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The History of the American Funeral Home

Published : 11/26/2018 17:07:29
Categories : Mobi Medical Articles , Mortuary Services

In the US, funeral homes have been around for almost as long as we have been a nation. The oldest funeral home in America can trace its roots back to 1759. The owner of the busineIn the US, funeral homes have been around for almost as long as we have been a nation. ss Anthony Hay started out as a cabinet manufacturer who expanded to making coffins as a side job. In the late 1700’s, Hay transferred his company over to Benjamin Bucktrout. Bucktrout eventually expanded his business to offer not just coffins but to offer the full services of a funeral home. In fact. the Bucktrout Funeral Home is still open to this day.

Embalming became prevalent after the Civil War. We typically used other methods prior, but after the traveling funeral of Abraham Lincoln, which showcased his embalmed body, the process of embalming become more acceptable to the general public. As the popularity of embalming grew, so did the need for funeral homes. In 1890, the number of funeral directors in America grew to 9,891. As the public started wanting a modern funeral, more and more people moved their loved ones’ funerals out of their homes and into the more professional setting of a funeral home.  Now, these funeral directors could begin preservation of the bodies in their facilities instead of hauling their tools and equipment to the homes of the deceased. This also allowed many funeral directors to live at the funeral home and employ their family to perform other necessary duties.

By the 1900’s funerals in the US were becoming big business. By 1920 the number of funeral homes in America grew to 24,469, and they were similar to the ones we use today. They become more and more professional and even created several trade organizations still in use today such as the National Funeral Directors Association. This meant that funeral directors could get proper training in all the modern industry standards and trends. Not soon after many additional services, such as life insurance, florists, and casket manufacturing began to grow within the industry. Then as cremation became popular, many funeral homes either created their own facilities or contracted with other crematoriums. This was and still is a booming industry for everyone involved.

In the 21st century, there is a new scenario emerging, where many have noticed and want to take advantage of the booming business of funerals. This new model features the corporate funeral home. There are still many funeral homes available that are family owned and operated; however, many of these funeral homes are being purchased by funeral conglomerates. Once they purchase the funeral home, they will hire the original owner back as a manager and retain the previous local name. This keeps up the appearance that nothing has changed; however, this process could alter the focus of the funeral home from being a locally owned family business focused on the community to simply focusing on the profit and stock return for the parent company. There is no telling where the booming business will be in the future, but the one sure thing is there will always be a need for funeral homes, which simply calculates into growth and profits for all involved.

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