Mortuary & Funeral Business

F.A. Mayer and Company Furniture Store of Cooperstown purchased a Culver Hearse in 1898 which was rented for funerals at moderate rates.  The carriage, pulled by horses, could be used on wheels or put on a bobsled in winter.  At that time coffins may have been made by family members of pine boards or could be purchased through the local drugstores, furniture or hardware stores.  Bodies were usually cared for at home by the family and kept in cool areas until buried.

By 1888, when S. Almklov bought out the drug and coffin stock from Dr. Newell, he set up a display and storage area over the drug store.  The early coffins were six sided and broader at the shoulder level.  Shipping crates were used as stands and later as rough boxes.  Many early coffins contained zinc trays in the bottom, where a layer of lee was placed, the clothed body then laid in the coffin, thus the saying "Put them on ice".

Types of coffins included pine boxes.  Later coffins were covered with printed cloth or mohair.  Coffins became obsolete as caskets came into use, many of them made of metals: copper, bronze and steel, or of wood.

S. Almklov purchased his first motorized hearse from King-Bruns on a Ford chassis in about 1923.  The first known embalmers were Fred Keeper, Art Oslo, Vincent Goodrich, Erving Stead, O.A. Carlson, P.H. Farager and W.H. Cook.

S.J. Quam came to Cooperstown, April 9, 1934 to start a funeral home business.  He rented the Martin Garlid residence which was then on the site of Quam's present day home.  Mr. Quam served in the armed forces in 1944.  Mrs. Quam kept the business going in Cooperstown that year.  In the fall of 1945, Mr. Quam bought out the complete stock of 19 caskets and a 1933 Ford Hearse from Dr. Leif Almklov.

Mr. Quam was a licensed trade embalmer, and he traveled to other towns in the area to do embalming for John Knapp at Binford, Billy Sinclair at Hannaford, Greenland at Sutton and E.S. Duea at Sharon.

In 1956, Quam went into business with Mrs. E.E. Boe at Finley, buying a share of the Boe funeral home in Finley.

Glen R. Plaisted bought out Mrs. E.E. Boe's interest in July of 1959.  Five years later he bought half interest in the Cooperstown Funeral Home from S.J. Quam and they joined the two homes into a corporation.  In January of 1974, S.J. Quam went into full retirement, selling the remaining portion of the corporation to Plaisted.

July 1, 1981, Plaisted sold the corporation to a newly formed funeral home corporation with Rick L. Cushman of Cooperstown, as partial owner and manager.  Mr. Plaisted is still associated with the new corporation.

Going back in the records to 1911, funeral costs ranged from $250 to $300, compared to today's average costs of about $2175.00.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 197

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