Norman Bauer, 89, of Bonfield, owns a rare treasure, an 1892 Horse Drawn Hearse.
According to Bauer, the Hearse was in the Kankakee Centennial parade in 1953 when it was owned by Burton Hertz, past owner of Hertz funeral home.
The Hertz family stored it in their corn crib about three miles from Bauer’s rural property.
He states, “I had a brand-new combine at the time and Mrs. Hertz asked me for a ride in it. When I took her home, she started to cry because seeing the Hearse made her think of her husband inside it. So, she sold it to me for $35 in 1953.”
He brought it out of his tool shed recently and it is in superb condition, even though it had been stored there for 25 years.
Designed to be pulled by two horses, the Hearse can hold lanterns on each side of the driver.
The hand-carved wood details on the outside display the craftmanship of a bygone era. Inside is a roller that allows for easy removal of the casket.
The basket within the Hearse carried the deceased from the house to the Hearse. The thick curtains inside appear to be original.
Everything is well-preserved and will be polished and shined for the Herscher Labor Day Parade.
Although it hasn’t been out for 25 years, Bauer thought it would be fitting to bring it out for Herscher’s Labor Day Centennial Parade, on one condition.
Bauer states “I am not going to be the last thing in the parade, though. I want to be ahead of the tractors.”