O riginally, it was Calvin Quisenberry’s great-grandfather, Henry Metz, a local grocer and postmaster in the 1880’s, who was called upon by friends and neighbors to act as an “undertaker” for their family. Metz did most of his work in the home of the deceased, helping the family dress and prepare the body for burial and making the arrangements for a funeral.
Calvin’s other great-grandfather, Thomas Quisenberry, was born in Illinois and was a pioneer farmer of the Tonganoxie Township settling in the Neely community west of Tonganoxie during Kansas territory days. He married Elizabeth Stacks in the town that is now Lansing in 1863. One of their eleven children, Nelson Quisenberry (later a Tonganoxie town Marshal), married Henry Metz’s daughter, Gertrude.
Around 1900, Reece Cadwallader opened the city’s first funeral parlor at 514 E. Fourth Street.
Not long after, a Mr. Cross took over and moved the storefront operation to a larger facility across the street to 511 E. Fourth Street, the present location of Shilling Electric Co. The business continued there until after 1921, when Charles Rumsey became the new owner and was later joined by his brothers, John and Herman.
During the depression, the Farmers and Merchants State Bank, 602 E. Fourth Street, closed and the Rumsey brothers moved the funeral home into that building. Charles and John later opened a funeral home in Lawrence, KS.
After working for a large Kansas City funeral home for 17 years, Nelson and Gertrude (Metz) Quisenberry’s son, C. Hervey Quisenberry, joined the Army Air Corp in 1941 and served as a medic in the South Pacific until 1945. After being discharged from active duty, he and his wife, Dorothy Spahr Quisenberry searched for a funeral home to purchase and in 1946 returned to his hometown and bought the Rumsey Brother’s Funeral Home.
Calvin H. Quisenberry, a 1966 graduate of Tonganoxie High School, began working with his parents in 1969. After serving in the US Army, he graduated from San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in 1972 and returned to Tonganoxie to help his parents run the Quisenberry Funeral Home, Furniture Store and Ambulance Service.
In 1970, they discontinued the furniture store and the ambulance service in 1976. In 1978, Calvin and his wife, Susan (Harriman) Quisenberry, purchased the funeral home from his parents. In 1990, they remodeled and expanded the size of the business to accommodate their steadily increasing volume of services.
In 1999, Brian J. Quisenberry began working with his parents . In 2007, he graduated with a degree in Mortuary Science from Kansas City Kansas Community College, making him the fourth generation of Funeral Directors in his family, serving the families of southern Leavenworth and Jefferson Counties.
At their state convention in 2000, the Kansas Funeral Directors Association presented the Quisenberry Funeral Home with a certificate of merit for over 100 years of continuous funeral service in Tonganoxie to the families of Kansas.
The Quisenberry family is proud to be one of only three independent family-owned funeral homes in Leavenworth County.