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Antique dealer Frank Hudson bought this 19th century wooden coffin from a dealer in York, Pa., in 1972. Current owner Bob Schofield used it to serve trick-or-treaters candy on Halloween night.
Daily photo by Deangelo McDaniel
Antique dealer Frank Hudson bought this 19th century wooden coffin from a dealer in York, Pa., in 1972. Current owner Bob Schofield used it to serve trick-or-treaters candy on Halloween night.

Antique dealer brought Victorian-style coffin to area in 1972

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Remember the wooden coffin Bob Schofield purchased at auction in 2005 and used Wednesday to serve Halloween candy?

The coffin's history in the area was actually 33 years old before Schofield acquired it for $100.

Over his wife's objection, Frank Hudson purchased the coffin from an antique dealer in York, Penn., and brought it to the Tennessee Valley in 1972.

"I never thought I would see it again, but there it was in The Decatur Daily," Hudson said.

Between 1967 and 2002, Hudson and his wife, Sara, operated Hudson's Antique & Auction north of Calhoun Community College on U.S. 31.

While on a buying trip in Pennsylvania, he stopped at Ruth's Antiques. The business had four coffins made of various materials.

Hudson purchased the Victorian-style wood coffin that he says was built between 1855 and 1865.

"It's made of black walnut, and I thought it would be a great conversation piece," he said.

Hudson intended to purchase a life-size manikin and put the coffin in his showroom. He especially wanted to use it on Halloween.

But the coffin never made it to his antique store. Hudson placed it in the loft of a barn and would often carry people up there to see it.

"I kept it covered up and people didn't believe me when I told them about it," Hudson said. "It was always funny to see people come out of the barn loft faster than they went in."

When the Hudsons downsized and auctioned some of their furnishings, the coffin went to Hartselle where Bill Ornburn sold it for $100.

The Hudsons moved to Chelsea in 2005.

"I remember asking Bill who purchased the coffin and he didn't know," Hudson said.

"I never liked it, and I was glad it was gone," his wife, Sara, said.

Hudson said he reads The Daily's online edition every morning and was surprised to see the coffin featured in a story.

"It was like seeing a lost friend," he said. "I didn't think I would ever see it again."

As for Halloween, Schofield said the coffin was a hit. He said children from "all over" Morgan County came to see it. He said his candy bill doubled.

"I had people in my neighborhood that didn't know about it and they came," he said.

Schofield plans to take the coffin to his antique business in downtown Hartselle, but said, he has no plans to sell it.

"It's just a good piece to talk about," he said.

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