HISTORIC MICHIGAN: The World’s Largest Coffin Makers Were in Owosso
A long time ago, the world's largest maker of coffins happened to be right here in Michigan. Owosso, to be exact.
In 1865, the Woodard brothers - Henry, Warren, William and later, Lyman - started a lumber mill and began making all kinds of furniture, beds, blinds, doors, sashes..... eventually leading to wooden coffins in 1882. An extra building was commissioned out of necessity to produce the new line of coffins.
The new Owosso Casket Company was incorporated in 1901; that same year, the company was called upon to supply caskets for two fallen U.S. Presidents: Benjamin Harrison in March 1901 and the assassinated William McKinley in September 1901.
Not long afterward, thanks to the casualties from World War I and a flu epidemic in 1918, the Owosso Casket Company was expected to churn out an almost impossible 150 coffins a day. They became so depended on and busy, that soon the company was behind in their orders for coffins. Even so, all these casualties helped make them well-known as the World's Largest Casket Maker.
After almost 70 years of successfully manufacturing different types of caskets, the company closed down sometime around 1950.
As you head into downtown Owosso on Main Street (M-21), depending on what way you're coming into town, turn south on S. Elm. Two blocks down, at the end of this dead end street, the Owosso Casket Company Building is on the right. It shouldn't be too difficult to ask someone in the area how to obtain a tour.