Archive for Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Looking back at funeral homes

May 3, 2000

Originally, it was Quisenberry's great-grandfather, Henry Metz, a local grocer and postmaster, who was called upon by neighbors and friends to act as undertaker. Metz did most of his work in the home of the deceased, helping prepare the body for burial and making funeral arrangements.

Around 1900, Reece Cadawallader opened the city's first funeral home at 514 E. Fourth St., which is currently the west side of Holst Pharmacy.

Not long after, a Mr. Cross relocated it to 511 E. Fourth St., the present location of Shilling Electric. The business continued there until after 1921 when Charles Rumsey became the new owner. His brothers, John and Herman, joined the business.

During the Depression, the Farmers and Merchants State Bank, 602 E. Fourth St., closed, and the Rumsey brothers moved their funeral home there. They opened a funeral home in Lawrence and in 1946 sold the Tonganoxie funeral home to Hervey and Dorothy Quisenberry.

During this time, the business expanded, first with the addition of a furniture store, and in 1969 with the closure of the furniture store. The business also purchased the building to the east to provide parking and office space.

Calvin Quisenberry graduated from the San Francisco College of Mortuary Sciences in 1972 and returned to Tonganoxie to begin work with his parents. In 1978 he and his wife, Susan, began purchasing the funeral chapel.

The couple has three children, Brian, who is studying mortuary sciences at Kansas City Kansas Community College; Eric, who is attending classes at Johnson County Community College; and Heather, a junior at Tonganoxie High School.

Hervey Quisenberry worked at Quisenberry Funeral Home until his death in 1983. Dorothy Quisenberry remained active in the business until 1986.

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