William E. Fithian Grave

William E. Fithian
July 20, 1858 - October 18, 1934
Springhill Cemetery - Danville, IL



Chauffeur He Sent on Errand
Returns to Find Employer
Dying of Wound

A chauffeur sent on an errand Thursday, returned to find his employer, William E. Fithian, 76, 415 North Gilbert Street dying of a bullet wound within a few feet of the Fithian family monument in Springhill Cemetery.

A hole through Mr. Fithianís head and a .38 caliber revolver lying by his side left little doubt as to the cause of death.  He apparently had taken his own life after sending the chauffeur to the cemetery office so he could be alone.

The chauffeur, Herman Gohl, 802 East Seminary Street, had gone to the office to get T. F. Shouse, the superintendent of the cemetery, as Mr. Fithian requested him to do.  As they neared the family lot, just east of the Number 1 sunken garden, Mr. Shouse saw Mr. Fithian lying on a concrete retaining wall about three feet in width.  He asked Gohl if his employer was ill and was told that Mr. Fithian had appeared in good health when Gohl started for the cemetery office.

A pool of blood could be seen before they reached Mr. Fithianís side.  Mr. Shouse hastened back to his office to call the coroner and sheriff and when he returned there was no sign of life.  Gohl said he believed Mr. Fithian breathed once or twice after he reached his side.

John Brinkman, a laborer who was mowing grass about 400 feet away, heard a revolver shot.  He paid no attention to it, believing some one was shooting squirrels.

The news of the tragic death of Mr. Fithian, one of the best known men in Danville, came as a shock to his friends and all who had known him.  He apparently had been in good health and even as late as Wednesday had remarked to Mrs Shouse, wife of the cemetery superintendent, that he saw so many persons who were worse off physically than he that he concluded that he was perfectly well.

He had taken a great deal of interest in Springhill Cemetery.  He was vice-president of the cemetery association and when he felt well would be there almost daily, assisting in beautifying the place.  Several times during recent years he had told the superintendent of plans he wanted carried out and on several occasions had said he would not be here to see that the work was done.

Visited Cemetery Twice

Only about a month ago he is said to have remarked that he would not be here after October.  It was believed that he was merely making this assertion because of his health and those to whom the remark was addressed paid no attention to it.

Mr. Fithian made two trips to the cemetery Thursday morning.  On the first occasion about 10 a.m., he called at the home of the superintendent and had him ride with him through the cemetery.  He came back about 11 oíclock, his chauffeur driving the automobile, and went immediately to the family lot.  As he and Mr. Gohl stood overlooking the recently constructed sunken garden he remarked that the evergreens seemed to be growing nicely and then asked that the chauffeur go to the office and get Mr. Shouse, saying he wanted to talk to him about some matters.

The death of Mrs. Fithian, Aug. 21, 1933, seemed to have depressed Mr. Fithian a great deal, but he was apparently recovering from this sorrow.

Fired Lying Down

The bullet apparently was fired as Mr. Fithian was lying on the concrete retaining wall.  It entered the head near the right temple, passed completely through the head and out near the left temple.  His hat was pulled down tight on his head and he was lying flat on his back.

The body was removed to Berhalter Funeral Home.   Coroner Harry C. George planned to hold an inquest later.

Mr. Fithian was born in Vermilion County on July 20, 1858, son of Elisha and Edwilda Cromwell Fithian.   He is the last of a long line of Fithian, descendants of early pioneer settlers of Vermilion County.   He was married in February 1897.  No children were born to the union and he leaves no immediate relatives.

From: The Danville Commercial-News - Thursday, October 18, 1934

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