Eps 23 Have de Grace Funeral Home Oddities

Advertising, Businesses, Funeral Homes

The featured image shows paper fans from Bullock’s Mortuary and Mitchell Funeral Home.

Bullock’s Mortuary / Lisa Scott Funeral Home

Elmer E. Bullock, an African American, owned the Mortuary and operated it from 1928-1948. Prior to Bullock, Arnold Beard operated the funeral home. This was located at 556 Lewis Street. It is now operated by Lisa Scott and is listed as 552 Lewis Street.

Pennington Funeral Home

Palm-shaped fan from Pennington & Son Funeral Home in Havre de Grace
Palm-shaped fan from Pennington & Son Funeral Home in Havre de Grace

The fan in the cover photo of our video is from Pennington Funeral Home. Pennington’s Funeral Home was at 225 South Washington.

Older photo of Pennington Funeral Home at 225 S. Washington in Havre de Grace
Older photo of Pennington Funeral Home at 225 S. Washington in Havre de Grace

It’s important to note that the original location in the early 1800s was at 552 Pennington (then called St. Clair) and Freedom Lane (then known as Freedom Alley). It has since been demolished. The 2nd location was at 225 S. Washington Street.

This was the second location of the “Pennington and Son—Funeral Directors and Embalmers,” who advertised that they were “never closed.” Their first location was 522 St. Clair Street (now Pennington Avenue), where they had been since 1817 and moved here in 1913. Overall, their funeral business was operated by five generations of the Pennington family, beginning with William Canby Pennington (1797-1851).

This Pennington House was purchased by Mary Pennington in 1913, wife of George T. Pennington (1871-1947) who was Mayor of Havre de Grace from 1923-1936. The one-story building behind this house (and facing Fountain Street) was where funeral parlor business was conducted and most likely was built by the Penningtons. This Washington Street address includes all the land and buildings running east to Strawberry Lane.

from Historic Havre de Grace website

Below is a Pennington & Son funeral home ad from 1941:

advertisement from 1941 for Pennington & Son Funeral Home
advertisement from 1941 for Pennington & Son Funeral Home

A Slight Detour…

beautiful, foldable-floral fan from Mitchell's Florist

We found this fan from Mitchell’s Florist to not only be beautiful, but interesting advertising since it’s a great service for the Funeral Home as well.

R. Madison Mitchell

R. Madison Mitchell is most widely recognized today as a decoy carver. CLICK HERE for his obituary and a fine article.

Mitchell home and funeral home at 123 S. Washington St in Havre de Grace MD
Mitchell home and funeral home at 123 S. Washington St in Havre de Grace MD

This typical white frame house became the home and business place of R. “Madison” Mitchell in 1959; he and his family lived in the upstairs and conducted his funeral business on the ground floor. Locals remember that Madison used to set up a train garden in their apartment above the funeral home every Christmas and he often sold Christmas trees in his back yard.

He had a duck decoy business in the two-level workshop behind this house. Over the years, Madison trained many generations of decoy carvers, including some of the best known carvers today. For some of them, creating decoys was in addition to working in the funeral business—when it was slow, they were expected to work on decoys.

The red brick expansion seen today was added to the front of the funeral home in 1987 when the Mitchells bought the house just south of it (#127) from Jeanne and Francis “Whitey” Turner; the Mitchells demolished that home for the funeral home expansion.

from Historic Havre de Grace website

It’s interesting to note that R. Madison Mitchell learned the trade from his great-uncle, E. Madison Mitchell, at a Baltimore funeral home. Then R. Madison earned his license and opened his own business in Havre de Grace.

R. Madison’s daughter, Madelyn (Mitchell) Shank, also became a licensed mortician and worked for her father. She was the first woman in the state to earn a Mortician’s License (1950).

In 1987 it became the Mitchell-Smith Funeral Home.

Zellman Funeral Home

In 2007 Fred and Tara Zellman bought the Mitchell Funeral Home and operate it as Zellman Funeral Home. They recently purchased the Bayou Restaurant location on Route 40 (Pulaski Highway) and will be moving their business to the new location soon.

Hopefully, you watched the video to the end where our ‘casual historian’ shares a bit about R. Madison Mitchell’s ‘jar of Duck Dust.’

1943 telephone directory listing funeral directors.

In this 1943 telephone directory, we noticed another name for Havre de Grace Funeral Directors:

H. S. Bailey (of Darlington)

If you have any information on this, please let our ‘casual historian’ know.

Our ‘casual historian’ would love to add to his local funeral home collection. If you have anything, stop by and chat with him.

Remember, don’t throw the Havre de Grace ‘stuff’ out when you’re cleaning out a home, settling an estate, or just ‘downsizing,’ without checking in with George. Don’t give him cause to cry!!!

Our ‘casual historian’ is always waiting for your stories and any memorabilia you may want to share.

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