University of Massachusetts Amherst
Special Collections and University Archives
UMass Amherst Libraries

Undertaker (Wrentham, Mass.)

Undertaker and Home Furnishings Dealer Account Book, 1881
1 vol. (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 171 bd

Owner of business (identity unknown) who served in the vicinity of Wrentham, Massachusetts, as a purveyor of home decorating supplies and furnishings and as an undertaker. The account book includes records of goods for sale and services provided (repairing and upholstering furniture, packing bodies in ice, carrying to tomb, grave digging, etc.); forms of payment (cash, exchange of goods such as soap, eggs, tables, and chairs, and exchange of services); and lists of customers, including City Mills Felting Company, A.H. Morse, J.A. Guild, Joseph Hutchinson, Charles Scott, and Foster Smith.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The owner of the business recorded in this account book served the needs of Wrentham, Massachusetts-area families from the cradle to the grave, as both a purveyor of home decorating supplies and furnishings (including cradles) and an undertaker.

The owner’s identity remains uncertain. The Massachusetts Register and Business Directory for 1878 lists both Henry Bemis and G.O. Fuller as undertakers in Franklin (formerly part of Wrentham) but not as dealers in home decoration supplies or furnishings, which in the account book seems to be the greater focus of the business. There are no undertakers listed for Wrentham. Additional research into Wrentham’s town history did not yield further possible identities.

Most of the goods sold were rolls of paper (probably wallpaper) and borders by the yard, along with carpeting and painting supplies. Among furnishings sold were bedsteads, spring beds, hair mattresses, pillows, chairs, looking glasses, plates and cups, sinks, lamps, and brooms. The company also repaired and upholstered furniture.

Most accounts were settled by cash; occasionally goods were exchanged (soap, eggs, berries, tables, and chairs) or services were accepted (hair cutting, work). Major customers were City Mills Felting Company, A.H. Morse, J.A. Guild, Joseph Hutchingson, Charles Scott, and Foster Smith.

Of great interest are the accounts for undertaking services performed sometimes for the town and at other times for individuals. To be found among these accounts are the charges for a casket, box, shroud, pillow, packing in ice, laying out, flowers, wreath, hearse, carrying to tomb, removing from tomb to graveyard, and grave digging.

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Undertaker and Home Furnishings Dealer Account Book (MS 171). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Seidman, August 1987.

Additional Information

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987
  • Undertakers and undertaking--Massachusetts--Wrentham
  • Wrentham (Mass.)--History
Types of material
  • Account books

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