There are lots of funeral homes in Metairie, LA and the rest of the USA, but where did they come from? Most people are unaware of America’s rich funeral home history, but it’s actually quite fascinating. It starts in a very interesting place. Almost everyone stayed close to home before the mid 1800s, so when they died their bodies could be displayed in the family parlor until it was time for burial.
Since there wasn’t any delay from death to display to burial, the bodies didn’t need any sort of preservation. In fact, this tradition of hosting funerals in the home’s parlor is where the term “funeral parlor comes from.” This all changed in 1865 when President Lincoln was assassinated.
Due to his nearly nationwide popularity, heads of state decided to bring his body on a national funeral procession.
Since this trip took several weeks, his body had to be embalmed to slow decomposition. After seeing President Lincoln be embalmed, people all across the USA decided embalming was a good idea. With embalming popularity growing, people were given the opportunity to expand their funeral traditions outside the home. Bodies were more easily transported and displayed, so funerals could be held later after death allowing for more people to attend. Since more people attended, it was easier to host the service in a neutral place.
The Bucktrout family in Virginia witnessed a growing need for places to host funerals and rose to the occasion. Originally coffin and cabinet manufacturers, this family expanded their business to include funeral home services, just like those we have today. The Bucktrout family opened America’s first modern funeral home. Funeral homes were labeled as such because undertakers, or funeral directors as we now call them, usually operated their business out of their home.
The 1900s saw even more growth in the funeral home business. This large expansion called for formal training for funeral directors in order to streamline the business model and help the businesses grow by changing the conversation. The National Funeral Directors Association was formed in the early 1900s to help consumers view the members as professionals.
Coffin makers, florists, life insurance agencies and other connected fields also blossomed, helping funeral homes become what they are today. By 1920, there were around 24,469 funeral homes in the United States, showing a 100% growth in less than 80 years. Like many other United States institutions, funeral homes grew out of Christian roots. Immigration laws began to relax in the 1960s, and other cultures slowly became more accepted. This influx of new beliefs created a market for funerals, and once again funeral homes stepped up. They began offering services for other ethnic and religious groups from Vietnamese and Eastern European to Buddhism and Hinduism.
Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home is honored to be a part of this grand funeral home tradition. We are a Metairie, LA funeral home that offers many services designed to help in times of loss. Call us today to learn more.