Grim news from Clatskanie’s Grand Central Hotel

In researching Nevada Stewart and the Grand Central Hotel in Clatsaknie, Oregon, I came across a couple news items about guests who spent their final night at the hotel. I’m sharing these grim reports because they might be of interest to other genealogists: 

Headache Causes Suicide
R. Kennedy, Clatskanie Young Man, Blows Out Brains

CLATSKANIE, Or., Aug. 22 [1909] — (Special) — R. Kennedy, aged 35 and unmarried, committed suicide by shooting himself through the temple, at his room at the Grand Central Hotel here, about 4 o’clock this morning and was found with a revolver in his hand, lying across the bed by the hotel proprietors when they book the door in at 8 o’clock.

Kennedy had been a sufferer from severe headaches for some time and was under the care of a physician, but was well enough to follow his trade as an engineer most of the time. Saturday and Sunday he took large doses of quinine, hoping to gain relief, which it is supposed, caused temporary insanity, as from plans for the future communicated to friends, it is known the act was not premeditated.

At about 11 o’clock Sunday evening he went to the room of G.D. Sutherland, one of the proprietors, and asked for a revolver, saying someone was trying to kill him, but Mr. Sutherland told him he was sick and to go to bed. He went upstairs and shortly afterward a shot rang out, which aroused the household and crashed through the door of a room on the opposite side of the hall. He was heard moving around the room and everyone was afraid to attempt to go in, for fear of being shot. At 4 o’clock two more shots were fired, which evidently caused his death.

Deceased was a prominent young man here, where he had made his home for the past seven or eight years. He was also a Spanish War veteran, enlisting in Ohio. Relatives living at Marysville, O., have been notified.1

Clatskanie Farmer Dies Suddenly
St. Helens, Ore., 9 Oct. 1914

Frank A. Swangren, a farmer of the Clatskanie neighborhood, was found dead in his bed at the Grand Central Hotel in Clatskanie one day this week. The man had been working on the road near Rainier and contracted a severe cold. Returning to Clatskanie he went to the hotel and secured a room and retired. Upon opening his room next morning his body was found in the bed. He was a single man.”2

  1. Note: His full name was William R. Kennedy. “Headache causes Suicide: R. Kennedy, Clatskanie Young Man Blows Out Brains,” Morning Oregonian, 24 Aug. 1909, p. 4, col. 1; digital image, (
  2. “Clatskanie Farmer Dies Suddenly,” St. Helens Mist, 9 Oct 1914, p. 8, col. 2; digital image, ( ; accessed 6 June 2020).
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