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East Funeral Home




The East Funeral Home, which is located today in Texarkana, Texas at the corner of 6th and Olive Streets, has given service to the people of Texarkana and the four states area for many years and was founded in 1899 by Elias C. East. It was first located on the Arkansas side of Texarkana, at 214 Vine Street, which is now called Olive Street. 

In the 1899-1900 Texarkana City Directory, Mr. E. C. East is listed as deputy City Marshal, who resided at 214 ˝ East Broad Street. His wife, of the same address, was listed as a dressmaker. The Miller County Arkansas Marriage Licenses Index gives the following: E. C. East age 44, married Queen Vaughan age 26, 17 August 1898. The Miller County Arkansas Federal Census of 1900 gives the following: Elias C. East, white, male, age 45, married 2 years, born in AR, father born in GA, and mother born in TN. His wife was listed as Queen E. East age 27, white, female, married 2 years, had one child and one child still living. She was born in AR, father born in GA and mother born in AR. The child was listed as Alfonse, son, white, male, age 8 months, single, born in AR, father and mother both born in AR. A sister-in-law, living in the same household, was listed as Mrs. Frank Stinnett, white, female, age 29, widow, mother of one child, this child not living, born in AR, father born in GA, mother born in GA. The 1899-1900 City Directory also listed her living at the same address, 214 ˝ East Broad. 

Mr. E. C. East was born in Arkansas in 1856, died in 1908 and is buried in the State Line Cemetery. After his death his widow continued in the business with the same policies. All calls were given prompt and expert attention. This concern did embalming and carried a line that included everything in funeral supplies. A lady attendant was always in waiting for the care of ladies and children. Mrs. Queen Vaughn East was born in Arkansas in 1870 and lived until 1932. She is buried beside her husband in the State Line Cemetery.

Others who were active in this business were Charles M. Reeves, (listed in the 1899-1900 Texarkana City Directory as, undertaker, resides 715 Pine) A. M. Davenport and William F. Meissner. 

Mr. Meissner was born at Riverton, Illinois on 27 December 1879, the son of William F. and Anna Hampton Meissner, both natives of Illinois. After completing his schooling, he engaged in the furniture and undertaking business. He went to Springfield, Illinois a few years later where he established an undertaking parlor. After selling this establishment he moved to Girard, IL, but a short time later he came to Texarkana to be the manager of the East Funeral Home. In 1911, three years after the death of Mr. E. C. East, William F. Meissner became the sole owner by purchase of the business from the heirs With his expertise and training Mr. Meissner was able to thoroughly modernize the business and made it the first modern funeral home in this section of the country. 

Mr. Meissner was known as one of the best morticians in the Southwest as operator of the East Funeral Home. He was by nature fitted to this profession. He had an understanding heart, gentleness, and tender sympathy that enabled him to assuage the grief of those who were called upon to give up loved ones. His big and generous heart went out to those in distress and he did many deeds of charity, serving those of small means with the same fidelity, care and dignity that characterized his service to those of ample means. 

Mr. Meissner was a member of the Arkansas Funeral Directors Association and was a communicant of the Methodist Church. He was a Knights Templer Mason and Shrine and was affiliated with the Elks, the Knights of Pythias, and the Chamber of Commerce. He was a citizen of the highest type and always identified himself with those working for the public welfare. The memory of William F. Meissner, whose death occurred 2 September 1935, will long live in the hearts and minds of those who were privileged to know him, especially those who were the beneficiaries of his services in their time of distress and grief. 

William F. Meissner was married, on 24 September 1902 in Riverton, Illinois, to Jennie Grubb. She was born 11 September 1878, the daughter of Michael and Elizabeth Carner Grubb. Mr. and Mrs. Meissner were the parents of three daughters, Leota wife of J. B. Malaby, Helen, and Doris wife of B. W. Craig. Mrs. Jennie Grubb Meissner remained active in the services of the East Funeral Home for many years after her husband’s death as well as other members of the family. She died 16 April 1957 and is buried beside her husband. 

Leota Meissner, born 26 July 1903, was married 14 February 1928 to John B. Malaby, who was born 1 June 1904. They were both active in the business until he died 5 June 1960. After his death she married second, Glenn W. Birkby, born 6 January 1908 who died 31 July 1988. Mrs. Leota Meissner Malaby Birkby died 21 June 1994. They are both buried in East Memorial Gardens. Helen Meissner was born 28 April 1905 and died 1 January 1931. Doris Meissner, the third daughter, who was also active in the business, was born 19 August 1907 and died 26 September 1994. She married Benjamin W. Craig who was born 11 February 1904 and died 4 October 1994. All of these other family members, MEISSNER, MALABY, CRAIG, are buried in the family plot at the Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. 

After John B. Malaby died, his son David W. Malaby, and wife Marylu Nelson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Nelson, Sr., came back to Texarkana to help his mother take care of the East Funeral Home business. David W. Malaby is active in this business today. 

Submitted by Betty Meador Sharp, May 2004

Sources:  Book, “History of Texarkana and Bowie and Miller Counties, Texas-Arkansas,”   By, Barbara Overton Chandler and J. Ed Howe, 1939 1899-1900 Texarkana City Directory  1900 Miller County Arkansas Federal Census  Miller County Arkansas Marriage Index  Cemetery  Records  Obituary Records. 




SINCE 1898


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