In 1871, a Civil War officer by the name of Harper N. Rogers, established a furniture and undertaking business in Sandy Hill which is now called Hudson Falls. Around 1885, an employee named Arthur H. Carleton showed interest in the business, became partners with Mr. Rogers and they incorporated in 1916 under the name of Rogers and Carleton Inc. The business was located in Hudson Falls on the west corner of Wall Street (now Park Place) where the sign for the St. Mary’s / St. Paul’s Catholic Church now sits.
On February 3, 1920 the area of the business district was destroyed by fire. Mr Rogers was an elderly man and decided to divest himself of the corporation, allowing Arthur Carleton’s son, Will to take a more active roll in the business.The Carleton’s purchased The Cunningham Hotel, which was located on the southeast corner of the park, and operated it as the Carleton Hotel. That property also contained a funeral home, a furniture store and a restaurant.
About 1923, Almon C. Wilson, a local auto mechanic, became interested in the business and became a funeral director with the firm. In the fall of 1933, Arthur H. Carelton died and his son, Will, and Almon Wilson carried on the business.
More and more people began to desire the facilities available at the funeral home when death occurred, rather than gathering at their own homes. For this reason, the home of Arthur Carleton at 68 Main Street was renovated into a funeral home. That building had belonged to J. Edward Howland until about 1909.
In 1946, Edward W. Wilson, brother of Almon Wilson and son-in-law of Will Carleton, entered the firm and eventually became a licensed funeral director. The hotel complex was sold that same year and became the Kingsbury Hotel. The building was later renamed the Parkview Hotel which was destroyed by fire in 1994.
John L. Taylor, also a son-in-law of Will Carleton, entered the firm in 1948 and was its treasurer until 1959, when he left the area. The year 1951 was an eventful year. A large addition and renovation took place, as well as the death of Will Carleton. The firm name was changed to Carleton Funeral Home, Inc. in that same year.
The business continued to grow as more and more families called on Carleton’s in their time of need. For this reason, another large addition was added to the building in 1965. In 1969, C. Bruce Wetmore came into the business as a licensed funeral director and eventually became the manager and president of the corporation. On January 1, 1972, Almon C. Wilson, who had been manager and president of the corporation since the death of Will Carleton, died and his brother, Edward became manager.
It was the first time that Edward’s son, Gary Carleton Wilson, entered the firm and soon became a licensed funeral director. He later assumed the position of secretary-treasurer and then president of the corporation. Gary is the great-grandson of Arthur Carleton.
In February of 1975, Edward Wilson died and in that same year, the funeral home expanded and renovated a third time. Paul M. Dietrich started his employment with the firm in 1977, became a licensed funeral director and in 1988 he was named the firm’s manager. Doneen S. Nikas joined the staff in 1991 and was licensed the following year. A fourth major expansion of the facility was completed in 1995. In 1997, Terry M. Comeau completed his internship at the funeral home and joined the staff as a licensed funeral director. In 1999, Mark K. Parish of the Watertown area completed his residency and joined the staff as a licensed funeral director.
Today, Gary Wilson, Paul Dietrich, Doneen Nikas, Terry Comeau, Mark Parish and a host of support staff operate the corporation now in its 141 st year as a funeral home. For more detailed biography information, check our staff page.