It is recorded by a local historian that in 1866, the first "Undertaking Parlor" was established in Camp Henderson by Vincent Gray (1832-1897). Gray founded a small hardware and undertaking company, and also served as postmaster until the town of Cleburne was officially organized. It was a plank storefront building. He was appointed one of the trustees on the school board in 1883.
In 1868, he relocated the business to 114 East Chambers, at the corner of Chambers and Anglin streets. It was the first block east from the courthouse square. The original building still exists today as part of Cleburne's historical district downtown area.
Gray had many challenges and interesting facts in taking care of the dead during these early times. Being also in the hardware business, he actually made the caskets. The lumber used in making these caskets of that time was cut by one-horse mills from the timbers of Texas. Bodies were often caried to their final resting places in ox carts, and many oxen-drawn vehicles were seen in early Johnson County funeral processions.
Camp Henderson was selected to be the county seat of Johnson County. These men who fought in the war between the states insisted the town be named in memory of their fallen leader even though he never touched Texas soil.
Cleburne became incorporated as a city on May 3, 1871.
Another important part of Cleburne's history is the Chisholm Trail. The trail wound through Johnson County and across what is now the western edge of Cleburne during the early 1870's.
By 1880, the population of Cleburne tripled.
One of the most important events for Cleburne happened in December of 1881. At that time a railroad spur was completed from Cleburne to Fort Worth. In 1897, the Santa Fe Railroad built its shops in Cleburne and resulted in employment for five hundred residents. The railroad has long been considered the industry that built Cleburne, Texas.
August 2, Cleburne's first undertaker, Vincent Gray dies at age 64. He was buried in Cleburne Memorial Cemetery.
Tobe N. Blackwell (1858-1909) started as a clerk at Gray & Blair Furniture, Hardware & Undertaking.
He eventually bought an interest in the business, and later was sole owner.
He later sold an interest to the undertaking manager, R.H. Deering in 1894.
The funeral home was listed in the city directory as Deering and Blackwell, Undertakers" at 114 E. Chambers Street in 1899.
In March, Texas passed a bill creating the State Board of Embalming. This licensing system marked the next step in the professional status of the funral profession. Mr. R.H. Deering held Texas Embalmer license no 32.
The business was sold to Gray's son-in-law R.H. Deering, who was serving as manager of the growing undertaking parlor. At this time it was renamed R.H. Deering, Undertakers.
R.H. Deering (1866-1939) was born in Meridan, Mississippi, and came to Texas as a young man. He arrived in Cleburne in 1886. He was first a civil engineer, then mechanic, fireman, and finally an undertaker. He bought an interest in the business in 1894. He married Effie Gray (1874-1956) who was the daughter of Vincent Gray, the first undertaker.
Flu epidemic kept the undertakers busy.
Deering's son, J. Vincent Deering(1902-1993) joined the business and it became known as R.H. Deering and Son.
The Deerings purchased the old Crank Boarding House property, tore it down, and built an appropriate "Funeral Parlor" where the structure stands as of 2004. There was a long chapel on the left side back of the building that could seat around 100 people in folding chairs that were set up in it and adjoining rooms, with a small family room on the left side of the chapel.
October 16, R. H. Deering dies at age 74. He is buried in Cleburne Memorial Cemetery.
In December, F. Byron Crosier of Godley and J. Hunter Pearson of Burleson became partners, purchasing the firm from the Deering family, and renaming it Crosier-Pearson Funeral Home.
Both had worked in their family's perspective hardware stores which had undertaking departments. They helped each other out when things got busy so they had gotten to know each other, and decided to go in together to buy out the Deering family after Mr. Deering died.
F. Byron Crosier
J. Hunter Pearson
With the business growing, Mr. Crosier and Mr. Pearson built a formal funeral chapel on the south side of the building offering a drastic change to the funeral industry in Cleburne. Up to that time most funerals were in churches, homes or at graveside.
Jimmy Wray joined the firm as a high school part time helper, washing cars and assisting with funerals. He began making ambulance calls, and developed an interest in funeral service. He went to Dallas Institute of Mortuary Service, graduating in 1962. He returned to Croser- Pearson, and remained there 28 years before joining the staff of Martin's Funeral Home.
Chapel being added next to original building.
A Milestone! 100 years in business in Johnson County, Texas.
Johnson County resident, R. B. "Bob" Mayfield and J. Hunter Pearson bought the Crosier interest in the firm.
The funeral home name is formally changed to Crosier-Pearson-Mayfield Funeral Home. More renovations to the front of the building by adding additional offices, foyer and porch area.
May 8, F. Byron Crosier dies at age 87 in Vernon, Texas. Buried in Rosehill Cemetery, Cleburne.
November 15, J. Vincent Gray dies at age 91. He was buried in Cleburne Memorial Cemetery.
February 15, J. Hunter Pearson dies at age 87. Buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.
Actual calculations show Crosier-Pearson-Mayfield to have served more than 18,000 families from time of establishment to present.
Another Milestone! 135 years in business.
September 28, 2004 - Crosier-Pearson merged with Cleburne Funeral Home with lifelong Cleburne resident Jimmy Wray and his wife Carol as funeral directors in charge.
The Crosier-Pearson Cleburne Funeral Home at 512 N. Ridgeway has been enlarged and remodeled to provide more comfortable and spacious facilities for visitation and funeral services. The parking lot has been enlarged as well.
All business and services from our Main Street location have been moved to 512 N. Ridgeway.
All information from past funerals at our Main Street location as well as all pre-need policies and records have been taken to our beautiful new location.
Jimmy and Carol Wray become co-owners of the current Crosier-Pearson Cleburne Funeral Home.