This is my 7th year participating in the A to Z Challenge. In the 2015 challenge, I wrote about the Cleages formerly enslaved on the plantations of Samuel and his sons Alexander and David Cleage of Athens, McMinn County, Tennessee. Most of the people in these posts are not related to me by blood or DNA, however my ancestors were enslaved on the same plantations with them.

Late last year, I ordered the Civil War Pension files of the Cleage men who served in 1st Regiment, United States Colored Heavy Artillery (USCHA), during that war. Through these files I learned that their lives were much richer and more complex than census, death and other records can show. I am using the information from pension files and records that I found through the pension files for this years challenge.


This is one of the after death bills found in Susan Rice Ragan’s pension file.

In Account With

Mrs. L. C. Evans & Son
Undertakers and Embalmers
Telephone 44-2

Funeral expense of Susan Reagan $44.50. I here by certify that I hold W. R. Sherman responsible for any claims that I may claim have for funeral expense her deced supplies furnished for funeral expenses of Susan Reagan certificate No. 126.156

Mrs L. C. Evans & son


I was surprised to find a telephone number on the bill sent in 1911. I could not find a local paper with an advertisement concerning telephones, but this one is for Tennessee in that year.

Mrs Evans and Son funeral home buried several of the people I have been looking at during this challenge. When her husband died in 1898, Mrs. Evans was left with eight children from the ages of 18 to 10 months. She was farming in 1900 but by 1910 she was identified as an undertaker and her older sons had taken over the farming. By 1930, she had retired and her son Harry was listed as the undertaker. In addition to farming, I think some of the sons were involved all along.

14 thoughts on “UNDERTAKER

    1. I was surprised that the funeral cost so much more than the doctor’s bill. That must have been due to some of those changes.

    1. I had assumed that was the case too but when I went back and looked, her husband had been a farmer and she continued that before breaking into the undertaking business.

  1. An undertaker – uncommon job for a woman. Though on second thought, women have been preparing bodies for burial/last rites for millennia probably, when it wasn’t ‘paid work.’

  2. Fascinating for it to be her business. Undertaker’s Records can be so helpful for research. These pension files really are a goldmine aren’t they?

  3. I don’t participate in the challenge and admire those of you who do! I took a rainy day today and read all of your posts. A great way to spend my time.

  4. Love the telephone company’s slogan – what a hoot!
    And Mrs. Evans did the embalming too? That seems rather progressive for the times.

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