Our History

 Our Horse-drawn Hearse 

Our 146-year-old Antique Horse Drawn Hearse has been in the Nelson-House family for over 35 years. It is one of a select few horse-drawn hearses that is still used in actual funeral services in Michigan. It is also available for hire. The hearse currently sits on display in the carriage house at 120 E. Mason Street, Owosso.

 

This hearse was built in 1870 by James Cunningham Co. of Rochester, N.Y., and it was originally retired by the Drowns Funeral Home in Ellensburg Depot, N.Y. In 1976, it was restored and used in the U.S. Bicentennial Parade in Butler County, PA.

 

Nelson-House purchased the hearse in March of 1981. It is featured in many parades in the Mid-Michigan area, and has taken top honors in the Curwood Parade, Oakley-Brady Festival, Michigan State Fair Grand Opening Parade, 75th United Auto Workers Parade, and Genesee County 150th Birthday Celebration Parade. It has also been previously loaned to and displayed at the R.E. Olds Museum in Lansing.

 

Our Owosso Chapel

 

Our Owosso location was established in 1880 by Myron H. Knapp and John Peters. In 1887, Peters sold his half of the business to Frank C. Smith, renaming the business to Knapp & Smith Funeral Home. After Frank’s death in 1901, Myron’s son-in-law Fred W. Smith joined him in business. In 1926, a new funeral home building was constructed on the corner of Park and Mason Street, the former site of the Owosso Armory, and our current location today. In 1949, Paul W. Ruggles purchased the funeral home, later selling interests in the firm to Paul W. Ruggles II and Bob W. Nelson in 1971. On February 1, 1980, Bob Nelson and his cousin Harold “Sonny” House Jr. purchased the funeral home in entirety and incorporated it as Nelson-House Funeral Homes. In 1998, Kevin Kregger joined the Nelson-House team. In 2001, House retired, and Kevin became a part-owner of the business in 2006. Today, Bob and Kevin co-own Nelson-House Funeral Homes together. The long-time business partners and friends enjoy keeping the business in their families, working alongside their step-sons, Michael Hulik and Tyler McGeehan.

 

Our Martin Chapel in Chesaning

 

Our Martin Chapel is one of the oldest funeral homes in Michigan. Formerly the Walker Funeral Home, it was established in 1856 by O.F. Walker. Mr. Walker was a carpenter and cabinet-maker by trade, and he started out selling handmade coffins. Through this trade, he became involved in the undertaking business. His original furniture and undertaking business was located in the present-day Malt Shop. In 1884, he built one of Chesaning’s first brick buildings to accommodate his growing business. In the early 1890s, O.F. Walker’s son W.B. “Bert” Walker joined the family business. Bert received one of the first Embalmer’s Licenses ever issued in the state of Michigan in 1901. The license, numbered 15, still hangs in our office today.

Bert died in 1936, and F.B. Walker (O.F. Walker’s nephew) ran the funeral home for over 20 years. He sold it to Ray and Mary Martin in 1959, who renamed it the Walker-Martin Funeral Home. In 1983, Ray sold the business to his son, Daniel R. and Laura Martin. Dan and Laura operated the business for 32 years before selling it to the Nelson-House Funeral Homes family in 2015.

The original Walker Funeral Home has continuously served the greater Chesaning community for over 160 years. We could not be more honored and privileged to continue that heritage for years to come. Nelson-House Funeral Homes Martin Chapel is now managed by Chesaning residents, Tyler and Adrianna McGeehan.

 

Our New Lothrop Chapel

 

This New Lothrop funeral home was first established by Raymond and Eva O’Hare in the early 1930s and operated by them for over 35 years. After Raymond’s death, Eva O’Hare sold the business to Thomas and Pearl Whelpley in 1969. They sold it to Daniel R. and Laura Martin in 1988. Dan and Laura operated the Whelpley-Martin Funeral Home for 27 years. In 2015, Nelson-House Funeral Homes purchased the business as our New Lothrop Chapel. 

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