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The Duggan tradition of excellence in funeral service since 1889.

Our History

"Our loved ones die only when we, whom they loved, forget them." ~anonymous

James Hagan of Oldham, England, came to California as a sailor aboard ship and settled in Centerville, where he became a tinsmith. James married Sarah Letitia Goforth from Toronto, Canada, who came with her family to California and settled in San Lorenzo. 

In the early 1880s, a serious epidemic broke out and James made hand-soldered zinc boxes, or caskets, that could be sealed for those who had died of this disease. He was advised and decided to become an undertaker and moved to San Francisco. This was about 1885. The first official record in the San Francisco Directory appeared around 1889: 

“Hagan and Schofield”
507 Valencia Street
James and Joseph Hagan, George W. Schofield
Undertakers and Embalmers

The 1892 San FranciscoDirectory reads: 

“Hagan and Schofield Undertakers”
525 Valencia Street and 17 City Hall Avenue

In 1898, James Hagan moved to 445 Valencia Street. In 1899, James was at 13th Street near Valencia Street. He had his own stables and the family lived at the place of business. He was at this address at the time of the 1906 fire and earthquake. He rebuilt at the same site but his address was changed to 49 Duboce Avenue (13th Street was renamed Duboce Avenue after the earthquake). 

James contracted with the City of San Francisco to bury the indigent. Sometimes a relative or friend would pay a small sum to have a cloth-covered casket and service. Sarah Letitia Hagan (James’ wife) would cover the casket with a black cloth and tack white material inside. She was quite the seamstress and was very proud of her work. James had a carpentry shop in the basement on Duboce Avenue where he would make wooden caskets.

In 1902, James hired William Duggan, who had just been mustered out of the cavalry (Spanish-American War) at the Presidio in San Francisco. He served as a hack-driver, casket maker, gravedigger and all-around handyman. He was willing to do any work and was hired by James mainly because of his experience with horses. James owned a stable where he kept his horses and wagons for trips to the cemetery. 

In 1903, Henrietta, James Hagan’s youngest daughter, married William Duggan shortly after her graduation from Medical School at the University of California. James was not in favor of this marriage. William was the hired help, an Irishman and a Catholic. 

William continued working in the livery business, later buying a horse and carriage and going into the taxi business, one of the first taxi services in San Francisco. When automobiles were manufactured, he bought a limousine and continued in the taxi business. Then in 1915, William studied for, and was issued, a license as an embalmer, after which he bought out William Green Undertakers in 1916.

Future entries in the San Francisco Directory included:

1916-“Duggan and O’Rielly,” 1230 Valencia Street
1922- “Duggan & Carroll,” 1230 Valencia Street
1923- “William Duggan & Co.”
1929- “Duggan’s Funeral Service,” 3434 Seventeenth Street


William and Henrietta had five children: William T. and Richard J., who studied medicine, and Edwin J., Leonard F. and Letitia Duggan Welch, who worked with their father until 1959. 

Letitia’s son William J. Welch and family presently own and operate Duggan’s Funeral Service in San Francisco. Edwin’s family owns and operates Duggan’s Serra Mortuary (which was started in 1963) in Daly City.    

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Duggan's Funeral Service Circa 1929

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Duggan's Mission Chapel
Circa 1959

In 1959, Duggan’s Mission Chapel was established in Sonoma. The Duggan Family, (William, his son Leonard F. and daughter, Letitia), purchased the funeral parlors from the Bisso Brothers, who had it built in 1952. The architecture is a replica of the Sonoma Mission.    

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The Duggan Family eventually added two small chapels and redecorated the main chapel. In 1987, Mission Cremation Service was added to the family business. It is the first and only licensed crematory in Sonoma.

Leonard F. Duggan’s eldest daughter, Marilyn Duggan Caselli, managed the business until her retirement in 2016. Letitia Duggan Tatarian (Leonard's youngest daughter) retired in 2016, as well. 

Patrick Duffy Conneely (Leonard's grandson) started learning the family business in 1995 and returned to Sonoma after graduating from mortuary college and re-joined the family business in January of 1998, starting the family's fifth generation. He left the family business in 2016 to further pursue his professional goals in the funeral business.

In 2001, Duggan’s Mission Chapel purchased Bates, Evans & Fehrensen and continues to provide a high level of service as it meets the needs of the Sonoma community. 

In 2004, Susan P. Duggan (Leonard's middle daughter) returned to Sonoma and re-joined the family business as a funeral director, until her retirement in 2018.

For more than 120 years, individuals entrusted their pre-need requests or wishes with the Duggan family. In 2017, Ed J. Leon purchased the business and takes pride in continuing to provide quality service to families and individuals in their time of need.

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