"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com

This curious little tale appeared in the “Jamestown Weekly Alert,” December 21, 1883:

LEWISTON, Maine, November.—Two weeks ago Lafayette Cook, an eccentric citizen of Auburn, announced to his family that he would die on Sunday, November 11th. Yesterday his friends came to this city to buy a coffin in which to bury his remains. He was a sewing machine operator, and had been employed on a long job making overalls. He worked at home, and lived happily with his family. For a long time he had been talking about his approaching death, but as he was in excellent health little attention was paid to him. 

One day last week he asked a neighbor to take to town some work he had been doing. 

"Shall I bring down some work for you?" asked the man. 

"No," Cook replied. "I have done all the work I shall ever do." 

At the Sunday morning meal he remarked sadly, "I shall never eat another breakfast with you." He was in his usual good health and in the afternoon he went out for a walk with his grandchildren. Returning to the house he calmly announced that he would prepare himself for his coffin, and that he was ready to meet his Maker. He shaved himself carefully and put on clean clothes. He called for a spread, and lying down upon a lounge, he drew a comforter about him, and apparently settled himself for a nap. 

His wife and family gathered about him, he bid them all goodbye. They were impressed by his gentle earnestness, but had no idea of his dying. They believed that he had given too much attention to religious subjects, and that this whim was the result. Mr. Cook lay with his cheek resting on one hand and with the other arm by his aide. In that position he seemed to have fallen asleep. His friends saw a change in him. At tea time they tried to wake him. He was breathing softly but they could not rouse him. He sank into a deeper stupor. They worked over him all night, and a physician was called, but it availed nothing. Early yesterday morning be died. He had made no movement after he first closed his eyes. Those who were with him scout the idea of his having taken drugs.They say that suicide never entered his thoughts, that he was simply willing to die because he thought it was God's will. Those who have investigated the case regard it as a simple surrender of the vital power. 

LEWISTON, Maine, November 14th— Further investigation of the strange death of Lafayette Cook of Auburn, emphasizes the remarkable features of the case. Coroner Brooks made a careful examination, and found the medical facts to be as first stated. Death was shown to have resulted from natural causes, and yet there was no disease. Mr. Clark and Mr. Cates, who watched with Cook on Sunday night, say the only movements they saw was the slight expansion of his chest occasionally. The death flutter was noticed at five minutes before 8 a.m. on Monday. 

B. N. Chesley of Auburn is a brother of a recently deceased daughter-in-law of Cook, Mr. Chesley was standing in the Mayor's office in Auburn on Tuesday morning when someone remarked on the peculiar manner of Lafayette Cook's death. Mr. Chesley had not heard of it. 

“Cook dead!” exclaimed he. ‘’There is something singular about that. He had been saying for two weeks that he was going to die on Monday morning. Two weeks ago he went into a trance and made the announcement. My sister's child came over to our house last week and said that her grandfather was getting ready to die, and that he was going to die on Monday morning." 

About two months ago Cook's daughter-in-law died. Cook was one of the most sincere mourners. He accompanied her remains to the grave and expressed the tenderest solicitude toward his grandchildren. It was just after the death of Mrs. Cook that Cook made his first statement in regard to his coming dissolution. 

It was ten o'clock in the morning when a grandchild ran into the house with the news that a partridge had flown into the shed and couldn't get out. Mr. Chesley says that Cook manifested great concern. The little girl says that her grandfather turned pale and was afraid. At first he delayed going into the shed. The partridge ruffled its feathers at the children and at Everett Cook, and the latter went into the house after a gun. Then the old gentleman went out into the shed. He did not want the bird shot. Mr. Chesley says that the moment Cook appeared the behavior of the bird changed.  It flew at Mr. Cook and wheeled around in a circle about his feet. Then it perched on his shoulder, pecked at his face and alighted on his hands. At length it was given to one of the children and placed in an apple tree. It flew directly back. The bird stayed half an hour, all the time showing the utmost affection toward Cook. Finally it flew away toward the burying ground where Mrs. Cook was buried. Cook then returned to the house and went into a trance, which lasted two hours. When he recovered, he said that he should die. He said that the first warning was the visit of the bird. He had great faith in such omens.—New York Sun.



  1. Will-power is a strong and sometimes unknown force. If someone determines to die, there is often nothing to be done about it.

    1. This reminds me of those stories of witch doctors casting spells that cause someone to die. Except Lafayette managed to do it to himself.

  2. I believe that sometimes people sense their own death. My paternal grandmother said from a young age that she would die the week of her birthday (07/11) at age 90 and in fact died on 07/07 at age 90!


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