George Bender, Furniture & Undertaking, North Manchester

Source: Aurora (1921) Ad:

GEO. N. BENDER
Furniture Dealer
Funeral Director

Victrolas and Victor Records
BEST EQUIPMENT   BEST SERVICE    BOTH PHONES


Source: Aurora (1925) Ad:

"Ask Those We Have Served"
Day Phone Service--Eel River 156     Rex  197
Night Phone Service--Eel River 282   Rex 75
BEST EQUIPMENT AND BEST SERVICE
GEO. N. BENDER
Funeral Director and Furniture Dealer

NORTH MANCHESTER


Source: Aurora (1927) Ad:

GEO. N.  BENDER & SON
FURNITURE AND UNDERTAKING

"Best equipment, years of experience, and a desire to do good work."

1926 marked the fortieth anniversary of the Bender Furniture and Undertaking establishment.

The business was first organized by Stewart & Ellwood in 1886. Later it was purchased by J.H. Bonner & Sons who held Mr. Bender in their employment for thirteen years. In 1917 Mr. Bender purchased the concern from them. Recently Mr. Bender has taken as a partner in the concern his son, Todd, who is a student at M.C. and whom we all know.

The business has always been operated from the furniture store on East Main Street until recently when Mr. Bender made a great improvement in the form of a new Funeral Home on West Main Street.

Mr. Bender is one of our prominent business men to whom we own much for the support which he has given Manchester College and Aurora.



Bender Funeral Home in 1929

Bender Funeral Home in 1929


 

Source: Notarized Certificate of Business, Wabash County Partnership Book 1 (1941-1985), p. 216, April 17, 1951:

George N. Bender & Son
Funeral Directors
North Manchester
, Indiana
Owners:
Nina P. Bender and Todd B. Bender, North Manchester, Indiana


Source: News-Journal, August 16, 1973, Centennial Section

Bender's Traces Origin To 1883

Bender's Funeral Home traces its origin back nearly 100 years. The building itself is recognized as one of the area's outstanding examples of building craftsmanship.

The building is located on the corner of Main and Elm Streets. It was built in 1883 by George Lawrence who was prominent in North Manchester's banking history. The structure stands today very near its original state.

The Bender name became linked with the home when George Bender worked as a stableboy for J.H. Bonner and Sons who operated a furniture and funeral business there around the turn of the century. George Bender was paid $1.50 per week for his work there.

Later George opened his own business on Main Street operating where the Moose Hall is located today. Later he moved down the street to the area now occupied by Harting Furniture. A furniture and funeral business was combined in those days.

Todd Bender helped his father from the time he was a teenager. After he received his education and training he joined his father in the business.

The Bender's were the first to develop the Funeral Home concept in Wabash County. Todd indicated, "we did away with the furniture business in 1926 and developed the funeral home. Prior to the 1920s funerals were conducted in the home with all preparation being done there."

"State Board of Health regulations were passed in Indiana in the 1920s which required that all preparation take place in a Funeral Home. Today 75 percent of the funerals take place in a funeral home with the other 25 percent occurring in churches. It was a long time before people were willing to have funerals outside the home. The concept of a funeral home has really been around less than 50 years."

The old Lawrence home is very impressive to work with according to Todd. "This home was originally heated with six fireplaces and lighting was with gas lights. Central heating and electricity were added. the renovations were quite a problem because the walls are made of brick. This building is built like a courthouse.

"I can remember when we used to work with horse drawn equipment. We once had a winter funeral when we had to use a bobsled hearse. We got our first motorized equipment in 1917."

Todd and his father operated the funeral home until George Bender died in 1950. Todd operated the home alone until Jim Finley and Mike Snyder became partners in January of 1969. Jim had been employed at the home since 1948 and Mike started in 1961.

In 1975 Bender's Funeral Home will observe its 100th year as a business which started with J.H. Bonner and Sons in 1875.


For more history and photos, click here for Mike McKee's article, "A History of Undertaking in North Manchester."