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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A heartbreaking family drama unfolded at a cabin outside of Curlew. Ed Stoddard, his mind “demented” by his inability to provide food or clothing for his wife and five children, got up early and made pancakes and coffee – the last food in the house. He put strychnine in both, apparently believing that death for the entire family was better than the poverty that awaited them.

His 3-year-old daughter tasted the food first and died immediately. He was so distraught about what he had done that he immediately “snatched the coffee and pancakes and threw them out the door” before anyone else could touch them. The family’s two dogs and chicken ate the pancakes and died.

Stoddard then borrowed $10 from a neighbor, saying he wanted to make a little casket. Instead, he used the money to buy a train ticket to Spokane. He had not been seen since. 

The Curlew community was “shocked to think that at the opening of the Christmas season, a family in the midst of plenty should have faced death to avoid want.”

Stoddard had previously earned the respect and friendship of his neighbors, although many were aware that his mind had been “unhinged” recently due to his financial troubles.

The deputy sheriff said that Stoddard is “no doubt insane.” They were searching for him in Spokane and points between.