Charles J Hager Suicide

Easter Sunday, 12 April 1936, Flat Creek, Alabama

Charles is manager of the Flat Creek coal mine for Alabama By-Products. He is not well, and has been ill for some time. He rests in the house. His 67th birthday is in 3 weeks. The whole family is there to celebrate Easter, including Maggie's sister Mable and her family. Maggie's sister Gia is probably there as well. Son John, his wife Emily, and their son Jack are there. Henry and Catharine have driven out with daughter Jane.

Most people are outside. Henry has been ill that winter and is in the house with his father.

They hear a gunshot from inside the house. Maggie says to Mable, Oh no, he's done it.

Charles planned a very public suicide. While he was alone in the bathroom when he pulled the trigger, all his family and other extended relatives were there to hear the shot. Most people, I think, who commit suicide are alone when they do it.

Even though Charles shot himself in the head, he lived for several hours, and continued his usual practice of telling everyone what to do.

Clifton the youngest is 12.

Paul's 15th birthday is the next day.

Herbert is 17.

Bunk turned 20 three days before.

The other children are married, starting families, working.

Marguerite is a single mother to Ann, age 4. Charles and Maggie's grandchildren Jane and Jack will be 3 years old in a few months.

There is no savings and the family lives in a company provided house at the Flat Creek coal mine. Now they are destitute and homeless.

The older children find a house for Maggie and their younger brothers in Birmingham. They all contribute money to support them. It was thanks to World War II and the GI Bill that they were able to stop the support sooner than if the GI Bill's education benefits had not been available.

Henry and Catharine postpone having more children for 8 years until all the brothers are on their own. John and Emily may have also postponed having more children, but in their case they do not have any more. It will be five years before any of the unmarried older siblings marry - then it is 1941, the world is at war, and the U.S. joins it at the end of the year. As the younger brothers grow up, they also contribute money every month to support Maggie.

Charles wrote a suicide note on a used envelope (collection of Charley Hager). I believe it says:

My health is gone

I am out of work

So I will end it all I don't want want to be a burden

Bell - undertaker

Private funeral - no flowers

CJH Suicide note