Ebensberger-Fisher Funeral Home is the oldest, continuous business in Boerne since its inception in 1882. The Ebensberger family and the funeral home business are intertwined with the history and growth of Boerne. The funeral home has been in business 130 years as of May 20, 2012.
Boerne was founded in 1849 by German immigrants who carved out a new home for themselves while surviving disease, Indian raids, and the Civil War. It was a prospering town by the 1880s.
Carl Oscar "C.O." Ebensberger (1845-1908) was born in Posen, Prussia and migrated to Texas when he was 20 years old. In 1865, he landed in Indianola and traveled by oxcart to New Braunfels where he first settled before coming to Boerne. He married another immigrant, Julia Schwope (1857-1935), and they raised 4 children: Edmund "Ed", Berthold "Pat", Amanda (Offer) and Emmie (Campbell).
The C.O. Ebensberger building was built in 1882 and he started his first business as an undertaker that same year. The family lived upstairs on the second floor and C.O. used the first floor to conduct business as an undertaker and embalmer. C.O. was a cabinet-maker by trade, which at the time was basically making caskets. In 1883, he started a hardware store and lumber company. The lumber company operated out of the same building as the mortuary; the lumberyard was located two doors down from the mortuary. All of the buildings were in what is now known as "Old Towne", owned by the Lloyd Holekamp family since the 1970s. The two-story funeral home and residence is now a one-story stucco building that has since been known as Tamarac Office Supplies and several commercial stores. C.O. ran the funeral business, hardware store, lumber store, and lumberyard until 1907 when his son Edmund "Ed" Walter Ebensberger (1885-1972) took over.
Ed was born in Boerne in 1885 and married Ella Ammann. He became a licensed embalmer and funeral director and also worked in the lumber business. He was also a founder and lifetime director of the Boerne State Bank. Ella got her funeral director's license as well so she could conduct business when Ed was away.
The funeral home remained in its original location on Main Street until 1938. Ed had bought the old Becker Hotel on E. Rosewood several years before. The Becker Hotel had been part of an early time when Boerne was a health mecca for patients with lung diseases and the train brought loads of patients to town. That time had now passed and the hotel was closed. Ed had it razed and built the present funeral home at 111 Rosewood Avenue in 1937 using wood from the hotel. Funeral business started taking place in its new location in 1938, mere feet from its previous location.
When Ed took over the funeral home in 1907, Boerne was changing. The first Kendall County Fair was held in 1905 at the Opera House. The City of Boerne incorporated in 1909 with a population of 885. The first automobiles began to appear, changing the face of Boerne business from horse and buggy to automobile and gasoline. In the early days, horse drawn hearses were rented from the Schrader Livery Stable. Then in 1920, the first motorized hearse was used. The Ebensbergers also ran an ambulance service in conjunction with the funeral home dating back to at least the 1920s. In 1944, Ed bought a new Buick hearse, car, and ambulance. Most funerals were held from homes as late as 1950, and then from churches.
Ebensberger Funeral Home sold lots for the Boerne Cemetery which opened in 1867. The lots sold for $2.00. A family might buy 10 lots but in the early days, burials or transfers of lots were not always recorded. Today there are many lots in the oldest section where it is unknown if someone is buried there or not. Recently people have been "witching" with rods and know where some people are buried, but this doesn't identify them. It wasn't until the early 1900s that the recording of burials became regulated. Before that, anyone who made caskets could bury without recording.
After a four year stint in the Marines during WWII, Ed's son, George Charles Ebensberger, did his apprenticeship at Porter Loring's and received his mortician's license in 1947. George said, "My father was an undertaker, I'm a funeral director" noting the developing sophistication of the business and the fact that it had become extremely regulated. In 1952 he entered into partnership with his father and by 1957, George owned the funeral home business. He wore many hats during his ownership of Ebensberger Funeral Home. He was a Boerne City Councilman, a Rotarian, and President of the Kendall County Fair Association. He was also a member of the Lions Club, the Boerne Chamber of Commerce, and the 32nd Degree Masons. George was a founding member of the 49ers Club. This group was formed in 1949 and consisted of 49 members. They orchestrated Boerne's Centennial Celebration for the town. There is only one member of this group still alive today. George ran the funeral home's Ambulance Service and was a First Aid Instructor for Boerne and the surrounding towns. This was before EMS existed. In order to transport a patient to the hospital, he/she had to be stabilized first. George also worked at the Boerne Hospital as a licensed x-ray technician. George passed away in December of 2008.
George's son, George Jr. better known as "Sonny", joined his father in the business in 1977. Sonny and his wife Yvonne later bought the funeral home business from George Sr. in 2000. They were members of the Boerne Chamber of Commerce along with the Boerne Historical Society. Sonny was also a Rotarian and Director of the Kendall County Fair Association. Around 2008, they were looking to retire and knew the timing was right when they met the Fisher family. Even though they are enjoying retirement, they remain partial owners of the business and step in and help as needed.
On December 20, 2008, Dustin "Dusty" Fisher and his wife Jo Lynn took over the day to day operation of the funeral home allowing Sonny and Yvonne to partially retire. The name was changed to Ebensberger-Fisher Funeral Home. Dusty and Jo Lynn are members of the Boerne Chamber of Commerce. Dusty was a Rotarian and Jo Lynn sits on the board of the United Way of Kendall County. Jo Lynn has also recently partnered with a local hospice to offer free grief support group meetings held at the funeral home that are open to the public. This year the funeral home will hold its fourth annual Christmas Remembrance Service for anyone grieving a loved one.
The funeral home itself is an Art Deco style of architecture, very popular in the 1940s and 1950s but quite rare in Boerne. (There is only one other Art Deco building in Boerne and it was built by Pat Ebensberger.) The floor plan of the funeral home has not changed since it was built, which is a testament to the excellent planning for the needs of the community that went into it. The only changes to the building are to the garage and the addition of the front canopy. The building also had an interesting central cooling system before air conditioning systems were used which involved a big fan that would circulate the air like a big suction machine, in one area and out another. Major renovations were completed in 2009 while staying true to the original structure and maintaining its architectural integrity. At the same time, technology was introduced to the building and the business.
Not only is the funeral home an historic building, but it also houses the oldest, continuous business in Boerne.