Thanks so much to members of the Denison history FB group for passing this article along to me. I looked up the December 12 article (page 1) and it was basically a repeat of the San Francisco article claiming that Mr. Moon had employed local women to help him dig up his wife’s body.
This is a fine example of “it takes a village”. I appreciate all the people who continue to add to the history of Caddo by sharing the information linked to their families and interests. In this case, the embalmer was from Denison.
This should also encourage you to share your stories, contact other researchers, and join communities of fellow historians.
The Cincinnati (OH) Enquirer
Friday, December 23, 1904, page 6
For the Most Part was an Exaggerated Story
About Death and Burial of Mrs. Moon
In the issue of December 12 The Enquirer printed a dispatch from Caddo, I. T. which was an exaggeration of the facts attendant upon the death and interment of the wife of W. J. Moon, a prominent and influential man in that locality. The Enquirer regrets the publication, much of which was untrue, and gladly prints the real facts as set forth in the following letter written by Mr. Moon:
Caddo, I. T., December 19, 1904
To the Editor of the Enquirer,
There has appeared in a recent issue of your paper an article relative to my conduct and actions in the matter of the burial of my wife. This article is a gross misrepresentation of the facts and attributes to me certain motives and mental conditions that I resent as untrue.
I ask you to retract said article and publish this letter of mine, also the enclosed statement of W. H. Halton, embalmer, Denison, Texas, under whose instructions I acted in the matter.
I regret very much the notoriety that this matter has received.
Why the morbid curiosity of the public should demand that the sacred relations and rights that I have in my great bereavement should be thus published, broadcast over the country, to my injury, I cannot understand.
I have acted in this matter, from the start, from a sincere devotion to my wife, and the method I took of showing this I do not regard as unnatural or grewsome (sic).
I was in St. Louis at the time my wife destroyed herself by her own hand, and I, myself, was the first to find her dead at our home upon my return to Caddo, she having been dead some 24 hours. I was present at her burial, the only time that she was buried. The statement that she was taken up and buried several times is false. She was buried but one time and as stated in Mr. Halton’s letter, I was following out an inclination that I had always had to build a vault for the remains of the members of my family. I had the vault built under the instruction of Mr. Halton. Yours truly, W. J. Moon, E. L.
The following statement, made by the undertaker employed by Mr. Moon, sets forth clearly what really transpired:
I was employed by Mr. Moon to embalm the body of his wife. She had been dead something like 36 hours when I reached Caddo. Mr. Moon stated that he wished the body preserved if possible. I told him that it would be difficult owing to the length of time that death had ensued, so I gave two treatments before the body was buried on the fourth day.
Mr. Moon came to the conclusion that he would build a vault and had his wife’s body taken up and when done it was found that the casket was not properly closed. This was evident from some mold that had formed on her hair from dampness. The body was well preserved and the features were perfect as when laid away. I was called by Mr. Moon to Caddo, he being anxious to save the body. I told him that it could be done. Mr. Moon attended the body every day at the vault and followed my instructions in caring for it. I made several trips to Caddo and injected fluids each time. The treatment lasted through several months. Mr. Moon’s devotion to his task was constant and daily. Day after day, following my instructions, he did what no man or person in my experience has ever done, to be finally rewarded with the knowledge that he had preserved the body of his loved one. Everything done was as I had instructed him. The idea that he wished the body preserved was his own. He alone is responsible for that. His desire was not unusual, but natural, and the methods used were scientific and not more morbid or grewsome (sic) than in all such cases of preserving the body.
I know Mr. Moon’s motives were sincere, and none of the motives attributed to him are true. I know that no person actuated by insincere motives could have gone through the trying ordeal that he has during the last seven or eight months. He built the vault under my advice. Yours truly, W. H. Halton, Denison, Texas, December 19, 1904.
Note: Does anyone else still find the passages I underlined somewhat disturbing? What was his purpose in so perfectly “preserving” his wife’s body? And you’ll notice he offers no explanation for why his wife “destroyed herself by her own hand”. I still think the real story lies in what happened before her death…not afterwards.