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James Belton Braswell

Posted 2019-09-07 by Pat R
Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona)
Saturday, January 15, 1898, p. 4

Believed To Be Suicide

Other Light Thrown on the Death of James B. Braswell

James B. Braswell, an old resident of Phoenix, died at 1 o'clock on Thursday. His death was believed at the time due to alcoholism. A physician had been sent for, but before he arrived the old man had passed away. The usual certificate of death was issued, but inasmuch as it failed to describe any other circumstance than the obvious one that the man was dead and that there need be no apprehension of a premature interment, Dr. William Duffield refused to issue a burial permit. Thus a coroner's inquest was made necessary. Justice Johnstone impaneled a jury yesterday afternoon and went out to the family residence on Grand avenue. The funeral was already in progress and in another hour the body would have been buried.

It was believed that the inquest would be a merely formal proceeding, the viewing of the body, the rendering of a verdict and the issuance of a permit of burial.

But while at the house the jury gathered information that death might not have resulted from natural causes. Braswell had been in the city from Monday night until Wednesday. He was taken home by W. R. Reno, to whom he said on the way that he would never see him alive again. This statement alone created no suspicion of an intention to commit suicide, but after Braswell was dead two bottles partly empty were found in his pockets. One had been filled with laudanum and the other with paregoric. It was subsequently learned that shortly before starting home he had purchased two such bottles. The inquest will be concluded at 10 o'clock this morning.

Braswell was 62 years old and was a native of South Carolina. He had served in the confederate army. After the war he emigrated to Kansas, and twenty years ago moved to Prescott. He came to Phoenix ten years ago. He was married twice and is said to have been the father of twenty-four children. He was a bricklayer and had been a contractor. He was an industrious and skillful workman, but for several years he had been given way to the habit of drinking.
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Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona)
Sunday, January 16, 1898, p. 4

The Braswell Inquest

All Suspicion of Suicide Easily Explained Away

The inquest upon the death of James B. Braswell last Thursday was concluded yesterday. It served to clear away the suspicion of suicide, which had been raised the day before when it was learned that a bottle of laudanum was found in Braswell's pocket and that a couple of days before death he told W. R. Reno that he would never see him again alive. The only witnesses examined were the wife of the dead man and Mr. Reno. The former said that her husband had for thirteen years been carrying a small vial of laudanum which he mixed with sweet oil to relive a pain in his ear. The mixture had been prescribed by a Prescott physician. Then Mrs. Braswell described the circumstances of death. Her husband had been very ill on Tuesday night, but seemed much better the next day. He was not quite so well on Thursday morning, but was able to leave his bed for a short time. When he returned to it and lay down, he gasped and complained that he could not get his breath, and asked his wife to raise his head. As she did so he exclaimed, "I am gone!" and immediately died.

Regarding the statement to Mr. Reno that he would never see him alive again, Braswell was speaking of a premonition. He said he had seen the ghost of his first wife the night before and he took it as a sign that he was going to die.




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