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Origins Predate Statehood and Cityhood

By one name or another, we have been an important part of Ardmore since Oklahoma was territory and the city was but an idea.

The precise date of the firm’s founding has gone unrecorded. Little is known about J.S.B. Apollos, undertaker and founder, who opened for business in a parlor on North Caddo Street. When Ardmore became a town, Apollos was already established as the community’s first funeral director.

Today, Apollos would be called a funeral director. In the late 1880’s, however, the role of the undertaker was more limited. Usually, undertakers were carpenters who built coffins and picture frames as a sideline.

Coffins usually were offered for sale by merchants. When someone died, the family would send to town for a coffin. The undertaker would take his ware to the home of the deceased and prepare the body there for viewing, using embalming arts perfected of necessity during the Civil War.

But not always, a shootout between lawmen and bank robbers provides the first public mention of Apollos. When the notorious Bill Dalton, of the Dalton Gang, was slain in 1894, the posse brought the body to the Apollos’ undertaking parlor, where he was laid out for burial.

In about 1896, Apollos sold his business to Dr. W.J. Brown and T.C. Bridgeman. For the next 24 years, they operated Brown and Bridgeman Undertakers.