Forgotten Veterans – The Missing in America Project

Did you know that there are literally thousands of unclaimed urns full of ashes left behind at funeral homes?  That comes out to about 10 percent of the total number of cremations conducted each year.   In many cases, these remains are never reunited with family or loved ones.  Sometimes it’s because a family ends up not being able to pay for the cremation.  Other reasons can include people who were not able to be identified at the time of their death, or those who passed away with no surviving family or friends.

Many people have wondered if it would be possible to find a final resting place for an important segment of uncollected remains – the final remains of veterans.  One nationwide veterans group is trying to do something to identify and claim many of the cremains that came from soldiers who fought for their country.

The Missing in America Project has identified more than 3,000 remains over the past several years.   In some cases, they have been able to get the remains to surviving family members while, in others, fellow servicemen and women have stepped forward to provide a final resting place for their fallen friend.

Quite often, the MIA Project is able to have a full funeral service for veterans once they are identified.  This includes a full funeral car procession and ceremonies related to their branch of the Armed Services.   The Missing in America project works with local funeral homes, social service organizations, veteran’s groups, legions and VFWs.  To learn more about their project or to find out how you can help, check out their home page at www.miap.us.

 

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No Picture

Vintage Funeral Cars – A Walk Down Memory Lane

We love looking at the newest technologies and options when it comes to funerals and funeral cars, but we also love looking back.   Let’s take a walk down memory lane. These unique vintage funeral cars exude a style and flair that will stop you in your tracks.

The funeral cars featured below include: Lincoln, Lorraine, Packard, Pontiac and Sayer and Scovill

Most of these hearses have been restored and resold via auctions throughout the years.

1941 Lincoln V-12 Custom Ambulance

1941 Lincoln V-12 Custom Ambulance

1947 Lincoln Hearse (Argentina)

1947 Lincoln Hearse (Argentina)

1920 Lorraine – Twelve-Column Carved Panel Hearse

1920 Lorraine

1937 Packard Flower Car

1937 Packard Flower Car

1938 Packard Art-Carved Model Hearse

1938 Packard Art-Carved Model Hearse

1941 Packard

1941 Packard

1940 Pontiac

1940 Pontiac

1919 REO Hearse

1919 REO Hearse

1924 Sayers and Scovill

1924 Sayers and Scovill

1936 Sayers and Scovill Romanesque Hearse

1936 Sayers and Scovill Romanesque Hearse

Photos via HearseWorks


UsingSmartPhone

Want to Control Your Hearse Fleet With your Smartphone? There’s an App for That!

Remote control iphone app for funeral hearsesImagine, if you will, being in the middle of a funeral service and you pull out your iPhone. You open up the remote control app you have installed and start one of the hearses in your fleet. Then you push a button and the hearse wheels itself around to the front of the building and stops to wait for the pall bearers to carry the casket to the back of the vehicle. Amazing thought, isn’t it?

Well, you can’t do all of that with your iPhone, but you can start your hearse and control some of the functions on your vehicles with your iPhone.

The technology is courtesy a company called Delphi. Using Bluetooth technology, the company has created an app that allows you to remote start your vehicles through your key fob. You can also unlock doors and operate several other vehicle functions remotely.

This is a huge step forward from yesteryear, huh?

As a funeral director, you are always trying to make your processes more efficient and elegant. Your iPhone can now participate and make that happen for you and your business.

Delphi isn’t even the only company getting into the smartphone apps for car control.  Viper SmartStart, for example, offers remote start, real time tracking and security features which can be useful for funeral directors managing a large fleet with multiple drivers.

The next time you speak to your funeral coach dealer, ask about the iPhone remote control app. Ask if they’ve heard of it. This technology is only bound to get better and that’s something to look forward to.


13 Photos That Prove Vintage Hearses are Still Cool

The first motorized hearses were produced in 1909. Prior to that hearses were horse-drawn. It wasn’t until 1920 that motorized hearses become more mainstream. Early on, some hearses also doubled as ambulances because of the large capacity in the back of the vehicle.

The majority of hearses in North America are Cadillacs and Lincolns. Mercedes-Benz, Daimler, Jaguar and Volvo are the main bases for the hearse in Europe.

Cadillac manufactured a “commercial chassis” which is a strengthened version of the typical passenger car to handle the extra bodywork weight, rear deck and cargo. Ford Motor sells a Lincoln Town Car that is built with expectations of becoming a hearse. Coachbuilders, manufacturer of bodies for automobiles, take the base of the car and put the finishing touches on that turns the vehicle into a working hearse.

Below are 13 late model hearses, each with their own distinctive appearance.

Class Hearse Gothic

Classic Hearse Black Open

Classic Hearse Black

Classic Hearse Glass

Classic Hearse Gold

Classic Hearse Kneel

Classic Hearse long window

Classic Hearse Open

Classic Hearse Ornament

Classic Hearse Style

Classic Hearse Tall

Classic Hearse White

Photos via Bad Control


MechanicsWorkshop

Hearse Spotlight: The Thundertaker – A Killer Cadillac Custom Car

We thought it was high time we dedicated some space to admiring some of the amazing custom hearses out there today.  For our first spotlight piece we’re looking at the Thundertaker, an amazing custom Cadillac hearse.

The 1960 Cadillac hearse Thundertaker shown below is the creation Bryan Fuller and his shop Fuller Hot Rods.  Fuller is a longtime fan of hearses and frequently drove a hearse around as a form of transportation.  Fuller craved a little more and the Thundertaker was born.

1960 Cadillac Thunder

This Thundertaker rides on one of the longest hot rod chassis out there. Fuller and his team loaded this Cadillac with every entertainment electronics available. The leather and every bolt, top of the line.  All in, Fuller estimates the project took well over 6,000 hours.  “There was, at the very least, one guy on the car for 40 hours a week for three years,” Fuller says, “but the harder the build is, the more rewarding it is in the end.”

The 1960 Cadillac Superior Coachworks hearse certainly has come alive with this incredible customization job.

 

Do you know about a custom or otherwise amazing hearse we should spotlight in our series?  Share it in the comments below!


UrbanLegends

Hearse Legends and Urban Myths (Hearse Legends – Part Three of a Three Part Series)

We hope you have been enjoying our exploration of hearse stories and legends of funeral cars.  For our final installment of this series, we decided to do a small round-up of myths and legends from around the country.  Each of these legends has its devout believers as well as its cynics and skeptics.  In each case, the stories have been passed around for years – generations, even – and so have become part of the local culture and folklore history.

Archer Woods Cemetery – Chicago, Illinois
If you plan to visit this old cemetery at night, you may see a ghostly team of horses pulling a phantom hearse through the serene setting.  Those who have seen it report it’s an extremely frightening sight, but there are still those who say it’s nothing more than the result of some healthy imaginations.

Sleepy Hollow Road – Louisville, Kentucky
With a name like Sleepy Hollow Road, you would expect a plethora of strange occurrences. Several modern-day ghost stories happen along this road, including one story of a ghostly black hearse that follows cars that pass by. The hearse not only follows the cars, but it also causes them to run off the road and over a cliff. According to sightings, the hearse begins following as soon as you enter the road. It then increases in speed, causing the driver of the car to lose control until it plunges into the 30-foot ravine that runs alongside Sleepy Hollow Road.

American Fork Canyon (Wasatch Mountains, Utah)
Locals often mention American Fork Canyon when discussing haunted places in Utah.  The local legend says that people who drive in a circle three times at the top of Tibble Fork don’t leave the park alone.  Once the circles are done and people pull out of the parking lot, they see a ghostly hearse following them.

How do you feel about these legends? Are you a firm believer in them or do you just find them an interesting part of American folklore? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts or share your own local hearse myths and legends!


CursedForest

The Helltown Hearse (Hearse Legends – Part Two of a Three Part Series)

In this week’s installment of our Hearse Legends series, we’re taking a look at an urban legend that comes out of Ohio.  Summit County is in Northeast Ohio, near Akron, and is known for its beautiful parks, music venues and a host of other attractions scattered across the county.  While there are plenty of family friendly attractions throughout Summit County, the northern part of the county is known for an entirely different reason.

Helltown is the unofficial name given to an area made up of a cluster of smaller towns.  The small towns – Boston Township, Boston Village, Sagamore Hills and Northfield Center Township – are commonly referred to as the Boston Mills area.  But for locals – and adventure seekers – it’s also known as Helltown.

The area was originally settled in the early 1800s and quickly became a hub of production for a number of mills that used trees to create building materials and paper.  The mills were such a big part of the community and local economy that when a railroad station was built in the 1880s it was named Boston Mills in reference to the local industry.

By the 1960s, however, a growing number of people were concerned about the destruction of forests throughout the country – including in the Boston Mills area.  In 1974, President Ford signed off on legislation that allowed the National Park Service to purchase land in order to enhance the National Park system.  The legislation also allowed the use of ’eminent domain’ to acquire land and, once it was passed, the government began buying up land – and homes – throughout the Boston Mills area.  As a result, droves of residents were forced to relocate.

As more and more people were forced out and trees became protected, the local economy suffered and, in the end, much of the Boston Mills area was absorbed into the  Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  As the government bought more homes, the houses often sat vacant until they could be demolished.  The area gave every appearance of being a ghost town,particularly to people passing through.  Many people say this is where the legends surrounding Helltown began.

The Legends of Hell Town

There are a number of urban legends and rumors when it comes to Helltown.  Some people claim the town was evacuated not because of the parks, but because of a deadly chemical spill the government wanted to cover up.  Although there is no official record of any such spill, it’s a legend that continues to this day.

Rumors about the local cemetery are also popular.  In one story, people claim to have seen a ghost that sits on a bench in the cemetery.  Visitors say the ghost does not move or interact – just that it sits staring blankly into space.  There are rarely any other details given about the ghost which makes it hard to compare versions.

Another cemetery-based rumor is that the trees in the cemetery move in unnatural ways.  Rumors about the trees persist and people claim the origin could be the restless souls of children in the cemetery or even the involvement of a Satanic cult.

Other local legends include stories of a school bus full of children being slaughtered by a serial killer (though sometimes the story features an escaped mental patient instead) as well as abandoned houses with lights that mysteriously come on and that at least two of the local churches are used as covers for evil cults.

Helltown-Road

The Haunted Hearse

While there are plenty of stories about Helltown, the most famous is about the Haunted Hearse.  The area of Helltown is littered with dead-end streets lined with abandoned homes and plenty of trees and overgrown vines that give the area a decidedly creepy feel, especially at night.

Locals claim that if you drive down certain roads you’ll find yourself being chased by a hearse which appears to have a ghostly looking man at the wheel.  In some stories the hearse appears out of nowhere and in others the car has only one, weak headlight.

Some of the stories have connected this ghostly hearse with the number of fatalities on Standford Road (aka ‘The End of the World’).  Stanford Road has its own grisly reputation – locals and urban myth believers claim the road is cursed and drivers risk having a fatal crash if they choose to drive down the road.  Some claim the road itself is possessed while others say that evil spirits possess the drivers and force them to crash the car purposely.  Even cynics of the legends have to admit that Standford Road, with it’s sharp turns and steep inclines, is the scene of fatal crashes quite often.

As far as the haunted hearse of Helltown goes, however, there are records that show a family did own a hearse at one time in the small town.  They drove it around mostly around Halloween and became a regular feature in the landscape of the town.  Skeptics point out that the road in question is marked by a large “ROAD CLOSED” sign nd that there is even a gate that goes across the road and is locked tight.  The road is surrounded by dense woods on either side, making it impossible for a hearse to even drive down the road.

Then again, none of that would matter if the hearse is a ghostly apparition.

Either way, the legends and urban myths surrounding Helltown have turned it into a cult favorite for local adventure seekers.  It has become a fairly well-known attraction for people throughout Ohio and urban explorers from the surrounding area.  In the end, Helltown’s network or legends and creepy appearance could be what breathes new life into the modern day ghost town.

 

 


SpookyDisney

The Haunted Mansion Hearse (Hearse Legends – A Three Part Series)

Hearses and funeral cars are probably the most storied vehicles in the history of our culture. Even before the modern-day hearses, the mystique of death and the horse-drawn carriage has always grabbed peoples’ attention. That’s why there are so many legends about hearses and funeral cars in our society. We would like to explore some of those legends of funerals cars in a multi-part blog series.  We hope you will enjoy this and learn something new at the same time.

The Haunted Mansion Hearse

One of the most common legends concerning a hearse takes us to Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride. Before entering the ride, an old-fashioned horse-drawn hearse provides an ominous feeling to those wanting a thrill. According to legend and rumors, this is the same carriage that transported the body of Brigham Young, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His funeral took place in 1877, making this hearse more than a century old.

It’s a detail passed around Disney fans for years and is often accepted at face value.  After all, there are dozens of stories passed around about Disney history.  The fact that this one involves a hearse has made it especially appealing to generations of visitors.  The blend of Disneyworld whole fun with the macabre is simply too good to pass up.  Although this is one of the most prominent hearse legends, it is not true.

Glen M. Leonard, director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ buytramadolbest.com Museum of Church History and Art, went on the record in an attempt to dispel the myth once and for all.  He confirmed that “historical evidence shows no hearse was used,” before going on to tell the story of Brigham Young’s real funeral transportation.

Brigham Young had set out a specific set of instruction he expected to be carried out long before his death in August of 1877.  When Young passed away, those explicit directions were carried out by his staff.  Among the directions had been the naming of pall bearers taken from his pool of clerks and employees.  These men were selected to carry Young’s body from its death bed to the Tabernacle in preparation for his funeral.  After the funeral, those same pall bearers carried Young’s body to a nearby private cemetery.  Simply put, there were no wheeled vehicles of any kind, horse-drawn or otherwise, used in the funeral of Brigham Young.

Exposing this urban legend doesn’t dispel the mystery around the hearse however.  The lineage of the Haunted Mansion hearse can only be traced back to its purchase by Disney from Dale Rickards, a collector in Malibu.  Earlier records for the hearse had disappeared and the manufacturer’s plate had been removed.  This makes it impossible to trace the hearse’s history any further and, as a result, ripe for speculation.  So while it certainly wasn’t used in the funeral of Brigham Young, that doesn’t mean it’s history is any less intriguing.

 

HauntedMansion02


https://pixabay.com/en/oldtimers-car-old-car-automotive-770407/

10 Custom Hearses That Could Make Your Last Trip the Best One Yet

Normally when people see a hearse going down the road, they’re just glad they aren’t the one getting that final ride.  But then there are hearses that just might give you some second thoughts.   Okay, so that might be a bit of an overstatement but, if nothing else, these amazing customized hearses prove that your final ride doesn’t have to be the worst.

While most choose traditional hearse options there are many cool customized hearses on the road today.  Often, these hearses aren’t used for traditional funeral services – but they could be.  Today, many of these cars are private vehicles used simply for fun, but with funeral options growing year on year, it may be only a matter of time before we begin to see them as being offered for specialized services.

Da Bears Hearse

For Die-Hard Fans

Chicago Bears Hearse

Motorcycle Hearse

For the Motorcycle Enthusiast

Motorcycle Hearse

The Gothic Hearse

From the Mad Max set

Gothic Hearse

The Drag Racing Hearse

Do you want to race?

Drag Racing Hearse

Bicycle Hearse

Great on Fuel

Bicycle Hearse

Sidecar Hearse

For that final ride into the sunset

Sidecare Hearse

The Hearse Camper

There’s definitely room to lay down!

Hearse Camper

Hot Rod Hearse

When you need to get there fast

Hot Rod Hearse in Purple

Off Road Hearse

Tough Terrain, no problem

Off Road Hearse

Toyota Prius Hearse

Is this for real?

Toyota Prius Hearse

Images via Complex


A Review of Funeral Car Evolution – Part 3

hearsesHere is the conclusion of our three-part series of the various styles and appearance that hearses and funeral cars have had over the last 100 years or so.

The Eureka-Cadillac Three-Way Landau Hearse
If you like the automobile style that was so popular in the 1950s, you would like this type of hearse. It had the rounded edges and unique taillight styles.

Superior-Cadillac Royale Coupe de Fleur
This unique flower car made an appearance during the late 1950s and was a very popular addition for many funeral homes and mortuaries. You could put flowers in the back and there was a latch that allowed you to lift up the back cover so to load the casket. It was easy and classy all in one!

Superior-Cadillac Crown Royale
This is the style many people think of when they think of older hearses. It has the fins on the back with the curtains in the side windows and a sleek black appearance that only a hearse can have.

We hope you learned something or at least enjoyed these last three posts. You can learn more about these classic hearses by keeping up to date on our blogs.  Subscribe today!