Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Home Made Coffins.

            Before the Civil War, and for some time after it, nearly all coffins used in this section were made at home and by hand. In nearly every neighborhood one or more men would keep some coffin lumber on hand. In very many cases old men would have lumber sawed and placed away under shelter to make coffins for themselves, their wives or any other members of the family who might die. In a few cases men had their own coffins made and sometimes several years before their death. We have heard of men lying down in their coffins to see if they would fit. The custom of making coffins at home has been abandoned around Smithfield (Johnston County). We have heard of only one case in the last decade.
            Mr. J. H. Rose informs us that the custom still prevails to some extent around Benson. Sometime ago he sold a burial robe and trimmings worth more than thirty dollars for a home made coffin. At another time he furnished a hearse to haul a home made coffin. Several years ago Mr. Lazarus Stewart, who lived in Harnett county, near Benson (Johnston County), decided he wanted his coffin made from a large pine which stood near his barn. Last fall Mr. Stewart died at a time to throw this work on Sunday. On a Sunday morning his neighbors met and cut down the large tree and hauled the timber to Mr. W. R. Denning’s saw mill. The sawing was done and the coffin was made on Sunday.— Smithfield Herald.
  [The State Journal (Raleigh, NC) 2 Feb 1917]

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