NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors is one of the oldest continuous businesses in Nacogdoches.
This year, it's commemorating 125 years of service.
A special Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting celebration will be held Thursday beginning at 4:45 p.m. to honor their dedication to service over the last hundred plus years.
Aside from a community event this Thursday, the funeral service is planning a unique look at the past, which requires the public's help.
Cason Monk & Company began when a person could buy a shovel along with a casket.
"When Cason Monk Hardware was in the community, the caskets were stored on the upstairs floor," said Constance Engelking, a Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors location manager.
"Over a century ago, the funeral director would take it directly to the deceased's home. "They would go to the house to prepare the body for viewing for family and friends, so there wasn't any funeral home."
Eventually, there was a Cason Monk funeral home on Mound Street.
Following a merger with Oakley Metcalf, housed at the corner of Mound and Hospital, the business moved to its present location, conveniently located across North Street from the cemetery.
The world changes over time.
"We're in the visitation hallway," Engelking said.
The entire building is being renovated for the 125th anniversary. Space will be reserved for a historic wall of honor.
"There were a very, in the history of the death culture, very extensive practices," said Perky Beisel, an associate professor of history at Stephen F. Austin State University.
Beisel and her students are looking for funeral and remembrance items from Deep East Texas.
"Letters or calling calls that were inscribed with the black around it," Beisel said. "Do families still have the fabrics decorating the house appropriately? Clothing, dress clothing."
Family stories and photos are of interest, too.
"Especially during the years of 1893 and 1911, we would certainly love to capture those stories and make them part of our history," Engelking said.
Cason Monk and Oakley Metcalf have donated hundreds of historic funeral records to the East Texas Research Center. The National Museum of Funeral History in Houston is taking an interest, too. A loan of museum collections from Houston is in the works. Cason Monk-Metcalf wants their legacy kept alive.
"We don't plan on stopping," Engelking said. "Our industry will continue to need us."
Cason Monk-Metcalf funeral directors invites residents to a 125th-anniversary celebration set for Thursday.
A jazz band, refreshments and building tours will begin at 4:45 in the afternoon.
The event is free. The funeral home is located at 5400 North Street in Nacogdoches.