Early 1700s: A researcher of human anatomy, and physiology, Frederick Ruysch (1638-1731) preserved body organs and is thought to be one of the first to use arterial embalming.
1792: John Paul Jones, Revolutionary War naval fighter, was buried in a lead coffin said to prevent decay of the body.
Pre-1800s: To preserve the deceased, people would disembowel a body, fill its cavities with charcoal, immerse the body in alcohol, wrap the body in a cloth soaked in alum, or employ other means.
Early 1800s: Jean Gannal (1791-1852), a French chemist, pioneered embalming methods with his injection of aluminum salt solutions into the deceased’s arteries.
1848: Almond Fisk patents metallic burial cases and continues to develop these airtight caskets.
1850: Samuel Courtauld operates three silk mills producing black crepe, a popular mourning fabric used for several decades; former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun is buried in a Fisk coffin.
1856: J. Anthony Gaussardia obtains patent for injection of arsenic-alcohol embalming mix into bodies.
1858: Earliest record burial in Shawnee Indian Cemetery, 10905 59th Terrace, with more graves than markers of early Shawnee, Native Americans, and individuals associated with the neighboring Quaker and Methodist missionary schools.
1861-1864: Civil War medical staff offer embalming of fallen soldiers to families willing to pay. Thomas Holmes embalms many of the estimated 40,000 bodies injected with preservative fluids during war years.
1865: Mary Lincoln has body of President Abraham Lincoln embalmed because she was said to be impressed by Holmes’ embalming of Col. Elmer Ellsworth, who was shot in 1861 when removing a Confederate flag from a roof in Virginia; oldest marked grave at St. Joseph Cemetery, 6300 Quivira Road dates to this year.
1867: August Hoffman and his assistants in Germany discover formaldehyde preservative; a patent is issued for method that immerses the body in plaster of Paris and hydraulic cement with tubes allowing gases to escape.
1868: John Morgan patents gravity fluid injection.
1868: Samuel Rogers of Philadelphia patents the trocar, a hollow tube used to inject fluids into cavities and remove excess liquids.
1871: Stein Patent Burial Caskets made of wood with metal reinforcements begin production, and President Ulysses Grant buried in cloth-covered version (1885).
1876: Julius LeMoyne builds first crematorium, which is located in Washington, Pennsylvania.
1878: The Undertaker’s Manual, the first embalming specific text in the United States, is published.
1880: Michigan forms the Michigan Undertakers Association, the first professional organization of this type in the nation; Allen Durfee, manufacturer of funeral supplies, helps found this organization.
1882: The National Funeral Directors Association forms.
1884: Benjamin W. Richardson, Britain, and F. Sullivan, United States, introduce needle embalming that uses process of injecting fluid through the deceased’s inner eye, an insertion location that soon loses popularity.
1887: U.S. companies began making embalming instruments and accessories rather than importing from Germany.
1889: The United States College of Embalming in New York City opens the first embalming school of instruction, and undertakers rather medical personnel are performing embalming.
1890s: The four-sided “casket” had become a common term and has replaced the octagonal coffin for standard burial container.
1890: About 113,000 industries listed in U.S. census as “coffins, burial cases, and undertakers’ goods”; Parisian physician immerses corpses in metallic salts and then applies an electric current to encase body in process called Anthropoplasty.Daily Alta California 83, No. 178, 25 December 1890
1891: The first commercial embalming fluid is sold and is a mix of arsenic, mercury and zinc.
1897: Formalin is introduced.
1898: Germany begins to import commercial formaldehyde into United States, and it soon becomes the preservative fluid most used.
Early 1900s: Embalming schools proliferate.
1900-1920: The concrete vault starts becomes common and many patents for this vault type issued during this period.
1900: ESCO offers for sale the first U.S.-made commercial embalming fluid that contains formaldehyde.
1901: The state of Michigan takes the lead in forbidding poisons such as mercury in embalming solutions.
1904: The “Floral Mantel,” a device that lowers the casket into the grave, debuts.
1907: Williams Institute of Embalming and Sanitary Science founded in Kansas City, Kansas: Kansas State Board of Embalming established.
1914: Electric chemical injection pump is displayed.
1909: Crane & Breed introduce a combination hearse and casket delivery wagon. With a windshield to protect the drivers in inclement weather, the vehicle has a 30-horse power engine and is “lighted with electricity on the inside and out.
1915: Last horse-drawn funeral transportation is documented in Shawnee.
1920: There are nearly 25,000 funeral homes in the United States.
1927: Addition to Kansas law further raises professional standards by requiring new embalmers to serve an apprenticeship for three years under a licensed embalmer or take classes from an accredited mortuary school, to embalm 25 human bodies, and take an examination.
1928: D. E. Bassler, a practicing veterinarian, opens a funeral home in Shawnee
1946: Amos family opens a funeral home in Shawnee.