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Job Prospects Continue to Look Very Good…

Let’s talk about the age-old business of undertaking! The first funeral home on Staten Island appears to have been started by a carpenter who specialized in making cabinets. A smart man, he soon realized that permanent cabinets for humans was a lucrative business. With his expansion into coffin-making, he took the next step and opened a funeral home in 1841. He called it the Isaac Bedell Funeral Home. It is still in business today, but after Paul Pizzo purchased the enterprise it was renamed the Bedell-Pizzo Funeral Home. Isaac still had top billing. 

But wait, there is another nineteenth century funeral home in business today. It is the Martin Hughes Funeral Home on Narrows Road South in Concord. It opened in 1885. Martin Hughes was a Staten Island coroner who saw the value in being an undertaker.

Martin Hughes, circa 1890.

Among the many cases Martin Hughes examined as a coroner was the homicide of Mary Tobin, whose body washed up on the shoreline not far from the Alice Austen House on May 12, 1899. To this day the murder remains unsolved.

Another prominent funeral home was operated by Steers & Steers. They were in business on the Shore Road (now Richmond Terrace), near what is now the Port Richmond wastewater treatment plant. Opened in 1842, Sailors’ Snug Harbor provided Steers & Steers with an abundance of business.

Steers & Steers was one of the few funeral homes on the island that buried African-Americans. But most African-American residents on Staten Island did business with Billupp’s Funeral Home, which was located on Tompkins Place in Stapleton. Billup’s closed around 1987.

No surprise that funeral homes are as important today as they were 150 years ago. It is certainly a timeless business.

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