W. M. Marvin’s Sons, Inc. Funeral Home, as it is known today, was started in the 1820’s by Jacob G. Allen who was born in 1789 and was a nephew of Ethan Allen. He and his wife, Lucy ( Gallup) Allen, moved to Elizabethtown from Massachusetts, where he had been a seafarer, to ensure that his offspring would not go to sea for their livelihood. He started a cabinet shop which stood across the street from the present day funeral home. Here he made furniture and coffins for the deceased and this evolved into the funeral and furniture business.
Pictured Right: Edgar M. Marvin around 1880.
Edgar M. Marvin was born in 1823 in Williston, Vermont. He came to Elizabethtown, married Susan T. Allen, who was born in 1829, the daughter of Jacob G. Allen, and took over the business from Jacob. Edgar died in 1889 and Susan in 1887.
Walter M. Marvin, (1856-1921) married Emma Young and continued his father’s business. Walter’s sons, Fred (1874-1929) and Edgar M., II (1879-1942), expanded the business to include an auto dealership and garage. John Marvin (1903-1938), son of Fred, and Walter S. Marvin (1911-1979), son of Edgar II, ran the businesses together until John’s early death. Walter sold the garage business and ran the furniture and funeral business, moving it across the street and opening the first formal funeral home.
Pictured Left: Edgar M Marvin and brother Walter M. Marvin in front of the Funeral Home / Furniture Store in the 1800s.
Funerals up until that time were run mostly from the deceased’s home and church. Edgar M. Marvin, IV (1934-1960) son of Walter S. was active in both businesses until his untimely death in 1960. Walter S. Marvin, Jr. (born in 1938) then took over the business in 1963 and operated it until the 1990’s when his son, Walter S. Marvin, III (born in 1963) came into the business. Timothy (born in 1947), third son of Walter S. Marvin, Sr., also worked in the family business from 1975 until 1989, when the furniture business was closed.
Walter S. Marvin, III is the seventh generation to operate the funeral business in Elizabethtown and it is believed to be the oldest continuous family owned funeral home in New York State and probably the U.S.