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Funeral Museums in the United States

In the past, the small museum known as the Heaton-Bowman Smith and Sidenfaden Chapel Funeral Museum was once a grocery store of the 60s.This article will highlight some of the exhibits now come to see, as well as a few other funeral museums of the United States.

Heaton-Bowman Smith and Sidenfaden Chapel Funeral Museum

Now, the museum is found tucked in the back room of a spacious funeral home. Exhibits include about a dozen urns and antique coffins, including the wicket basket that the undertaker used in 1882 to transport the body of outlaw Jesse James from the location of his murder (his home) to the funeral home. James was laid to rest three times, and dug up twice. His first funeral was held at Heaton-Bowman-Smith. In the museum, you can view the original death ledger with business shorthand that read ”“ “Mr. Jesse James killed $250.”

Another popular exhibit at the museum is an ‘ice covered casket’ that was used to preserve bodies that had been shipped long distances. It is comparable to the kind of cooler that we use for picnics and tailgating. The president of the funeral home has revealed that the Smithsonian has tried several times to get a hold of the body ice box, but the museum is not interested in parting with the artifact.

If you are interested in visiting the funeral museum, it is located on 3609 Frederick Ave. in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Ferguson Funeral Home Museum

Dating back to 1880, the Ferguson Funeral Home Museum is the oldest business in the Scottdale Pennsylvania community with more than 125 years of service under its belt. The funeral directors serving the area have a history that traces back more than four generations. The funeral home is also home to a historical museum that offers American Folk Art exhibits and hand-made carved wooden artifacts that belong to the William Ferguson Collection, including windmill clocks and grandfather clocks. At the museum, you can see what a hearse looked like from the 1880s ”“ still in operating condition.

To visit this museum, head for 105 Spring Street in Scottdale Pennsylvania ”“ in Westmoreland County.If you are interested in viewing the Ferguson Collection, you can visit the Ferguson Funeral Home during normal business hours Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5. p.m.  Evening and weekend tours are by appointment only.

Goodbye to the Museum of Funeral Customs

At one time, the Museum of Funeral Customs was located at 1440 Monument Ave. in Springfield, Illinois. Focusing on American funerary and mourning customs, the museum was located close to Oak Ridge Cemetery, where you will find the tomb of Abraham Lincoln. The site was home to a replica of Abraham Lincoln’s coffin, as well as early embalming fluid. Other collections held at the museum included an embalming room that dates back to the 1920s, a variety of coffins, scale model of Lincoln’s funeral train, and photography highlighting post-mortem bodies.

In the past, the museum hosted tours and special events. It was also used as a learning center for scholars researching funerary customs. Unfortunately, the museum was shut down in March of 2009 due to a lack of attendance and mishandling of the museum trust fund