Although personnel has changed over the years the oldest
funeral home in Haverhill
carries on a long and rich tradition, and continues to serve the families
of greater Haverhill
with compassion, caring, and honesty.
In 1839 two brothers-in-law, John P. Randall and Joseph
H. Cummings, opened a
furniture business that made and soldburial coffins. Above the store they
established J.H. Cummings, Furnishing Undertakers. In 1882 the business
relocated to a storefront on Main Street.
The business was sold in 1886 to a stable owner, Fred G. Richards, who
became mayor of Haverhill, and a prominent banker, George H. Dole. They
changed the name to Richards & Dole. Richards stand was the oldest
Haverhill, and one could rent Tally-Ho coaches, barges, hacks,carriages,
and find accommodations for 100 horses.
Richards died in 1895, and George H. Childs, who had been an employee
four years, bought into the business, and the name change to Dole &
Earle W. Graffam became an active partner in the firm upon his return
World War 1. After Childs & Dole passed away a corporation was formed
1923, and George L. Riley joined Graffam in the business the following
After nearly a century of service to greater Haverhill,Graffam recognized
that a more modern approach to the funeral business was needed. In the
storefront funeral parlors had served the public well since wakes and
services were generally held in the home. Now, with more people living
apartments and smaller quarters, the new concept of the funeral home,
all services could be combined under one roof, was gaining in popularity.
In 1932 Dole & Childs acquired the property at 148 Main Street from
Knights of Columbus. This Victorian Stick-style home was built in 1879.
The woodwork and the staircase were carved by Italian artisans imported
the project. The first funeral in a funeral home in Haverhill was held
March 15, 1933.
Following the death of Graffam, and Riley’s retirement, the firm
was now headed
by Wesley J. Shaw, Jr., who joined the firm before World War 11, and H.
Powell. Currently the business, Dole, Childs & Shaw Funeral Home,
is operated by
Wesley’s son David E. Shaw.