May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 186

Price Realized: $ 3,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,200 - $ 1,800
(BUSINESS.) Record book of Brown's Funeral Home in Petersburg, Virginia. [25], 207 manuscript pages including index. Folio, 13 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, minor wear; minimal wear to contents. Petersburg, VA, 1935-41

Additional Details

Thomas Henry Brown (1864-1952) was a longtime funeral director and civic leader among the African-Americans of Petersburg, VA, a small city with an unusually well-established free black community dating back to the late 18th century. This sturdy volume provides the details on hundreds of funerals handled by Brown in the last years of the Great Depression, offering a wealth of genealogical detail. Most entries give the date, the person paying for the funeral and their address, the name of the deceased, services commissioned, and the fees. The later entries grow more detailed, often adding the birth and death dates and places of the deceased, names of parents, final resting place and more. As an example, we learn that William Tyler was married, raised in Newburg, SC, and "employed as a porter in the OK barber shop in Washington, DC. He died in auto accident on highway south of South Hill, Va." The names of his parents, brother, and wife are given; the funeral was paid by a $161 check from the Equitable Insurance Company. The volume is a sobering link between the past and present. Some of the oldest burials handled in this book were likely born into slavery. Some of the young children who attended these funerals are likely alive in Petersburg today. With--an undated and uncredited 5 x 7-inch copy-print photograph of pallbearers bringing a casket out of Brown's Funeral Home.