“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

The Sad Shanghai Suicide of Marshall Smith Hairston, July 1936

Posted: July 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

Marshall Smith Hairston of Stella, Patrick County, Virginia, went to Hankow and Shanghai in 1917 to work for British-American Tobacco. Later he moved to work as the factory manager for the Yee Tsoong Tobacco Co. in Pudong. Marshall married a Patrick County girl, Dixie Elizabeth McCabe in 1925, and they had three boys. Sadly, in 1926 one of his boys (Marshall Smith Hairston Jr.) died. Due to disruption across the country Marshall, who was up-country on business, heard of the trouble at Shanghai but could not get back to Shanghai easily as the rail lines were cut. It took him ten days to get home. When he did he learned that his child had been killed.

Marshall was apparently distraught and never got over not having been able to get back to Shanghai in time to protect his child. In July 1936 he checked into Room 302 of the Astor House Hotel, lay down on the bed, took his pistol and shot himself in the heart. He was discovered the next morning at 5.30am when his room boy came to wake him as arranged. He was 40 years old. He left behind his wife and two other children. He was buried at the Bubbling Well Cemetery in Shanghai. Dixie Elizabeth died in 1991 at 96.

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