- About Digital Windham
- 1910 Willimantic
- Browse Exhibits
- Browse Items
Given the number of hospitals and the size of the population, it is not surprising that Willimantic also provided services for the dead and for their loved ones.
The city had five groups providing mortuary services for the deceased. Elmore & Shepard (Franklin H. and Jay M.) ran their undertaking and embalming business from 62 North Street, J. Hickey & Company were located at 22 Bank Street, while (the estate of) John Killourey undertaker was listed at 36 Union Street. Fred L. Avery (South Street south of the Willimantic River) also listed his sole occupation as undertaker. Two others, however, practiced undertaking as a side business. David P. Comtois supplemented his services as a dealer in furniture and house furnishings with a side gig as insurance agent, embalmer and undertaker, at 814 Main Street. Hiram N. Fenn similarly split his time between undertaking and running an art store at 58 Church Street. It's possible that these two men's specialties (respectively furniture manufacturing and picture framing) came in handy for casket construction, while the sale of estate property (furniture and artwork) is also a possibility. Herbert Hoxie was also listed as employed by an undertaker.
Funeral services were generally held in one of the town's churches. Obituaries and funeral service notices were frequently recorded in the Willimantic Chronicle, as the screenshot example from June 1910 shows.
Genealogists have always been interested in the final resting places of the deceased, while local historians occasionally offer historic tours of graveyards. Many online websites offer information of the location of burial plots and those interred there.
Willimantic's original cemetery was located in the sparsely-populated western part of town at the intersection of Columbia Avenue and Main Street; fifty years later the Willimantic Poor House would be constructed on the other side of the road. As burial plots ran out in the original cemetery, the New Willimantic Cemetery was constructed at the intersection of route 32 and highway 6.
The local Catholic burying ground, St. Joseph Cemetary, was located on the other side of the Natchaug River. Today the road it's located on is known as Club Road, due to buildings such as the Franco-American Civic and Social Club. But in 1910 Club Road was called the "Catholic Cemetery Road", or just "Cemetery Road," indicating its original tenant.