NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The National Museum of Funeral History in Houston advertises, “It’s the place to visit when you are dying to do something different.”
Stephen F. Austin State University public history graduate students traveled there to borrow turn-of-the-century funeral items. They’ve chosen not to borrow the play on words.
We're doing it in such a way that it was something that was done to assist with the mourning process," explained graduate student/assistant Mary Tucker.
The straightforward approach is respectful, yet informative. Visitors will learn wicker caskets were used for home viewing.
“It was made out of wicker because it was lighter to carry around since they were bringing them into the home,” said graduate student/assistant Amanda Saylor.
In addition, public mourning was more popular rather than the private grieving we see today.
“The bonnet, for instance, would have been worn during the funeral. Also to signify that a woman was in mourning," Tucker said.
The Nacogdoches funeral home, like so many in the 1800s had crossover businesses. Caskets were found right next to farm implements.
“Like a hardware store, so you could buy your coffin there, too,” said graduate student/assistant Emily Smith.
Indeed, founders drove an ambulance, sold plows, and buggies. A special freight elevator was put in the downtown hardware store to lift the shipment of caskets.
Some of the funeral items trace the evolution of how we think about funerals.
Dr. Perky Beisel, an SFA history professor, researched the topic for a talk she will present to the public on Saturday.
"Many of the materials that we're displaying, everybody was more familiar with them because the services happened in their home,” said Beisel. “The preparing of the body happened in the home, so today we're less comfortable with that."
The 125th anniversary wants to show how Cason-Monk-Metcalf-Dignity has changed with the times, but they will always provide a caring community service.
The Fundraiser Gala will kick-off the benefit for The Friends of Historic Nacogdoches, which provides upkeep on Oak Grove Cemetery headstones.
The event will begin at 6 p.m.
And then on Saturday, at 2 p.m., the museum opens to the public with a talk about funeral history. The event is free.
Both events will be held at 5400 North street.
Displays will remain open through Oct. 31st.