While researching some back history on an old photograph of the Schmitz Furniture Store that we have in Special Collections Department of the Denton Public Library, I found myself calling the granddaughter of John B. Schmitz, Caroline. She was unable to help with my question, but the conversation brought up some memories of her grandfather, which she said she would allow me to share:
“You know he must have been pretty brave to come here all the way from Mendota, Illinois, when he was 20 and open up a furniture store and undertaking company! Takes a lot of guts to do that. I remember that there were some who called him a carpetbagger.
Let me tell you something funny. My grandfather’s house was a big old Victorian, and it was across from the old Methodist Church, and catawampus down the street from it was another funeral home, the Goen Funeral Home. They had a big old neon sign that said, “Goen Funeral Home.” Well, one day the funeral part of the sign went out and the sign just said, Goen Home! We had a big laugh about that.”
Here is the photo that sparked the conversation. The building still exists, but looks rather different these days.This photo is in one of our local history scrapbooks, along with an obituary about Mr. Schmitz that relates some interesting history about the rigors of being an undertaker in late 1800s.
John B. Schmitz advertised heavily in the Denton city directory in 1924, in fact, his ad ran across the top of every page; their slogan which probably made sense at the time, seems odd now – selling furniture and offering “prompt ambulance service.” Kind of reminds me of the funny greeting we used to do when we were kids and answering the phone while our parents were out, “Joe’s Grill: You stab ’em, we slab ’em!”
-Leslie Couture, Special Collections