From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
|Last Name||First Name||Maiden Name||Birth Date||Death Date||Age||Source||Remarks||Contact|
|Surles||Robert Lloyd Sr.||05-Oct-1920||08-Aug-1996||75||Obituary|
Thomas Quisenberry didn't realize his son's marriage to Gertrude Metz would be the beginning of a Tonganoxie funeral business that now spans a century. The pioneer farmer of the Tonganoxie Township was born in Illinois, was married in Old Delaware City and was buried in Eagle Cemetery.
As his great-grandson walked the neatly tended burial ground Tuesday afternoon, he spoke of his ancestors. Calvin Quisenberry said the family first settled in the Neely community west of Tonganoxie.
He reasons it must have been during territory days because by 1863 Thomas Quisenberry married Elizabeth Stacks in the town that was the forerunner of Lansing.
Nelson Quisenberry was one of 11 children born to Thomas and Elizabeth. When he married Gertrude, her father had been a grocer, a postmaster and an undertaker since the 1880s.
During the latter part of the last century, the care of the dead occurred at the home. Henry Metz would be called on by friends and neighbors to "undertake" the funeral arrangements.
"Henry would help dress the body and place it in the coffin," Calvin Quisenberry said. "then he would make arrangements with the clergy for the funeral and with the neighbors to dig the grave."
Henry's grandchildren would watch with interest as he went about his undertaking duties. It was probably his contact with casket companies that gained his granddaughter, Christiana, an employer.
"She began working for the Tribute Casket Company in Kansas city. She got my father interested in the business and I believe one of his brothers also worked there," he said.
In a short while, Hervey Quisenberry began working for D. W. Newcomer, the largest funeral business in Kansas City, Mo. He learned embalming and later received a license after graduating from the Williams Institute of Mortuary Science in Kansas City, Kans. Hervey Quisenberry remained there 17 years. Then World War II interrupted his career.
"After Dad came back from the war, he and my mother were looking for a funeral home of their own. They traveled all through Missouri and Kansas. Dad used to say his parents didn't want to put any pressure on them. But the only funeral home in Tonganoxie just happened to be for sale."
Hervey and Dorothy Quisenberry bought the Rumsey Funeral Home in 1946. That business dated back to the turn of the century when the first formal funeral parlor was opened at 514 E. Fourth in Tonganoxie. By the time the Quisenberrys purchased the business, it was located at 602 E. Fourth.
Calvin Quisenberry says his parents made major renovations in the business that included a furniture store and ambulance service. The furniture was discontinued in 1970, the ambulance service in 1976.
Today's Quisenberry Funeral Chapel was purchased by Hervey and Dorothy Quisenberry's only child. Calvin chose to attend San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, then joined his father's business full time.
His business takes him into most of the cemeteries of southern Leavenworth County. This brisk winter afternoon, he was paying particular attention to Eagle Cemetery. He was joined by his three children, Eric, Brian and Heather, as they played near their great-great-grandfather's headstone.
Article donated by Debra Graden, President
Leavenworth County Genealogical Society, 1998