James Funeral Home - History
James Funeral Home was founded in 1916 by John T. James and Lydia Ellen “Ella” Johnson. John James had an infant pass away. After working with the local funeral director in Pleasant City, Guernsey County, OH., John went to Cincinnati College of Embalming. This trade was new to the James Family. The James family were coal miners who had immigrated from Wales. The picture to the right is of John T. James and his family.
John graduated from Cincinnati College of Embalming after a 3 week course and completed the state boards.
John heard from trade people that Follansbee was a new town that did not have a funeral director. In September of 1916, John and his brother, Niran, moved their families to Follansbee. The picture to the left is the original picture of John T. James and Niran James at the first location, to the right of or north of the current day Cedar Lodge.
Mr. Humes of Follansbee, WV rented a house he owned on Banfield Avenue to the two James Families. John and Niran started the James Brothers Furniture and Undertaking business. This location was located in the present day building north of the Cedars Lodge on Main Street. At that time, it was customary to hold funerals in the deceased’s home. This was the structure of their business for approximately two years. The next location was approximately in the 700 block of main street near or where Alco Furniture is located. Around the time of April 1918, they each purchased a home on Virginia Ave located right behind the funeral home.
A terrible flu epidemic in 1918 helped to solidify the James Bros. undertaking business. Also in April 1918, Cecelia May James, the eldest child of John T. and Ella James, married George Lee Humes, the youngest child of Richard and Laura Johnson Humes Jr. In 1914, the Bank of Follansbee had been established mostly through the efforts of Richard and George Humes.
Tragedy suddenly entered their lives when Ella died on May 12, 1921. She had been sick for a short time, but it was still a shock as she was only 44 years old. At this point the two brothers split; Niran stayed in Follansbee and started the new location at 756 Main Street, Follansbee. His brother John T. moved to Wellsburg, WV to start a business near present day Presbyterian Church.
In 1933, after the death of his brother, Niran, John T. James moved back to Follansbee. He purchased the location at 1245 Main Street, Follansbee (present day location). The home was rented to the Superintendent of the Follansbee Steel and owned by William Banfield.
In 1939, Norma (Dungan) and Judson Gardner purchased the James Funeral Home from John T. James. Judson passed away not long after the purchase leaving Norma to lead the James Funeral Home with help of Wirt Davis and Clyde Walnohas. Under Norma, the funeral home provided quality family service to the Follansbee area for many years. Everyone remembers Norma for her class and the dedication she had to listen to families of Follansbee and the surrounding communities.
When Norma decided to retire in 1974, she contacted Fred T. and Floyd E. Chambers of the Chambers Funeral Home about purchasing her funeral home. They were her absolute and only choice for the purchase.
Chambers Funeral Home - History
Chambers Funeral Home was founded in 1931 by Fred L. and Bertha Chambers.
The funeral home not only served the community through funeral service; but also, had a 24 hour ambulance service. Until 1937, most funerals were held at the family’s home, but the trend to have funerals at the funeral home started to change with some funerals still held at area churches. With the addition of garage space, Fred and Bertha lived upstairs with their daughter, Margaret Ann, who continued the family tradition.
In 1947, Fred L. became very ill with an eye infection, went to Cleveland Clinic, and later passed away. Bertha, his wife, felt that she could not operate the funeral business alone, so she sold the business and building to Floyd E. and Genevieve Chambers.
Floyd and Genevieve had three children; Fred T., Jeannine, and Jennifer. Fred T. Chambers was the first of their children to join the family business. In addition to Fred, Jennifer joined later in the years. In 1974, Floyd and Fred T. donated the Chambers Funeral Home Ambulance to the Brooke County Ambulance Service.
In the same year, the Chambers family purchased the James Funeral Home in Follansbee. Genevieve passed away in 1983 after a short illness. In 1985, Floyd sold the funeral home to both Fred and Jennifer to operate. Floyd passed away in 1999.
Continuing History of Present Day of Chambers and James Funeral Homes
In late 2011, the Chambers Family (Fred and Jerry Chambers and Jennifer Chambers Ficca) sold the businesses to Mr. Eric L. Fithyan. The Chambers were proud to announce, Eric L. Fithyan, L.I.C., who is now back to Brooke County as the sole propriter. Mr. Fithyan, who grew up in Wellsburg and is a 2002 graduate of Brooke High School, is proud to return and serve the community with dignity and honor. Mr. Fithyan graduated with a Bachelors of Science from Point Park University and is a Pennsylvannia and West Virginia licensed funeral director. Mr. Fithyan has gathered his experience from previously serving as the Director of Bereavement, Spiritual, and Volunteer Services at a Greater Pittsburgh Hospice Company. Mr. Fithyan also has previously been the manger and supervisor of two different funeral companies. Through his experience of hospice and funeral service, Mr. Fithyan is honored to continue the Chambers, James, and Gardner families' legacy of service and compassion to the communities in a most difficult time.
We are proud of each families' heritage to the funeral homes. As the propritor, I pledge to continue in the James, Chambers, and Gardner's footsteps by helping our families with compassion, understanding, and sensitivity through funeral service, as well as contributing involvement in community activities.
Chambers and James Funeral Homes have received numerous awards under the direction and leadership of Eric Fithyan. In 2013, it was named "Best of the Best Funeral Homes" by the readers of the Weirton Daily Times, has had numerous spotlights for the local newspaper, a national article in the Funeral Director Insider about a successful transition of ownership, and in 2014 was awarded "Business of the Year" by the Leadership of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce.