Nicholson Funeral Home is a landmark in downtown Statesville. Now housed in a stately 1901 colonial revival home on East Front Street, its history goes back to 1850. It was then that the William Thomas Nicholson family settled on Hunting Creek, north of Harmony. They had traveled from New Jersey to open a gristmill. Some 28 years later, the Nicholson's, along with the Jennings and White families, began to make and sell caskets at the general stores they operated throughout northern Iredell County. As was common in the late 1800s, many undertakers were also furniture makers, and the Nicholson's continued to sell caskets and conduct funerals in their furniture store when they moved to Statesville. At the time, a casket’s price was based on the wood used and its size—probably between $25 and $35 for an adult casket. W.T. Nicholson moved the funeral home into its current location in 1920, and he remained its owner until his death in 1951. “Many of Mr. Nicholson’s descendants have remained in our community, even to this day,” Pamela Strandburg told me as she shared some early history of the funeral home she now owns and operates in partnership with her two sons, Matthew Shelton Troutman and William Sheppard Troutman, and their father, Joe H. Troutman, III.
Lonnie G. Turner, Sr. and his family bought the funeral home from Mr. Nicholson before he died. During that time, and until 1991, Marvin and Louise Raymer managed the business for Mr. Turner. When Lonnie Turner died, Nicholson Funeral Home went into his family estate, which was managed by his daughter, Mary Turner Gilliam. Mrs. Gilliam, like her father before her, and her husband, Mr. L.S. (Bill) Gilliam, Jr., were benevolent caretakers to Statesville, their church, friends and strangers alike. In 1983, in keeping with her father’s wishes that his business be sold to a local family who would carry on his philosophy of “family serving family,” she and her brother sold the business to Joe Troutman and Pamela (Troutman) Strandburg. The Troutman/Strandburg family became Nicholson’s third family of owners in all of its 131 years. “Mary Gilliam was like a guardian angel. She gave us the opportunity to help others and to follow in her father’s footsteps,” Pamela said. “Since Joe had worked in other funeral homes for quite some time, Mrs. Gilliam trusted us to continue her father’s strong traditions.”