This collection of funeral home records was indexed and published by GSP volunteers in 2002, when it was titled “The Boyertown Burial Casket Company 1908 – 1928.” The records were so named due to the title page content of the original funeral order books that were indexed and copied.
Of course, this title leads researchers to think the collection is relevant to funerary records of inhabitants of the Boyertown, Berks County area, but further investigation has revealed they are not.
The majority of the records contained in the order books are burials within Philadelphia county cemeteries, and by studying a sampling of death records GSP has determined the records originated with the John F. Fluehr Funeral Home, 104 W. Susquehanna Avenue in Philadelphia. (See below, from 1910 Philadelphia City Directory.)
John F. Fluehr and Sons Funeral Home is still in business today. You can visit the John F. Fluehr and Sons website to read about the history of their company and how it has passed through the family generations.
The bulk date of 1908 – 1928 for this collection is correct, but researchers should know there are wide gaps of years missing within this time frame. The actual dates covered in these six funeral order books are:
1. January 4, 1908 – June 23, 1908
2. June 27, 1908 – December 17, 1908
3. December 24, 1908 – July 18, 1909
4. August 17, 1916 – November 18, 1916
5. July 29, 1923 – January 12, 1924
6. August 5, 1928 – December 14, 1928
We wondered why the books say “Boyertown Burial Casket Company” and “National Casket Company” on the covers, but it appears they were a perk from the casket manufacturers for funeral homes that purchased their caskets. And it seems the Boyertown Casket Company also maintained a working office at 1217 Arch Street according to the following advertisement from the Philadelphia Inquirer of 5 November 1922 –
This prompted us to an online search for information about the Boyertown Burial Casket Company and the following information was found at a site called Casketinfo.com:
From “The History of the Modern Casket” -
“…National Casket Co. and Boyertown Casket Company, in the 1960s, were the first publicly traded companies on the Philadelphia and New York stock exchanges, respectively.
In the early 1970s, Hillenbrand Industries, which owns Batesville Casket Co., became a publicly held company [NYSE]. Gulf and Western Corp., from the late 1970s until 1982, owned several casket companies. It divested its casket industry assets in 1982 to AMEDCO, Inc. which traded on the NASDAQ exchange. AMEDCO was sold in 1986 to Service Corporation International [SCI: NYSE) and became known as the funeral supply division of SCI, which later acquired the assets of Boyertown Casket Co…”
The same search for the Boyertown Burial Casket Company turned up an article published in the Reading Eagle newspaper on 25 May 2009 titled Former Boyertown Burial Casket Co. to Get a State Historical Marker, written by Michelle Park.
Lindsay Dieroff, the Collections Director for the Boyertown Area Historical Society stated: “I think the casket company really was the only Boyertown business that was known that well…it employed a great number of residents in the Boyertown area. They did everything from start to finish, right on site.”
The Boyertown Area Historical Society houses a small collection of catalogs, photographs and ephemera from the Boyertown Burial Casket Company. The Boyertown Burial Casket Company closed in 1988.
GSP thanks Lindsay Dieroff of the Boyertown Area Historical Society for this information.