LITERARY MAN A SUICIDE. ~ Body of William Ward Mitchell, Author, Editor and Poet, Taken From the River.

April 4, 1909

Body of William Ward Mitchell,
Author, Editor and Poet, Taken
From the River.

Decomposed almost beyond recognition, the body of William Ward Mitchell, author, poet and editor, was found in the Blue river at Blue Mills yesterday afternoon. Mr. Mitchell had frequently talked suicide to his physician, Dr. Ralph W. Holbrook, 415 Argyle building, under whose care he had been for several weeks during the past year, and it is believed he accomplished his own death.

Seven years ago, or thereabouts, Mr. Mitchell was the editor of the Higginsville, Mo., Jeffersonian. During that time Mr. Mitchell wrote several books which attracted more or less attention. Perhaps the most popular of them all was "Jael," a historical novel of local setting.

Two years later the editor became a nervous wreck from overwork and deep study. Last fall he came to Kansas City and consulted Dr. Holbrook, an old friend. Dr. Holbrook advised him to take treatment and he was sent to a local hospital. Natural pride of family and other peculiarities, caused Mr. Mitchell to use the name of M. W. Ward while in Kansas City last fall.

In November he was discharged from the hospital and went to board with A. J. Leonard, 1006 Forest avenue. From time to time he was heard to talk of self-destruction, particularly to his friend and doctor. His act of suicide, which was committed about three months ago, being the time that all trace of him was lost, seems to be the outcome of brooding over imagined or real ills.

"Mitchell was always a dreamer," said Dr. Holbrook last night, "and his act can readily be accounted for. He considered himself down and out because of his health. Yet in the very midst of it all he would write the prettiest and most optimistic poetry that you ever read. For five years he has not been to his home in Higginsville.

His mother is aged an palsied, and has frequently sent word for him to come home.

"Mitchell has relatives by the name of Ward who live in Kansas City, on the Paseo, I think."

Mitchell's body was taken to Independence, and there a corner of an envelope bearing Dr. Holbrook's address was found in his clothes.

Dr. Holbrook was notified immediately and last night he made the trip to Independence by motor car to identify the body. The identification was complete. The clothes which Mr. Mitchell had worn when he committed suicide were the same which he had when he left Kansas City last December. On that occasion he told his landlady that he was going for his mail and then disappeared.

Mr. Mitchell was 38 years old.