In The News: April 3, 1908 - Reduced in Rank; Commits Suicide

A Powder Works employee's misfortune turns to tragedy.

Many people think of depression, especially due to work-related stress, as a modern phenomenon.  However, as you'll see from this article from the April 3, 1908 edition of the San Francisco Call, it has affected people for centuries.  Henry Boynson, an employee of the Powder Works, took his own life as a result of his "moody state of mind."

The artile is reprinted below in its entirety, with original spelling and punctuation.


PINOLE, April 2 -- One week after he had been reduced from the position of head book keeper to that of a laborer In the yard at the Pinole powder works, Henry Boynson, 30 years of age, shot himself near the heart in the rear room of a Pinole saloon late last night, and died soon after.  He had grown despondent after his reduction, losing a position paying $200 a month to become a laborer at only $75, and took his life, his friends say, because of this.

Boynson was one of the trusted employes while John Birmingham Jr, was superintendent, holding a place as head book keeper in one of the divisions of the powder plant.  A new management was recently appointed, and Boynson was one of the few men disciplined, because he had become addicted to liquor, according to the men at the works.  He was in a moody state of mind from the time of the reduction until yesterday, which was pay day, and then his misfortune is said to have overcome him.  Retiring to a rear room in the saloon, he fired a shot into his breast.

He was found lying on the floor, unconscious, and lived only a few minutes.

Boynson was not married, and supported his mother and sister, both of whom live in Pinole.

Article courtesy of the California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside.  All newspapers published before January 1, 1923 are in the public domain and therefore have no restrictions on use.

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Abbe January 16, 2013 at 06:43 PM
I wonder which Pinole Saloon? My boyfriend's house used to be called, "Last Chance Saloon." Apparently this guy felt he used his ...
Dean Brightman January 17, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Apparently. Too bad he didn't stop in the "Next to Last Chance Saloon." (Old Looney Tunes joke for you cartoon geeks.)


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