The Rev. Wilson J. Fisher called it an “unusual and interesting occurrence.” That would be an understatement. The Methodist minister wrote of how he conducted the nuptials of a young couple in North Prairie, Wisconsin in 1883, and later presided at the funerals of husband and wife more than four decades later in Wisconsin Rapids.
William Jones Moody, 25; and Adeline ‘Lena’ Treutel, 24; stood before Fisher at the Methodist church in tiny North Prairie on February 27, 1883. North Prairie is in Waukesha County. “I was deeply impressed by the intelligent and reverent manner of the young couple,” Fisher wrote years later. “They seemed to realize the important step they had taken. They told me of their plans and hopes for life. They were going to South Dakota, where Mr. Moody had taken up a homestead near White Lake. …I bade them Godspeed and wished for them much happiness and success.”
The paths of the minister and the young married couple would not pass again for decades. The Moodys set up their home in White Lake, where two of their children were born. They still returned to Waukesha County often to visit relatives at North Prairie. Eventually they returned home, and in 1898 they moved north, settling just outside the hamlet of Vesper in Wood County. The couple had five children; one died in infancy.
The Moody family made statewide news in 1902 over a nasty feud with the Hinz family, whose farm was adjacent to the Moodys’ 80-acre tract in the Town of Arpin. Arguments and sharp words eventually turned to fisticuffs and gunplay. William Moody was shot in the chest by young Frank Hinz. Despite early appearances to the contrary, Moody survived. Hinz was tried and convicted, earning but a mild rebuke of a sentence for his crime. The full story of the Moody-Hinz feud can be read here.
Meanwhile, Rev. Fisher moved around the Midwest, serving various Methodist congregations. When he retired in 1905, he chose to settle in Wisconsin Rapids, the county seat in Wood County. Unbeknownst to him or the Moodys, he lived his retirement just a few miles from the Moody farm. He knew nothing of it until he was contacted by a family member in May 1924. They heard he was living nearby, and the family asked him to come to the farm and conduct a funeral for William Moody. When Moody retired for the night on May 20, 1924, there were no signs of distress or illness. But in the morning, Lena Moody found her husband dead in his bed. A doctor was summoned and found the late Mr. Moody, 67, suffered from heart disease and tuberculosis.
Rev. Fisher was again summoned by the Moody family in November 1928. Lena Moody, 69, who had been ailing most of the month, had died. Rev. Fisher again came to the farm house to conduct a funeral. “William Moody and Adeline Treutel, the groom and bride of nearly 46 years ago, sleep side by side in our Forest Hill Cemetery,” Fisher wrote in 1928, “consigned to their last earthly rest by the same pastor who pronounced marriage ceremonies for them in the long gone year.”
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