Until 1920, if someone died in
this area, the family had to handle all the details. No
undertaker was available. You could purchase a coffin at J.B.
Brown’s Hardware Store, Sebring, load it into your wagon or
truck and transport it home. Then you had to dress the body and
place it in the coffin and carry it to the local cemetery for
place of burial.
All this had to be done within a day, since there was no embalming. You had no time for visitation, long services,
transporting the body to another place or holding it for several days until out-of-town family members arrived.
In 1920, J. Ross Blythe, an embalmer and funeral director from Indiana, came to
town. After receiving his state
license, he went to work for J.B. Brown and handled the embalming and funeral business.
But in 1924 the hardware business was sold to R.N. Durrance, who wanted nothing to do with funerals.
The next year, Jack Stephenson came to Sebring from Georgia, where he had been in the hardware and funeral business. He opened the Highlands Hardware Company and hired
In those days, most embalming was done at the homes of the deceased on a folding table brought to the house.
Once the embalming was completed, the body was dressed and placed in the casket.
Once in the casket, the body was taken to the parlor for visitation, with the funeral usually held within two days.
Funerals were held either at the home or at the church.