Masonic sword found in Curry's attic

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Kay Curry stands beside a portrait of her great-grandfather, J.W. Curry, the founder of J.W. Curry and Son Funeral Home. J.W. Curry took the train form his home in Princeton, Ky. to Newbern, Tenn., where he caught a stagecoach to Dyersburg and began his own furniture and undertaking business. Over 130 years later, while cleaning out the attic of the historic funeral home on Sampson Avenue, Kay Curry found this Masonic sword. The heirloom is believed to have belonged to her great-grandfather when he served as master of Hess Masonic Lodge for a total of seven years in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

For Kay Curry, the place where she does business is as much a home as the place she lays her head.

Recently, the local businesswoman was reminded of the extensive history of both her family and her business in the Dyersburg community when she found a family artifact in the attic of the funeral home located at 416 Sampson St.

In 1881, Kay's great-grandfather, J.W. Curry, established a furniture and undertaking business where General Appliance and Furniture Co. is now located in downtown Dyersburg. In 1921, Joe Curry (J.W.'s son), purchased the stately R.M. Hall home on Sampson Ave., where the business now resides.

Joe Curry took advantage of the beauty and dignity of the home when he converted the main floor of the residence to a funeral home. The furniture business was discontinued. The upstairs of the home was turned into a spacious apartment for the family. As a child, Kay remembers being angry that she was the only member of her immediate family who never lived in the home above the funeral parlor.

The family had their own home built before Kay was born after her older brother, Tom Jr., ventured downstairs during a funeral service. Tom Jr., a toddler at the time, got away from his mother in the upstairs apartment and made it all the way downstairs to find his father Tom Sr., who was conducting a service in the south stateroom. Tom Jr. was naked.

"The widow told my father, 'If you spank that baby, I will never use this funeral home again,'" said Kay with a smile. "My father said, 'OK, I won't.' And he didn't. He left the cemetery and stopped at the drug store where he bought a magazine of house plans. He returned to the upstairs apartment, handed my mother the magazine and told her. 'Pick the one you like, they are starting construction in the morning.' And they did. The chapel was also built at the funeral home in 1953."

As Kay wanders from room to room in the handsome building, she is washed with memories of her family's home and business. And, while she can credit her great-grandfather for both a loving family and her profession, J.W. recently rewarded her with another special keepsake.

While cleaning out a portion of the attic, Kay found a Masonic sword believed to belong to J.W. Curry when he was master of Hess Masonic Lodge in 1893. Hess Lodge was started in Dyersburg on Oct. 9, 1840. J.W. served as master of the lodge from 1893 through 1895 and again from 1906 through 1911.

Kay's grandfather, Joe Curry, also served as master of Hess Lodge in 1916.

As Curry's Funeral Home begins another chapter in its history with a new building site on St. John Avenue, there is the possibility that other precious heirlooms will be found hidden in the unused corners of the business's present site. A structure steeped in the love of one Dyersburg family and the prayers of the many families it has sheltered in their times of sorrow.

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  • That sword never belonged to the master as a part of his position as master. maybe owned by him okay.

    -- Posted by seahawk1 on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 1:30 AM
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