Monday, April 15, 2013

A Brief History of Funeral Coaches

It is a given that in this lifetime, each of us will be faced with the death of someone we love. It is an inevitable and sad part of life.
Making funeral arrangements is indeed stressful and adds to the grief as it demands decision making in a lot of important details, including the choice of a funeral car or hearse.
A funeral car is essential for a lot of reasons and is often necessary to travel to the burial place. Actually they started as horse-drawn wagons. And although they've developed over the years, the early traditions have lived on when it comes to funeral cars or hearses.
Actually in today's funeral industry, a hearse is not generally called a hearse. It's more known as a funeral coach or car. Why? Funeral directors think that this term is a little less frightening than the common one.
The word "hearse" in fact comes from the Middle English word "herse". This refers to a type of candelabra often put on top of a coffin. In sometime in the 17th century, people had started using this word to refer to the horse-drawn carriages that carries the casket to the burial place during the funeral procession.
Until the 20th century, hearses remained to be horse-drawn. Nobody was quite sure of the exact year when motorized hearses were first used. But as assumed, it is most likely between 1901 and 1907.
Actually, the first hearse motor was electric. The first hearse with internal combustion engine only appeared in 1909, at Wilfrid A. Pruyn's funeral. And the responsible for this innovation was H.D. Ludlow. This new kind of hearse was pretty popular with the funerals of wealthier people.
Although Ludlow's creation has been popular to the public, most funeral directors found motorized hearses to be too expensive. As prices went down and internal combustion engines became further powerful, funeral directors then realized that the faster the hearse is, the more funerals they can accommodate per day. And by 1920s, gas-powered funeral cars became the standard.
The first gasoline-driven funeral cars were actually akin to the boxy design of the horse-drawn ones. But in 1930s, the longer funeral coach was introduced by Sayers and Scovill. This sleek, limousine-like shape remains to be popular today.
Nowadays, the largest funeral coach manufacturer of funeral cars in the United States is Accubuilt, Inc. And over the years, a significant number of funeral car manufacturers have merged. These include Eureka, Miller-Meteor, Superior Coach, and Sayers and Scovill. For anyone interested in funeral cars and coaches, these names are quite recognizable.

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