Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Walter J. Masling

            The place where I work is currently indexing Ouachita Parish newspapers for deaths and marriages.  Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of causes of death, some gruesome, some peaceful.  This particular death has stuck with me through the years as one of the most unusual ways to enter the great beyond that I have ever read about. Apparently, this poor man died after drinking gasoline.  I felt so sorry for this gentleman who died so horribly!  Where did he come from?  Who were the members of his family?  I began to research.
            Walter J. Masling was born September 4, 1871 in the small town of Delhi, LA.  His father William George and his mother Martha Miggs Masling were British immigrants from London and Liverpool respectively.  His father died in the late 1870’s leaving a widow with four sons to rear.  The little family scratched out a living, and when Walter got old enough, he and his brother Frank learned carpentry skills and worked on their own.
            Walter soon met and fell in love with a beautiful Arkansas lass named Cordelia.  The two lovebirds were wed around 1900.  Their lives were blessed with ten children according to Walter’s obituary, but only eight are listed on the census:  Eva May, Katie May, Evelina, Walter J. Jr., Clifford, Edith G., Martha E. and Frank.  Things were going quite well for the little family; then came the events of Thursday, December 3, 1925.
            Walter had been hired to do work on the state Baptist orphanage in Monroe.  We now know it as the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home.  Six months before, the orphanage had moved from its Lake Charles home to permanently settle in Monroe.  One hundred twenty-five children and the entire staff had made the move.  All that remained to be done were some finishing touches on some of the buildings.  Walter was just the man for the job.  Carpentry was thirsty work, and Walter kept a mason jar nearby full of cool water.  Not even thinking to look, he grabbed the nearest jar, thinking it was his water and took a large gulp.  Instead of water, it was a jar of gasoline.  The article about his death reported that he suffered “great distress”, but reported for work the next day.  His family had begged him not to go.  Several hours later, his stomach hemorrhaged.  Walter was quickly taken to Riverview Sanitarium for treatment.  After growing weaker and weaker day by day, Walter lost his fight for life at 1pm on December 8, 1925.  Peters Funeral Home handled arrangements.  His body was taken to his home at 2711 Lee Avenue where services were held by Rev. L.T. Hastings of the First Baptist Church of Monroe.  The body was then taken to the Old City Cemetery and buried in the Masling family plot.  Thirteen years later, his beloved wife Cordelia would be buried beside him.  Their soldier son Clifford would also be buried with them in 1942.  Walter’s parents William and Martha are here too, buried in unmarked graves.  May Walter’s sleep be more peaceful than his life!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cemetery Tour Coming in March.

Keep a lookout on this page, our Facebook page and in the local media for the announcement of our first annual Old City Cemetery tour.  Some of our cemetery "residents" will come to life and tell you about their life and the impact they had on our local history.  Some names include:  Annie E. Livingston Saunders Hardin, Maria Copely Ludeling, Narcissa Garrett, Robert Endom, Joseph Bennett McGuire and his wife Louisa Lamy McGuire, Julia Dabbs, and a Confederate Soldier buried in an unmarked grave.  The date will be coming soon!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beautiful "Little Lady": The Obituary of Mary McCranie

Little Mary McCranie, was the daughter of local newspaperman and Confederate soldier, Capt. George William McCranie.  We do not know what illness took her from her family at the age of ten months, but we do know the effect it had on her father.  The following article was written by George and published in his newspaper, The Ouachita Telegraph.

The Ouachita Telegraph
January 3, 1867
Page 2, Column 1

Baby Mary,

Among our readers, there are doubtless a few who have not forgotten the playful little paragraph which appeared in the TELEGRAPH not quite a year ago, announcing the birth of a "little lady," in our family, over whose quiet advent and promising appearance we grew exultant and proud. A father's heart, no less than a mother's bounded high at the fulfillment of a long cherished desire, and home seemed brighter ten-fold for the presence of the beautiful and innocent babe.

Heaven, for a while, smiled upon a parent's joy and little MARY grew hourly in beauty and loveliness. Her mild blue eyes assumed a deeper blue, and her fair little cheeks a more roseate tint. One baby accomplishment was added to another, all so graceful and womanly, until her little store of knowledge grew to be our pride and admiration. The slightest gesture or the faintest sigh conveyed a meaning which might have outweighed the eloquence of a Tully and touched our heart more deeply than any melody human ingenuity might devise.

But, piteous tale to tell! While others were merry-making and cutting loose from the weighty cares of an expiring year, Death came stealthily to our darkened chamber, and on the 28th of December, (woful day!) Even while a fond mother was praying for her suffering babe, bore away our darling, our beautiful "little lady!" The bright and joyous little sunbeam, coming like an exhalation from Heaven, was extinguished by the shadow of Death, and today just dawning set in darker and more gloomy than the anxious night just passed.

Was born; died; and was buried, might possibly tell all that a selfish and unfeeling world would care to know of little MARY. Ten months and two days comprise the duration of her brief existence, and, truly it might be said, she went "from the cradle to the grave." And yet a life-time would be exhausted in the effort to realize the hopes and aspirations which centered upon our fair little daughter, and which now lie buried with her! Spare, then, bustling world, your cold criticism, and say not, as you have been, or may be bereaved, that ours is a foolish sorrow! A prattling boy, who erstwhile hung about our knees, or followed us with tottering steps, his rosy lips making sweet music for our ears, is now followed to rest by his baby sister. -- Heaven has been unkind in calling them away? Nay, nay; it is well!

Starting later, these little suffering pilgrims have even outstripped us in the hasty march to the Hereafter, the order of Nature having been happily reversed in their favor. An earthly existence could have added nothing to their happiness, and dying first, we might have left them the beneficiaries of an uncharitable world. Seventy years! What are they? The gnarled oak or the scrubby pine that darkens the forest and that we heed not in passing, has lived longer. Eternity is the goal the New Life the soul's true and Heaven designed sphere. Thither our little ones have gone. God help us to follow in the path they have trod!

Mary's broken little headstone lies next to that of her father George in the City Cemetery.