Barn wood casket line offers look back in time

The Barnett barn wood casket offered at Ashby Funeral Home is constructed from 19th century dairy and tobacco barns in the Appalachian Mountains. They have a rough exterior and feature original nail holes and wood knots. JOSH BRIGGS/The Saline Courier
Josh Briggs
Managing Editor

Death is one of the toughest times for families. The planning process also can be very difficult when choosing an array of different items for a loved one.

However, Ashby Funeral Home, the second oldest business in Saline County, now offers a unique item that has been the talk of the casket room — tobacco barn wood caskets.

“We have had quite a few families choose these,” said owner Doug Hawkins. “It is for the simple reason that every one of them is unique and quite a bit different from all of the other hardwoods on the market.”

The caskets are produced by Batesville Casket Co. in Batesville, Indiana, and take about five days to fully construct.

They have a rough exterior, complete with original nail holes and knots in the wood.

The vintage wood used to build the caskets comes from reclaimed oak boards and beams, most harvested from dairy and tobacco barns in the Appalachian Mountains.
The barns were hand-hewn in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Barnett casket costs $3,895 and gives families or individuals the choice of three interiors, including camouflage, lace and duck cloth.

“They build them to appeal to women by offering the lace interior,” Hawkins said.

He stated that since the line became available in 2016, one woman has been buried in the barn wood casket, adding that she and her husband were avid duck hunters.
Also available is a cheaper version featuring a smooth, finished wood.
The caskets are compatible with any of the cloth backings offered by Batesville, along with the commemorative magnetic markers that help tell the story of the deceased person’s life.

I love this line,” Hawkins said. “Our representative said there has been only one funeral director that he has shown it to who didn’t like it. He thought they were too rough.

“No two are the same. We will keep them for as long as they make them.”

Hawkins said that while this line of casket is not the most sought-after product available at his funeral home, people still acknowledge that they like it.

“It is not for everybody, but they will always have some kind of comment about how unique it is,” Hawkins said.