One hundred plus years ago, the final trip to the cemetery could be an elegant one. A pair of matching horses, specially trained to walk slowly and elegantly, would pull the ornate and finely carved “black wagon” to the cemetery. Regardless of the weather, the funeral director always wore a tall top hat and tails. Pallbearers carried the casket on their shoulders, in order to load the elevated hearse properly.

The Miner-Kessler hearse, on display in front of the Hillsdale County Courthouse, was one of the finest, although shown here without its ornate silver lanterns. The lanterns later spent time hanging on the front of a Manning Street home.

Carol A. Lackey