In the early days of funeral service families took care of their own dead. A wake would be held in the family’s parlor the only help that was need was a coffin. All coffins were made of wood some people made their own. But many bought at the store that also sold wooden furniture. At this time ice was used to cool the body giving the family time to hold a wake and prepare for the burial. During the Civil War embalming became an accepted way to delay the natural progression, giving families who lost solders an opportunity to bury them in their own towns.
During the latter part of the 1800’s funeral became much more elaborate, the furniture store started offering undertaking services and suppling the hearse. Eventually the viewing started to be held at the funeral parlors. This was the evolution of the funeral homes we know today.
The history of the Durfee Funeral home started in 1893 when the Cahee Home Furnishing was established. They had locations in Rutland and Fair Haven. Mr. Edward J. Seamans registered as an Embalmer with the State of Vermont on Dec 29, 1902. Mr. Seamans was living at 132 N. Main St., Fair Haven. [Street numbering has changed since that time.]
It became customary for Funeral Parlor to keep records the first entry in funeral log book was dated May 9, 1902.
There is a newspaper that Roy S. Robbins who has had charge of the undertaking department of the Cahee House Furnishing Company in Fair Haven for the past year and a half will on April 1 go to Rutland for the same firm. Another ad in the Middlebury Register dated May 1, 1914 advertising change of ownership of the Cahee House Furnishings, however no other information has been found.
The Fair Haven Era reported on February 20, 1919 “Ralph E. Durfee, wife and son moved to Fair Haven to assist E. J. Seamans at the Cahee House Furnishings in Undertaking and Furniture business.” A year later a Vermont Death Certificate is issued for Edward J. Seamans, Undertaker who died February 20, 1920. In 1920, there are two Undertakers listed in Fair Haven, Greene Brothers and Cahee House Furnishing Co., listed in the New England Business Directory
On July 22, 1921, Marion E. Heald, a widow, by written instrument, duly executed, delivered, and recorded, leased to the Cahee House Furnishing Company, a corporation, its successors and assigns, the south half of a building owned by her, situated in Fair Haven and known as the “O.A. Peck Block,” for the term of five years.
In an obituary dated June 20, 1922 in the Barre Times it listed the Undertaking Rooms of the Cahee House Furnishing Company
On June 28, 1923 Durfee Furniture Company was incorporated and on June 29, 1923, the Cahee House Furnishing Company, by written instrument, duly executed and recorded, assigned all its right, title and interest in and to the lease and option to Ralph E. Durfee.
The Fair Haven Era reports on February 10, 1927 Ralph Durfee moves to the Michael Keenen house on Caenervon Street. This is currently the home of Dale Perkins and Ann Zani, 44 Caernarvon St.
The Durfee Furniture Store bought an 1868 Italianate Victorian House from Adelaide Sheldon on April 2, 1940, the present location at 119 North Main Street.
1942 Bernard E Durfee enlists in the military and is listed as an undertaker on his draft card.
The Rutland Herald reports that Ralph Eugene Durfee died on October 7, 1958 and goes on to say that he was the owner of the oldest establish business in Fair Haven.
Douglas V. and Lillian King bought the Durfee Funeral Home July 2, 1971
James C. and Ruth Aubin bought June 20, 1997
Christopher J. and Mary Book on June 17, 2011
On June 17, 1988 Bernard E Durfee died and Carl Durfee Died February 19, 1996, Douglas V. King died August 14, 2005.
Christopher J. Book, was born in West Haven, VT and graduated from the Fair Haven Union High School in 1988. He graduated from Simmons College of Mortuary Studies in Syracuse, NY in 1994 with a associates degree in Mortuary Science. He became employed at the Aldous Funeral Home in August of 1992, He and his wife, purchased the Aldous Funeral Home on June 10, 2011 and on June 17, 2011 they purchased the Durfee Funeral Home in Fair Haven. In 2016 they build the Birch Grove Crematory. They purchased the Barnard Funeral Home in June 2017.
Hopefully we are able to make a difficult time a little easier for any family who might find themselves in need of our services.