FEDERALSBURG — The Federalsburg Historical Society held its annual volunteer recognition dinner Feb. 11 at its museum, where it also acknowledged the 150th anniversary of Framptom Funeral Home.
The meeting began with a potluck dinner, after which the society recognized several members for their volunteer contributions of everything from producing the newsletter and increasing awareness of the society’s existence to serving as docents at the museum and researching the town’s history.
The society also recognized Charlie Brohawn, an Eagle Scout with Federalsburg-based Troop 137, who did an extensive restoration project at the historic Exeter House last year for his Eagle Scout project. Earlier in the evening, Brohawn had presented a check for $307 to the historical society, extra money he had received while raising funds for his restoration project.
But the highlight of the evening was arguably guest speaker Janie Eskow, of Framptom Funeral Home.
Eskow talked about the history of the funeral home and the family that founded it in Federalsburg.
The Framptom family established the funeral home in 1864, during the Civil War, when troops’ bodies were being embalmed on the battlefield before being sent home.
Eskow said the Framptom family already had been in the carriage business for nearly 30 years at the time, and had in its fleet two funeral carriages to carry bodies from area farms — a black one drawn by black horses for adult bodies and a white one drawn by white horses for children’s bodies.
“It was a natural transition to move into undertaking,” Eskow said.
In those early days of the funeral home, Joseph Framptom would prepare a deceased body at its home, lay it in bed and then bring back a casket the next day, Eskow said.
Joseph’s son, Jerome Framptom Sr., went into the family business. At one point, it was serving everyone from the northern Eastern Shore down to Cape Charles in Virginia, via railroad.
Jerome Sr. had two sons, Henry and Jerome Jr., Eskow said. Henry went into the family business, while Jerome Jr. got a law degree. In 1935, Henry was killed in an auto accident, and Jerome Jr. and his wife joined the family business.
At one point, four generations of the Framptom family were working in the funeral home, Eskow said. After World War II, an addition was built, housing a chapel, as funerals were increasingly being held in the funeral home, instead of at the home of the deceased.
Eskow said the Framptom family sold the business in 1972 to her parents, Donald and Margaret Hawkins, who already had 27 years of experience. Eskow and her husband, Mike, joined her parents, and Mike was licensed as a mortician in 1976. In 1998, the Eskows’ daughter, Christy, joined the business. Now she and her husband, Roman Coale, are both licensed funeral directors.
Since then, the funeral home has expanded its parking lot and family room, and added monument processing facilities and the equipment needed to handle monuments, Eskow said.
“Our family of three generations is continuing what the Framptoms started,” Eskow said.
Eskow donated to the historical society an old carriage lantern and a bound book containing all 1945 issues of the old Federalsburg Times newspaper, both of which had been discovered in the funeral home’s third-floor attic.
She said the funeral home is considering how to best celebrate its 150th anniversary.