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Old Time Funerals

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Old Time Funerals

Posted: 1133378796000
Classification: Query


Old Time Funerals.

A few days ago I was looking over my copy of the Lyon County Herald, published within a few miles of my birth place. I saw a notice in that paper stating that the funeral of a certain old lady who had died the 22nd day of May would be preached on the third Sunday in October. While reading the notice I failed to remember that I had ever been acquainted with the deceased.

A friend who was sitting by suggested that it was a long time between the death and the funeral and that he always supposed that funerals were preached before the interment of the body took place. Of course this is the custom now, but fifty years ago there was never such a thing known in that part of the state of preaching a funeral until several months after the death of the one whose funeral sermon was to be preached. It was not even the custom to have a song sung or a prayer said at either the home or the grave.

The funeral and the burial were two separate and distinct occasions and were generally from six months to one year apart. That was the custom. If sister Smith died in the fall or winter, as a general thing the funeral services were held next spring or summer. Services at the churches in the country were held only once each month. At the church in my neighborhood, these preaching days were the fourth Saturday and Sunday in each month.

When it was determined to preach the funeral, after consulting with the friends, one month before this solemn occasion was to be pulled off, the preacher would announce that at the next regular appointment he would preach the funeral of sister Smith, or brother Jones, as the case might be. Those who were not present at this service were notified of the approaching "last tribute to the dead."

When the appointed time arrived, there was certain to be a full turn out of the people. The husband and children and other near relatives were always dressed in their very best and of course occupied the front seats in the church. If possible they were dressed in mourning of some kind. The preacher was always at his best and dwelt long upon the virtues of the deceased member. After services were over it was the custom for as many as possible to go home with the bereaved family where a bountiful dinner was served. Some of the best dinners I ever ate was at the home that had lately been bereft of the wife and mother.

These funerals were not always such as to prevent more or less levity. It sometimes happended that before this solemn occasion, Brother Smith had become rather lonesome and had already been making up to some widow or old maid in the neighborhood, with matrimonial intent. And there were those present who were so thoughtless as to claim that they had seen brother Smith, while weeping at the funeral with one eye, kept the other one on some sister whom he thought would make a good mother to this motherless children.

There were times when brother Smith broke the rules of propriety and married before the last sad rites were said and the the second Mrs. Smith was also one of the chief mourners at the funeral. When brother Smith was chided for taking his second wife so soon after his affliction his excuse was that "Sallie is just as dead as she will ever be, and I was lonesome."

Fashions in funerals as well as weddings have changed most wonderfully in the last half century and we have all changed with the fashions.

(Source: The Hustler, Tues, Oct. 2, 1913) Note: I suspect the author of this article was J.J. Glenn, publisher. PRB

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