Poisoned, suicide attempt by girlfriend of Hemingray carpenter


Publication: The Muncie Daily Times

Muncie, IN, United States


The Strychnine Route Selected by Miss Nettie Fletcher to End Her Life.

A Beautiful Westside Young Lady makes an Unsuccessful Attempt at Suicide.

A Love Affair.

Miss Nettie Fletcher, a pretty blonde nineteen years of age resides with her parents, William Fletcher and wife, on north Dick street, westside, where the family moved from the property now occupied by M. Kuechman, on west Adams street, where they lived many years. The young lady was born in this city, is well known and highly respected, her father being at present in the boot and shoe shop of Fletcher & Everett, north side of the public square.

Near the home of Mr. F. resides Mrs. Shaffer and two sons, James, the oldest, being nearly thirty, and employed at the Hemingray glass works as a carpenter, he with his mother having come here from West Virginia two years since.

James and Nettie being close neighbors met about five months ago since which time the two have enjoyed each other’s company quite frequently. Sunday evening James made ready to call on the lady when his mother, joined by the other son, made objections to his continuing to lavish his affections on the young lady, the mother stating that she feared a matrimonial termination that would cause the young lady’s presence at her home where she was not wanted, giving her reasons for such a stand, that she knew the girl to be of anything but an industrious disposition, and would not work. After listening for a while James concluded to go and tell the young lady of his mother’s objections and the reasons assigned, which he did.

The words and actions of her lover so worked upon her feelings that she spent a very restless night, and lost no time next morning in coming over to the city for relief which she sought in the following manner: Near nine o’clock a.m. the young lady entered the People’s drug store. Approached by Kirby Wachtell, a clerk, the lady made her mission known by asking for five cents worth of strychnine. The powder was furnished to the extent of two ounces, or 120 doses for an adult. The young lady at once proceeded to her home, changed her dress, after which she prepared and took the drug, having first made up her mind to go to the home of her lover, one door away, where she would die. She hastened to the Shaffer residence but found the doors locked and no one at home. Not wanting to return home again she went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Ratliff, a plasterer, with which family Nettie was familiar. But a short time had been spent on the inside when Mr. and Mrs. R. sat down to the dinner table, at the same time requesting Miss Fletcher to dine with them, which requested was answered with the remark, “I never will eat another diner.” At that instant the girl stood erect on the floor, quickly placed her hand on the back of her neck and feel to the floor. Mr. R. had seen the girl in the city and in the drug store. He also being acquainted with the existing love affair, suspected what the trouble was, and told his wife the girl had taken poison, and must be made to throw it off. Mr. R.’s supply of good whisky, a half pint of which with some other preparation he soon administered to the girl, caused her to vomit. Dr. Polk, the Westside physician, was summoned, who, with the assistance of a host of neighbors, worked in the most diligent manner to save her life, which seemed about gone between the hours of one and two o’clock, after which she got better, and when a Times reported called at the house at seven o’clock she had regained her senses, for the first time realizing what had been done, when she pleaded that in describing the affair in the paper, her name should not be used. The escape from death is miraculous, and only due to the prompt and effective work of Mr. Ratliff, and Dr. Polk and not to an overdose as is reported, as a case is known where a person died from the effects of four times the amount taken by her.

When the young lady’s condition was known Mr. Shaffer was telephoned for from his work. He responded quickly, at once entering Mr. Ratliff’s house, where he clasped the apparently dying girl in his arms with the remark: “Nettie, you have no cause for this,” while his eyes moistened with tears, after which he remained by the young lady’s side, responding to her every want.



That he found the following letter on the person of Miss Fletcher which is written on a half sheet of letter paper in a neat hand with lead pencil:

Dear Ma: - Keep me as long as you can, and see that my ear-rings and finger rings are left on me. That little box I wrapped in paper on that little stand, I want it buried with me, as it has all the things in that James has got for me. I want them buried with me.     NETTIE.

P.S. Blame nobody for this.


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Roger Lucas / Bob Stahr
Date completed:October 16, 2011 by: Deb Reed Fowler;