Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa
June 25, 1902
ANOTHER SUICIDE. JOSEPH MELCHER MADE AWAY WITH HIMSELF.
Remains found hanging to stair rail in his home on Osborn Street last evening.
The third case of self-destruction that has occurred in the past month came to light last evening, when the remains of Joseph Melcher were found hanging to a stair rail in his home on Osborn street where the old man lived alone. He had evidently been dead several days as decomposition had set in to a marked degree. Melcher, who was a familiar figure in the city, had been missed for several days by his neighbors, who finally becoming alarmed at his disappearance, communicated their fears to Coroner Unterkircher, who went out to the home of the old man on Osborn street last evening and found that the deceased had fastened a rope to the stair rail in the hall, mounted a chair and then kicked it to one side. Judging from the condition of the body, Coroner Unterkircher was of the opinion that the deed must have been committed about Friday or Saturday. The dead man was familiarly known as "Butcher Joe," having been engaged in the meat business here in former years, and was of a somewhat eccentric disposition. His wife passed away about four or five years ago and he had spent considerable time in one of the hospitals, where he was given the best of care and could have had a comfortable home for the rest of his days had he chosen to remain there. He was born in Bavaria about eighty years ago and has resided in Burlington for almost a half century. Being a man of companionable instincts he made many friends, who will be sorry to hear of his untimely end. In the course of his life he had accumulated some property, being the owner of his home on Osborn street, a lot on South Hill and about 120 acres of land on Tama Island. No cause can be advanced for his act, unless it was that his mind had become unbalanced. He is survived by one son, Herman Melcher.
Burlington, Des Moines, Iowa
Wednesday, June 25, 1902
JOSEPH MELCHER DEAD. CORPSE FOUND HANGING IN HALLWAY OF HIS HOME
Had Probably Been Dead Since Friday or Saturday. Undoubtedly a Case of Suicide. An Inquest Will Be Held.
The remains of Joseph Melcher, an eccentric character, well-known in all parts of the city, and especially in the vicinity of his home, were found hanging to the stair rail in his residence, No. 1127 Osborn street last evening. The old man had been missing several days, and the neighbors grew alarmed and notified the coroner. Melcher must have made away with himself last Friday or Saturday, the remains being in an advanced state of decomposition. He had fastened the rope to the stair rail, had mounted a chair in the hall, slipped the noose over his head, and then kicked the chair away. Fred L.Unterkircher took charge of the remains and an inquest will be held today. Joseph Melcher, familiarly known as "Butcher Joe" was a peculiar character. His wife died some four or five years ago, and he had of late been in failing health, having spent some time at one of the hospitals. He was posessed of some property, but as an administrator had been appointed, he had virtually little control over the same and this fact, in connection with his physical ailments and the weight of advancing years probably drove the old man to the rash deed. He is survived by one son.
Deceased was a native of Germany but had lived here many years. He was one of the older butchers of this city, whence his nickname "Butcher Joe" but had retired from business a number of years ago. He was not of a morose disposition, and the news of his death and the circumstances under which it occurred came as a surprise to many who knew the peculiar, eccentric old man. Joseph Melcher was born in Baden, and was almost eighty years of age. For one of his years he enjoyed remarkably good health. He came to Burlington in 1856 and while not penurious, succeeded in accumulating some property. He owned the home on Osborn street, a lot on South Hill and a 120 acre farm on Tama Island. He leaves one son, Herman Melcher. There seems a little doubt that the weight of years became too great for the old man, who in the possession of sufficient means, and blessed with fairly good health, might have spent the late evening of his life in peace and comfort.