The history of Smith Funeral Chapels dates back to 1896 when established by G. Herman Smith. It was known then as Smith Funeral Home. The business was already in operation, somewhat, as Herman’s uncle, Pete Smith, operated a livery stable where basic undertaking services took place. Since Uncle Pete didn’t particularly care for the undertaking part of the business, he encouraged his nephew Herman to take it over. Herman, willing to oblige his uncle, moved the funeral home from its original location at the corner of First Avenue North and 27th Street, to where the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Billings is now located.
In 1904, Herman again moved the business to another downtown site, Second Avenue North and 26th Street, and built his home on the corner. The funeral home and livery stable were situated behind the house. Over the years, Herman also provided taxi and ambulance services to the Billings community.
Herman Smith died in 1946 and his son Howard C. Smith continued the legacy. It wasn’t until 1975 that the funeral home was purchased by William K. Bray, William B. Brown and Jered H. Scherer. One year later, the three new owners formed Smith Funeral Chapels. The old Smith residence and original funeral home and livery stable were razed, making room for a parking lot. And, in 2005, Smith Funeral Chapel Downtown was moved to its current site at 925 South 27th Street. Today, all Smith Funeral Chapels are owned and operated by Jered Scherer and Ronald Stene.
Smith’s West Chapel, formerly Terrace Gardens Memorial Chapel, was built in 1974. The funeral chapel is located at 304 34th Street West in Billings and is adjacent to Terrace Gardens Cemetery. This was the first mortuary-cemetery combination in Montana and the first funeral home establishment to offer a crematory within the funeral home.
Smith Funeral Chapels took over the operation from original owners Howard H. Cashmore and Lynn Jones in 1976.
Smith Funeral Chapel Laurel, formerly known as Cashmore Memorial Chapel, was built in 1960 by Howard and Helen Cashmore. This facility was also purchased by Smith Funeral Chapels in 1976. The funeral chapel was expanded and remodeled in 1995. It’s located at 315 East 3rd.
Smith Funeral Chapel Columbus, formerly known as Columbus Funeral Home and, later, as Cashmore Funeral Chapel, was originally established in 1911 by B.E. Harris. The firm was purchased by Ray McColley in 1931 before being bought by Howard and Helen Cashmore in 1945. The Cashmores operated the funeral home along with a hardware and furniture store in a building at the corner of Pike and North Patten.
It wasn’t until 1958 that Mr. Cashmore purchased the original St. Mary’s Catholic Church and rectory in Columbus. He converted these two buildings into a funeral home. The business was acquired by Smith Funeral Chapels in 1976. A new funeral home was built in 2001, located at 35 North Diamond.
Smith-Olcott Funeral Chapel Red Lodge was started in 1936 by Edward ‘Tommy’ Olcott and was known as Olcott Funeral Chapel. It originally occupied the south half of the Savoy Hotel building at 201 North Broadway. Howard Cashmore bought controlling interest in 1966 and expanded into the other half of the main floor building that had been occupied by the Montana Power Company. Smith Funeral Chapels assumed ownership in 1976.
Reception areas are available at Smith Funeral Chapel Downtown, Smith Funeral Chapel West, Smith Funeral Chapel Red Lodge and Smith Funeral Chapel Columbus.