The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Heritage Trails New Turnbull Museum To Host Open House

Biggsville- The Turnbull Heritage Museum, State Highway 94 and Church Street, Biggsville, was assembled in 2018 and is located in the former facilities of Turnbull Funeral Home in Biggsville.

It is a collection of private artifacts from the undertaking business of the Turnbull Family, beginning in 1884.

David Turnbull came to the area in that year with his bride, Ada Stevenson Turnbull and they offered Undertaking Services in the residential parlors where they often waked and had funerals.

David entered into partnership with Charles E. Blackburn who offered Livery, carriages and wagons to haul home possessions and people. A given protocol was part of the society in that day and certain manners and dress were observed while one was in the period following a death called grief  .

Ada Turnbull assisted her husband David in that effort and the embalming of the deceased often was performed in the kitchen of the residence where there usually was a hard floor surface. Ada learned the art of embalming and was accomplished enough, that having been examined by the health department in Illinois, was awarded Embalmers license #804 granted to her on July 1, 1901. 

The museum has that original certificate in it's possession, and ladies of that era were normally not granted such in that day.

Other artifacts of that day in the museum include, caskets and casket jacks and hardware, casket veils, door badges, home embalming equipment and  cooling boards, (used by David and Ada), doors and finials used in the horse drawn coach and carriages, burial clothing suits and dresses, a one of a kind lowering device used in the cemetery before vaults were common, antique type writer and adding machine in an office setting, pre-electric pumper reed organ of that vintage and many other items.

Caskets in that day were not made afar off, but often were made locally by the furniture store, or later were shipped by train from such companies at the Burlington Casket Company which then became E B C Casket Company or the Peoria Casket Company in Peoria.

Each casket was shipped by train in a inch pine shipper and even David Turnbull, grandson of David and Ada , met the train and received the packed casket at the railhead at all hours of the day.

Now days they are shipped by van or truck from a warehouse locally.

Please feel free to browse the interior and the items they have set out. They would be so pleased to answer any questions or hear of the stories you might remember about the days gone by.

They hope you enjoy your time at the Turnbull Heritage Museum. The items have not been purchased and accumulated so much for their value, but have  been used in service to assist families in their times of loss by my family.

Most items have not been restored, but are exactly the way they were used and retired.

There's also a couple of other museums in downtown Biggsville: The Horse and Buggy and The Biggsville Museum.

The Horse & Buggy Museum Biggsville is open 10 a.m. to 3p.m Tuesday through Saturday most of the year or by appointment.

Contact Mary Weibel at 309-627-2462 or visit