James Funeral Home - History
James Funeral Home was founded in 1916, by John T. James and Lydia Ellen “Ella” Johnson. John James had an infant pass away. After working with the local funeral director in Pleasant CIty, Guernsey County, OH. John went to Cincinnati College of Embalming. This trade was new to the James Family as they were immigrants from Wales. The family trade was coal mining. The picture to the right is the John T. James and his family.
John graduated from Cincinnati College of Embalming after a 3 week course and completed the state boards.
John heard from trade people that Follansbee was a new town and did not have a Funeral Director. In September of 1916, John and his brother, Niran, moved their families to Follansbee. The picture to the left is the original picture of John T. James and Niran James at the first location, to the right of or north of the Current Day Cedar Lodge.
Mr Humes of Follansbee, WV rented the two James Families a house he owned on Banfield Ave. John and Niran started the James Brothers Furniture and Undertaking business. This location is present day building north of the of Cedars Lodge on Main Street. At this time the customs were for the funerals to take place from the deceased’s home so not much space was needed. This was the home of their business for approximately 2 years. The next location was approximately in the 700 block of main street near or where Alco Furniture is located. Around this time (April 1918) they each purchased a home on Virginia Ave located right behind the funeral home.
A terrible flu epidemic in 1918 helped to solidfy the James Bros. undertaking business. Also in April 1918 Cecelia May James the eldest child of John T. and Ella James married George Lee Humes, the youngest child of Richard and Laura Johnson Humes Jr. In 1914, the Bank of Follansbee had been established mostly through the efforts of Richard and George Humes.
Tragedy suddenly entered their lives when Ella died on May 12, 1921. She had been sick for a short time but it was still a shock as she was only 44 years old. At this point the two brothers split, Niran stayed in Follansbee and started the new location on 756 Main Street and John T. moved to Wellsburg, WV.
Later around 1933, John T. James moved back to Follansbee after the death of his brother, Niran. He purchased the location of 1245 Main Street, Follansbee (present day Funeral Home). This was owned by William Banfield and at that time was the home of the Superintendent of the Follansbee Mill.
In 1939 Norma and Judson Gardner purchased the James Funeral Home from John T. James. Judson passed away not long after that leaving Norma to lead the James Funeral Home with help of Wirt Davis and Clyde Walnohas. Under Norma, the funeral home provided quality family service to the Follansbee area for many years.
When Norma decided to retire in 1974, she contacted Fred T. and Floyd E. Chambers of the Chambers Funeral Home about purchasing her funeral home. They were her absolute and only choice for the purchase.
Chambers Funeral Home - History
Chambers Funeral Home was founded in 1931 by Fred L. and Bertha Chambers.
The funeral home not only serving the community through funeral service, but also a 24 hour ambulance service. Until 1937, most funerals were held at the family’s home, but the trend to have funerals at the funeral home started to change with some funerals still held at area churches. With additions of garage space, Fred and Bertha lived upstairs with their daughter, Margaret Ann, continuing to the family tradition.
In 1947, Fred L. Became very ill with an eye infection, and went to Cleveland Clinic, and later passed away. Bertha, his wife, felt that she could not operate the funeral business alone, and sold the business and building to Floyd E. and Genevieve Chambers.
Floyd and Genevieve had Fred T. Jeannine, and Jennifer. Fred T. Chambers was the first of their children to join the family business. Later Jennifer joined the family business as well. In 1974, Floyd and Fred T. donated the Chambers Funeral Home Ambulance to the Brooke County Ambulance Service.
In the same year, Chambers family purchased the James Funeral Home in Follansbee. Genevieve passed away in 1983 after a short illness. In 1985, Floyd sold the funeral home to both Fred and Jennifer to operate. Floyd passed away in 1999.
Continuing History of Present Day of Chambers and James Funeral Homes
In Late 2011, The Chambers (Fred, Jerry, and Jennifer) sold the businesses to Mr. Eric L Fithyan. The Chambers were proud to announce after 80 years of service, Eric L. Fithyan, L.I.C. and Owner back to Brooke County. Mr. Fithyan, who grew up in Wellsburg and is a 2002 graduate of Brooke High School, is proud to return and serve the community with dignity and honor. Mr. Fithyan graduated with a Bacholeor of Science from Point Park University and is a PA and WV licensed funeral director. Mr. Fithyan has gathered his experience from previously serving as the Director of Bereavement, Spiritual, and Volunteer Services at a Greater Pittsburgh Hospice Company. Mr. Fithyan has previously been the manger and supervisor of two different funeral companies. Through his experience of hospice and funeral service, Mr. Fithyan is honored to continue the Chambers, James and Gardner Families legacy of service and compassion to the communities in a most difficult time.