Mr. B. T. Racey was the original owner of the business, then named B. T. Racey, Dealer in Furniture and Hardware, Undertaking a Speciality. He was the only funeral director and the first embalmer in Hampshire County.
In 1938, Earl Thrush purchased the business and it became the Thrush Funeral Home and was located on West Main Street across from Endler Avenue.
On July 1, 1955 Mr. and Mrs. Keith Shaffer purchased the business and it became Shaffer Funeral Home. In 1959, Mr. and Mrs. Shaffer purchased the Cornwell mansion from the estate of Mrs. John J. Cornwell.
Keith and Ila Shaffer, with their children Mark and Sarah, moved to the Cornwell Mansion in 1959. Glenn Shingleton (Ila’s first cousin) was an integral part of the business and the family. The people most remember running the business were Keith and Glenn, however, Ila was the one who “manned the fort.” There were no cell phones, no call forwarding, no answering services back then – she was the one who answered the phones, operated the 2-way radio and answered the front and back doors.
In 1976 Sarah became licensed and her parents were finally able to have a life, on occasion, away from the funeral home. In 1986, Keith was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in April of 1987. This event compelled Mark to get his license and move back from Florida with his wife Sandy. Sarah, Ila, Mark and Glenn operated Shaffer’s until 2000, when Mark decided to make a career change and it was decided it was time to sell the business. Fred and Debbie Warnick (from Westernport) bought Shaffer’s and Sarah stayed on as the licensed funeral director. Fred Warnick died, unexpectedly, in 2005 leaving his wife, Sarah and Glenn to run the business. Deb had no interest in running the funeral home, Sarah didn’t want to do it by herself and Glenn was ready to retire. This was the point of major transition and a homecoming.
Carter Wagoner, lifetime friend and a regular guest at the Shaffer’s, from the age of 6, had recently sold his interest in his funeral homes in Falls Church, VA and Annapolis, MD and was restoring old houses and playing with vintage cars. Sarah was aware of this and would call on Carter to come help as needed. He and Sarah decided to buy Shaffer’s back and become the 2007 version of Keith and Glenn, with her mother, Ila, still answering telephones.
The move felt right.
The funeral home was back in loving, family hands and put back on the same track as it was in 1999. Sarah and Carter enjoyed every moment (well almost every moment) of owning and operating Shaffer’s together for 8 years or so until Sarah’s retirement in June of 2015.
It was always intended that Sarah and Carter would retire at the same time – this was not to be. Jamie Kidwell entered the picture soon after Sarah and Carter regained control of Shaffer’s. Jamie was born and raised in the area, graduated from Hampshire High and WVU. He owned and operated Hampshire Handyworks, preferring building, restoring and fixing to a degree focused career. He was responsible for much of the major renovations at the old Cornwell mansion and soon developed an interest in funeral service. He earned his degree in mortuary science from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science while operating Hampshire Handyworks, and while being a husband and father to his lovely wife, Alison, and their children, Nixon and Berkley.
Jamie shelved his hammer and nails in the spring of 2015 and is the new “other half” of Shaffer’s.
Shaffer Funeral Home has been around for 60+ years now and it is hoped it will be around another 60+ years. While the old Cornwell Mansion is now used primarily as a funeral home many will attest that it has a warmth and inviting appeal not ordinarily found in such a place. Many social community events have been held at Shaffer’s; Hospice events, Rotary functions, unique memorial services just to name a few.
John Cornwell was born in Ritchie County on July 11, 1867 and educated in Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, WV. After leaving Shepherd College he began a career as a publisher and editor and was co-owner of the Hampshire Review with his brother, William. He remained active as publisher and wrote editorials until his death in 1953.
Active in the national democratic conventions of 1896 and 1912 and serving from 1896 to 1906 as a member of the West Virginia Senate, John J. Cornwell was elected Governor in 1916 and served his State until 1921, when he resumed his home and management of his business interests in Romney.
Some of his many accomplishments include financing and building the Hampshire Southern Railroad (40 miles long), President of the Bank of Romney as well as the South Branch Development Company and the South Branch Tie and Lumber Company. He served as director in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co., held the office of secretary and treasurer of the Appalachian Orchard Co. and had the distinction of being one of the prominent editors of the state and authored a book entitled “Knock About Notes” published in 1915. A Mason and Odd Fellow, he married Edna Brady of Romney June 30, 1891
Shaffer Funeral Home
Phone: (304) 822-3511
230 East Main St., Romney, WV 26757