A Personal History of Clinton & Sampson County – Funeral Homes

Funeral Homes

When I was a very small boy there were two undertaking establishments here in Clinton. One was on Wall St. in the same building that Royal Furniture Company is now in and it operated under the name of T. M. Ferrell & Sons. They did their undertaking work in the back part of the building and they continued to operate it until about 1929 when Mr.’s Sim, Cebron, and Douglas Royal from Salemburg came over here and bought out the establishment. They continued to operate it under the name of Royal Furniture Company and Royal Funeral Home. There were no funeral homes here at that time. The Royals purchased the old court house building on the southeast corner of Faison and McKoy Streets and used that as an undertaking parlor until they built their new establishment, which was located diagonally across the street on the opposite northwest corner. Today it’s called Royal-Hall Funeral Home.

The other was owned by Mr. J. C. (Claude) Holliday. He operated his place of business, which was also combination furniture and undertaking establishment, on Vance Street in the same building that later on was owned by Crumpler-Honeycutt Furniture and Funeral. They, too, did their work in the rear and upstairs part of the building, as there was a stairway leading from the sidewalk to the second floor of that building. Mr. Tom Patterson worked for Mr. Claude Holliday up until the early 1920’s when he moved to Florida. Furman Honeycutt Sr. lived out in the county but came to Clinton and took the job that Mr. Patterson had working for Mr. Holliday. Furman worked there for a good many years, and finally joined up with Mr. Johnny Crumpler, who was doing the undertaking work for T. M. Ferrell & Sons. They went into business together and opened up what was called Crumpler-Honeycutt Furniture and Funeral Home.

About 1937, I believe it was, Crumpler-Honeycutt built them a new funeral home on the north side of Fayetteville St., which incidentally still stands. It was built on the spot where Miss Berta Flowers had her home. When Johnny Crumpler first came to Clinton, he roomed and boarded with Miss Berta Flowers, the reason I remember that so vividly is because I was in the automobile business directly across the street from that spot. When Johnny came to Clinton he had a cigar-shaped Model T Ford and he kept it stored in my garage there.

I do not recall there being but one horse-drawn hearse here in Clinton in those bygone days. There could have been more but I only recall one. I was told that it was first stored in a building located to the left of the main entrance of the original cemetery (behind the left brick column), and that building stood there for many, many years. It had wide double doors and was used to house either a hearse or carriage. Finally, the hearse was moved to a building that was in a rear part of the lot on Chesnutt St. where Furman Honeycutt built his house, beside where the Presbyterian manse now stands. I don’t remember exactly but it was somewhere right along there. They kept that hearse there for years until they came out with motorized hearses. I remember that for many years my father had a pair of white horses that they used to pull this hearse when they were taking the body to the Clinton Cemetery for burial. It had large, high wheels with small rubber tires on it, and there was a high seat on the front and also a place for the driver to stand. There was a glass window on each side and to the rear of this conveyance in order that the casket could be seen. I remember very vividly as a small boy when at funerals, the pallbearers marched along on either side of the hearse and wore white gloves. When they interred the body, the pallbearers always filled the grave, and some of them would jump in and stamp the dirt down with their feet. Then they’d pile on more dirt and taper it off with the end of a hoe or shovel handle, and that’s the way they left it.

Back in those bygone days, in going up to the cemetery there was an ornamental iron, double-gate that served as the main entrance to the cemetery when used by the hearses. Then to the right of that was a small iron gate for walking people to pass through. The small gate swung on hinges with a weight and chain to close it. The weight was a large, heavy old cannonball. The larger, double drive-in gate was normally kept locked.

In the old days I remember well that the only part of the cemetery was the old original part and it only went about half way to what is now the truck lane back of the cemetery at this time. There was a small wooden house back there facing the Main Street extension where the caretaker lived. His name was Jerry Black and I remember Jerry very well. After he passed on or moved on they put another man back there by the name of Bob Johnson. I don’t mean this in any disrespectful manner but he was as a knock-kneed man as I have ever saw. He was a jovial man and he worked there for many years and finally they tore the house down and the job was taken over by the city.

According to Mr. Joe Hubbard, there was a cemetery across the street from the First Methodist Church on Sampson St. and he remembered playing among the tombstones there when he himself was a small boy.

Mr. Claude Holliday owned and operated the J.C. Holliday Furniture and Undertaking establishment. He and his wife, Miss Jessie, lived on Sycamore Street. They never had any children but were the benefactors of the J.C. Holliday Library here in Clinton. It was built on a lot donated by Mildred Fleming Powell well back of Lisbon Street.

They tell two tales on Mr. Claude, whom I knew very well. When electricity first came to Clinton, Mr. Claude was of the very first to get electricity from Carolina Power & Light. Soon CP&L started selling electric stoves and refrigerators and so on. So Mr. Claude bought one of the stoves, maybe a refrigerator, too. When he got his first electricity bill he noticed it was a lot higher than what he was led to believe it would be. He complained to the company and they sent some men to check it out. They couldn’t find anything wrong but Mr. Claude insisted they check it again. Now, at that time Mr. Claude and Miss Jessie had a woman who was a combination cook and maid that stayed with them all the time. It was a real cold day when the CPL men went to the rear of the house to check it. Through the window they saw the maid sitting in a chair with the oven door to the electric stove down. She had the oven switched to full blast and had her feet propped up in front of it to keep them warm.

The other event was, and I don’t mean this in a disrespectful manner, but Mr. Claude liked to take a drink, and he had the reputation of drinking more than he should. And he knew that when he went home inebriated, Miss Jessie would rake him over the coals, so to speak. On one of those occasions after he had too much to drink, he decided that he would go home with a present so he could get into the house without being lambasted too much. So he called on Mr. Harvell, who was one of the town’s night policemen at the time. Mr. Claude gets Mr. Harvell to go to the store with him and he bought a new refrigerator. They put it on a handcart and pushed it to his house. He knocked on the door and Miss Jessie came out, and Claude gave her this peace offering to avoid getting chewed out for coming home late.

Royal Funeral Home

Royal Funeral Home in 1937

Crumpler-Honeycutt Funeral Home

Crumpler-Honeycutt Funeral Home, new in 1938