An online search on the first funeral home in America will show you that people are willing to debate about which funeral home – still in existence today -was THE first one in the country.
We found that only one really fit the bill. All signs point to the Kirk and Nice Funeral Home. Based in Philadelphia (which makes sense, if you know your American history), the ties this funeral home has to American history are extraordinary.
Believe it or not, the Kirk and Nice Funeral Home – established as a cabinet shop by Jacob Knorr – goes all the way back to the 1760s. Here is some compelling trivia about the place:
- Initially, making coffins was only a small portion of the business.
- The Battle of Germantown changed that. Well over a thousand people died in that conflict, and the task of building caskets for the dead fell to Knorr’s business.
- Over the course of the next two hundred years, the business developed into a full-time mortuary company.
- The current name of the funeral home came about because 1) a member of the Knorr family married a member of the Nice family, and 2) someone from the Kirk family was made a full partner in the business.
- The business remained in the family until the 1990s, when it was sold to outside interests.
To learn more about the Battle of Germantown, click here.
Curious to know how other societies have handled large numbers of deaths?