About Us - Our History

For over 140 years, Sawyer-Pickett Funeral & Cremation Service has served our community.

April 30, 1867 – Henry Meyer and Joseph Pietzuch, a former Civil War Captain for Company 1 of the 32nd Indiana Infantry, opened the original undertaking and furniture business on Fifth Street.

1868 - Mr. Pietzuch only stayed with the business for a year. He had graduated from the Polytechnic School of Breslau in 1842 where he had studied architecture. Due to his education in the field of engineering and his military past, he left the funeral business to become the civil engineer for the construction of the Dayton Soldier’s Home in Dayton, Ohio. 1876 - Charles Rapp is hired by Henry Meyer. Mr. Rapp was also a German immigrant who had traveled to the United States at age 27.

1877 - After only working for Mr. Meyer for a little over a year, Mr. Rapp purchased the furniture and undertaking business and moved it to the corner of Fifth and Hoosier Street. Mr. Meyer continued to run a general store at the site of the former furniture and undertaking business location.

1879 – Henry Rapp is born.

1892 – Fred Rapp is born.

Early 1900s - Between Charles and his two boys, the Rapp family undertaking business flourished in North Vernon. Charles ran the business and his two sons were embalmers.

May 22, 1927 - Charles Rapp passed away at the age of 79. His two sons Henry and Fred Rapp tried to continue to operate the business as their father had with the help of a gentleman that had worked for their father by the name of George Diekhoff of Westport. After their father’s passing, Henry and Fred quickly lost interest in the business.

October 1927 - Less than five months after Charles’s death, the business was sold to Mr. Diekhoff. 

1930s – 1940s - Just before leaving to serve in World War II, a young man by the name of Richard Vance began to work for Mr. Diekhoff. He decided to pursue the undertaking business and graduated from the Indiana Institute of Mortuary Science in 1941. At the completion of the war he came home and began to work for George Diekhoff again. In 1946 the funeral home moved to its current location at 115 South State Street under the new name of Diekhoff & Vance Funeral Home while still continuing to operate the furniture business out of the location of the old funeral home. 

1959 - Mr. Diekhoff passed away at age 66. Shortly after his death Mr. Vance purchased the business from Mr. Diekhoff’s wife Clara.

1966 - While still in high school Larry Fisher began working for Mr. Vance. Shortly after he became a licensed funeral director and to this day he still works with the funeral home.

1993 - Brian Sawyer, a grandson to Richard Vance, graduated from Mid-America College of Funeral Service and began to work for his grandfather at which time the name of the funeral home was changed to Vance-Fisher-Sawyer Funeral Chapel.

1995 - Mr. Vance passed away. Mr. Sawyer continued to operate the business by himself after the death of his grandfather.

2003 - In 2003 Brian Sawyer purchased Pickett Funeral Home from Harold and Annabelle Pickett. They had started the business themselves in 1988. The two funeral homes were run by Brian Sawyer under a corporate name of Sawyer Funeral Service.

2007 - Mr. Sawyer decided to merge the two funeral homes into a single location. The site of the Vance-Fisher-Sawyer Funeral Chapel was chosen. The name of the business was changed to Sawyer-Pickett Funeral & Cremation Service. To this day Brian Sawyer and Harold Pickett still serve the area as licensed funeral directors.