A minor, but interesting historical mystery was discussed in the "Iowa Public Health Bulletin," Volume 14 (1900.):
The following from the July number of the "Embalmers' Monthly" will be interesting to our readers, as illustrating a too little recognized cause of death.[Note: the name on the actual stone is "Phillip."]
"A tall, lank man, with a narrow head and a positive expression on a well-cut countenance, entered the marble works of Frazier & Leffel, at Centralia, Ill., recently, and intimated to the business manager that he wanted a tombstone for his wife. Manager Leffel, with one eye to business and the other adjusted to a proper expression of sympathy in his patron's bereavement, proceeded to show him the large array of designs in his establishment.
"A suitable stone was soon found, and here the work began. His patron of positive countenance had more to do with the inscription than with the style of stone. It must be just so. He must have cut on it just what he wanted and as he wanted it. He was willing to pay his money for what he wanted, but didn't want any assistance to say what that was. The undertaker tried in vain to suit him, but to no avail. He couldn't catch the spirit of his dream. There was something in this case that out-reached the rigid experience of many years. Finally the tall, lank patron said: 'Give me your pencil and I'll tell you what I want.' And here it is:
'Kiss me and I will go to sleep.ALICEFirst and Last WifeofThomas Phillips.Talked to death by friends.'
"No date of birth, no date of death is given. The age is omitted. Thomas had but two purposes in mind--one was to let the world know that he would never marry again, and the other was to let it know that his wife had been talked to death by the neighbors.
"'There, no, I want it just as I wrote it; nothing more and nothing less. I propose to pay for just what I want.'
"Being assured that his wants would be strictly complied with, he paid for the monument and, giving directions where to place it, departed with the satisfied air of a man who felt that he had got even with somebody.
"This stone is an actual fact, and stands to-day in a cemetery near Boulder, in Clinton county, Ill."
Contemporary newspapers offered a variety of colorful--and evidently completely fanciful--efforts to explain this enigmatic epitaph, but the true story behind Alice's monument seems fated to remain forever unknown.
On a side note, is anyone else as pleased as I am to learn there was a publication called "Embalmers' Monthly?"