INVENTED IN SOMERTON
AT THE turn of the 20th century, Phillip J. Kremer of Somerton invented what is said to be the very first folding casket truck. A slightly changed model, shown here, was created and the family has the Nov. 1, 1910 patent certificate for this improved model. Kremer's casket was the forerunner of the model's used today in hearses and medical transport vehicles.
DESCENDANTS OF Phillip J. Kremer include grandsons Bill Frazier of Grace Avenue, Barnesville, and Nelson Frazier of Ft. Washington, MD. Their parents were the late Vernon and Helen Kremer Frazier, the later a well-remembered school teacher in the area.
MUCH OF the following information can be found in Bruce Yarnall's SOMERTON AREA HERITAGE and from notes written by one of Kremers two daughters. We quote from the latter:
"Phillip John Kremer was born in Miltonsburg in 1857. He left home at the age of 12 and made his own way, thereafter, first on a Reich farm on the Woodsfield road. Later he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker in Calais. He was in Somerton as a wagon maker in the 1880's and continued until early 1900's. I remember my mother sold his last three wagons during my third birthday party. He was not at home."
"He qualified as an undertaker about 1900 and continued that until about 1918. In the meantime he had invented (underlined) the first folding casket truck and pedestal."
"His first patent was taken out in 1902 in the US only. The following year a Canadian bought them and took out patents in Canada and England. My father made some changes and took out a patent on them in 1910 in US, Canada and England."
"He had the machinery to cut the steel and bend it into shape. He shipped the pieces to Zanesville to be plated (oxidized) then shipped back, by 'hack', to Somerton to be put together as trucks and pedestals. By the end of the '20s, orders for replating were coming in, but he was getting too old and wanted his son, Phillip, to go to college, so he just quit."
WILLIAM STANTON was Somerton's first undertaker, followed by Kremer. When Kremer retired, he sold to Harry Steele and the Steele Funeral home continued through his son and grandson, Harold Steele and Richard Steele. In 1973 Steele Funeral Home business was sold and consolidated with Campbell-Plumly Funeral home of Barnesville.