History Of Cremations in The USA

By: Ron Curry
Monday, July 23, 2018

Cremation has been getting more and more popular in recent years, but where did it come from? And how did it go from ancient fires to modern cremations in Edison, NJ?

Early History

While most people view traditional burials as the more common and most historical disposition method, cremation actually has a far more ancient history. In fact, historians believe that humans started burning their dead as early as 3000 B.C!

Archeologists have discovered pottery shards and urns that show us that cremation started spreading across northern Europe, Spain, Portugal and the British Isles during the Bronze Age, or from 2500 to 1000 B.C. It wasn’t until Homer’s and The Iliad’s time, around 800 B.C, that cremation became the most common disposition method. While the exact reason why is unknown, many historians believe that cremations became more commonplace because of diseases and the growing number of war deaths.

By 395 A.D, when the Roman Empire was at its peak, cremation was widely practiced. Ancient Romans stored cremated remains in decorated urns just like we do today. However, early Christians disapproved of cremation because of Bible teachings and Jewish practices, so when Constantine made Christianity the official Roman religion in 400 A.D, cremations almost disappeared while traditional burial came to the forefront of the Christian world.

Modern Cremation

Cremation as we know it only began in 1873. An Italian professor and scientist showcased a new cremation chamber model at the Vienna Exposition. This modern take on ancient practices jump-started the cremation revolution on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dr. Julius LeMoyne built the first modern American cremation chamber in Washington, Pennsylvania in 1876. The second modern cremation chamber was in Lancaster, PA in 1884. Soon, crematories were popping up all around the United States, and by the year 1900 there were 20 in operation; a big feat for budding towns with few access to resources and technology.

Cremations really took off in 1913 when Dr. Hugo Erichsen founded the Cremation Association of America.

The Cremation Association of America

Dr. Erichsen stared the Cremation Association of America (CANA) as way to spread to word about this modern take on an ancient way of safely and hygienically disposing of bodies. The foundation was originally made up of doctors that were concerned about diseases spreading from whole-body burials. Cremation continued to bloom in popularity until the 1920s when it was scientifically proven that whole body burials, when done properly, were just as safe as cremations for the public’s health.

After that discovery, the Cremation Association of America switched gears and began promoting cremation not as a health choice but as a memorialization choice. .

Still a Popular Choice

Cremation has been becoming more and more popular since the 1980s in America and around the world. This rise is due to a number of factors such as cost, environmental concerns, creativity, religion and more. According to CANA, there were over 2,100 crematories in use in the US in 2009 performing over 9,000 cremations a year, and the number is still going up.

Plinton Curry Funeral home provides a fair number of those cremations in Edison, NJ area from both 411 West Broad Street, Westfield NJ 07090 and 428 Elizabeth Ave Somerset NJ 08873. If you want to learn more about cremations in Edison, NJ or Plinton Curry Funeral Home, call us at 908-232-6889 or 732-469-3300.

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