History & Staff

We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.

Our History

Our History

On July 16, 1936 the Barkley Funeral Home, located at 204 N. 4th Street, Vandalia, IL officially opened to the public. Both the Vandalia Union and the Vandalia Leader newspapers published this announcement: "Catering to the people of this vicinity who appreciate intimate service, conducted with efficiency and dignity, we offer real home-like surroundings, so conducive to the unruffled calm that is appreciated at time of bereavement.  Ours is not a funeral chapel, but a funeral home, and with it goes all the fine things implied by the word "home".  Our service will exceed your strictest expectations.  Unbiased observers have informed us that our new Funeral Home is the finest and most up-to-date to be found in South Central Illinois.  They also tell us that no other city in Illinois, under 5000 population has a home to rival ours."

  "Much study, time, and money have gone into the planning and erection of our Home, but we do feel that we have a funeral home that is a credit to Vandalia - one that every person in Vandalia and Fayette County can join us in being proud of."

  **Mr. Orville Barkley was born November 27, 1877 near Hagarstown, IL, son of Davis and Julia Freeland Barkley. Mr. Barkley purchased a combination establishment, undertaking and furniture, from John Schenker in 1903.  It was located on Gallatin Street in Vandalia.  He later moved his business two more times on Gallatin Street and closed the furniture portion.  In 1936, he moved to the present funeral home site of 204 North 4th Street.

When Mr. Barkley opened the business at the N. 4th Street location he had two assistants.  Mr. Paul Isbell, a 1933 Vandalia High School and 1936 Worsham Mortuary College alumni, and Mr. Rollin Oliver, a licensed funeral director who worked for him for 21 years.  Mr. Barkley died on Sunday, March 24, 1946 in the apartment of the funeral home.  He is interred at Fairlawn Cemetery, Vandalia.  Mrs. Barkley because of heirship continued to operate the business with assistance of Mr. Oliver and Mr. Isbell; she died October 28, 1950.

**In the 1947 Vandalia phone book advertises Barkley Funeral Home with Harold Blue as the director and in 1949 it reads Blue Funeral Home, formerly Barkley.  In 1951 and 1952 Vandalia phone book advertises Hunter Funeral Home at 204 N. 4th Street.

**Mr. James Henry Hunter was born June 13, 1892 in Herrick, IL, son of J.T. and Julia Dobbs Hunter.  Mr. Hunter owned funeral establishments on Gallatin Street and at 231 S. 4thStreet in Vandalia.  In 1951 he moved his business to the present location on N. 4th Street.  He was assisted by Mr. Jesse Clayton Beery and Mr. Fred Hohlt at the S. 4th St. location and the N. 4th St. Location. Mr. Hunter died July 31, 1972 and Mrs. Hunter died April 25, 1973 and are interred at South Hill Cemetery, Vandalia.

**Jesse Clayton Beery was born in Cerro Gordo, IL July 13, 1904, the son of Hiram and Agnes Kinsey Beery.  Mr. Beery owned and operated a funeral home in Patoka, IL before he began working in Vandalia in 1941 for Mr. Hunter.  Mr. Beery died August 15, 1961 while mowing the funeral home lawn; Mrs. Beery died April 4, 1997 they are interred in Fairlawn Cemetery, Vandalia.

 In 1952 Clayton Beery and Fred Hohlt purchased the funeral home from Mr. Hunter and it became Beery & Hohlt Funeral Home.  After Mr. Beery's death in 1961 Mr. Hohlt and his wife purchased the business.  In 1980 the business name was changed to Hohlt Funeral Home LTD.   

**Fred M. Hohlt was born November 26, 1927 in Farina, the son of William and Florence Bousman Hohlt.  Mr. Hohlt died December 18, 1980 in the funeral home apartment and is interred at Fairlawn Cemetery, Vandalia.  Mrs. Jeanne Hohlt survives in Vandalia. Mr. Hohlt was assisted by Mr. Tom File, a 1964 Vandalia High School and 1972 Worsham Mortuary College Alumni, for ten years prior to Mr. Hohlt's death.

**Mr. Tom File was born November 13, 1946 in Vandalia, the son of Lester and Jarraline Baldwin File.  He married Sidney Burgess on November 20, 1970. Since purchasing the business in 1981, together he and his wife purchased two empty lots north of the funeral home which has been made into parking area and a lawn/garden area.  Since 2009 Mr. File has been assisted by Miss Sue Kistler.

 **In the fall of 2016 Sue Kistler  purchased the funeral home from Tom and Sidney File.  Sue is a 2004 Brownstown High School and 2009 SIUC School of Mortuary Science Alumni.  Sue is married to Jeff Burnam, and together they have four children, George, Alex, Brooklyn, and Harper. 

**Makinzee Smith joined the funeral home in January 2017, she graduated from SIUC School of Mortuary Science May 2017 and is a 2013 Vandalia High School Alumni. 

Our Valued Staff

  • Sue Kistler-Burnam

    Sue Kistler-Burnam Owner/Funeral Director & Embalmer

  • Makinzee Smith

    Makinzee Smith Funeral Director & Embalmer

  • Fred Willms

    Fred Willms Funeral Assistant