History of McDougald Funeral Home and Crematorium, Inc.
As early as 1856 M. A. McDougald was a partner in a business known as “McDougald & Currie” located in Antioch, NC a rural community about 20 miles north east of what is now Laruinburg. The business letterhead included the words: “Hardware, Furniture, and Undertaking.” At the onset of the War Between the States, the Confederacy decided to move the rail constructing yards from Wilmington to a position 100 miles inland to protect them from a possible Union invasion. At this time M. A. McDougald moved his family to what is now Laurinburg to pursue a position with the railroads.
Following the War Between the States the rail yards remained in Laurinburg and in 1881 53 year old Malcolm Alexander McDougald left his position with the railroad to establish an undertaking and furniture business. Assisting him in the venture were his two sons, William Alexander, Daniel Archibald. The business was at that time located on South Main Street on the south side of Fairly Street.
In the late 1890’s a fire destroyed downtown Laurinburg and the M. A. McDougald business. The business moved to North Main Street or just north of the railroad tracks. In 1901 M. A. McDougald purchased a lot at the intersection of Railroad and South Main Streets. A new three story building was completed on the site in 1904. The first two floors housed the furniture and hardware business and the third floor housed the undertaking supplies. A hand operated elevator connected the floors.
Following Macom’s death at the age of 83 on October 13, 1909, Will, and Dan continued to operate the family business. A third son, Malcolm John – better known as John, left his position with the railroad and went to Cincinnati Embalming School. He became the first licensed embalmer for miles around, often embalming for funeral homes as far away as Lumberton, Fayetteville, Bennettsville, and Hamlet. However, Will died of a sudden heart attack July 22, 1911, and was buried on July 24, 1911 – the same day that John’s son, Hewitt Beacham McDougald, was born.
In 1914 the M. A. McDougald company purchased a first for North Carolina. They bought a motorized hearse to replace the ones that were horse drawn. As fate would have it the hears was delivered by train from the Midwest by rail and the train stopped at Frank Vogler & Son in Winston-Salem to deliver the motorized hearse one day before it stopped in Laurinburg to deliver the one to M. A. McDougald. As a result we purchased the first motor hearse in North Carolina and received the second.
In 1925 John’s daughter, Christine, was hired as a bookkeeper and secretary – training under Hugh McArn, thus bringing the third generation into the family business. Shortly afterwards, Dan died of a sudden heart attack on July 9, 1928
“This announcement came like a thunderbolt to Laurinburg and all of the country about on Monday morning, and the community was shocked and grieved at the sudden passing of one it had known and learned to esteem in a high degree through many years of a useful and active career,” quoted a front page article in The Laurinburg Exchange. Details of the funeral service were later reported, “The minister recounted in an intimate way the characteristics and traits of the man, his youthful spirit, his courageous outlook on life and the promise of the hereafter, his kindness, his understanding heart, his attitudes and his fine spirit of service and unselfishness, and told how by these things and his works he had grown in the affection and love of the people.”
Funerals and furniture were almost always sold on credit. During the era of “The Great Depression” there was little money for payments. John was forced to close out the furniture portion of the business in 1932 and continue operating only the funeral home. The name of the business was also changed to reflect the difference: from “M. A. McDougald Furniture and Undertaking” to “McDougald Funeral Home.” The business was also forced to sell its facilities and moved into a residence known as the Hammond house beside the Scotland County Courthouse.
Hewitt McDougald graduated from Gupton-Jones School of Embalming in Nashville, Tennessee in 1935. He returned home and married Priscilla Sanderson in 1937.
1938 also saw a few major changes; a daughter, Priscilla was born, John gave Hewitt management of the funeral home, and a new funeral home facility was constructed on Biggs Street – one block from the town center.
On Hewitt’s 40th birthday, July 24, 1951, his son Beacham was born.
John McDougald continued to assist Hewitt and Christine at the funeral home until less than a month before his death at the age of 85 on October 13, 1955. Shortly afterwards, in 1958, McDougald Funeral Home moved into its present facility – the former home of James Lytch McNair on East Church Street.
In 1975, Beacham McDougald, became the fourth generation in the family business upon his graduation from mortuary college.
Hewitt McDougald continued to be present daily at the funeral home until falling ill on December 24, 1994. After over 70 years as an employee and owner, Hewitt died on September 25, 1995. The third and longest generation came to an end.
Scotland County’s first and only crematorium and crematorium chapel were added in 1997, and the business was once again changed to “McDougald Funeral Home and Crematorium, Inc.”
Funeral service is rapidly transforming and meeting the challenges is exciting. With an excellent staff, a positive attitude, and increased emphasis on meaningful and memorable in service options, we plan to remain as North Carolina’s oldest independent, family owned funeral home and crematorium.