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Matamoras Minute: Corum Funeral Home

In covering the history of banking last week reference was made to the First National Bank’s purchase of property at the corner of Main and Second Streets in 1911-1912. Prior to this date the site was the home and mortuary of Robert H. Cunningham. Prior to 1880 there was an enterprise of that nature in Matamoras run by John Hensel. Then early circa 1881 R.H. Cunningham and William Kollmann joined together in creating a joint venture of selling furniture in addition to offering the services of undertaking. By 1882 the three men each moved their separate ways. Hensel sold out, Cunningham became the town’s funeral director, and Kollmann bought Cunningham’s interest in the future business.

Cunningham moved to the Main and Second location both living and embalming under the same roof and bought all lots of that block facing Main Street. He died in 1905 and his son, Robert M. Cunningham, assumed ownership. He had also trained to become a mortician and stepped into his father’s position. In 1910 R.M. sold the corner lot to the bank and kept the rest of the block. In the remaining property he established another mortuary and on adjoining property he established his home. James Corum of Bloomfield, Ohio joined with Cunningham but later became a competitor when he established his own funeral home in town in 1932. R.H. died in 1940, and his widow, Eunice, stated in the home on Main Street until her death in 1967.

With the passing of Cunningham, Corum became the town’s sole funeral director. He was located on the corner of State Route 260 and Washington County Road 33. He both lived and conducted funerals in the same structure. His extensive garage which housed his ambulance and herse stood on a site formerly occupied by a blacksmith.

Corum was a World War I veteran having lost his brother, John, in that conflict. He is well remembered in town. Any emergency run was conducted by him or one of his drivers. He also owned a parrot which was frequently placed in its cage on his large front porch. When it was in the mood to squawk there was no doubt as to its location. The parrot was acquired by Corum years earlier as a mature fowl and lived for years after its owner’s death.

Birders will not appreciate the application of a skill acquired by Corum during his military service regarding his use of a revolver. He was a crack shot and often set on his porch with the parrot by his side shooting starlings from the trees. He regarded that particular breed as a nuisance to the mourners who came ot pay their respects to grieving families.

Corum died in 1967 from complications of being gassed on a battlefield during World War I. This was the same year as Eunice Cunningham’s death. For several years Lee Hadley of Marietta had helped Corum because of his failing health. It was at this point that Hadley became interested in acquiring the Corum property.

The settlement of the Corum estate required time so in the interval Hadley rented the former home of Eunice. In 1968 he bought the Corum site, and in 1988 Ruth Hadley, his wife, becamse licensed as a funeral director herself. A crematorium was added to the property in 2002. For over one-half century the Hadley Funeral Homes of Marietta has continuously served the area.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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