From Kook Science
William Herford (c. 1830/1831 - June 13, 1901) was a German-born carpenter and inventor who was reported to have committed suicide after falling into a depression that was described as being brought on by his lack of success in achieving perpetual motion after thirty years of work on the problem.
- "PERPETUAL MOTION CAUSES A SUICIDE - Inventor Herford's Machine Failed After Labors of Over Thirty Years. THOUGHT TO MAKE A FORTUNE. FIRMLY BELIEVED IN TIME-WORN FALLACY. Shot Himself in the Head, Killing Himself Instantly — Died with a Clay Pipe in His Mouth.", Times Union (Brooklyn, New York): 1, 14 June 1901, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/555782758
- "INVENTION NOT A SUCCESS, HERFORD ENDS HIS LIFE. Old Man Had Worked for Years Trying to Solve Problem of Perpetual Motion. HAD MANY DISAPPOINTMENTS. Herford Thought He Had Succeeded, Only to Find That His Machine Would Not Work.", Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York): 20, 14 June 1901, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/50359082
- "AGED INVENTOR A SUICIDE. Herford, After Working on Perpetual Motion Machine for Thirty Years, Became Discouraged.", New York Times: 14, 14 June 1901, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/25975761/
Despondency over the failure of a perpetual motor on which he had worked for thirty years is believed to have induced William Herford, a carpenter, seventy-one years old, to commit suicide in his shop, at 265 Ellery Street, Brooklyn, last evening. He lived at 10 Summer Avenue, but spent most of his time in his shop, working over his machine when he had no business on hand. The machine was a curious-looking affair, its salient features being two wooden cones inclined at an angle of about 45 degrees to each other, the point of one resting upon the base of the other. It was planned to work with self-generated pneumatic power. Herford's wife and six children are dead, and one of his sons, a policeman, also committed suicide.
The old man of late had expressed a fear that he would have to go to the almshouse or the hospital, yet he had many friends. One of these called on him and found him apparently in good spirits. He chatted for a while and then dismissed the visitor, saying that he had some work to do in the rear room. It happened that but a few minutes later a party of his friends came in. They found the door unlocked and, walking into the back room, discovered the body with a lighted pipe close by. Herford had stretched himself on his bench with a plank for a pillow, lit his pipe, and shot himself through the right temple with a heavy revolver while he smoked.