The two book-length biographies of Emperor Norton, published in 1939 and 1986, mention “the undertakers” and “the undertaking rooms.” But, a blind spot in Norton studies has been that there was a specific firm — with a name and an address — that provided funeral and burial services for the Emperor, including manufacturing the oft-mentioned rosewood and silver-trimmed casket.
We know that the Emperor’s old friend, James G. Eastland, and friends of Eastland’s at the Pacific Club raised the money and made the arrangements — but, rarely mentioned is who was on the other side of the contract.
The obituaries didn’t name the firm. And, the name appears to have been mentioned only a couple of times by later writers — in 1946 and again in 1974. But, even these were only passing mentions.
Here, we rescue from obscurity the name and the early history of a business that played a crucial role in giving Emperor Norton a fitting farewell.Read More