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MSS 317 - Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes Collection: Inventory

Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes Archives

(Mss 317)


Earl K. Long Library

University of New Orleans

October 2006




Size:                           5.5 linear feet


locations:                 Primarily New Orleans, La.

Inclusive dates:      1869-1987

Bulk dates:               1931-1978

Summary:                 Business records of Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes.


collections:              Jacob Schoen & Son Collection (Mss 307); A. P. Boyer Collection (Mss 175)

Source:                     Gift, March 2005

Access:                     No restrictions

Copyright:                Physical rights are retained by the Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.

Citation:                    Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes Archives, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans


Historical Note


            On May 30, 1898, Isaac Sontheimer purchased an undertaking establishment located at 1026-1034 Louisiana Avenue in New Orleans.  The sale of the business, formerly owned by George A. and Lillie Baumgarden Schopp, also involved “all the paraphernalia thereto attached, including horses, carriages, hearses, wagons and harness, together with the commercial books of said concern . . . and the good-will of said establishment.”


            Other undertaking businesses also operated in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century New Orleans.  According to statements presented to the Supreme Court of Louisiana in 1920, A. F. Bultman operated an undertaking business in the city as early as 1883.  In 1904 he took his son, A. F. Bultman, Jr., into partnership.  Meanwhile F. Johnson & Son Company engaged in the same sort of service.  “As early as 1889 Henry Tharp was employed by it, becoming its manager as early, perhaps, as 1902, and so continuing until 1919, during which period he became so highly known and highly esteemed that his name and personality were regarded as valuable assets, and he was insistently urged by the Bultman firm to unite with them in business, which he finally consented to do. . . . On April 29, 1909, they and he and Alexander Maxwell entered into an agreement to incorporate themselves under the name of Maxwell-Tharp-Bultman Company. . . . The Maxwell-Tharp-Bultman Company was incorporated on May 17, 1909, enjoyed a prosperous business life of 2 years, and, Maxwell having dropped out, was succeeded by a corporation organized as Tharp-Bultman Company. . . . That corporation also prospered for 15 months, during which period (on April 29, 1911) it bought the business and assets of F. Johnson & Son Company, at the end of which, on July 18, 1912, it bought the assets of A. F. Bultman & Son, and on July 27, 1912, took over, by agreement the undertaking estab­lishment of I. Sontheimer & Son.”  In accordance with the agreement, on August 30, 1912, the firm’s name was changed to Tharp-Bultman-Sontheimer Company.


            “Thereafter for several years the corporation prospered, as its predecessors had done, but early in 1916 some friction arose between the members, and in July, 1916, Tharp and the two Sontheimers [Isaac Sontheimer and his son, M. B. Sontheimer] bought the undertaking and livery business and assets of S. D. Norwood, Incorporated, and on August 1, 1916, severed their connection with Tharp-Bultman-Sontheimer Company; took in A. S. Tharp, son of Henry Tharp; changed the name of the Norwood corporation to that of Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp, Incorporated; and immediately advertised their withdrawal from Tharp-Bultman-Sontheimer Company, and the establishment of the new company.”  Not until 1922, however, did the Tharps and Sontheimers separate from Bultman.  The Bultman Mortuary Service, Inc. succeeded Tharp-Bultman-Sontheimer on January 10, 1922.


            In 1931 Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp moved from Carondelet and Toledano, where it had operated since 1916, to 4127 S. Claiborne Avenue.  Four years later the principals founded Delta Life Insurance Co. as an affiliate to provide life and funeral service insurance.  The company grew to be one of the leading legal reserve life insurance companies in Louisiana. 


            Seven facilities eventually became part of the Tharp-Sontheimer group of funeral homes:

·         Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp at 4127 South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans is the company’s flagship location.  When Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp relocated there in 1931, The Times-Picayune reported on May 24 that “the home . . . has five funeral apartments located on the first and second floors.  There is a private entrance to each parlor and adjoining each one is a private family room.  A modern pipe organ has been installed.  The parlors are carpeted with heavy rugs and all corridors have noise-proof rubber floors.  The home has elevator service and is equipped with 14 telephones.”

·         Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp at 1600 North Causeway in Metairie was opened in September 1959 to serve the growing population of Metairie, Jefferson, Harahan, and River Ridge.

·         Westside Funeral Home, 5101 Westbank Expressway, has been serving westbank families since the early 1930s.  Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp acquired it, along with F. Laudumiey and Co., Ltd., in 1942.  The present structure was completed in 1961.  In 2000 the Westside Funeral Home merged with the Leitz-Eagen Funeral Home in Gretna and became known as Westside/Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home.

·         A. F. Bultmann, established on Magazine Street in the 1880s as noted above, is now known as the House of Bultman (the second “n” was dropped during World War I).  It moved to its present site on St. Charles Avenue in 1919.

·         Tharp-Sontheimer-Laudumiey at 5001 Chef Menteur Highway in Gentilly, opened in June 1966, harkened back to the partnership of these three prominent families, which began their relationship at 1225 North Rampart Street when Tharp-Sontheimer acquired Laudumiey’s in 1939.

·         Lamana-Panno-Fallo, once friendly competitors of Tharp-Sontheimer-Laudumiey on North Rampart Street, moved to its present location at 1717 Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie in 1979.

·         P. J. McMahon and Sons Funeral Home began around 1846 as P. J. McMahon Undertakers and Coffin Builders.  Originally located in the Warehouse District, the funeral home occupied several sites in uptown New Orleans before moving to 4800 Canal Street.


            Hurricane Katrina brought major changes to funeral homes in the New Orleans area.  The Alderwoods Group of Toronto, which owned House of Bultman (St. Charles Avenue), Schoen Funeral Home (Slidell), Tharp Funeral Home Mid-City (Moss Street), and Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp Funeral Home (S. Claiborne Avenue), announced in September 2006 that it would sell these properties, at least some of which were storm-damaged, as well as limousine and floral ventures, and consolidate operations at Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home (3827 Canal Street).  In addition to Schoen’s Canal Street location, Alderwoods retained the following funeral homes: Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp (Causeway Blvd.), Garden of Memories (Metairie), Westside/Leitz Eagan (Marrero), Lamana-Panno-Fallo (Metairie), Tharp Funeral Home (Chef Menteur Highway), Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home (Metairie), and Schoen Funeral Home (Covington).  For additional information see Greg Thomas, “Alderwoods Selling 4 Local Funeral Homes; Katrina-Damaged Bultman Parlor among Casualties,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 6, 2006.


List of Series and Subseries



Series I.         History / Early Years, n.d., 1898-1966


Series II.        Publicity, [n.d.], 1930-1976


Series III.       Funeral Homes, [n.d.], 1869-1987


            Subseries III.1.         Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes


            Subseries III.2.         Other Funeral Homes


Series IV.      Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral-Related Enterprises, 1919-1978


            Subseries IV.1.        Funeral Auto Service


Subseries IV.2.        Insurance Companies


Series V.       Funerals, 1919-1964


            Subseries V.1.         Morrison Family


            Subseries V.2.         Other Funerals


Series VI.      Employees, [n.d.], 1953-1972


            Subseries VI.1.        Union


            Subseries VI.2.        Education for Funeral Service



Container List


Series I.         History / Early Years, n.d., 1898-1966


317-1              Copies of legal documents and photocopies of early advertisements; invitation to opening of new offices of Tharp-Sontheimer Industrial Life & Burial Insurance Company at 4127 South Claiborne Avenue, September 5, 1936; copies of typewritten histories of associated funeral homes; photograph depicting an early location.



Series II.        Publicity, [n.d.], 1930-1976


317-2              Brochures and articles pertaining to Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes

McMahon Funeral Home.  The New Way.  [New Orleans]: McMahon Funeral Home, [ca. 1930s].

Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp, Inc.  Funeral Home Facts and Facilities.  [New Orleans]: Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp, Inc., [1950s].

“New Orleans Firm Opens $300,000 Suburban Branch.”  The American Funeral Director (April 1960).  Offprint.  (8 copies)

Jacob Schoen & Son, Inc.  Schoen.  [New Orleans]: Jacob Schoen & Son, Inc., [not earlier than 1962].

“Tharp-Sontheimer-Laudumiey Reflects New Orleans’ Architectural Tradition.”  The Southern Funeral Director (December 1968): 12-14+.  Offprint.

“Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp Completes 50 Years As Funeral Directors.”  Clarion Herald, August 18, 1966 (2 copies).

“S. L. Sontheimer Firm’s President; Tharp Exec V-P,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 30, 1976.


                        Press releases


317-3                          Opening of new S. Claiborne Avenue building, May 1931 (draft)


317-4                          Opening of new S. Claiborne Avenue building, May 1931 (2 copies)


317-5                          Fiftieth anniversary, August 1, 1966


                        Newspaper advertisements


317-6                          Tear sheet, advertisement announcing that new S. Claiborne Avenue building is open for inspection, [May 24, 1931], with photocopy


317-7                          Tear sheet, advertisement thanking those who visited on May 24 and announcing that new S. Claiborne Avenue building is again open for inspection on May 31, 1931


317-8                          Advertisement announcing that F. Laudumiey & Co., 1225 N. Ram­part, is open for inspection, October 10, 1939; October 20, 1939


317-9                          Advertisement announcing 75th anniversary of Laudumiey Funeral Home, 1969


317-10            Advertising rates and contracts, [n.d.], 1923, 1930-1931


317-11            Broadside commemorating Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp’s 50th anniversary, August 1, 1966


317-12            Promotional photographs

                                    Photographs of sample caskets [ca. 1942] (2 items)

                                    Photographs of caskets displayed in showroom (2 items).  Photos by C. F. Weber



Series III.       Funeral Homes, [n.d.], 1869-1987


            Subseries III.1.         Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes


317-13            Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp, 4127 S. Claiborne Avenue

                                    Newspaper article, “Mortuary Firm Opens New Home,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 24, 1931 (2 photocopies)

                                    Photograph of exterior (14 copies).  Photo by F. A. McDaniels

                                    Copy photograph of above (33 copies)

                                    Photographs of interior: parlor, caskets, embalming room (5 photographs), ca. early 1940s.  Photos by F. A. McDaniels, Chas. L. Franck, Joseph Schnetzer


317-14            Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp, 1600 North Causeway Blvd.

                                    Color photograph of exterior.  Photo by Frank Lotz Miller

                                    Snapshots of grand opening (5 photographs), 1959

                                    Photographs of dedication of chapel and additional parlors (14 items), 1972

                                    Flyers announcing opening of chapel and additional parlors (6 copies, 1 with attachments), 1972

                                    “A Church-Like Atmosphere Reflected in New Chapel.”  In The Southern Funeral Director (August 1972): 16-20.  Includes floor plans and photographs.


317-15            West Side Funeral Home, 5101 West Bank Expressway

                                    Color photograph of exterior.  Photo by C. F. Weber

                                    Photograph of presentation of key, July 23, 1961


317-16            Tharp-Sontheimer-Laudumiey Funeral Home, 5101 Chef Menteur Highway

                                    Newspaper articles, “Funeral Home Hits Landmark,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 1, 1966; “New Funeral Home Planned for Gentilly,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 1, 1966; “Funeral Home Project Begun,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 15, 1966

                                    Publicity information, “Ground Breaking for the New Gentilly Funeral Home”

                                    Delta News & Views, Vol. 18, No. 12 (December 1966)

                                    Photograph of M. B. Sontheimer and Marion J. Laudumiey with architect’s rendering, January 1966 (2 copies)

                                    Photographs of ground-breaking, December 1966

                                    Photographs of newly completed building.  Includes exteriors, parlor, lobby, kitchen, plot and floor plan

                                    Photographs taken at opening

                                    Color photograph of interior, included in advertisement for Nahan design specialists


            Subseries III.2.         Other Funeral Homes


317-17            T. W. Bothick

                                    Bill to Mr. J. W. Hall for funeral of Miss Lizzie Folkes, November 5, 1869.  Gift to Tharp-Sontheimer of Raymond H. Weill; accom­panied by acknowledgment from M. B. Sontheimer, March 6, 1979


317-18            House of Bultman

                                    Advertisement, New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 7, 1963


317-19            F. Laudemiey & Co., Inc., 1225 N. Rampart Street


                        Metairie Lakelawn Funeral Home

317-20                        Related mainly to the possibility of a joint venture between Tharp-Sontheimer and Stewart Enterprises, 1970-1987

317-21 –

317-23                        Lawsuit, 1970-1987



Series IV.      Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral-Related Enterprises, 1919-1978


            Subseries IV.1.        Funeral Auto Service


317-24            Funeral Auto Service, Inc. and Jack-Mel Realty Corporation, 1941-1978

                                    Legal documents, including “Policy and Regulation for Use of Equipment,” charter, etc.


            Subseries IV.2.        Insurance Companies


317-25            Tharp-Sontheimer Insurance Co.

                                    Flyer advertising a Mardi Gras contest for agents, [1939]

                                    Flyer advertising a V for Victory contest for agents, [1942]


317-26            Delta Life Insurance Co.

                                    Delta News & Views

                                                Vol. 7, No. 9 (September 1955)

                                                Vol. 7, No. 10 (October 1955)

                                                Vol. 12, No. 1 (January 1960)

                                                Vol. 18, No. 10 (October 1966)

                                                Vol. 19, No. 13 (December 1967)

                                    Roosevelt Review 23.3 (February 1960): 10.  Photograph: “Officials of Delta Life Insurance Company prepare to cut the company’s 25th Anniversary cake at a gathering in the Grand Ball Room [of the Roosevelt Hotel].  L. to r., are Hester Plauche Sr., Hester Plauche Jr., Norman Tharp, Jack Sontheimer, Leonard Wolff and Maurice B. Sontheimer.”


Series V.       Funerals, 1919-1964


            Subseries V.1.         Morrison Family


317-27            Morrison, Corinne Waterman, February 28, 1959

                                    Exterior photographs of funeral


317-28            Morrison, deLesseps Story, and son, John (Randy) Morrison, May 26, 1964

                                    Newsclippings, program of arrangements, complimentary letters, copies of funeral invoices


            Subseries V.2.         Other Funerals


317-29            Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp bill dated July 1, 1919, for funeral of Bernhard Forchheimer

                        Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp bill dated August 31, 1920, for funeral of Abraham Kling

                        Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp bill dated November 30, 1928, for funeral of Emma F. Kling

                        Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp bill, undated but paid March 20, 1920, for limousine rental by Mrs. Nobles

                        Photograph of casket flanked by floral bouquets, labeled O’Rouke, September 20, 1942.



Series VI.      Employees, [n.d.], 1953-1972


            Subseries VI.1.        Union


317-30            “Remarks to All Employees.”  Original (1 copy), August 19, 1974, and revised (4 copies), [August 21, 1974]


            Subseries VI.2.        Education for Funeral Service


317-31            National Foundation of Funeral Service.  School of Management.  Course, “Rx: Better Public Relations for Funeral Service,” May 24-May 29, 1953.


List of Instructors

Student Roster (includes the following students from New Orleans: Lloyd E. Eagan, Leitz-Eagan Funeral Home; Robert J. Schoen, Jacob Schoen & Son; Maurice B. Sontheimer, Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp)


317-32            Veterans Education & Training Section, Louisiana State Department of Education.  Form VE-101 (agreement to provide training).  Includes information about salaries and elements covered in funeral service training program.

Brannum Funeral Home, Inc. (East Carroll Parish), training Harry Hall

Moss Funeral Home (Vermilion Parish), training Russel J. Frederick

Blank form


Index Terms


Brannum Funeral Home, Inc. (East Carroll Parish, La.)

Burial—Louisiana—New Orleans

Delta Life Insurance Co. (New Orleans, La.)

F. Laudumiey & Co. (New Orleans, La.)

Forchheimer, Bernhard

Frederick, Russel J.

Funeral Auto Service, Inc. (New Orleans, La.)

Hall, Harry

House of Bultman (New Orleans, La.)

Insurance Companies—Louisiana—New Orleans

Jack-Mel Realty Corp. (New Orleans, La.)

Jacob Schoen & Son, Inc. (New Orleans, La.)

Kling, Abraham

Kling, Emma F.

Laudumiey, F.

McMahon Funeral Home (New Orleans, La.)

Metairie Lakelawn Funeral Home (New Orleans, La.)

Morrison, Corinne Waterman

Morrison, deLesseps Story

Morrison, John (“Randy”)

Mortuaries—Louisiana—New Orleans

Moss Funeral Home (Vermilion Parish)

National Foundation of Funeral Service.  School of Management

Schoen, Jacob

Sontheimer, Stephen L.

Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes (New Orleans, La.)

Tharp-Sontheimer Insurance Co. (New Orleans, La.)

Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp Funeral Home (New Orleans, La.)

Tharp-Sontheimer-Laudumiey Funeral Home (New Orleans, La.)

West Side Funeral Home (New Orleans, La.)