One of the most inescapable needs created by death in an organized society arise from the fact that the deceased must be _____ from the place of death to other places for funeralization and disposition.
French in nature from "Herse" but derived from the Latin word Hirpex meaning rake or harrow- originally a stationary ornate framework.
Entomology of the Word Hearse
From the Latin word Funeralis.
Of all processions this is probably the oldest known to mankind.
Transportation became necessary and elaborate when interments changed from intramural to extramural in medieval Europe demanding a vehicle to transport the remains. (Bubonic plague caused thousands of bodies to be transported to extramural burial places).
Early Transportation of the Body
- Bier or "Bear"
- Bearers and underbearers
- The Distance
Early Methods of Transportation of the Body
A hand stretcher on which uncoffined remains were placed to lie in state or waked and then utilized to transport the remains to the grave.
Would be responsible to carry to bier (sometimes a person's bed) to the grave. The four bearers, when exhausted, would be relieved by four underbearers.
Bearers and Underbearers
Created by the change from intramural to extramural interment required that horse (or donkey) drawn carts be utilzed to carry to bier and later the coffin.
From 1600 to 1800 transportation of the dead went from farm wagon to elaborate glass paneled, ornate exteriors and hand carved wood with draped interiors. Prior to the Revolutionary war, the liveryman entered fneral service, it was one short step from providing transportation to directing funeral processions, and eventually taking charge of all funeral related proceedings.
Colonial American Hearses
Innovators of the funeral vehicle development 1850-1910
- James Cunningham & son & co.
- Hudson sampson
- Crane, Breed & co
Horse Drawn Hearses of the Late 19th (post Civil War) and early 20th Centuries
Featured a "funeral car" at the New Orleans Cotton Exposition in 1884. It was rectangular, falling back to an earlier style with five urns and gilded columns.
James Cunningham & Son & Co.
In 1889 introduced the eigh poster, oval decked "funeral car". This marked the end of the ornamental deck hearse that had dominated hearse styling.
Exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, the ost elaborate and outstanding funeral car of the 19th century. It weighed 2400 lbs. as opposed to the 1600 lb. standard hearse. It was a church on wheels.
Crane, Breed & Co.
The majority of the hearses at this time were hand made, and horse drawn designed by cabinet makers and/or liveryman undertakers.
Late 19th (post Civil War) and early 20th Centuries
Before 1865, simple yet ornate, and hand carved. It was basically a long rectangular box with windows along the side and skimped curtains with a drivers seat on top and pulled by one horse.
The Pre-Civil War Hearse
After 1865 to 1910, quite ornate, huge in size and weight, and drawn by as many as six to eight horses. They had full plate glass sides, fancy scroll work along the top, metal columns, flower urns, plumes (for horses), etc. These vehicles were referred to as "funeral cars" because of their massive size. They were not called hearses.
The Post Civil War Hearse
Undertakers seemed to buy new funeral vehicles in ___ year cycles.
In 1885, the first electric street railway appears in Baltimore, MD. In 1889, the first funeral trolley car appears in Atchison, Kansas, taking mourners to Mount Vernon cemetery. (Used all over the US in larger cities).
Funeral Trolley Car
Most funeral trolley cars were converted to these, with seating for pall bearers, family, minister, undertaker, etc. There was space for flowers and of course the casket. (Flowers were placed outside on the roof and on racks. The "spray" was placed on racks that had hooks to hold it.)
Full Size Trolley Cars
Would follow behind carrying relatives and friends.
Other Standard Trolley Cars
Was led by the ornate and decorative funeral trolley, would enter the various cemeteries on specially provided tracks.
The Entire Procession of Trolleys
The funeral trolley was popular in large cities between _____ and _____ but lost favor because of the "excessive speed" and the fact that it jolted the mourners.
1890 to 1925
Was run by United Railway and Electric Company, they had 2 funeral trolleys. One was named Delores (Sorrow in Spanish) and the other one was Chesapeake.
Baltimore City Trolley System
Had 2 funeral trolleys named Loudin and Linden. Each held 30 people and were used up to 1931.
Loudin Park Cemetery
Served all the major cemeteries in Baltimore. Bodies were laid out in houses, trolleys were ordered for a specific time. Flowers were placed on the trolley first then the casket. People attending the funeral were placed on cars behind. Tracks went directly into cemeteries.
The first motorized hearses appears to be old horse drawn funeral cars mounted on lengthened passenger cars and truck chasis. By 1920, specific designs for motorized hearses appeared. (Before 1920 most were conversions).
Designs of Gasoline Powered Hearses
- Fred Hulberg
- Crane, Breed & Co.
Innovators in the Development of Funeral Cars
1908 in New York invented a combined hearse-passenger vehicle. It was a combination horse drawn hearse-trolley car with an automobile power plant, 16 feet long selling for $6,000. None were ever sold. (The modern equivalent: Air Stream Combination vehicle)
- Major Flaw- Won't go up hills.
In June 1909 manufactured and sold the first auto hearse designed as a hearse and not a conversion. Was the 1920's before it was popular.
Crane, Breed & Co.
- Undertaker's buggy
Introduction of Other Funeral Automobiles
Produced in 1909 by both Crane, Breed & Co. and Cunningham Motor Ambulance Co. (Sometimes used a funeral vehicle)
Name given to the first motorized hearses usually these gas buggy hearses were converted horse drawn carriages.
In 1920, had 7 windows with no landau bar, first made their apperance. The design was reactionary in that funeral directors and the public were tired of the ornate, gaudy pre-World War I hearses. These hearses were conservative with longer, smoother lines and usually black in color. (These are beginning to be popular again)
Between 1910 and 1920, vehicles specifically designed and manufactured as funeral cars replaced all other types of vehicles used in funeral service.
Funeral Automobile Construction
The first one of these was patented in 1926.
- Adult hearses in the 19th century were black with fine lines or silver or gold.
- Children's hearses were always down scale in size and were white, most prevalent 1865 to 1900. Many were made by Stein Patent Burial Casket Works.
Hearses: Sizes and Colors
- Flower Cars- open back Packard or Cadillac- like el Camino.
Development of Funeral Cars Throughout the 20th Century
These were custom made by coach companies who utilized G.M. powertrains and chassis, usually by Cadillac who made these vehicles for the trade. Examples:
- Ambrewster Stageways
Funeral Cars Throughout the 20th Century
The limousine style and the landau pattern. (landu bar, elongated "s" shape). These classified hearse styles just after the Korean War, 1953
Two Hearse Styles