In 1862, the J.B. Cole & Son Funeral Home was established on the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Silver Street in South Boston, one block south of where the MBTA’s Broadway station is located today. In those days, a hearse was a stately black carriage, drawn by black horses wearing plumed headgear.
Near the turn of the century, Chapman family member Harry O. Phillips went to work for Jabius B. Cole. Eventually, Phillips purchased the business and relocated to Upham's Corner in nearby Dorchester, where he also operated a livery stable. The house Phillips purchased at 490 Columbia Road, where it meets Bird Street, served as both his home and his place of business.
When Phillips died in 1938, his nephew Charles P. Chapman, who had been working with him, took charge of the firm. In 1950, Chapman purchased the R. & E. F. Gleason Funeral Home in Codman Square, merging the two businesses and the two names. Chapman then built the J.B. Cole & Gleason Milton Home for Funerals in 1955, the first funeral home in the town of Milton, where the Chapman family lived.
A History of Growth
Over the years, Chapman, Cole & Gleason continued its growth, as families resettled outside Greater Boston.
In 1979, Charles Chapman’s sons, Bill and David, opened a funeral home in Falmouth Center. A year later, the Chapman family acquired the Jenkins Funeral Home in historic West Falmouth, which has been in operation since the 1940s.
In 1983, Sylvia Funeral Home in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard, merged with Chapman, Cole & Gleason. Five years later, a more centrally located, spacious facility was built in the Vineyard town of Oak Bluffs.
Then in 1993, Chapman, Cole & Gleason established a funeral home in the Town of Wareham, merging with the Stott Funeral Home, and constructing a more spacious funeral home to serve the growing needs of the Wareham area. In 1995, Wareham’s Cornwell Memorial Chapel closed, and the Chapmans assumed responsibility in caring for families formerly served by Cornwell Chapel.
In 2002, the Chapman family, responding to the growing needs of the Town of Mashpee on the Upper Cape, built a state-of-the-art funeral home located on Route 151.
In 2008, the next generation of Chapmans—Bill, David, and Mark— purchased the long established Prophett Funeral Home in Bridgewater and East Bridgewater, operates today under the name Prophett, Chapman, Cole & Gleason.
In early 2012 – our 150th Anniversary year – Chapman, Cole & Gleason acquired another Cape Cod icon, the John-Lawrence Funeral Home in Marstons Mills when its founder, Lawrence Bennett retired. In July of that year when Bill Chapman Sr, retired, the Chapman family sold its longtime Milton funeral home to close friends at Dolan Funeral Home.
In late 2013, when the Lewis Funeral Home on Nantucket closed, the Chapman family, responding to needs of the island, began serving the Nantucket community through its John-Lawrence Funeral home.
In 2016, the Chapman family merged with longtime friends and colleagues Kevin Morris, Neil O’Connor and John Blute of Morris, O’Connor & Blute Funeral Home of Yarmouth and Harwich.
Chapman Family Funeral Homes is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) and the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association (MFDA).