I haven't seen every posting in this thread, so maybe I'm repeating information. But 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken' was composed circa 1906 (my gospel hymnbooks are at another location, so I can't verify the exact year). The composer was Charles H. Gabriel (Send the Light, Higher Ground, Since Jesus Came Into My Heart, etc.) and the words were written by Ada R. Habershon. The song was lifted by the Carter Family, with words added about the mother and the hearse, etc. I have no idea how so many have gotten away with helping themselves to this song, but so it goes. The Carter Family also took Howard Entwhistle's 'Keep On the Sunny Side of Life,' a song that originally came out around 1892.
'Circle' is meant to be cautionary. The question of the title means, "Are you going to Heaven, as have your loved ones who passed on, or will the circle be broken?" Many have softened the words into a promise of salvation, whereas the original words do not in any way guarantee a trip to the Gloryland. "Will You Mess Up and Destroy the Family's Record of Salvation?" doesn't make as colorful a title. A little awkward and verbose.
Another gospel song of the period was called "Will the Circle Be Broken?"