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					                          BIRNtE BROTHERS FUNERAL HOME
                                      PUTMAN FUNERAL HOME
                                                       By: Elizabeth Lyon Barry 1
                                         Assisted in research by Chris Allen and Sue McCain

                       Henry C. Birnie                                                        Charles A. Birnie, Jr.
   The Birnie Brothers Funeral Home, predecessor of the                        Henry C. Birnie moved across the street on Garrison
 Putman Funeral Home of Fort Smith, was established in                      Avenue, taking an employee, R.K. Bradberry with him as
 1882 by Charles A. Birnie, Jr. and Henry C. Birnie, at 805                  his embalmer. Another employee, Jesse C. Putman, Sr.,
 Garrison Avenue in a building built by the two brothers.                   stayed with Charles A Birnie, and bought the business
   Funeral records show their first funeral was held Janu-                  later that year for $6,000.00.
 ary 14, 1882.                                                                 March 19, 1901 was the date of the final funeral record
   Charles and Henry Birnie made cabinets and furniture,                    entry made as "Birnie Brothers." The next entry, made by
 as well as coffins, and their mill was at 500 North Tenth                  Henry C. Birnie, was March 25, 1901. Henry's last entry
 Street. This location was later sold by Henry Birnie to                    was September 14, 1904, when he retired.
 "Our Funeral Home", its first location in Fort Smith.                         The Birnie Brothers were enterprising business men,
   The first coffins were constructed of pine. Later the                    evidence verified by the four legal size ledgers listing
coffins became much more elaborate, being made from                         burial receipts, that have been preserved and are now
walnut, cherry, cypress, oak and pine woods with uphols-                    housed at the Fort Smith Public Library. These receipts
tering and handles.                                                         spell out numerous stories, among them the story of men
   A marble slab was used for a work table and Shulte's                     sentenced to death in the court room by Judge Isaac
Livery Stable, located back of the funeral home, furnished                  Parker.
horses for funerals. Shulte charged $5.00 per hack to pick                     After executions on the gallows, it was the duty of early
up the family, wait until the funeral was over, and take                   Fort Smith undertakers to see the criminals received
them home.                                                                 proper burials, and the Birnie brothers took care of their
   The Birnie's also rented hacks to meet trains.                          share of these men.
   According to family "lore," the Birnie brothers did not                     Unless the family of the hanged man claimed the body
always see "eye to eye," and after a big disagreement in                   and paid for his funeral, his funeral expenses were paid by
the funeral parlor in March 1901, the brothers dissolved                   the United States Marshall. All of these burials were in
their partnership, never to speak to each other again.                     pine coffins, at the cost of $11.00 each.
  Elizabeth Barry, family historian for the Birnie family. Her hus-        daughter of Thomas Hill Lyon, who had a jewelry store on Garri-
band, Birnie Barry, is the grandson of Henry Clay Birnie. Eliza-           son Ave., and Francis Amelia (Morris) Lyon, nowQO years old and
beth, a native of Fort Smith, is the former Elizabeth May Lyon,            a resident of the Medi-homes nursing home in Fort Smith.

   In addition to other information, such as who the burial               #1861 Lucky Davis, age 18
expenses were charged to, the records list the person's                        d 1 July 1896, Hung for Rape, Wewoka, IT.
name, date of death, cause of death and cemetery buried                   #1862 Noami July, age 18,
in, ie.:                                                                       d 1 July 1896, Hung for Rape, Catholic Cem.
     #1371 Lincoln Sprawl, age 23,                                        #1863 Lorris Davis, age 21
          d 23 July 1886, Hung for Mdr. City Cem.                              d 1 July 1896, Hung for Rape, Catholic Cem.
     #1372 Calvin James, age 23,
                                                                         Many other burials were charged to the U.S. Marshal
          d 23 July 1886, Hung for Mdr. City Cem.
                                                                     too, because it was his responsibility to provide burial for
     #1383 Kit Ross, age 25,
                                                                     transients who died in Fort Smith without money for bur-
          d 6 Aug. 1886, Hung for Mdr. Catholic Cem.
                                                                      ial. The causes listed for most of these deaths were dis-
     #1551 Albert Odell, age 26,
                                                                     eases, such as pneumonia, typhoid fever, La Grippe, and
          d 14 Jan. 1887, Hung for Mdr. City Cem.
                                                                      others. These, almost without exception, were buried in
     #1552 T.J. Echols, age 35,
                                                                      Potter's Field.
          d 14 Jan. 1887, Hung for Mdr. City Cem.
     #1553 John Stevens, age 26,                                        Five burial receipts in a row tell the story of Charley
          d 14 Jan. 1887, Hung for Mdr. City Cem.                    Joplin's shooting spree near and in Jenny Lind, Arkansas,
     #1554 James Lamb, age 23,                                       taking the lives of Dr. Stewart, Lula Miller, John Miller,
          d 14 Jan. 1887, Hung for Mdr. City Cem.                    Mrs. Miller and a transient. This occurred over the affec-
     #1756 Wm. Goldsby, Alias Cherokee Bill, age 20,                 tions of Lula, between Charley Joplin and Dr. Stewart,
          d 17 March 1896, Hung for Mdr. Ft. Gibson, IT.             according to a front page story of December 19, 1890 in
     #1859 Sam Sampson,                                              the Fort Smith Elevator. It ended with Charley taking his
          d 1 July 1896, Hung for Rape, Wagoner, IT.                 own life.
     #1860 Rufus Buck, age 20,                                           Many prominent citizens are listed, but the Birnie's
          d 1 July 1896, Hung for Rape, Ft. Gibson, IT.              most famous funeral was that of Judge Isaac Parker.

                         Birnie Brothers                                                Putman Funeral Home
          Henry Birnie    Charles Birnie   Jesse Putman, Sr.         Oscar Fentress   Jesse Putman, Sr.   Wright Coffield   Joe Stroup

                                            Jesse Putman, Sr.          Henry Birnie


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