The Ford Family started in the furniture business in Washington in the 1860s. Charles Ray Ford, known to his friends & employees as C.R. became an undertaker in 1891. Charles R. was a cabinetmaker and like many others in that trade at the time was also an undertaker. The letterhead at the furniture store read "Charles R. Ford Cabinetmaking & Undertaking".
After Charles R. Ford died in 1926 his sons Fred Ford & Charles H. Ford continued the family businesses. Charles H. became a licensed embalmer and Fred who was very talented and skilled at making the buttons used for the tufted interiors of the caskets, carried on the family business. At the turn of the century the combination of furniture making & undertaking was as common as the horse & buggy. This was a time in history when all the funerals were held in the home of the deceased.
Most people were born, lived & died in the same house. The funeral director would come to the house & embalm the person in the bathtub. The family would usually dress their loved one. The funeral director would deliver the casket to the home. He would then transform the family parlor into a Funeral Parlor, setting up chairs and hanging drapes. The funeral director would hang a wreath with black ribbon on the door to let the community know that the family in this house was in mourning. Many funerals in this time period would continue for days, sometimes even a week depending on the person's class in society. The horse drawn procession would travel from the family home to the cemetery. At times the procession would be more like a parade then a funeral. The deceased would be in the horse drawn hearse followed by the widow's coach followed by the pallbearer's coach. The residents of the town would stand on the curb and pay their respects as the procession passed by. For a few moments the entire town would stop and pay homage.
In 1938 Paul J. Ford, son of Charles H. opened the Ford Funeral Home on Youmans Avenue in Washington. This was a huge transition from the home-style funeral to having the family and friends pay their respects in a funeral home. The Funeral home operated there until 1962. At that time it was moved to its present day location at 234 W. Washington Avenue. The new home was built by the Cornish Family around the turn of the century and has a large parking area to accommodate many visitors. It is truly a family like setting.
In 1969 Paul Ford passed away; he was 57. His wife Harriet continued to operate the funeral home with the help of local funeral directors. The Maguire Family bought the Funeral Home in 2001. Richard Maguire who has a degree in mortuary science operates the funeral home as "Warren Hills/Ford Memorial Home". "When we purchased the funeral home we loved the building. There was something about the warm feeling that surrounds you when you walk in the door. It can be easily understood what the Fords must have seen in the home when they purchased it." The Maguire Family has made many improvements to restore the building back to its original beauty and strongly believe that families should feel as if they were in there own home, whether they are coming to make pre-arrangements or say their final farewell to a loved one.
When cleaning out the attic Mr. Maguire found all the equipment that was used to conduct the funerals many years ago in the home of the deceased. The embalming machine, the old velvet drapes that were used as a backdrop for the casket were as new as the day they were placed in the box. The casket lamp, which used to hang on the lid of the casket to illuminate the face of the deceased as well as the old chairs that were set up in the residence. All of this equipment was packed into large black steamer trunks and was sitting as if ready for the next funeral. Mr. Maguire has donated all of the old equipment to a horse drawn museum in New Tripoli, PA.
Other items that were found are Paul Ford’s Embalming & Funeral Directing License from 1937, license number 1562 and a copy of Charles R Ford’s Board of Undertakers & Embalmers license number 40. This means that Charles R was the 40th person to receive his license in the state of NJ. All of these licenses were found discarded on the floor of the attic Mr. Maguire has cleaned them up and displays them proudly on the wall of his office. He also found another item of historical interest, the funeral log from 1900-1924. Inside are the names of some of the most prominent people in Washington at that time. These were the same people that the streets in the Boro were named after. The Cornish family is one that stands out. Mr. Maguire is proud to be part of Washington and its history and is looking forward to continuing the tradition of excellent care and outstanding service established by the Ford Family