Serving With Dignity & Consideration Since 1856

In 1856, Mr. A. Barr established an undertaking firm in Columbia, TN. A partnership was later formed with Mr. John Oakes, a member of the firm and well-known citizen of Columbia. At the time of Mr. Barr's retirement he had been in business continuously for fifty years, with the exception of three years he served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He also served as one of the first Presidents of the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association in 1888 - 1889 and is the only Columbian, other than Frank F. Sowell, to serve in that capacity.

O&N Garden Street
Original Location
South Garden Street
(Pictured left to right)
S.A. Patton, Charles A. Padgett, Frank F. Sowell, Edward R. Howard

In October of 1900, Mr. Oakes formed a partnership with Mr. Robert Nichols, an experienced undertaker. The firm was first located on South Garden Street in 1883, where it operated until 1950 when the property and home of U. S. Senator Edward Ward Carmack on West Seventh Street was acquired by the firm. The establishment, like most early firms, was operated in conjunction with a livery stable and was widely known for the finest in equipment and quality of services and merchandise. Messrs. Barr, Oakes and Nichols were early students of embalming and through experience and training offered to the community the best in professional services. The firm was the first in the area to offer motor-driven funeral coaches and ambulances and air-conditioning of facilities.

 

O&N w/fountain

Current Location
West Seventh Street
The property acquired in 1949 from the Estate of
Senator Edward Carmack
After extensive renovations and additions
Oakes & Nichols began operations at this location in 1950

Bunny & Tony

Tony & Bunny Sowell (c. 1953)
In the tradition of their father began association
with Oakes & Nichols at a young age.

In 1948, Frank F. Sowell and Robert F. Young engaged in a partnership with Charles E. Padgett and purchased the business in 1961. Frank Sowell became the sole proprietor in 1967, and in 1971 a corporation was formed by the Sowell Family. In the 1980's, two of the Sowell children, Tony and Bunny, purchased the corporation. Since Frank Sowell's death in 1997 they, and an experienced and dedicated staff, have continued operation of the business establishment. Oakes & Nichols has remained independently-owned and operated for one hundred and fifty years.

Oakes & Nichols personnel have participated in the activities of funeral service associations at all levels. Frank Sowell served as President of the Tennesssee Funeral Directors Asssociation and as District Governor of the National Funeral Directors Association. Tony Sowell has served on several committees of the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association. Bunny Sowell served a term as a member of the Tennessee State Regulatory Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers. Staff members attend numerous seminars and meetings for the purpose of continuing education. The firm holds memberships in the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors Association, Selected Independent Funeral Homes, by invitation, Associated Funeral Directors Service and Federated Funeral Directors.

Conference Area
For at-need and pre-planning. We have a wide range of merchandise on-site. Technology allows consideration of availability of any product or service desired.

Traditional Meeting Technology
Our firm was the first in the area to introduce the innovation of Video Tributes and the only firm in the area which currently webcasts services conducted in our location and/or elsewhere. Community events can also be recorded and made available to the public for viewing through our website.