In the late 19th-century west, caskets were built by cabinetmakers or furniture men. As these tradesmen developed reputations for their caskets, they soon branched out into the funeral business. That’s why Amarillo’s first embalming business was also its first furniture store. In 1890, a furniture dealer and undertaker named O. M. Eakle arrived in Amarillo, hoping to establish a business halfway between Fort Worth and Denver. He rented a small downtown building for his storefront, as shown in this undated photo, alongside P.H. Seewald Jewelers and Smith Walker Dry Goods. Eakle and his family lived in the back of the store. Eakle found commercial success, eventually becoming the first president of the Amarillo Board of Trade, a precursor to the Chamber of Commerce. He used his wealth to acquire land south of the city. Once developed, the section became known as the historic Oliver-Eakle district. Though Eakle Furniture no longer exists, the stately homes in Oliver-Eakle still stand today.
by Jason Boyett
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.