Our History

Anderson Funeral & Cremation Services dates its founding back more than 118 years, and enjoys a rich heritage in Belvidere and Northern Illinois.   In 1890, a gentleman named Mr. Marskie, started a funeral service business in Belvidere.  In 1895 Luther C. Willard purchased Mr. Marskie’s funeral service and operated it from his furniture store located at 410 South State Street.   Around 1902 Otto Schmidt joined Luther Willard in the business and they named it Willard & Schmidt.  In 1912, John Peart purchased the funeral home.

In 1914, Luther Willard and his son in-law, Fred Boettcher, repurchased the funeral home from John Peart.  They operated it for two years and then sold it in 1916 to Alden Dimond and Leon Byram.  In early 1920 Alden Dimond died, and Floyd Atkins, an employee of the firm joined Leon Byram as an owner.  The funeral home was then relocated to a new location at 217-219 South State Street.

Mr. Byram retired in 1937 and Foster Johnson joined Floyd Atkins as a new owner.  Mr. Atkins and Mr. Johnson decided to discontinue selling furniture and focus solely on providing funeral service.  They moved the funeral home to its present location at 218 West Hurlbut Avenue and changed its name to Atkins Johnson Funeral Home.

Floyd Atkins and Foster Johnson operated Atkins Johnson Funeral Home until 1961 when they transferred ownership to Everett Buck and Olney Wheeler.  The funeral home name was changed to Buck Wheeler Funeral Home.  Ten years later, Everett Buck retired, and in 1972 Wesley Hyland, a long term employee, and Olney Wheeler’s son, Ross Wheeler, began operating the funeral home.    Shortly after that transition took place, Olney Wheeler retired.   The funeral home name was changed to Buck-Wheeler-Hyland Funeral Home to reflect the new ownership.

In 1994 Stephen G. Anderson joined Buck-Wheeler-Hyland Funeral Home as an employee. In 2000, Ross Wheeler and Wesley Hyland retired and transferred ownership to Stephen G. Anderson.  In 2014, the funeral home changed its name to Anderson Funeral & Cremation Services to reflect its ownership and commitment to the community.  Over the history of the funeral home it has had several names and different owners, but the dedication to serving the families of Northern Illinois in their time of need has never changed and never will.

Timeline

  • Mid-1890’s: Mr. Marskie starts a funeral service business in Belvidere that begins the roots of Buck-Wheeler-Hyland.
  • 1895-96: Luther C. Willard purchases the business, which operates as a furniture store and undertaking business at 410 South State Street.
  • 1902-03: Otto Schmidt joins the firm at this location and firm known as Willard & Schmidt.
  • 1912:  John Peart buys the business.
  • 1914: Mr. Merkley takes over the firm for a short time from Mr. Peart. Later in the year Luther Willard and his son in-law, Fred Boettcher re-purchase the business.
  • 1916-17: Alden Dimond and Leon Byram take over from Willard and Boettcher and continue the funeral and furniture business.
  • Early 1920’s: Mr. Dimond dies and Byram is joined by Floyd Atkins, an employee of this firm. Byram and Atkins conduct business at 410 South State Street until the late 1920’s, when they move to 217-219 South State Street, a location that is currently part of our Boone County Historical Museum.
  • 1937: Mr. Byram retires and Mr. Atkins joins his business with Foster Johnson, and opens the Atkins-Johnson Funeral Home at our present location on Hurlbut Avenue. It is at this point that they separate from the furniture business and become full-time funeral directors and embalmers.
  • 1961: Mr. Atkins and Mr. Johnson retire and the ownership is transferred to Everett Buck and Olney Wheeler. The firm continues as Buck-Wheeler Funeral Home.
  • 1963: Renovations to the funeral home include redecorating, refurbishing as well as adding a one-story chapel with a family room, a two-level foyer and a display room. In addition to the partnership of Everett Buck and Olney Wheeler, Floyd Atkins and Foster Johnson have continued as associate funeral directors; Herman and Wesley Hyland complete the experienced staff.
  • 1972:  Mr. Buck retires and Wesley Hyland, a long-term employee, and Ross Wheeler, Olney’s son, come into ownership. Olney retires a few years later and the business continues as Buck-Wheeler-Hyland Funeral Home.
  • 1993: Major expansion, renovation and redecoration project includes expansion of the chapel and reconfiguration of the rooms to facilitate two visitations at the same time. Another family room added in the front of the building and the building handicap accessibility improved, as well as expanding the casket display area in the lower level.
  • 1997: Stephen G. Anderson, who has been associated with the funeral home since 1994, joins the firm as a full-time funeral director.
  • 2000: Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Hyland retire and Stephen Anderson buys their interest in the business. Steve continues to care for the community, along with his dedicated staff, to this day.
  • 2001:  The casket display area is renovated into a new selection room.
  • 2005:  Meditation Gardens created on the grounds of the funeral home.
  • 2014: Name changes to Anderson Funeral & Cremation Services