Tales from Kentucky Funeral Homes by William Lynwood Montell

By William Lynwood Montell

In stories from Kentucky Funeral houses, William Lynwood Montell has accumulated tales and memories from funeral domestic administrators and embalmers around the country. those debts supply a list of the enterprise of loss of life because it has been practiced in Kentucky during the last fifty years. the gathering levels from stories of old-time burial practices, to tales approximately funeral customs designated to the African American neighborhood, to stories of premonitions, error, or even funny occurrences. different tales contain such strange points of the company as snake-handling funerals, wrong identities, and in-home embalming. Taken jointly, those firsthand narratives guard a major element of Kentucky social existence probably not to be gathered in different places. every one of these funeral domestic tales contain the new background of Kentucky funeral practices, yet a few descriptive money owed return to the period whilst funeral administrators used horse-drawn wagons to arrive secluded components. those money owed, together with tales approximately fainting relations, long-winded preachers, and pallbearers falling into graves, supply major insights into the pivotal position morticians have performed in neighborhood existence and tradition through the years.

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I know about where it is located, but I’ve never been there. I’m afraid of those copperhead snakes down there! Bob Brown, Elizabethtown, September 25, 2007 Homegrown Flowers Flowers for graves used to be homegrown, or perhaps made out of crepe paper. However, during spring and summer, flowers were homegrown. Funeral and Burial Folk Customs 31 And people often made them during the summer to be used later on when needed for funerals or for placing on graves on Memorial Day. Charles McMurtrey, Summer Shade, July 29, 2007 Closed Mouth We’ve gone to homes to pick up bodies, and some local person had actually taken pieces of cloth, cut them, and tied the cloth around the dead person’s chin and the top of their head in order to close their mouth.

Legally, you can bury your own if you want to. A death certificate has to be filled out and signed by a funeral director. Amish families in and around Sonora, here in Hardin County, don’t use a funeral home. We’ve made out death certificates for them, and they just bury the dead. They don’t embalm. They make their own caskets, and they have their own services, during which they take the body out to the cemetery and bury it. That still happens. Once in a while, somebody will be buried on their own property, like people did many years ago.

Amish families in and around Sonora, here in Hardin County, don’t use a funeral home. We’ve made out death certificates for them, and they just bury the dead. They don’t embalm. They make their own caskets, and they have their own services, during which they take the body out to the cemetery and bury it. That still happens. Once in a while, somebody will be buried on their own property, like people did many years ago. However, in most cases nowadays funeral homes are involved. I’ve got a great-grandfather and great-grandmother that are buried at Dead Horse Hollow, located in Meade County.

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