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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.

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The Best of Bill’s — C&Z Office Girls

This post was originally made on May 30, 2019.

Today we are looking at two pictures that were labeled “Coppes & Zook office girls.” As you can see, one of the photos is taken in a park-like setting, perhaps someone’s celebration day. Birthdays, anniversary, 4th of July, the list is endless. But, the real reason my writing about these women is that there aren’t any names attached to the pictures. Someone in this photo could be your ancestor. Do you recognize anyone? Can you put names with any of the pictures? Do you have a copy of this same picture in your photo album? Do you know when or where it was taken? I want to learn the answers to all those questions. I hope you can help.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Coppes-Zook-office-girls-1920s-844x1024.jpg

The Coppes & Zook Co. name was used during two different time periods. The first time they used the Coppes Bros. & Zook co. name was from approx. 1890 till the partnership with the Mutschler Brothers began in 1902. This was the period when Daniel Zook was working with Frank & John Coppes. The 2nd time the company used the Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. name was after the partnership dissolved in 1912. In 1912 after Daniel Zook died, the Mutschler Brothers (Albert & Charles) returned to their former factory and Daniel’s son Harold, became the Zook in the company name, Coppes Bros. & Zook Co.

The company just was not large enough to need that many women working in the offices during the first time period (1890-1912). During this earlier time, the company operated the box factory, the grist mill, and the sawmill with wholesale and retail sales. During the 2nd time period of Coppes Bros. & Zook (1912-1936), the company expanded the manufacturing part of the business and logically would have needed more “office girls” to keep track of time sheets, inventories, ordering, sales, salesmen, payroll, etc. The company built the little “green office building” in 1899, and by then at least had a location for ladies to work. Women, for the most part, were not part of the factory force till the 2nd World War.

That previous paragraph is my explanation for why I think the pictures of Coppes Office ladies was taken sometime during the 2nd use of the Coppes Bros. & Zook name, from 1912 – 1936. Could well have been in the late 1920s when the kitchen cabinet business was booming and there were approx. 300 factory workers. If you know any of these women, please email us to let us know. Thanks, I Need to tell you this was all Dodie’s Idea, and it was a good one.

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Nappanee Furniture Co. | March 11, 1903

Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. Hope you and your family are staying safe. When the medical personnel talk about older people with preexisting medical conditions, they are talking about me and a lot of other old people. Thanks for doing your part to keep us safe.

Today I found a receipt from the Nappanee Furniture Co. dated March 11, 1903. The receipt is stamped in red ink “COPPES, ZOOK & MUTSCHLER Co. successors,” which means the company did not have new company receipts printed yet or they were using up the old paper. As you may remember, the partnership with the Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. and the Nappanee Furniture Co (The Mutschler Bros.) began as the new company on May 1st, 1902. So, the new company had approx. 9-10 months to print new paper with the correct company name. They did have time to have a new rubber stamp made.

The 1903 receipt reads “Nappanee Furniture Company, Manufacturers of Kitchen, Extension, Parlor, and Library Tables, and Kitchen Cabinets. Frank Coppes,  Pres., Tobias Hartman, Treas., Albert Mutschler, Sec, & Supt.” I underlined and darkened the words “Kitchen Cabinets,” because the whole kitchen cabinet industry in Nappanee began with the Nappanee Furniture Co. making kitchen cabinets as early as 1898. The Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. had the idea for kitchen cabinets from the early production from the Nappanee Furniture Co. We owe a big debt of gratitude to Albert and Frank Mutschler for being the designers that developed the kitchen cabinets at the Nappanee Furniture Co.

The specifics of this receipt are for one #8 K. C. (kitchen cabinet)  at a cost of $3.50 with an additional charge for “Packing singly” at .10, for a total charge of $3.60 for this cabinet. Here is a catalog picture of the #8 cabinet. Sold to one J. W. Richcreek, Mt. Vernon, Ohio. As a side bar, I recently was able to purchase a No 6 Cabinet at auction for display in the Coppes Kitchen Cabinet Museum.

Immediately, my mind is wondering how in the world could this have happened in 1903? How did J. W. Richcreek know of this kitchen cabinet made by the Nappanee Furniture Co. and think he could order one sent to his home in Mt. Vernon, Ohio? This is apparently what was attempted,  BUT, as they say, there is more. At the bottom of the receipt in pencil writing is this note:  “3/20/03 ordered goods returned all charges to follow” Apparently J. W. Richcreek did not like the # 8 kitchen cabinet and sent it back to the factory. The train freight charge for the return was .89 cents.  It is possible that the Nappanee Furniture Co. was advertising in a periodical that reached Mt. Vernon, Ohio, or there could have been salesmen working the countryside, and one of these people sold the cabinet to J. W. Richcreek. In 2020 we are likely to never know the real story, but I would like to know.

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Bill’s Best — Nappanee Nine Baseball Team

baseball team

This post was originally published on January 10, 2019. Does it seem like 130 years since you last saw a live game? Us too. Enjoy this look back onto what was surely one of the game’s earliest small-town teams.

What fun they must have had – playing baseball with their friends, receiving the admiration of everyone in town. Someone should do a study of the baseball teams that played for Nappanee. All we have in the Coppes collection is this one 1888 picture with names. I suppose the only reason it was in the Coppes files was the connection with Frank Coppes and Daniel Zook.  Frank was the treasurer & Daniel was Manager.

The list of names, starting in back row left is Frank Coppes, Treasurer – Harry Felty, 1st base –  Wm. Stauffer, 3d or R.F. – Geo. Freese, 2nd B – Dan Zook, Mangr.

2nd row – Ike Jacobs, C & Extra P – A??? Wilson, Sub – Warren Trywillinger, C – Anson Strohm, Sub.

Sitting, L-R   Frank Brown C – Herman Rosbrugh, P.

From what I remember from my younger days is that it should be NINE players on each team. I was usually sitting on the bench watching the better players. This list of players has two men listed as SUBS, where are the other team members? And which man has the best mustache?

I also am wondering how much financial support the Coppes Bros. & Zook Company gave to the support of the team. We have not learned as yet, but I would expect that several if not all the team had day time jobs at the Coppes Bros. & Zook factory. One baseball related entry in the early ledgers books that I remember reading is a payment of $5.00 to a visiting baseball team to pay for transportation to return home. Just one more example of the character of the men that lived in Nappanee.

History makes me smarter, heritage makes me proud. Thank you for visiting Bill’s History Corner.