Article transcribed from the

New York Times

27th September, 1908


Mother And Son die To Follow Daughter


Both Take Poison, After Girlís Death, Ending Hopeless Fight For Existence


The Son Was An Artist


Police Break into their little Flat at the Request of Neighbors



As one of the final preparation s for the suicide ofhimself and his mother, because of the deathof his sister, the young artist who had failed wrote out this information about the three involved in the tragedy, evidently meaning it for use on their coffins:


Mary E. Soden, born Parma, Ohio, May 17, 1847

Edwin Soden, born Mansfield, Ohio, March 28, 1871

Ella Soden , born Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 7, 1876


The information was found yesterday morning by the police in the Soden flat, at 258 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, some five or six days after the family had ceased to exist.

None of the other families in the flathouse knew when death came to any of the Sodens. The isolation of the family was the explanation of this. Their isolation was self-imposed, and grew out of price and poverty.

Behind this is the story of the Sodens. Very meagre information could be obtained about them, for they came in contact with few persons, and to these few they talked little about themselves. The voiceless things in the little five-roomed flat tell most of the story of the Sodens.

The family must have been in New York city for a number of years. The son studied art. On the walls of all the rooms of the flat hand oil paintingsdone by him. Probably in the early days of his work the mother and sister believed that some day they could be proud of his fame as an artist. But it wasa vain hope.

A dozen or more years ago he took to dong work for newspapers. Probably this was but a makeshift. He soon drifted away from this work, for his art was not what was required. Then his sister took up dressmaking in stress of circumstances.


Lived there Five Years


Five years ago the Sodens moved to the flat at 258 Greene Avenue, near Classon, owned by Mrs. Annie Lynch of 391 Classon Avenue, about a block away. For the modest five rooms they paid $15 a month. A little drawing room opens on Greene Av enue. Back of that is a small dressing room, then a bedroom, then a small room that was intended as a bathroom, and lastly the kitchen, which opens on the court at the rear.

From the first day the Sodens went to the flat they isolated themselves. If they passed a neighbor on the stairs they were gracious enough, but they paid no visits and received none. As if anticipating that some of the neighbors would feel angry because ofthis, and wuld complain to Mrs. Lynch, Miss Soden told her one day that both she and her brother had to work, and that they no time to give to visitors or to visit.

Miss Soden had nocustomers come to her house; that would have been to advertise their poverty. Letters found in the kitchen, among notes and letters and post cards from former friends travelling in Europe , told that her customers on the Heights and other fashionable sections of Brooklyn always sent for her to come to them.

At the beginning of this year, according to Mrs. Lynch, the mother , 61 year old, became broken in health and spirits. She was moreand more in bed, thus drawing the son and daughter away from thrie work. When Sept. 1 came, the son, who was 37 years old, took the $15 to Mrs. Lynch for the first time. He said his sister was notwell, but did not say what was the matter with her.

In the tangle of cheap furniture and empty patent medicine bottles found in the flat yesterday the police could find no bottle that bore a prescription mark. None of the neighbors ever say a doctor go into the flat, and it is probable that the young woman had not other medical advice than that given by her brother and her bedridden mother.

Cornonerís Physician Hartung could not tell what the young woman died of , and so said heart disease. It must have been a week ag that she died. The brother put a white, shroud-like dress on the body and placed it in the little drawing room.


Prepared for Death


The mother and brother then waited one, or perhaps two, days before they ended their lives. Beside the coffins Soden left his note:


My sister, Ella, the best and sweetest and most unselfish, affectionate, and lovable of sisters, is dead. This world without her seems unendurable. I will follow her, and so will my mother. She is ill and too exhausted to live. My motherís brothers, Christopher Wetzel of Parma, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and John and Philip Wetzel

of the same place will bury us. Please notify them.††† EDWIN SODEN.

P.S. -I wish very much my uncles, as above, to have all my effects, such as they are, which I leave if they bury us. If not, whoever does bury us is to get them . Good-bye.


P.S.-Perhaps Major Edward T. McChrystal of 115 East Eighty-third Street, New York City, would look after the matter of notifying my uncles in Ohio. I only met him once, but he knew my fatherís people.

There is $21.84 in the pockets of the clothes I have on toward the funeral expenses ( in waistcoat pockets.)



He either went out and bought, or already had in the house, more than enough death-giving material. There was a loaded pistol and a box of cartridges, a six-ounce bottle of carbolic acid, and a n eight-ounce bottle of chloroform. And so the broken-spirited mother and son took a last look at their loved one, and quietly got ready to end the life that had been so hopeless and irksome to them all.

The mother waited in bed while her son mixed the potion. Into a bottle he poured a lot of chloroform and possible some carbolic acid, and into that some whisky.

Then Mrs. Soden swallowed some of the mixture, pulled the bedclothes over her head, and died. The son, fully dressed, wrapped some bedclothes around himself. Lay down on the floor at the foot of his motherís bed, drank all of the mixture.