Bring back some good or bad memories


July 19, 2023

The Double Casket of Thomas Jefferson Souder and His Wife Mary Ellen

Thomas Jefferson Souder and his wife Mary Ellen buried together in a custom double casket. They were married 60 years, and died a couple of days apart in July, 1921 – Mary on the 13th, Jeff on the 15th.

Thomas Jefferson Souder laying in a casket next to his wife, Mary Ellen Souder. They died three days apart in July, 1921. Jefferson was 80. Mary was 78.

The two had contracted dysentery, known as “The Flux” at that time. Dysentery is a form of gastroenteritis, usually contacted by contaminated food and water. Without treatment, a person with dysentery will rapidly lose bodily fluids leading to dehydration and eventually, death. This disease was a common killer in the 19th and 20th century before the invention of penicillin in 1928, especially in times of war when clean water was not easily accessible. It is unclear if the couple commissioned this double coffin while dying of dysentery or if it was the choice of their surviving family.

The couple’s headstone at Arwine Cemetery in Hurst, Texas.

However, it is clear that the love these two had for one another was so strong, not even death could separate them. Being prominent members of the community in their town of Hurst, Texas, the couple’s death and unique burial made front page news in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on July 16, 1921:

“Death fails to Separate Couple Wed 60 Years. Even death failed to separate Jefferson Souder, 80, and Mrs. Mary E. Souder, 78, his wife for more than half a century. Side by side, they will be laid to rest in the same casket in the little cemetery at Hurst Sunday afternoon after the span of more than an average lifetime, during with they were never separated. Only a few days intervened between their deaths.

Mrs. Souder passed away at the old home near Hurst Wednesday. Her husband’s death followed Friday afternoon. Both were caused by infirmities incident to old age. They are survived by several children [the couple had eight children, seven of which outlived them], twenty-four grandchildren and nineteen great-grandchildren. Both were taken ill about the same time and of the same malady.
Souder and his wife were Tarrant County pioneers and widely known in the Hurst neighborhood. There were married sixty years ago, their eldest child being 58 years of age.”

Thomas Jefferson Souder and his wife Mary Ellen.

1 comment:

  1. Based on the tombstone, wouldn't she have been 76, not 78?




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