A HISTORY OF
UNDERTAKING IN NORTH MANCHESTER
by Mike McKee
(submitted on April 1, 2011,
an update to Mike McKee's article in Nov 2003
issue of the NMHS Newsletter)
Augustus E. Stewart (b.1855 – d. before 1926)
opens an undertaking parlor at 216 E. Main Street in
North Manchester about 1875.
The 1880 census lists his occupation as cabinet
residence is built at 104 W. Second Street in 1881.
Mr. Stewart has likely come to North Manchester
sooner as several publications refer to him as one of
He is active about the town and serves as town
trustee in 1892.
Stewart is joined by John C. Ellwood,
(b.1848-d.1918) who comes to North Manchester from Ohio
in 1876. He
is a cabinetmaker and a civil war veteran, possibly part
of an embalming team.
This business is sold to Gara & Wise in January
Ellwood retires and Mr. Stewart remains with Gara & Wise
as a salesman until August of 1902.
Later that month, on August 14, 1902, A.E.
Stewart announces his purchase of A. Haines & Son
Undertaking at 224 E. Main Street.
John & Emma Ellwood
Very little is known.
His name appears on the black and white sign to
the right in this photograph and, apparently is
operating from the Stewart & Ellwood building.
He is listed in Helms’ 1884 History of Wabash
County as being an undertaker in North Manchester in
& Ellwood Undertaking 216 E. Main Street
Brothers, Tighlman & Milton, constructed a
three story woodworking shop at 115 E. Main Street about
with tables, chairs and other household furniture, they
Though not documented as undertakers, they
probably performed some funeral related duties.
They are gone from town by 1861 and their
business is sold to Joe Tilman, and later to Saul
Both continue to build coffins.
In the late 1870’s this building became the Young
Hotel and burned February 25, 1943.
& Wise Furniture & Undertaking-
Gara (b.1863) and John K. Wise described by the
as very pleasant appearing gentlemen from Cerro
Gordo, Illinois. They purchase the Stewart & Ellwood
establishment at 216 E. Main Street in January
1900. A.E. Stewart stays in their employ as he is listed
as a salesman for Gara & Wise in the 1901-02 telephone
Evidence of this business had been preserved by
the owners of 216 E. Main Street, with the words “Gara
and Wise Furniture Undertaking” painted in the alley.
In the 1990’s all but the word undertaking was
In 2009 the brick alley wall was completely
repainted by the owner.
This building is sold to Abram Burkhart in 1909
and was not used as an undertaking parlor after that
Through the years it has been several different
businesses, and since the 1950’s has been an eatery and
March of 2008, the author was allowed to search through
basement of this building looking for any artifacts of
the undertaking establishments that were there.
Nothing was found.
A. Haines &
Son- Circa. 1898. Open an undertaking
parlor at 224 E. Main Street.
(b.1876) is the son and local contact as Alfred Haines
(b.1847) is from Middlebury and never actually lives in
They sell to A.E. Stewart in August of 1902.
Melvin Haines stays in the employ of Mr. Stewart,
where he trains a young George Bender.
This location will be the site of several
undertaking parlors until about 1922.
The 1901-02 phone directory lists Haines & Son on
the south side of Main St., 4 doors west of Mill.
Seen in this picture, the first room west of J.H.
Butterbaugh Harness & Buggies.
Jacob Fogel and Charles M. Walters
(b.1867-d.1945) formerly of Kewanna, Indiana, form this
business in 1901.
In July 1903 they purchase Gara & Wise and
operate from their location.
Mr. Fogel sells his interest to S.S. Gump in
Gump & Walters
Furniture and Undertaking firm formed by
Samuel S. Gump (b.1869-d.1940) and Charles M. Walters in
1905 probably at the site of the former Gara & Wise and
Fogel & Walters, 216 E. Main Street.
In February 1906 Gump & Walters invest in their
first motorized hearse.
It is black in color and cost $1800.00 In 1910
they move to the newly constructed 229-31 E. Main Street
then refered to as “Gump Block”. The 1914-15 telephone
directory lists the firm at 229 E. Main Street.
J.W. Dewey (b.1875-d.1948) who is a cashier with the Lawrence National Bank, joins the firm to form
Mr. Dewey is an inactive member of the firm.
Employed with the firm for six years is Garber D. Wright
(b.1890-d.1981) a 1910 graduate of the Indianapolis
In about 1918 he leaves this career and becomes a
longtime Lagro township farmer. This business is dissolved
in October 1918 when S.S. Gump purchases the interest of
Mr. Walters. Mr. Dewey pursues his banking interests and
serves as vice-president of Indiana Lawrence Bank
until his retirement in 1945.
Apparently bitterness exists between Gump and
Walters and an injunction
is filed by
Gump against Walters.
Walters is restrained from practice for a short
1919 Arthur C. Paulus joins
S.S. Gump and
to establish Gump Bros. &
dissolves the next year and
S.S. Gump & Co.
until August 1920.
Arthur C. Paulus is the son of
LaFayette Paulus that operated Paulus & Son in Sidney,
IN sometime after the turn of the twentieth century.
This undertaking parlor is thought to have been
operated from their home near the first cross road north
Mr. Gump, a farmer, attended Bridgewater College
and graduates from Manchester College’s 3 Year Bible
Course in 1903.
In 1893 he is elected to the ministry of the
Hickory Grove (Ohio) German Baptist Brethren.
After leaving North Manchester around 1920, he
resides in Riverside, California where he is a broker in
He died July 2, 1940 in San Bernardino, CA.
J.W. Dewey, circa 1915
& Dewey sign at 229 E. Main Street.
The “Gump Block” Circa 1915
corner of Mill & Main Streets, Gump Block being built in
1910. 227,229,231 E. Main Street.
D. Wright on the Gump & Walters horse-drawn delivery sleigh
at Mill & Fourth
Streets in 1913.
& Dewey Furniture and Undertakers in 1913.
Garber D. Wright
is the man on the far left.
Third from the left is J.W. Dewey.
Gump-Walters & Dewey in 1913.
Inside of Gump-Walters & Dewey in
Garber D. Wright is to the right of the large pole.
Though not positively identified, the other men
in this picture probably include
S.S. Gump, Charles Walters, and J.W. Dewey.
This picture is at a North Manchester furniture
store probably at 205 E. Main Street. Though not
positively identified, research suggests the man on the
right is Charles M. Walters and the man on the left is
Jacob Fogel. Their undertaking parlor was located at 216
E. Main Street in downtown North Manchester, IN. Circa
Gottschall Alpha (McKee) Gottschall
Gottschall & Son. -
Gottschall (b.1895-d.1973) and his wife, Alpha (McKee)
Gottschall (b.1895-d.1973), open an undertaking parlor
at the B.F. Shilts residence on the northeast corner of
Mill and Main Streets.
Their opening was March 16, 1920 and by March 29
they had relocated over the Oppenheim store opposite Dr.
Wright’s dental parlor.
Ralph’s father Owen A. Gottschall has a financial
interest in the firm but is not a licensed mortician.
Charles M. Walters is employed with the
Gottschall’s and possibly purchases part interest for in
the February 24, 1921 edition of the
is advertised as
but then by
April it is once again called O.A. Gottschall & Son.
The Gottschall family relocate to Ladoga, Indiana
later in May of 1921 where they operated a funeral home
from 404 N. Washington Street and later moved to 203 N.
The Gottschall family was in business there until
Walters operates from their former location for a short
time in 1922.
Ralph and Alpha Gottschall retired to Deerfield
Beach, Florida where they were tragically killed in an
auto accident in 1973.
Charles Walters is later employed with A.L.
Turner and George N. Bender, and through the 1920’s is
primarily involved in the theater business.
A.L. Turner &
January to December 1921.
They purchase the stock and building from Gump
Bros. and operate from 231 E. Main Street.
The son's name is Mack, and they have operated
parlors in Mentone, Bourbon, Argos and Rochester.
Arthur Paulus is an undertaker with the firm at
its founding but later moves to Chicago.
He is replaced by Charles M. Walters. Allen L.
Turner has been in the banking business for quite some
George N. Bender purchases them December 14, 1921.
On March 23, 1922 Turner & Son purchase the
in May 1925 A.L. Turner trades the Naber farm for the
H. Bonner & Sons-
undertaking, established in 1875 in the area of 205 E.
Joseph H. Bonner (b.1842-d.1906) settles in North
Manchester in the late 1860’s.
By 1883 he has established himself in the lumber,
saw mill, and livery business.
From 1872-1881 he is in the hardware business
with L.J. Noftzger.
By 1905 the Bonner family have business interests
in Arkansas and J.H. Bonner’s sons, Blaine H. Bonner
(b.1881-d.1942), John C. Bonner (b.1884-d.1974), Will
Bonner and Harry W. Bonner (b.1878 –d.1940) carry on
their father’s business interests after his death on
Nov. 15, 1906.
In December 1916 they purchase an auto hearse.
By 1918, John C. Bonner is the resident manager
of the establishment when they sell the furniture &
undertaking parlor and relocate to Memphis, Tennessee.
They have large timber and sawmill interests at
Heth, Arkansas across the Mississippi River from
Memphis. A forest fire destroys their timber and saw
mill in November 1924.
In 2007, all floors, including the basement of
205 E. Main Street were searched for possible artifacts.
Unfortunately, nothing was found.
John Bonner 1920
J. H. Bonner & Sons hearse in Oaklawn Cemetery
(b.1882-d.1950) in February, 1918.
A 1907 graduate of Chicago School for Embalmers,
he is employed as a licensed undertaker for A.E. Stewart
and by 1915 is the store manager and undertaker for J.H.
Bonner & Sons, located at 205 E. Main Street.
His funeral home is a consolidation of J.H.
Bonner, which he purchases in January 1918; A.E. Stewart
in 1920, and A.L. Turner in December 1921. With his
purchase of A.L. Turner, Bender separates the musical
instruments and phonographs from the furniture and
He will move the musical stock to his own store
located next to the Indiana State Bank, (the former
Bonner store at 205 E. Main street) and the furniture
and undertaking will operate from the Turner store, (at
231 E. Main street) as it is better suited for such
operation. Charles M. Walters and Paul Landis,
experienced undertakers will be retained.
Landis will later establish his own funeral home
in Warsaw, Indiana in 1925.
On May 12, 1919 Bender announces the addition of
an “auto ambulance” and in 1926, son
Todd B. Bender
(b.1906-d.1975) joins the family business.
In 1929 George Bender moves his business to
205-07 W. Main Street which he purchased in a 1925
It had been the Bonner family residence since
their purchase of it in a 1904 delinquent tax sale.
This building was a project of George Lawrence
that began in 1883 and was completed in 1886.
An addition to the library room was added to the
residence around 1900.
Bender Funeral Home in 1929
Bender Funeral Home 1974
George & Nina Bender circa 1945
Audra Tilman 1977
DeLaughter circa 1965
1935 Bender adds to the brick carriage house; offices,
preparation room, and casket selection. The Bender
family will operate from this location for the next 56
years. George and Todd Bender both serve as Wabash
County Coroner from 1928 to 1936 and 1936 to 1944
It should be noted that
Audra P. Tilman
the Bender Funeral Home secretary for 34 years, from
Although never a licensed mortician, she was indeed a
very active member of the firm and did the record and
bookkeeping until the age of 80.
Another notable name in history of Bender’s is
(b.1909-d.1970) who, also never a licensed mortician,
spent 31 years in funeral service as an employee of the
Bender family from 1939 until his death in 1970.
George Bender dies in 1950, and his widow
Nina P. Bender
(b.1882-d.1963) assists her son with the funeral home
until her death.
Todd B. Bender 1960
James B. Finley 1979
Michael E. Snyder 1979
After a 43 year
career in undertaking and funeral service, Todd Bender
sells the funeral home in 1969 to
James B. Finley
(b.1924-d.1981), an employee since 1948, and
(b.1936-d.1996) a son-in-law who joined the funeral home
Jim Finley’s retirement in 1976 leaves Mike Snyder sole
owner until he sells Bender Funeral Home to
Gary Sloane Mortuary
of Wabash, Indiana in 1985.
Garrett & Sloane dissolve in 1992 and the
business is then purchased by
Ken & Kathie
& Jane Hentgen,
of Wabash, Indiana.
In 2010 it operates as
Grandstaff-Hentgen Funeral Service.
(b.1878-d.1936) First name Earl, he opens an undertaking
parlor and furniture store at 224 E. Main Street in
has been the location for A. Haines, and A.L. Turner.
The Paul family came to town from Pyrmont in
Carroll County, Indiana in the 1920’s and lived on North
The family consisted of the parents and children
Thomas, Gladys, Galen and John.
He is one of the first undertakers to advertise
in the local News-Journal.
“Rendering Conscientious and Unstinted Service”
proclaim his ad, along with phone numbers Eel River 641
and Rex 104.
Ambulance service and lady assistant are also
is advertised as a funeral director rather than an
undertaker, which is about the period of time that this
E.P. Paul closes his business in 1929 which will
be the last of the old store front undertaking parlors
in North Manchester.
He relocated to Bourbon, IN where he operated an
undertaking parlor until his death in 1936.
Paul (left) and son Thomas Paul (right) at 224 E. Main
Street about 1930.
Walter L. Wright (b.1897-d.1967) at 405 N. Mill Street
on May 1, 1929.
This is the former residence of J.W. Dewey and
is assisted by relative Dr. Glenn E. Wright, a neighbor
and local dentist.
He is listed in the 1914-15 telephone directory
as an employee of J.H. Bonner & Sons.
Like Mr. Bender, Walter Wright has purchased a
large residential home just blocks from downtown.
Funeral homes are now replacing undertaking
Wright moves to 203 E. Main Street on April 5, 1934 and
later closes his business by December 6, 1934.
He is later employed by George N. Bender for
several years, served as a Wabash County deputy coroner,
and retired from Eddingfield Mortuary at Wabash, Indiana
in about 1965.
Funeral Home 1929-1934 & L.P. Burgess Funeral Home
Founded at 313 N. Mill Street by Lewis P. Burgess
(b.1889-d.1964) on February 9, 1935.
In October 1943 he acquires and relocates to 405
N. Mill Street, the former Wright Funeral Home. Burgess
Funeral Home will operate from this location for the
next 21 years. The business was closed with his sudden
death on March 26, 1964.
Lewis P. Burgess 1960
L. P. Burgess Funeral Home 1935-1943
Wayside Funeral Chapel-
Mrs. Leonard Custer,
they have a
vision of a newly constructed, one level funeral
chapel on State Road 114 at the west edge of town. Well
known to the community through their service in the
Church of the Brethren, the Custer’s introduce their new
facility with an open house held November 16 & 17, 1963.
It has been built to serve specifically as a
funeral chapel, offering large visitation rooms,
opposite the numerous small rooms found in renovated old
Left to Right- Bruce
Young, Rev. Leonard Custer, Rev. Lester Young
at the front entrance of Dickerson Wayside Funeral
street parking is also a feature of the new chapel,
which was built by Frantz Lumber Co.
Eldo Renicker, Noah Yoder, and Walter Coning
doing the carpentry.
The Custer’s are truly pioneers of the
contemporary funeral homes we know today.
Mr. Neville H. Dickerson, who manages the firm,
relocates his funeral practice to Connersville, Indiana
in December, 1967, and his portion of the business is
purchased by Darwin DeLaughter.
DeLaughter Mortuary in 1968.
A 1962 ambulance/hearse is in front of the
Mortuary- Founded in January, 1968 by
Darwin & Valeria DeLaughter.
from the former Dickerson location at 1401 State Road
Construction of additional off-street parking is
added in 1972.
A longtime ambulance provider, DeLaughter
discontinues the last funeral home ambulance service in
Wabash County in 1988.
He serves as Wabash County Coroner from 1976-1984
and again from 1992-1996.
The DeLaughter’s retire in January of 2007 after
39 years of service to North Manchester and surrounding
Mortuary- On February 1, 1992 Michael &
Kelly McKee become partners in the firm. Mike is a
great-nephew to Ralph E. & Alpha (McKee) Gottschall,
undertakers who operated in North Manchester during the
Mike is employed with the Bender family from 1979 –1985.
In 1992, at 1401 State Road 114 West,
reconstruction is done to the interior, and a third off
street parking area is added. In 1998 a major addition
begins that adds a third visitation chapel, handicapped
accessible restrooms, and a dining room for family
In January of 2007, Mike & Kelly become sole owners
of DeLaughter-McKee Mortuary.
That summer, a three bay garage that was east of
the main building is removed.
This added thirteen additional parking spaces
with two spaces dedicated to handicapped parking.
The name of the firm was officially changed to
McKee Mortuary in January of 2009.
Mike, Kelly, Abby & Mattie
McKee Mortuary 2009
Henry Ogden (b.1823-d.1911)
son of Pleasant Township pioneer Elihue Ogden, is said
to have been a cabinet maker and later handled coffins
and funeral furnishings.
He came to Wabash County in 1839 and settled in
Laketon around 1850.
His coffins were made of walnut and he bought
velvet in North Manchester for the inner lining.
He is recognized as an undertaker in the 1882
Sometime around the turn of the 20th
century, along with Loren O. Wertenberger
(b.1875-d.1966), Ogden & Wertenberger Undertaking Co.
Henry Ogden died May 27, 1911 and is
buried in Laketon Cemetery.
In 1919, Mr. Wertenberger and his
son-in-law Ralph Vories, established
Wertenberger-Vories Funeral Home.
It was located downtown probably the same
location as Ogden & Wertenberger and in 1923 was moved
to Lake and Potawatomi streets in Laketon. Ralph Vories
entered military service in June 1944 and business was
temporarily suspended until his return in 1947.
Mr. Wertenberger, more fondly known as “Kernie”
is said to have been a kind and courteous man.
At one time he was in the hardware business with
Howard W. Rager and in 1926 sold his portion to Robert
musician, he and his wife Mae with daughters Deloris,
Maxine and Marjorie, performed with their small
orchestra in the local churches.
For many years he served as conductor of the
Also a dog trainer, Kernie had several terriers
that put on shows for the local citizens in Laketon.
His undertaking parlor was equipped
with small living quarters, preparation room and later a
large room for the display of caskets was added to the
south end of the building.
The parlor was seldom used during this period of
time for visitations were still being held in the family
had a black hearse which he kept for many years.
The Wertenberger family residence was the first
house east of the funeral parlor which Mr. Wertenberger
had built new.
Laketon native Charles Moyer worked under Kernie
Wertenberger and later established his own funeral home
in Akron, Indiana.
They remained life long friends and when Mr.
Wertenberger died in 1966 at the age of 91, Charlie
Moyer was called to have charge of the funeral.
L. O. Wertenberger in front of the Laketon Hardware store with his first
motorized hearse in 1925
Credits and references
I wish to express my
appreciation to the following, who without their help
and information, this publication would not have been
- Mike McKee
Cemetery Inscriptions of Wabash
County, by Lester H. Bennie
A Sense of Place, by L.Z.
History of Wabash County, By
Tales of the Old Days,
Straws In The Wind, by Harry Leffel
North Manchester Public Library
North Manchester Newspaper Historical
Data File, By Harry Leffel
Gump Family History, by Arlo
The American Funeral, by
Mary Jane Finley
Brooks & Jefferson articles from the
Historical Society Newsletter.
North Manchester Center for History