In 1885, Orlando was like a lot of other Florida towns – tiny agricultural villages carved out of lush forests with numerous lakes and an attractive climate – but Elijah Hand saw a special promise here. The Indiana native decided to make Orlando his home, and he opened a furniture and undertaking establishment to serve the small yet growing community.
While the combination of furniture and undertaking may seem odd today, it was quite common in years past. The skill of the cabinetmakers lent itself to the construction of coffins. The expansion of furniture businesses to include undertaking was a natural extension.
Hand was responsible for a generous share of the development in the city’s central business district - the Hand Building. Once the home of Elijah’s furniture store, it still stands today as one of Orlando’s historic landmarks.
Not only did Carey Hand operate an exceptionally progressive funeral service business, he was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and one of Orlando’s leading citizens. His wife, Nellie, worked with him in the business and on community endeavors. Carey Hand was a charter member of Orlando’s first Rotary Club, among many other civic interests. The couple became prominent in many of the city’s civic and social affairs.
Carey Hand died in 1947, leaving Hand to operate the funeral business until she sold it the following year. The new owners, O.C. Yeargin, C.M. “Neil” Franklin, and Russell Cole, were licensed funeral directors who shared Hand’s commitment to quality andcompassionate funeral service.
Though Carey Hand has been gone for more than a half century, continuing the caring traditions he established is a responsibility not taken lightly by our licensed funeral directors who follow in his footsteps today.