Mr. and Mrs. Jones
In 1910, Dallas residents had endured 31 days of August with a single day of scant rain. The first day of September brought no relief: The temperature that Thursday hit 102 degrees.
William “Willie” Jones, a fruit packer for a produce company that stretched four blocks on Elm Street, arrived home from work. Waiting for him was his wife of a little over a year, Susan “Susie” Trollinger, 17.
Something set them off — police later called it “domestic troubles” — and the couple’s disagreement spilled onto the sidewalk in front of their rented house on Griffin Street.
Willie raised a large caliber revolver and fired, hitting his wife in the abdomen. When she ran, he fired again, striking her in the small of her back. His third cartridge failed to explode.
With his wife bleeding into the sidewalk, Willie raised the revolver to his head and pulled the trigger. The bullet struck his brain, killing him instantly. He was 19 years old.
The boy’s father lived in Hot Springs, Arkansas; his mother was on her own at home in Dallas. Her actions on the night her son died — and in the days that followed — revealed remarkable composure.
Susie was transported to St. Paul’s Sanitarium, where she struggled for life until 1:30 a.m. Friday. Later that morning, both her body and her husband’s were taken to his mother’s house at 415 Young Street, a detail that suggests Mrs. Jones and Susie’s mother, Martha Jane Trollinger, turned toward one another in their mutual grief.
In 1902, Mrs. Trollinger’s husband had left his family of five — Susie was their youngest child — and married another woman. Prior to the split, the family had lived in Ennis. At the time of Susie’s death, Mrs. Trollinger was working as a seamstress, sharing a rental house on Lamar Street with son George, 21, a drugstore delivery man; daughter Belle, 24, also a seamstress, and a male lodger.
That all three Trollingers worked yet kept a lodger suggests money was scarce. Was that why, years earlier, with even younger children at home, Mrs. Trollinger lent her name to a testimonial for the White Sanitarium?
It was not uncommon during this era, the heyday of patent medicines and quack cures, for otherwise respectable folks to earn a little cash by sanctioning various nostrums and treatments. It’s also possible Mrs. Trollinger sought comfort in morphine.
That it was Mrs. Jones who took charge the night her son murdered Martha Jane Trollinger’s daughter suggests she set aside her grief and did what she could to mitigate the pain of the other suffering mother. Her burden was twofold: Her own child was dead, and he died a murderer.
Mrs. Jones invited into her home two undertakers to tend the needs of both children. Their mothers agreed to ask W.D. Bradfield, pastor of Trinity Methodist Church, to perform a single funeral service, which took place again in Mrs. Jones’ home.
Burial was postponed until Saturday, September 3, to give the boy’s father time to arrive from Hot Springs. At that time, two hearses proceeded side by side, transporting the young marrieds to Oakland Cemetery. Pallbearers rode in a coach behind the hearse, family and friends in carriages behind the coach.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones — victims of youthful passion and a moment’s impulse — were children who didn’t live long enough to write a bigger story than the way they died. They are buried side by side in section 8 at Dallas’ historic Oakland Cemetery, where they have shared a tombstone for 110 years.