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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dying to know more about a Funeral

This is not an Easter post. It is the story of and old article of paper in connection with the death of someone well known, who remains shrouded in mystery.

I picked up this envelope as it sat lonely on a table at a moving sale. Other items around the room pointed to some serious or at least thoughtful antique collecting. When I opened the envelope I was surprised to see an invoice.
That name sounded familiar, and even possibly famous, or was it that everyone who uses their full middle name sounds famous - or infamous? A brief search has uncovered little about JW Nagle.  What really piqued my curiosity was what was printed on the back.
Was it normal practice to put a promotional map for the town in which the funeral home is located on the back of the bill for the internment? Seems a little misplaced. So I really have 2 mysteries to solve. Who was John William Nagle, and why did funeral director Beirne print a city map along with the bill?

I found some good text on another site that sells a variation on this map: 

This reproduction bird's-eye view map of Port Jervis, New York was published by Hughes & Fowler in 1920. Port Jervis is a city in Orange County on the north shore of the Delaware River. The Delaware and Hudson Canal was completed here as the nations first privately owned canal system. Port Jervis was named after canal engineer John Bloomfield Jervis. At the time of this map's publishing the Port Jervis community was a favorite filming locale for D. W. Griffith's and Mack Sennett's film companies. Film stars of the era Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand were all filmed in this area.

If you can help with either mystery, please post it in the comments, or send me an email. 


  1. Found this:


    Looks like how a diner has placemats with names on it surrounding a map. His business is listed on the map - so maybe the advertisement funded the printing of the map.

  2. Also - he was buried in CT which is about an hr and a half from Port Jervis, so maybe he often served out of towners and the map helped people find him?


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