The history of the Fredendall Funeral Home dates back to the mid 1800’s. John Thierolf was probably the first person to operate an undertaking business in the village of Knowersville, presently known as Altamont. As many other funeral homes originated as a furniture store, it was also the case for Fredendall’s. For many years the business was known as the Knowersville Furniture House.
Mr. Thierolf sold the business and shortly thereafter reacquired it. Upon Mr. Thierolf’s death, Mr. Millard Hellenbeck of Berne took over the business for the next 30 years, bringing his expertise, compassion and a modern trend to the facility, enlarging the showrooms for caskets and furniture.
As quoted in the 1961 issue of the Altamont Enterprise, “Mr. Hellenbeck’s clean hearses with sparkling glass, his splendid horses with shiny harness, his carriages, and greatest of all, his gracious, sympathetic, and tactful manner of conducting his funerals made him sought for far beyond the limits of Altamont. Whenever he conducted a funeral, he aroused the envy of local competitors. “
In 1916, Harry Fredendall became the successor of the business, having grown up under the supervision of Mr. Hellenbeck, he later dispensed with the furniture business and transformed the store into a funeral parlor and Fredendall Funeral Home was born. Eventually, with more improvements in the building, motorized equipment and a quiet atmosphere, the funerals were transitioned from private homes to churches and the funeral home.
Following the death of Harry Fredendall in 1948, Augustas Elgie, Jr. became the new owner of the funeral home and continued to serve families until he died in1956 at the young age of 33. The business was then sold to his friend and former Simmons School of Mortuary Science classmate, Porter E. Bidleman and his business partner, Kenneth Sherrie.
In 1960, Porter became sole owner and continued to grow the business with his love of people and the community. In 1973 his son-in-law, James R. Yohey graduated from Simmons Mortuary College and joined in what became a family owned business. Jim bought the business in 1980.
In December of 2006, Jim passed the baton of service over to John Gulino who is now the current owner of the funeral home. Originally from Staten Island, NY, John comes from a background of funeral experience, being licensed for over 25 years and having owned the Decker Funeral Home in Windham, NY since 1996. With over 150 years of service to the community, Fredendall Funeral Home continues to provide caring professional service.