Scales Funeral Home: African-American owned businesses still going strong after 101 years

Larry Flowers,, Nashville Channel 2, February 18, 2017

Scales and Sons Funeral Home, was one of the first African-American owned businesses in Rutherford County.

To really understand the total impact the Scales family has made on the Rutherford County community, we have to go way back.

The year was 1916, a time when African-Americans still faced segregation and racial oppression.

It was also a time, when Henry Preston Scales defied the odds and opened his own business.

His wife, Willie Burkeen Scales, also helped run the funeral home.

Tonya Scales Haynes says she hopes to pass the business down to her daughters one day. (Photo: Larry Flowers, WKRN)

“Scales and Sons Funeral Home is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, funeral home business in Rutherford County,” owner Tonya Scales Haynes said.

Scales Haynes said if someone couldn’t pay back then, it wasn’t a problem.

“The form of payment families used back then was cash or chickens for families who didn’t have [the money],” Scales Haynes said. “Also, the helping hands burial associations for people who couldn’t afford to bury their loved ones.”

Now, more than 10 decades after first opening for business, the funeral home is still going strong.

“Still going strong today,” Scales Haynes said. “Still serving families, still serving the community.”

The original horse-drawn carriage, used for funerals, is still intact.

“It’s a wonderful sign of dignity, royalty,” Scales Haynes said. “Some of the presidents have been carried in horse-drawn carriage buggies.”

The carriage is still on display, and is protected by glass outside the original building on State Street in the shadow of downtown Murfreesboro.

The original horse-drawn carriage, used for funerals, is now on display outside the original building. (Photo: Larry Flowers, WKRN)

The business was passed down to Robert “Tee Ninny” Scales, who ran the business along with his brothers for years.

Scales Haynes is now the fourth generation running the successful business. She said she hopes to one day pass it down to her daughters.

“This is not just a business, it’s a ministry,” she said. “We believe in loving and helping families.”

The Scales family was rich in so many ways, not monetarily, but with their giving spirit.

“We’ve tried to contribution in all facets of society here in Murfreesboro in education, community, in politics, and personal,” said granddaughter of the original owners, Madelyn Scales Harris, who is also vice-mayor of Murfreesboro.

The owners of Scales and Sons Funeral Home have moved into the next generation.

They opened New Generation Funeral Home in Antioch, and are continuing the same personalized services as Scales and Sons.

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