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Wilson, Heslop Funeral Homes Merge, Uniting Two Century-Old Businesses

By SHELLEY

HANSON

Staff Writer

Wilson Funeral Home of Bridgeport and Heslop Funeral Home of Martins Ferry recently merged.

Both funeral homes have long histories in the Ohio Valley and were founded about the same time near the turn of the century.

Wilson Funeral Home was founded in 1898 by Charles Adolph. Heslop Funeral Home was founded in 1896 by Robert Greenwood Heslop.

“This is a transition for his family, for him and for us,” said Jason Wilson of Greg Heslop of Heslop Funeral Home. “He’s been very supportive of us working with him and taking over the responsibility that his family has entrusted us with.”

Wilson noted the merger was a result of Heslop’s wishes to retire from the business.

The Martins Ferry-based funeral home has been renamed Wilson Funeral Home Heslop Chapel. In addition to the Heslop Chapel in Martins Ferry, Wilson Funeral Home’s other locations are located in Bridgeport, Tiltonsville, Dillonvale and Mingo Junction.

“The Heslop family is entrusting the Wilson family to serve the Martins Ferry community now and in the future,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the funeral homes have two strong legacies that are coming together to serve Martins Ferry and the surrounding communities for years to come.

“We will continue to serve people of all faiths in the Martins Ferry community,” Wilson added.

Wilson noted during this transition time both funeral homes have also been dealing with challenges brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“We’ve been dealing with changes to funeral services, using Zoom and other things we’ve never used before,” he said.

Both families’ companies started out also selling furniture while at the same time operating their funeral homes. This was common as funeral homes were known for their casket making skills, which also translated into skills for making furniture.

While Heslop’s no longer makes furniture, Wilson Furniture operates a store in Bridgeport today.

When Adolph’s son-in-law, Howard Wilson, joined the company, the Wilson name was adopted as the company’s name. Since then, five generations of the Wilson family have been involved with the funeral home.

“The son of Howard Wilson and Adolph’s daughter, Charles Adolph Wilson, founded the Wilson Funeral Home in Dillonvale, which remains in operation today.

Their son, Charles A. Wilson, Jr., served as a U.S. Congressman and owner until his death on April 14, 2013. Charlie’s sons Jason and Jarrett Wilson own and operate the family business today,” according to information provided by Wilson’s.

Heslop’s founder’s father, Robert G. Heslop, worked as an undertaker in England and also made caskets by hand. He and wife, Susanna Heslop, came to the United States in 1850. They lived in New York City and then settled in Pomeroy, Ohio, where Robert Greenwood Heslop was born. He moved to Martins Ferry and married Eleanor K. Beymer. They lived on South Fourth Street, which eventually became home of the Heslop Furniture Store.

“Mr. Heslop worked in the Exley planing mill on First and Hanover Street where he did hand carving. Robert Greenwood Heslop learned the embalming profession with the Frank Zink firm, where he worked until the owner sold the business. In 1896 he launched his own business in the Henderson Building on Hanover Street and the name was changed to R.G. Heslop Furniture and Undertaking,” according to information from the company.

The business was handed down to succeeding generations. Greg Heslop served as president of the Heslop Funeral Home since 1998.

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