In 1884, the Coppes Bros. sawmill was going full blast. Thousands of logs were brought to the mill location every year, either by train car or if more local by horse and wagon. Loading the logs onto the Coppes log wagons is the subject of this US Patent by John D. Coppes. This US Patent dated June 3, 1884 and given Patent Number 299,746, is short and concise, describing how the “SKID HOLDER” is intended to work. Basically the “SKID HOLDER” is part of a ramp that is connected to the wagon bolster and leaning against the top of the wheel that will facilitate the rolling of logs on to the wagon. This metal “SKID HOLDER” holds the wooden ramp/skid in position so the heavy logs will not fall if the ramp slips and falls to the ground possibly injuring a worker.
How many wagons the Coppes Bros had and used for hauling logs to the mill in the 1880’s is anyone’s guess. We have ledgers from this time period, but so far, we have not deciphered the exact jobs the many employees had. We do know and can say with confidence that the Coppes Bros Co. had horse and wagon teams at the sawmill (just don’t know how many) and also during busy periods advertised in the Nappanee News to hire outside drivers to use their teams and wagons to haul logs to the mill.
How did they actually load logs on a wagon?
We need to imagine what it would take to load a wagon with logs. First, the process needs to be portable, the forest or woods where the logs were cut was never at the same place. These “SKID HOLDER” ramps could be transported from location to location. If there were a relatively small number of logs to be loaded at one location, the “SKID HOLDER” system would work well. If another location had a huge number of logs it may be to their advantage to construct a temporary loading platform at that location. Remember this was the 1880s, and logs were moved by muscle force from either man or horse. Rolling a heavy log up the “SKID HOLDER “ramp onto a wagon bed would take a team of men working closely together. Each man had a hook tool that grabbed on to the log and allowed the men to roll the log with greater leverage. I can’t imagine how they loaded logs two or three high on one wagon. I’m thinking of the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler log parades that were part on the Onion Festivals in the years 1908-1912.
We have pictures of wagons that were loaded three high with big logs with the driver sitting on the top log. . . But that needs to be the subject on a future History Corner. Stay tuned.
Using Google Patents
Searching for a patent is so much easier now with the Internet. We used to have to go to regional libraries and search through patent books in hopes of discovering a patent. Then we would write to the actual Washington D. C. patent office and request the correct paper forms to order copies of any patent (also paying for them). It was a long process. I use a computer program called Goggle Patents. With it I can search the entire US patent office records. By typing in a couple items that I know in the search line, the Google Patents program will search for patents with those actual words. For example, if I have an item that has a name and the patent date on it, I’ll list the name and date in the search line and strike the enter key. If I’m lucky there will only be a few hundred patents for me to search through. The more information and the more accurate information you can enter into the search line the better off you will be. Go ahead and try it – open the google program on your computer and type in the words Nappanee patent. You will be surprised how many patents were issued to people from Nappanee.
As a side bar, John Coppes assigned one half of this Patent to his brother Frank. The witnesses that signed the text portion were Conrad D. Volknann (was Volknann the early spelling, then changed later to Volkman (Conrad was the first person to purchase a building lot in Nappanee and a blacksmith in the 1880s, he likely made the SKID HOLDERS) also William F. Peddycord (then, Nappanee’s postmaster).