she do it?)

About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Buffalo, Detroit, Detroit History, Family History, Genealogy, Michigan History, Niagara Falls, Norvell Family History, Social History, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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