Unique Funeral Vehicles

Ever wonder where the word “hearse” came from?

Linguists say the word first entered the English language in the 1200s, from the French word, “Herse,” which referred to a harrow – a kind of rake or plough used to work the land before planting. They called it this because the triangular frame which held candles that would often be used to carry a deceased loved one in Catholic funerals looked very similar to a plough or “herse.” Over time, the frame became more elaborate as family and friends began to decorate it to honor their loved one.

Throughout the centuries, hearses have taken a number of different forms, including the horse-drawn kind in the 17th century, when the word “hearse” really began to be used to refer to a vehicle which carries a coffin. The first motorized funeral coach appeared around the beginning of the 20th century – experts are unsure on the exact year. Gasoline-powered hearses began to be very common in the 1920s. It was not uncommon during this time for the funeral home hearse to double as the community ambulance.

Today, hearses range in make, model, color, and style. Of course, they are used to transfer a loved one from the funeral home to the location of their burial. But modern times have brought nearly endless options – both for the convenience of the family and for personalizing a procession.


If your loved one had impeccable taste, our pristine, meticulously-maintained Cadillac hearses and sedans are an excellent choice for their stately, traditional funeral procession. Maybe they would have appreciated something a little more unique, or were a motorcycle enthusiast. If that’s the case, ask the Krause team about our 19th century-style hearse drawn by a V-twin-powered 3-wheel Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It will create an unforgettable moment. Another great idea for personalizing your loved one’s final ride is by choosing to lead the procession down a favorite road or a sentimental location. Our team can help you manage all the logistics.

Convenience and Safety

One of the big motivating factors for families choosing to use one of our family vehicles is convenience. It’s one less thing to worry about on what will, no doubt, be an emotional day. Perhaps they’re coming in from out of town and are unfamiliar with the area, or simply don’t like to drive. Bringing all of the family together in one vehicle – and giving them time to rest and reflect together between the funeral service and the burial can bring peace of mind at a critical moment. It can give them a moment to catch their breath and collect their emotions.

For these reasons, many of the Milwaukee County families we work with choose to include funeral vehicles in their preplanning, in addition to their plans for burial and the funeral service and reception. That way they can express their own story and personality, while caring for the needs of their family and friends.

When you choose Krause Funeral Home, you will always have the options you need to meet your family’s needs, wishes, and budget.

One thought on “Unique Funeral Vehicles

  1. Hi, My Great Grandfather, H.H. Strand from Strum, Wisconsin was a funeral director and used a horse drawn hearse until motorized vehicles became the norm. My grandfather was also a funeral director (J.G. Strand). My mother thinks that their hearse was sold/given to Krause maybe in the 1960s or 70s. My grandfather died in 1965 and Kjentvet was his business partner so maybe that’s the name attached to the transaction. Of course, my mom passed away last year so this is all I know. I’m wondering if you ever had the hearse and if you still have it or if you don’t have it…do you know where would it be? I’d love to visit and take pictures if possible now that I live in Wisconsin. I do have some black & white pictures with my Great Grandfather and the hearse which I can scan and email to you, if you’d like.

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