The Hallenbeck Funeral Home was started in 1912 by Andrew G. and Myrta Hallenbeck. They were both licensed funeral directors in various towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin. They moved to Madison from Lacrosse, Wisconsin and took over the Costello Funeral Home following Mr. Costello's death.
The funeral home was located on the corner of First Street and Egan Avenue, next to George Beck's Furniture Store. In 1916, the Hallenbecks and Becks moved across the street (205 North Egan Avenue) where the Hallenbecks operated the funeral home upstairs and Mr. Beck had the furniture business downstairs. In 1919, the Hallenbecks bought the house at 321 North Egan Avenue, which has served as the funeral home since 1927. The house was built in 1906 as a family dwelling by J.W. Davison, the first general merchant in Madison.
The Hallenbecks bought out Beck's Furniture in 1925 and added a second furniture store in 1954, which is also the year they added a garage and selection room to the funeral home. The Hallenbecks had seven children: John, Mark, Carol, Robert, Donald, Andrew, Jr., who died as a child, and Carl, who died in infancy. John, Mark, Robert and Donald were all licensed funeral directors, as was John and Lucille's son, and Mark and Agnes' son, Edward. Carol Hallenbeck Breen, the last surviving Hallenbeck, died in 1993.
Robert often drives this 1953 Henney
Packard Hearse in area community
A.G. Hallenbeck served as president of the South Dakota Funeral Director's Association in 1927 and Myrta Hallenbeck held one of the oldest licenses in the state when she died in 1968 at the age of 94. Mr. Hallenbeck died in 1936.
Robert and Cynthia (Nelson) Ellsworth took over the funeral home in 1979, following John's death. Bob was born and raised in Estelline, South Dakota, where his parents, Ray and Blanche Ellsworth, started the Ellsworth Funeral Home in 1948. He graduated from Estelline High School, Augustana College in Sioux Falls, and Dallas Institute of Funeral Service. Bob moved to Madison following his internship with the Hermanson-Kahler Funeral Home in Dell Rapids. Cindy graduated from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, and Augustana College. She is an elementary teacher in Madison. Both Bob and Cindy are active members of Trinity Lutheran Church and many community organizations. They have two sons, Adam, who is the database administrator for CSD (Communications Services for the Deaf) in Sioux Falls and Andrew, who completed his residency in Boise, Idaho, is a Family Practice Physician at Brookings. Andrew married Laura Vogt from Magnolia, Minnesota and they one son, Eli. Bob is involved in all areas of the funeral home including funeral director/manager, pre-need arrangements, and monument sales.
The Ellsworths have made many improvements at the funeral home, including the addition of a chapel, which seats 150, a casket selection room, reception area and a garage. They have also completely re-decorated their facility, always striving to preserve the "homelike" feeling. The Ellsworths believe their home is an extension of a family's home during their time of need.