See a large image of this photo HERE

This magnificent photo is as good as it gets.  Here we see life (and death) at the turn of the century.  Electricity has just come about, but most people still use gas lamps.  The horseless carriage is just around the corner but most people still use horse and wagon.  The funeral business has caught-on in a big way now, due mostly to the Civil War,  only 50 years earlier.  Yes, 50 years seems like a long time but those at 50 will tell you that it's just a quick ticking of the clock. Funeral homes were famous for their beautiful custom built hearses and two black horses all decked out in their finest harness. The Barlow funeral home was photographed in 1917 at Its location on 504 Virginia Street E.  John Barlow, owner is standing on the sidewalk in front of the building. His father George started the business. Mareus Daw, a driver is seated in the horse drawn hearse which was then the first mortuary vehicle. One of the horses was named "Buck", and he lived over 30 years.  When Buck was a young spirited horse in training, he and a trained horse were pulling a funeral home wagon to the train depot.  A train went by and Buck was so scared that he ducked under the wagon tongue and somehow managed to come up on the other side of the horse next to him. No one could figure out how that was even possible, but there he was.

I find this photo interesting in so many ways:  The front of the building itself looks like it could be part of today's Capitol complex, yet right next door stands a house, and then more buildings.  I've always had an interest in the funeral business and it's history. I guess that's because the father of one of the first girls I had a crush on owned a funeral home.  She lived IN the funeral home.  How's THAT for a romantic memory?

Barlow Funeral Home

Photo courtesy of Sonny Matics at the Matics Funeral Home in Clendenin

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