Peter Gerber

Peter Gerber2

Peter Gerber

(July 31, 1844 - February 7, 1934

Woodworker, Business Owner, Undertaker and first Licensed Embalmer in Indiana

Kundek Corner:
Ferdinand Distinguished Citizens

 Peter Gerber Jr. was born to Peter Sr. and his wife, Maria Magdalena. Peter could have been relegated to farming, as traditionally the eldest son took over the family property. But possibly his talent was apparent very early on. For whatever reason, he became a carpenter’s apprentice at age 15 under his uncle, Jacob Gerber, who was one of the earliest carpenters in the area, building log cabins and crafting furniture and coffins.

Peter eventually struck out for Louisville, Kentucky, where he worked in an organ factory. After honing that skill, he returned to the area and secured employment with the Prante Organ Factory in St. Meinrad.

When Prante went out of business, Peter moved to Ferdinand, built a home on the northeast side of Main Street near 6th Street (6th was then Strange Street, where the telephone building is located today). He added a shop on the north side where he made furniture, coffins, altars and church cabinetry, being particularly skilled in crafting ornamentation by both hand and lathe.

On January 30, 1872, he married Elizabeth Seger and they had six children.

In 1874, Peter became an undertaker and the first embalmer in Indiana. Embalming was a relatively new practice, developed during the Civil War. He was joined in the business by sons Alois and Joseph. In addition to building cabinets, altars and coffins, and embalming the dead, Gerber sold sewing machines and picture frame mouldings (spelled this way on his building), was an officer with the German Mutual Insurance Company and the Ferdinand Railroad and a member of various civic and church organizations.

His wife, Elizabeth, died at their home on June 26, 1890.

He married Frances Sondermann, widow of Albert T. Sondermann, in November of 1891. Unfortunately, Frances was killed in September, 1895 in a buggy accident when she lost control and her horse ran away.

Peter Gerber continued working with his sons, Alois and Joseph. Alois, died in 1922 and Peter and Joseph soldiered on until both father and son passed away in 1934.