I n 1884, Frankfort’s first funeral home was established and owned by Mr. Charles Parrish. Mr. Parrish also owned a horse drawn hearse. Families that bought funeral goods and services from him were allowed use of the hearse without charge.
In 1888, the City of Frankfort purchased a horse drawn hearse, storing it in the Moss Livery Barn. Mr. Moss furnished black horses to pull it.
Mr. Charles Mason, brother of poet Walt Mason, owned the second undertaking establishment in Frankfort. He built the stone structure two doors east of where the Blodget Hotel was located. It has a date of 1889 engraved on it.
In 1893, Mr. William Kennedy put in an undertaking business and furniture store for his son to run. This establishment resided where the Ben Franklin Store was once located. While Mr. Kennedy’s son, Henry, took his embalming training, Phil Lapham was hired to do the embalming work. The Kennedy’s owned the business until 1905 when they sold to Mr. L.M. Barrett.
Mr. Barrett was from the east and moved to Frankfort after suffering health problems. In 1906 he took Dave W. Shearer on as a partner. Mr. Shearer attended embalming school in Chicago and received his license to operate as a funeral director and embalmer. Mr. Shearer hired Monroe Tyler to be his first assistant. He later hired Burrel Thomas, Howard Kelly, and his son, Andrew N. Shearer, as assistants. In 1916, Dave became the first funeral director in Frankfort to purchase an automobile hearse. He had it specially made from the parts of a horse drawn hearse and the chassis of a Studebaker. For several years he advertised as having both a horse drawn and automobile hearse for funeral use.
In 1933, Dave Shearer died and the funeral business was sold to Mr. Welter Oelkers of Axtell, KS. Mr. Oelkers died in 1940, leaving the business to his wife. She ran the business until selling it to Paul Padden in 1945.
Paul and his son, Wilber “Pat” Padden, operated the business as Paul M. Padden, Inc. They were located in the building that Mr. Ed C. Dunham built. Up until that time most people had funerals in the family’s home, however, when someone prominent died the crowds would be much too large to fit in the home. The establishment of a funeral home also eliminated the tradition of all night vigils.
Mr. Charles Bennet worked for the funeral home during the 1980’s and up until his death in 1990. At that time Jon Padden and Cleve Walstrom purchased the business from Jon’s parents, Wilber “Pat” and Lela Padden. Padden Funeral Chapel remained in the Padden family until Jon Padden retired in 2007, selling his shares to Dustin Zutterman, a long time employee.
Cleve Walstrom and Dustin Zutterman are the current owners of the Padden Funeral Chapel.