ROSCOE, New York
ESTABLISHED IN 1820
Liberty, New York
Providing dignified and affordable funeral service since 1820.
The Harris Family is one of America’s oldest families in funeral service. Jonathan Harris, a fine cabinet maker, began the family business as a coffin maker when he was called upon to construct a coffin for a small child in 1820. Generation after generation followed in the profession; each new generation, as committed as the previous has met the changing needs and requests of those they served, by providing dignified and affordable funeral service.
In 1868, Jonathan Harris died and his son Benjamin Franklin Harris continued the business as a coffin maker and undertaker. In 1896, B. F. Harris obtained his formal training as an embalmer in Montreal, Canada. Training at the institution and practical demonstration qualified him for “Embalming and Preserving of the Dead.”
Benjamin F. Harris
Benjamin Franklin Harris had two sons, George W. Harris and Elton E. Harris, who assisted in the undertaking firm called B. F. Harris & Sons.
George W. Harris received his undertaking license in New York State in 1905. In 1906, George W. Harris received his embalming license through the State of Illinois and was accepted to the New York State Embalmers Association in April of 1907. Soon after, his brother Elton E. Harris received his license.
George W. Harris
Samuel E. G. Harris
George’s son, Samuel E. G. Harris, was a graduate of the Syracuse New York School of Embalming in 1924. In 1945, Samuel’s son, Benjamin A. Harris, became his father’s assistant and went on to school and became a licensed funeral director.
Benjamin A. Harris was followed by his son; B. Elton J. Harris, who received his degree from SUNY Canton in 1976 and holds a National Board Certificate in Mortuary Science. The sixth generation also includes, Kayko Harris Jarmusz and Julie E. Harris, both daughters of Benjamin A. Harris.
Benjamin A. Harris
B.Elton J. Harris
In 2008, Kendra M. Harris, the youngest daughter of B. Elton J. Harris, received her Mortuary Science degree from SUNY Canton. She received her New York State Funeral Directing License in 2009. In 2010, Kendra graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Funeral Services Administration from SUNY Canton. She is the seventh generation of the Harris Family to be dedicated to the funeral profession.
Kendra M. Harris
The Harris' Horse Drawn Hearse and the Harris' First Motorized Hearse
Since Jonathan built his first coffin in 1820 the Harris’ have continued to work in service of families. A horse drawn hearse was utilized for nearly a century by the Harris family. They purchased their first motorized hearse in 1918 for $1850.00. The Harris family kept the hearse and horses for several more years because some families did not want their loved ones “rushed to their grave.”
It was after the Great Depression that families found the use of a funeral parlor to be more convenient for their funeral needs. Samuel used a storefront for many years before buying a large Victorian house and converting it to a funeral home. Ultimately new buildings were built and designed for more space and easier access by both Benjamin A. and B. Elton J. Harris. The newest and more modern funeral home in Sullivan County was built in Liberty, N.Y. in 1996 by B. Elton J. Harris.