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The Coppes Washing Machine & Cabinet Color Chart – 1930’s

Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. Did you ever get into a situation that you thought would end soon, but it did not? This is one of those situations.  I was excited to find this information of the Coppes Inc. Company attempting to add washing machines to their product line. “This is strange and different,” I thought. “A kitchen cabinet company selling washing machines.” Does that sound strange to you? 

In the late 1920s, the Coppes Bros & Zook Co. had a cabinet line designed for apartments. This line was promoted to new apartments, in buildings of all sizes, in any city. The company named this line “SPECIALLY DESIGNED UNIT SYSTEMS FOR ALL TYPES OF BUILDINGS.” Special catalogs were created too. This cabinet line was sold through the ‘BUILDERS DIVISION” of Coppes Bros. & Zook, Inc. Some of these kitchen cabinets had built-in refrigerators, (ice boxes). 

Refrigerators and kitchen cabinets seem to go together. Washing machines and kitchen cabinets do not go together. I don’t get it. What was their thinking? Anyhow, the company seemed to go into the washing machine sales business in a large way. Having a dedicated over-the-road sales couple and advertising in a major department store is what I would say is a large attempt at selling washing machines.

I have a picture to show you and some advertising, at the end is where this History Corner takes an unexpected turn. Hang on.

Mr. and Mrs. A.W. Klinker with their comfortable trailer home equipped with a Coppes Napanee Water Flex Washer

I suppose they set up at County fairs and such. Or they could make personal appointments to show the Flex Washer. Life on the road, take your wife and job along.

L. S. Ayers was a huge department store chain with stores is major cities. Having this quality of store handling Coppes Washing Machines was a major coupe is the sales world. How many washers were sold and how long the connection lasted I do not know. These three newspaper advertisements were the only ones I could find.  Some of the advertising pictured the washing machines that were wrapped in white porcelain, which looked much better, while at the same time period some machines were still in the black paint.

The 3rd advertisement is where this History Corner takes a turn in a different direction. The ad. is still promoting the Coppes Washing machine, but also in small print at the bottom is something else related to the Coppes Company.

Besides the Coppes Washing machine on sale for 454.98, this ad says “COPPES-NAPANEE Built-In KITCHEN ENSEMBLE     Factory List Price………..112.90

Anniversary Sale Priced     69.50

7 – Ft. straight – line Kitchen of fine Quality,      Coppes – Napanee construction. Includes 2 wall cupboards and all bases. Does not include sink, work top or instlation. All fine kiln dried hardwoods.

Tongue and groove construction. Choice of 18 colors, 5 of bakalike [bakelite] hardware.

8Ft Kitchen, List Price 143.80   ——  79.50

                                                                                    9ft Kitchen,  list Price 159.15   ——   89.50

This Newspaper advertisement is one of the first, if not the very first one, to promote the newer style of kitchens being developed by Coppes – Napanee. Coppes was still producing and selling the Dutch Kitchenet cabinet style in 1939 but were looking to keep up with the market place. The newer style kitchen was catching on fast with the American family. Keeping up with the marketplace may have been the reason for the washing machines added to the product line. I think we all know what became of the company as they began developing the newer “straight line” kitchens.

Here is the Coppes, Inc. choice of colors chart, made available in the late 30s. Which is your favorite?

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Printing Receipts From the Archives

Welcome to this week’s bill’s History Corner. This is the place where I talk about aspects of the business that we all lovingly refer to as the Coppes factory. Does that love come from a family member having worked at the factory, or maybe you have one of those wonderful DUTCH KITCHENETS that made Nappanee famous. Or possibility you lived close enough that you could hear the factory whistle morning, noon, and night.

Warsaw Is just down the road from Nappanee. In 1881, Warsaw was also just down the tracks. Wonder which was the faster method to travel to Warsaw in 1881: by train, or horse and buggy? In 1881, J. C. Mellinger ordered two types of cards printed at the R. WILLIAMS & SON, Dr.  -Proprietors-  NORTHERN INDIANIAN STEAM PRINTING HOUSE, INDIANIAN BUILDING, BUFFALO STREET, WARSAW, IND.

The 1st receipt is for “500 Notes (bound)”  (was this like a bound & printed note pad?)  = $3.50.                  

The first receipt is dated Aug. 23, 1881 and also signed Aug. 23, 1881. It reads “Received Payment. Reub (?) Williams & Son  BQW” (a clerk?).  Interestingly, these notes were ordered and paid for the same day. That means that likely the “Notes” were something the printing co. had on hand, maybe made from paper cut-offs that they sold to the general public. Does not seem like the printing co. had time to set up type and then print 500 notes in one day.

How did this transaction take place? Was J. C. Mellinger in Warsaw for some business and stopped at the printing co. and purchased the “Notes” on a whim? In 1881 THE NAPPANEE NEWS was in business with the News Paper and stationary supplies. Why not shop in Nappanee, why go to Warsaw?

The 2nd receipt, shown above, is from 17 days later. On Sept 10, 1881, 500 Postal Cards at $7.00 were ordered. This time the payment received was dated 2 days later, on the 12th. The same “BQW” Signed the receipt. Were the “500 Postal Cards” the stamped postcards that were to become popular around the turn of the century? Also, if they were the printed stamped postcards, who were J. C. Mellinger & Co. going to send them to? Postcards cost one cent to mail in 1881. What, if anything, was printed on the cards? We have not found any such cards on the antique market. Inquiring minds want to know.

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Bill Solves the Cross Wood Puzzle

Hello everyone, welcome to another exciting Bill’s History Corner. I think I have answered a mystery that I have been worrying about for several years. In approx. 2010 I copied any Coppes-related news item from the Nappanee News and put them in one book.

One of the unusual items that has puzzled me was this item from June 14th, 1883.  The small news item read “Coppes Bros have placed into their box factory a machine for stamping letters on boxes. This firm spares no means to keep their work apace with the age of modern enterprise. The machine cost over $400.00.”    What did this mean: “Stamping letters on boxes?” was that letters like A, B & C? I could understand them wanting to put their name on the shipping boxes, but one letter at a time?  Why could a machine that stamped letters cost $400.00, when a workman could do the job with a hammer and set of letter punches?

Well, I can now answer that burning question. In the last box of business receipts, we found a receipt for a printing machine that printed on wood. This receipt corresponded with the date of the newspaper item, so I knew I was closing in on something meaningful.

The CROSS WOOD PRINTING CO. from Chicago advertised signs, wood printing presses and advertising specialties. Located at 23, 25, & 27 North Peoria Street. This receipt is for one “WOOD PRINTING PRESS” sold to Coppes Bros. of Napanee (note the one p) Ind. Two other receipts accompanied this one. A 2nd receipt was for blue and red ink. Another receipt was for making  “brass Dies” (like printing stencils or printing plates) – three each for the EXCELSIOR STARCH CO. AND THE MUZZY STARCH CO.

The obvious intention was to print the starch company names onto the wooden shipping boxes that Coppes Bros. was manufacturing and selling to these two starch companies. The skeptical old man in me is thinking what the financial incentive was for printing the starch company’s names on the wood. Certainly, the printed names would make the boxes more recognizable in stores and increase sales. Did the starch companies pay extra for the printed names? Inquiring minds want to know.

I also found several receipts from the EXCELSIOR STARCH COMPANY, Elkhart, Ind. I assume the printing dies resembled this picture on the receipt. Not really sure, we are still hunting for an empty starch box from either company.

J. C. Mellinger & Co. was purchasing Gloss Starch (soap) and Corn Starch from the Excelsior Starch Co., but what they were using the soap for is everyone’s guess. Did they take it home for home laundry use, was there a use for the soap at the factory and sawmill?  A couple of the excelsior receipts have a note written on the bottom, “Starch shipped in cars” which means the boxes were placed into the empty rail road cars that were to be returned to the factory for the next load of knocked down starch boxes. Coppes Bros. had two huge box cars specially made to carry the lightweight wooden starch boxes.  I would have thought the larger box cars would have warranted a couple photographs, but so far none have surfaced. This receipt (above) is for 4 boxes of No. 1 Gloss Starch = 168 lbs. @ 6 ½ Cent/lbs., =$10.92.

And 2 boxes #1 Corn Starch, 80 Lbs. @ 6 ¾ Cents/ Lbs. =$5.40.

Free shipping, what a deal.

I hope everyone has a clean and safe week.

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The Nappanee Telephone Company with Special Guest Historian

Today’s blog post includes some great insight from local historian, Martha Owen, of the Nappanee Public Library’s Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection. Martha is the Collection Manager at the Nappanee Center, which is a phenomenal local history museum housed inside our city’s welcome center at 302 West Market Street in Nappanee. We encourage you to make sure it’s on your itinerary when visiting Coppes Commons (or your must-do list as a Nappanee resident too!) In the meantime, you can access the collection’s online database of photos and historic walking tours of Nappanee HERE.

And now, without further ado, we present to you this week’s “Bill’s History Corner!”– Jessica Flores, Media & Marketing Specialist, Coppes Commons.

Hello everyone, welcome to another exciting Bill’s History Corner. We are still sifting through the boxes of old company receipts that were found stored in the factory. What a treasure. 

This latest box is from 1908-1912. The Nappanee telephone was becoming an important business in Nappanee in 1911.

Martha tells us that the Nappanee Telephone Company was established in 1898, thanks to a campaign launched by local businessman, Claude Stoops, who had come to town in 1888 to open a jewelry store. With much talk about an exchange, Stoops appeared in front of the town board in June 1898 asking for a franchise for setting poles and stringing wires. Up until this time, only private telephone lines had been “rigged up” across town, one of which was between the Coppes Bros. and Zook flour mill and the office at the main furniture plant. It is thought that there was also a line from the Coppes Hotel (owned by brother, Samuel Coppes) to the train depot. Before this, daily records were transported by hand.

The initial installation of telephone company lines in 1898 consisted of 52 telephones with an ultimate capacity for 100 telephones. The 1st switchboard was installed in Mr. Stoops’ Jewelry Store and all the business was handled by one operator from 7:00 am – 9:00 pm. Then, with its exchange in operation, Nappanee Telephone Company made arrangements to connect to the Independent Company, stringing wires in October 1898 to Goshen.

By 1916, the phone company had experienced rapid growth with 720 telephones in service and over 12,000 feet of cable. There were 6 operators and 2 lineman employed, so the Telephone Company was able to provide 24-hour service. By this time, Mr. Stoops had given up his jewelry store and devoted all of his time to the Telephone Company.

Photo courtesy of the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection

We have found a stack of receipts from the Nappanee Telephone Co. It appears that each prominent member of the C, Z & M Co. management team had a telephone in their office. In 1911 the rental for each telephone was $1.00 per month. Long distance calls were recorded by hand (probably at the telephone office by the operator). In the early days of the telephone exchange, long distance calls could only be made at the Coppes Hotel, which held the only toll station in town. 

Looks like the average cost for one long distance call was between .15 and .20 cents. The record does not record the length of time the call lasted, just the date, caller, to whom, place, the tolls for that call, and in the final column is either initials of the callers to indicate if the call was actually a business expense, or the building to charge the call to, or maybe a personal call. 

And here’s a photo of Nappanee’s first telephone, which now hangs in the Nappanee Center.

Photo courtesy of the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection

Thanks again for the assistance provided by the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection on this post!

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Getting to the Point with Bill

Good day, and welcome to Bill’s History Corner at Coppes Commons. This is the spot where I discuss topics related to the company that made the Napanee Dutch Kitchenet.

As you are aware, the company changed its name as personnel joined and left the company. The first name we were aware of was Mellinger & Co. This was John Mellinger, who was operating a sawmill in Nappanee (1875) along with the young Coppes brothers, John & Frank.  John & Frank were the “& Co.” of Mellinger & Co.  John Mellinger was the Coppes’s brother-in-law, having married older sister, Lucinda. In approx. 1880, another brother (Samuel) joined the two brothers after they bought out Mellinger’s share of the sawmill. This new company was named Coppes Brothers Co. In 1890, Samuel left, Dan Zook joined the company, and the name changed to Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. In 1902, the company had a major change: Coppes Bros. & Zook combined with Albert & Charles Mutschler at the Nappanee Furniture Co. to become the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. This company lasted till Dan Zook died in November of 1912, so we have another name change. Now the name is Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. (same as it was), but it is Harold Zook (Dan’s son) who was a company director now. This name lasted till 1936, when the company was incorporated, and the name was shortened to Coppes Inc. By this time, the 2nd generation of Coppes Men were running the factory.

During these years (62), you can imagine the changes that the people in the company were witness to. Not only the growth of the company but small everyday fractures, the telephone, transportation, even the pencil sharpener, which brings me to the subject of this History Corner.

We found a Receipt from the OLCOTT MFG. CO. makers of the CLIMAX PENCIL SHARPENER. Apparently, the company already had a Climax pencil sharpener. This receipt is for the return of a worn or dull sharpener blade. You were to return the worn blade with $.50 cents for the exchange of a sharpened blade. Then you were good to go. I found a picture of a Climax pencil sharpener on the web from these years. I love the little drawer to catch the pencil shavings.

I wonder how the company learned of this type of pencil sharpener. Did an office supply salesmen come to the factory and convince them to try the Climax sharpener? Did they see an advertisement in a paper and send off to the Olcott Mfg. company to try one out?

Thanks for visiting Bill’s History Corner, keep those cards and letters coming.

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Rolling Right Along with Historic Receipts

Welcome to one more in the exciting series of exploring actual “History” in the almost world-famous, and much-loved, Bill’s History Corner. Hope you and your family are doing well, staying safe and doing your part to prevent the spread of Covid 19. I’m working from home and about to go crazy. I think I cleaned the shop three times already, reread every book I have at least once. But so far-so good.

Today, with Bill’s history Corner I want to discuss something vitally important to furniture builders. The Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. was mainly a furniture maker when the partnership began in 1903. As a review, the Coppes Bros & Zook Co., before the partnership, was a wooden shipping box maker, sawmill operator, flour mill operator, and retail/wholesale lumber seller. The Nappanee Furniture Co. brought into the partnership the furniture-making skill set. At the beginning of the partnership, the company catalogs had 100’s of wonderful designs for 3-piece bedroom sets, tables of all descriptions, commodes, and, in 1903, approx. nine different kitchen cabinets.

What did most of this furniture have in common besides being made with white oak veneers? What was the common link? What did most of the individual pieces of furniture have in common?  They all had CASTERS. Casters are the link – the little swiveling wheels that allowed the furniture to move, the same casters that today are usually flat on one side and don’t roll worth a darn.  Big casters, heavy casters, lightweight casters – furniture in 1903 needed casters. That was the style back then. Furniture needed to be moveable, not only to quickly rearrange the room, but to clean under everything.

Where have I come across this fantastic bit of information? you may wonder. I was digging into another box of the old business receipts from the early days of Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. and found this wonderful information. In 1903 & ’04 the C, Z & M Co. was purchasing casters by the barrel full from the M. B. SCHENCK CO. Manufactures of CASTERS for Furniture and Trucks. Meriden, Conn.

What a neat looking factory. This drawing makes me want to visit. Wonder if they gave factory samples to tourists in 1903?

You can see the straight pins that the C, Z & M Co. office staff used to keep papers together. This was pre-staples.

This receipt is by far the largest order that we found. We did find 10 separate order receipts and accompanying freight receipts from this company. In this one box of receipts, we found orders for 76,200 sets of casters. The most common size caster ordered was the “Rugby Casters,” which had ¾ inch by 3/8-inch wood wheels. This number of casters is staggering. These orders amounted to a little over one years’ production in the life of the C, Z & M Co. They could have put casters on 19,050 pieces of furniture before they needed to order more.

In the above receipt some of the details are interesting. The shipment started with the West Shore R. R. “Car #7661 Big 4” then switched to the B & O line which served Nappanee. The C,Z & M Co. noted in pencil an 8% discount for cash even when other receipts from this company expressly stated no discounts of any kind will be allowed. I wonder if the Schenick company allowed the discount?

The size of this last order is staggering. The railroad freight receipt lists this shipment as “77 Brl Caster” weighting a total of 30,000 pounds.  The freight cost was $101.94 for this one shipment. Wonder where they even stored the 77 barrels when they arrived. Hopefully not in an attic.  We also have what appears to be the form where the C, & M Co. employees weighted each barrel to check if the order was short. The average weight of these barrels was 375 pounds, what a job.

Come back next week for more exciting “HISTORY” here at Bill’s history Corner.

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Sheet Metal Receipts for Hoosier Cabinet Work Surfaces

Hello, welcome to Bill’s History Corner. This is the place where I talk about the history of the Coppes Bros. Company or the Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. or the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. This company changed their name when personnel joined or left the company. If you have been following along on this journey, I would think you have a good understanding of that process. I have talked about it several times. I’m still working from home, attempting to keep my family safe. I hope you are safe also.

Today, I have on my History Detective Hat as I attempt to explain some more of the company receipts that we have uncovered. In this most recent box we have dug into, we have found 18 receipts from the National Sheet Metal Co. of Peru, Illinois. All the receipts are from 1909-1911. This company supplied the “Sheet Zinc” metalwork surface that C,Z & M Co. put on the kitchen cabinets. It still amazes me the sheer volume of material that the company needed to make the cabinets that they produced.

As you can see from this company receipt above, the sheet metal was shipped by the case. The number of sheets of zinc in the cases is unknown for most of the orders. That is only because the paperwork was not kept with each receipt. We have one receipt that does have all the paperwork. The receipt dated 2/28/10 is for 3 cases of metal in three different sizes. This order weighted 1327 pounds before packaging and 1497 pounds when it reached the Baltimore & Ohio railroad company freight office. The cost of the RR freight was  $2.94. Seems very inexpensive to me for 1497 pounds of freight.

The paper above is from the company checking or inspection team. Every item that was shipped to the company was inspected, counted, and recorded so there would be an accurate record of the purchases. On this inspection record, you can see the number of sheets in each case (79, 174, & 83) the gauge of the metal (thickness) the weight of the case and the size of the pieces of metal. Commonly called ZINC, the National sheet Metal Co. called this material “N Z” or “Nicolene”. The C,Z & M Co. purchased this material the three common sizes, which fit the cabinets produced during that time. Also, it seems obvious the company needed machines that could fold (bend) the metal on each side to fit over a wooden subframe. Later the company would change to using a porcelain work surface metal top.

If I use my calculator, I think I can estimate the number of sheets of metal ordered during this time. Need to remember we likely do not have all the receipts from this company during this time. The 18 receipts that we do have were for 40 cases of sheet metal, the total weight for the 40 cases was 18,681 pounds. Using the one receipt that counted the number of sheets in a case, I can find the average weight per sheet for the different sizes.  The average weight per sheet is approx. 4 pounds. When I divide 18,681 total pounds shipped by 4 pounds per sheet, the number of sheets ordered in this time in approx. 4670 sheets of zinc. It is an easy conclusion to jump to that the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. produced approx. 4670 of the kitchen cabinets during these three years. (1909-1911)

Thanks for visiting Bill’s History Corner, hope to see you again next week.

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Hax, Hawks, Hoops & Hanson

Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner.  As has been the practice for the past couple months I am still working from home going through the boxes of business receipts that we found in a back corner of the factory. Someone thought this paper was important enough to keep, unlike so many of the other records from the companies. I feel we are likely not going to find any new pictures of the factory or related photos from the Napanee Kitchenet making business.  So therefor, these receipts are the only new material we can expect to find.

In this latest box of receipts were the usual ones you would expect; several from Hardware Stores, receipts dealing with purchasing logs, etc. What was more interesting to me than several receipts from the same company was a single receipt from one company. Seems the C, Z & M Co. did business over a wide range of the country. Sometimes a single receipt requires more questions & answers than several receipts from the same company. That is what I found in this box – several single receipts. 

In today’s world someone would say “what were they thinking?” Questioning the wisdom of doing what it appeared they were doing.  That is what I am going to do – show you a single receipt and then ask questions about it. Sometimes I may have a good clue what is going on with the receipt, other receipts not so much. Enjoy, and if you want to be a history detective, play along, and ask yourself, “what were they thinking?”

The first receipt is this one from the HAX-SMITH FURNITURE CO., ST. JOSEPH, MO. Dated Oct. 14, 1910. This was during the peak of the production of furniture at the factory. Before the partnership, the Nappanee Furniture Co. was famous for its line of tables. They also made bedroom sets, kitchen cabinets and other furniture.  But this receipt is for the purchase of one “LIBRARY TABLE” at a cost of $5.50 – 20%, + .50 for freight for a total cost of $4.90.  So, my question to everyone is “why would the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. purchase a Library table from the Hax-Smith Co., when at the same time they were making library tables themselves?”

The next single receipt is from THE HAWKS HARDWARE CO., GOSHEN, INDIANA. This receipt is dated June 30, 1909 and reads “Delivered to the I-X-L Co.,  45 Gro (Gross) 5/8 x 7 Screws @ .86  =  38.70.

It is unclear if the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. paid the $86.70 for the screws or just the $4.51 freight cost. So, what was the deal with this one? Did C, Z & M Co. “borrow” screws from I-X-L Co., and this was the way to pay back what they used, or was there another reason for this receipt?

Our third receipt in this series is from CARL HANSON, Dr.  REGISTER OF DEEDS, MARSHALL COUNTY, MINN. This receipt is dated Nov. 29th, 1909 and reads

 Nov. 27  Cert (certified) Copy of Deed Tinslar (?) to Fowler   – 75.

2nd line- Nov.27 -Cert  Copy  of  Deed Fowler  to  Nadin                 —      75

By Cash    1.00                        

              To Balance       .50

For this one my question is what was the reasons the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. was interested in deed transfers in Minnesota? Thinking of purchasing a vacation cabin?

The next receipt below is an easy one. I’m putting it here just for fun. This receipt is from WILLIAM H. HOOPS & CO., Manufacturing Wood Mantels, Consoles, Bathroom and Vestibule Tiling. Fine fire Place Furnishings, gas grates, Andirons.   This company is from Chicago. This receipt is dated Oct. 25th,1910.  “Sold to Frank H. Coppes,” it reads    1 – four- tube Gong  (4- note doorbell chime) at a cost of 22.00. You can see where F. Coppes put his O.K. on this receipt for it to be paid by the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. This is another instance where it appears the company paid for a personal item for one of the company owners. Wonder what the real policy was?

Here is another single receipt for you to think about.  This one is dated Sep. 23, 1908, and is from the HANSON BROTHERS, Dr.  MANUFACTURES OF IMPROVED SPRING SCALES. This company is from Chicago. The receipt reads  6. 60# (pounds) #64 U.S. Family Scales   1.90   =   11.40. With a 2 % discount for paying in less than 10 days for a total cost for the 6 scales at $11.17.  The interesting thing about this receipt is speculating how the company was intending to use these six- 6-sixty-pound scales. A pencil notation on the receipt indicates the intended locations for keeping/using the scales.

The last single receipt I want to show you today is from THE I-X-L FURNITURE CO., Goshen, Indiana.  Dated Dec. 10, 1909, this receipt is very clear on what it was intended to do. The questions arise when you begin to think “why do this?” The invoice is for 1 – # 00 Top New Style in the white   6.00. Then in pencil on the line below,  “Cabt returned Via prepaid freight 12/17/09.    “In the white” means totally unfinished.   

The I-X-L- Co was also making their own brand of kitchen cabinets in 1909. Why the C, Z & M Co. would want to see an example of the I-X-L cabinet top is another thing to speculate over. Did the C, Z & M Co. want to borrow some design from the cabinet top or did the I-X-L company want to send the cabinet top over to Nappanee so C, Z & M Co. could see if they were making it correctly? We will likely never know.  As a sidebar, another connection with these two companies was that Charles and Albert Mutschler’s father was George Mutschler the Treasurer and General Manager of the I-X-L Co.  Wonder what they talked about at family dinners?

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Counting Coal Costs

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner, this is the place where I talk about the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. Today I want to discuss Coal, Yes, the black stuff dug out of the ground and burned.

The above drawing is illustrated on the top of The W. L. Scott Company’s receipts and is intended to show the scope and the potential size of the business. You can see several coal trains and coal ships, implying that the company is shipping coal everywhere. I love these old industrial illustrations; someone should collect them.

These coal receipts are from the stash of old Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. business receipts. This latest box has receipts dated between 1902 – 1906. I’m sure we don’t have all the receipts from any one company in the same box. What we do have from this company covers the period from May 22, 1903, to Feb 12, 1904, almost a full year. In this box there were nineteen coal receipts from the  W. L. SCOTT Co. Chicago, Ill, covering shipments in 24 railroad cars ( some receipts listed 2 cars). We will likely find more coal receipts in other boxes.  I think the price is consistent at $3.50 per ton, but less the cost of shipment. C,Z & M Co. purchased 710 tons of coal in this period at a cost of $2485.00.  The freight cost is only noted on a few of the receipts and usually amounted to approx. $60.00 per rail car, depending on the net weight. If I multiply the avg. freight cost ($60.00) times 24 railcars and subtract that amount from what C,Z & M Co. paid, the answer will be $1045.00, or about $1.47 per ton of coal.

Apparently, the W. L SCOTT CO. sent postcards to coal customers when a shipment was sent (talk about service). We have one of these postcards stating a railroad car ( B & O # 7770, with “Ohio Steam Lump” coal) was shipped on July 27th, but the card was not canceled at the post office till Aug. 3rd. Possibly the coal car arrived in Nappanee from Chicago before the postcard did.

It’s also interesting, that in all the correspondence I have found with the W. L Scott Co. coal shippers, they always spelled Coppes with two O’s and only one P.   (Coopes)  Wonder how many times the company saw the correct way to spell Coppes?

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Shopping Local in Early 1900’s Nappanee

Welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner.

Shop Local is a term you hear a lot. Back in 1904-6 it was difficult to shop anywhere but local. As I was searching the latest box of business receipts looking for a topic for the next History Corner, I found some receipts from stores I had never heard of before.  J. W. ROSBRUGH, Dr.  SHOES AND MEN’S FURNISHINGS. was one such store, and if your last name were Coppes and you lived in Nappanee this store like most retail businesses in Nappanee would put purchased items on account. Sometimes it was called running a tab, but the bottom line was that the Coppes men did not need to pay for each purchase at the time of the purchase.

Some of the accounts are short, a month or two, others are longer. One is from Jan to Sept before the total was paid. Nothing exciting in the purchases that were made: shoes, ties, undwr (sic), shirts and collars. Marvin, Irvin, J. D. Coppes, Harold, & Claude, are the Coppes men that I have receipts for. Something that still puzzles me is the appearance that the company (Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co.) actually paid the amounts. Each receipt is stamped with the company rubber stamp marking each one PAID with the date. I have seen this practice on several other receipts from local business in Nappanee. Was there a company perk that let the company pay for personal items for most of the Coppes family?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Another Nappanee company I had not known about before is the NELSON ROOD & SON,  MANUFACTURES OF BUILDING BRICK AND DRAIN TILE. The only reason we know about this company now is because I found a receipt from when Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. purchased 800 Brick at $6.40 on Sept. 18, 1906. There is no location on the receipt other than Nappanee, Ind.

The next local business I want to talk about is  DILLMAN RICKERT, DEALER IN DRY GOODS, NOTIONS, HATS, CAPS, BOOTS AND SHOES, GROCERIES, ETC.  Apparently, this company was the best place in Nappanee to purchase “oil,” because the C,Z & M Co. purchased a lot of oil, often in 3-gallon cans or containers at $.36 cents for 3 gallons. Seems like every week there was a purchase of 3 gal. oil. Was this lubricating oil for the machinery, or something else? Around 1905 the store name was changed to D. RICKET & SON. 

One interesting receipt  we have from the Rickert store is mainly for groceries. This receipt is charged to Frank Coppes, seems likely someone from Frank’s family would go to the Rickert store when they needed something. The receipt covers the last part of the year 1906 from May 31 thru Dec. 1st.  On  May 31 they purchased Butter for .36; Xcelo for .16; eggs for .30; and onions for .15.  On July 10th they purchased 2 crates raspberries .$3.50; 1 crate of blk berries @$2.00; and sugar for $1.00 ( I’m thinking baking some pies). The purchases continued like this thru Dec. 1st, with what may be called the basics: eggs, sugar, butter.

There was only one purchase of bread @ .10, so there must have been a bakery that the family shopped at for baked goods. I imagine some families baked all their own breads and baked goods, but did the Frank Coppes family ( by way of kitchen help) actually cook all the baked goods they consumed?   Also, except for butter as the only dairy product purchased at the Rickert store, there must have been a Dairy store, or I wonder if there was home delivery of milk (Dairy products) in 1906 Nappanee? ( I can’t see the Frank Coppes family keeping cows in the back yard) How long these stores were in business is difficult to determine with the limited historical paper documents we have here at Coppes Commons.

The 4th Nappanee store I want to talk about is a store we have known for a long time: the SHIVELY BROS.  MANUFACTURES OF LIGHT and HEAVY HARNESS. HORSE FURNISHING GOODS. We have a pile of receipts from 1903 thru 1906 from this one box. It is obvious that the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. did substantial business with this store. In 1903, the main mode of local transportation was the horse or walking. Yes, the automobile was on the horizon but then (1903) the horse was the more important of the two methods. If someone wanted to travel a longer distance, there were the trains. 

C, Z & M Co. had as many as 12 horse/wagon teams working during this period. The teams would haul heavy log loads to the sawmill from many miles away. Each driver had the privilege of going to the Shively Bros. store to purchase needed items to keep his team on the road and healthy. Often this repair would be something to do with the harness, “making new feed box straps” or “new hame strap”. Seems the men purchased a lot of “sweat pads” for the horse’s comfort, also curry combs to keep the horse well groomed.  A healthy horse is a happy horse, I just made that up, but I can easily imagine the well-being and appearance of the horses strongly reflected on the men that drove them and cared for them.

I found this drawing of horse harness and thought this would be a good place to show it.

John and Frank Coppes along with Dan Zook had automobiles during this period, I was surprised how often the fan belt needed to be replaced, Shively Bros. did that work also.

One final interesting item in the Shively Bros. receipts was on Nov. 3, 1905. The listing reads “Repair on Watchmans  Clock” $.10.” The leather shoulder belt must have needed some work. This is the first and only mention (so far) of a watchman at the Coppes factory. It’s not surprising that the factory used a watchman, usually at night, when none of the factory workmen were on the job. In 1905 the Night Watchman would have needed to patrol several different buildings as he made his rounds, “Clocking in” at the key stations and recording the time on his clock to prove that he actually was at the location at the given time (and things were normal) as recorded on his clock. I think these Watchman’s clocks are fascinating, you can find them at antique stores.