The C. Johann & Sons, Inc. Funeral Home, presently owned and managed by William (Bill) Johann, was originally located at the corner of 20th Avenue and 120th Street in College Point. It was started by William Becker, a carpenter/cabinet maker and Mathias Johann (both German immigrants) in approximately 1850.
In those days, wake services were held at home, usually in a parlor or living room where it was easy for extended family and friends to pay their respects. The business was known as "W. Becker & M. Johann General Furnishing Undertakers" and operated out of a store front.
Mathias later married his partner's daughter, Catherine, and together they had eight children; four boys and four girls. As with most family businesses, all were involved in some way with the family business' daily operation. After William and Mathias passed away, Catherine operated the business with her sons. At that point, the business name of C. Johann & Sons was established in 1856 as it is still named.
The oldest of Catherine's children was William Henry Johann, who took charge of the business after his mother's passing in 1908. William operated the business mainly with his brothers Peter, Henry and Jacob. Of the sons, only William had a son. William John Johann, Sr., which was Bill's grandfather.
It was William Johann, Sr. and his wife Rose that brought the business through two world wars and an economic depression. Along the way they encountered, many changes in the funeral profession and new technology came into play. Embalming had become the standard of preservation, funerals and wake services were found to be more convenient to be conducted in funeral homes and the affordable cost of funerals was recognized.
Bill recalls the story his grandmother told about the time before automobiles and paved roads, "that if you didn't bribe the horses to work for you with carrots or sugar cubes, you weren't going to have a funeral."
After the Second World War, William Johann, Jr. (Bill's father) became licensed to manage the funeral home. When he took control of the business, he had visions of relocating to a better location giving his funeral home better exposure. Also feeling that people would be better served by having all the facilities on the ground floor, he accomplished his vision when he moved his business into a fully air - conditioned ground floor chapel, with parking, to its present location on College Point Boulevard
In 1972, Bill's father passed on and left the business to his wife, Catherine, to operate. It wasn't until 1989 and six generations later that Bill's opportunity was presented to manage a proud family history that still remains independently owned and family operated.
Limited space does not permit the listing of the many good deeds and services performed by the six generations of Johann family members ...over that period of time...however, both the Johann family's past acts of service as well as those of C. Johann & Sons present owner, William (Bill) Johann, are contributing factors to the C. Johann & Sons, Inc. Funeral Home being honored by the College Point Board of Trade. The Johann family has earned the public recognition it is enjoying through this award.