UPDATED: 6-23-2013


Parkersburgers once lived a lot closer to death. Before the early 1900s, families generally prepared their own members for burial and held viewings in the parlor or in another room of the house. But then, as embalming became more popular, local merchants began to assume the role of preparing the departed. For example, according to Parkersburg's 1907 directory, two local merchants--Halsey, Memel & Strong at 317 Juliana Street and G.E. Leavitt & Co. on Juliana between Second and Third--specialized in harnesses, carriages and undertaking; Leavitt was also an agent for a Threshing Machine Company.

A third operation, McGregor-Amiss Furniture Co. at 716 Market, advertising "Furniture, Carpets, Mattings and Undertaking," the latter "under the personal supervision of our Mr. McGregor, who has several years' experience in conducting funerals." Halsey et al advertised themselves as "funeral directors and embalmers," whereas the other two used only the word "undertaking," because embalming was an option in those days. There's no indication of whether these companies provided a "funeral parlor" along with their services, or if religious affiliation was a factor.

According the 1932 phone book, there were seven funeral homes listed in the area: Carney & Co. at 804 Ann, Franklin Mortuary at 1117 Murdoch, Kimes Funeral Home at Pike and Central (out near Elizabeth), Leavitt & Co. at 401 Seventh, Albert Rockenstein at 402-1/2 Seventh, Charles Spencer on Second Street in Belpre, and Stanley Vaughn Funeral Home at 1640 St. Marys Avenue (later Ogdin Funeral Home after Vaughn or Vaughan moved down to 1010 Murdoch and opened a second parlor in Vienna).

An Artcraft Studio photographer took this post-mortem portrait of a Parkersburg resident
probably before 1930. Photos of deceased family members were once fairly common.


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