IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

Early Funeral Homes

Do you have photos or information about an early Clayton co. funeral home or undertaking establishment?
The dates given are approximate. More exact or additional information is welcome!
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Kappen Furniture & Undertaking - Guttenberg
Established in the late 1850's. Continuously operated into the 1950's.

Clemens Kappen, founder of Clayton county's oldest furniture store, and one of the oldest businesses in Guttenberg to be located continuously in one building, was born in Zueschen, near Winderberg, Festfahlan, Germany, August 27, 1825. He came to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1851, taking 66 days to cross the Atlantic. Mr. Kappen worked as a cabinet maker with a Cincinnati furniture company for four years, when he became connected with a group being sent to Guttenberg by the Cincinnati Settlement company, and Maria Nutt who was born in Balzers, Liechtenstein, Austria. She preceded Mr. Kappen to Guttenberg, coming directly here from Austria in 1848. The sailing vessel on which she crossed the ocean took 93 days to make the trip. Many of her companions died from lack of drinking water, as adverse winds belw the ship back out to sea after they had nearly reached America.

The first hearse used by the Kappen undertaking establishment was merely a platform built on a running gear, which had brought the Winkle family to Guttenberg from Cincinnati in 1848. Prior to the Civil War Mr. Kappen built a very fine looking box on this same running gear, making the first hearse in Clayton county, and one of the first in Iowa. This hearse made many long trips to distant towns including Waukon and Lancaster. It also served the other communities in the county. Tired of being awakened during the night to provide a casket for someone who had just died, Mr. Kappen decided to make a few in assorted sizes before the need arose. At first the people were shocked to hear of such a thing and he was approached by the clergy and asked to stop doing it.

Kappen Hearse
The Kappen hearse - first hearse in Clayton county

Albert J. Kappen, son of Clemens Kappen, has files dating back to 1860's. They show that coffins sold for $6.50 to $9.00. An extra charge of $1 was made for the use of the hearse with one horse, and $1.50 for its use with a team on longer trips.

~Compiled from information in the Clayton County Centennial, July 1, 1936, the Oelwein Daily Register, December 1955 and Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 1996.

McTaggart Funeral Service - Elkader
Established in the early 1930's, operating into the 1970's

Donald McTaggart, licensed embalmer
Complete funerals as low as $75 and no extra charge for Funeral Home
Complete funeral $100: Cloth-covered casket, white pine burial box, embalming, complete funeral service
Complete funeral $189: Cypress casket covered with crushed plush, cypress burial box, embalming, use of chapel, use of hearse, cemetery equipment
Complete funeral with metal casket $238: silver finish metal casket, concrete vault, embalming, use of funeral home, use of hearse, car for pallbearers, car for clergyman, cemetery equipment including tent, chairs, lowering device and green grass
Complete funeral with metal casket & metal burial vault $369: includes all service and all arrangements
Complete funeral with glass inner sealer & gronze vault $519: includes complete equipment, service and all arrangements

~Advertisement from the Clayton co. Centennial, July 1, 1936

Oelke funeral home - Elkader
Established in the early 1930's, operating into the 1950's

Leslie Oelke, owner

Oelke Funeral Home, 1942

Pilkington Funeral Parlor - McGregor
Established in the late 1930's, operating into the 1950's

George W. Pilkington, owner

Schultz funeral home - Monona
Established 1909 - ?

Carl G. Schultz came to Monona in 1909 and purchased the furniture and funeral service from George Kaiser. He was active until 1975 when failing health forced his retirement, having served the people of Northeast Iowa for 65 years. In the early days all deliveries were made by team. For the first 6 years embalming was practiced only occasionally as many families wouldn't permit it. Families came in and selected a casket and shroud for about $50. They loaded it on a wagon, took it home and conducted the services themselves. In the late 1920's the horse drawn hearse was replaced by a motor vehicle and the practice of embalming more accepted.

Carl and the former Frieda Kaiser were married in June, 1919. They are the parents of a son, Gordon and a daughter, Mrs. Harlan (Ramona) Krambeer. Frieda was of great assistance with the funerals in the early years. In 1934 the original funeral home was established and Else M. Kaiser became the resident matron. In 1936 Gordon graduated from mortuary college and became active in the business. In 1944 Ramona began driving the ambulance and the hearse, and assisted at funerals. She was one of the first women ambulance drivers in the state. Carl retired in 1975, and Gordon and Ramona became active partners in the business.

Photos on the wall are L-R:
Frieda Kaiser Schultz, Elsie Kaiser & Carl G. Schultz

Hearse used from 1909-1925


Original location - the arrangement and selection rooms were on the upper floor.


The arrangement and selection rooms were on the upper floor.


Used exclusively as the Funeral Home

May 2, 1976

~Photos & history are from the Schultz Funeral Home Open House Brochure, May 2, 1976
~contributed by Connie Ellis

Thornburg Funeral Home - McGregor
Established in the early 1950's, operating into the 1990's

Tuecke Funeral Home - Garnavillo & Guttenberg
Established in the 1940's, operating into the 1980's

Walter Bros. Undertaking Business - McGregor
Established in 1856, operated into the early 1900's

Peter and John Walter engaged in the manufacture of furniture and coffins. In 1856 they established a wholesale and retail furniture and undertaking business which transacted business for nearly fifty years. Their building was on Main Street, McGregor.

Zearley Undertaking Business - Garber
Established in 1895, operated until 1948

Lewis A. Zearley operated his undertaking business in the Garber vicinity from 1895 until he sold it to Leslie Oelke, owner of the Oelke Funeral home in Elkader. Zearley received his first license in 1902. He was the Clayton county coroner from 1920-1924. After suffering a heart attack in the spring of 1948 he made his home with his son, James, near Colesburg, until his death March 23, 1949.
~Oelwein Daily Register, August 1948


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