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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.

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A Day in the Business Life of the Coppes Brothers Company

Note: Previously published on December 12, 2018

Sorry, no picture this week. Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. I was beginning to think I was running out of new interesting things to write about, then I thought of the company ledgers that we have in the Coppes Commons collections. At random I chose one old ledger and then one page that had several entries for one day. My idea is to discuss the entries for that one day. See if I can make sense of what I read and explain it to you.

I need to make a disclaimer here, some of the names are difficult to read. I’ll use ??? when unsure. The page I picked was June 30th, 1886.  Summer time with lots of activity. There are 13 different transactions listed for that day. 

1886 was the time when the three Coppes Brothers, Frank, John & Sam were working together to run the company. They had recently built the 1884 box factory on East Market St., they also were operating the saw mill with retail and whole sale divisions.

First transaction —  L. M. Best – by cull lumber – 3.00                

Cull lumber is lumber with defects like cracks, warps, etc. lumber not good for very much. What L. M. Best planned to do with the  ”cull” Lumber is anyone’s guess. It should be noted that in the winter the sawmill sold fire wood (side slabs, cutoffs, etc.) by the “load” for one dollar a load.

2nd transaction —  B. Uline – By resawing 955 ft. Ash @ $3.00. –   2.86.

This is most likely Barney Uline, who at this time was operating the Uline Butter Tub factory, later to become Nappanee Lumber and Mfg. Co.  A line of children’s furniture, card tables & chairs was a later product of this company. Still later they produced wooden farm silos. The @ $3.00 is the listed price for resawing 1000 ft. of lumber.  Mr. Uline only had 955 ft. resawed so the price was 2.86

3rd transaction — Muzzy Starch Co.                                By 200/1 – @14c  — $28.00                                   By 370/2 –  @ “     — $51.80                                By 300/3 –  @ “    —   $52.00                                By  340/5 – @12c —   $40.80                                By  500/6 – @ “     — $60.00                                By  1200 /4 – @6c  — $72.00By 100   Lenates?? @10c – $10.00             Total  = $341.60         

Muzzy Starch Company was one of the Elkhart companies that Coppes Bros. regularly shipped wooden boxes to from their new brick box factory on East Market St. What the first line means is that Coppes made 200 of the No 1 size boxes at a cost of 14 cents each for a total cost of $28.00 for that size box. Each line is a different size of box, these would have been shipped by horse and wagon in 1886. Can’t read the word in the bottom line but maybe it is Centers, which would make more sense.

4th transaction — L. Babcock  by 150 lb  Chop.         $1.50 Chop (I think) is horse feed.

Why the Coppes Bros. were in the business of selling horse feed is likely because they purchased chop in large quantities for the number of horses that Coppes kept as both work horses and personal teams (my estimate is 20 – 30 horses at any one time in the Coppes stables). They may have had a surplus of feed or felt they could make some money by selling chop at a higher price than they paid when buying in large quantities. Or possibility they let friends have some chop at cost because they were good guys.

5th transaction — G + G + G + G   leo  ????                                    7000 ft 3” = 24 ft sheeting                                423 ft 3” = 20 ft       ‘ ‘                   @ 20.00 —- 7423 ft     =    $148.40                                Less freight                                B  &  G   # 2742

This one is more of a puzzle. I think that LEO is a freight train station west of Nappanee. The business was selling 3-inch-thick lumber that could be put down and used as strong solid SHEETING. Either in 24 foot or 20-foot lengths. The price was $20.00 per 1000 feet for a total price of $148.40. There was no freight cost because the train company provided a train car for transportation. That train car number was 2742. You may be wondering how lumber is sold. Not by the piece, not by the length, not by the width but a combination of these dimensions. The standard unit of sale for lumber is called BOARD FEET. One board foot of lumber is equal to a piece that has 144 cubic inches of material, no matter what the shape of the board. It could be long and thin or short and thick, as long as it contained 144 Sq. In. of wood it is equal to one BOARD FOOT. The formula for finding board feet in one piece of solid lumber is (Bd Ft = T(in) X W(in) X  L(ft)  )                                                                                                                                              

6th transaction. —  Jonathan Yoder   by Oak logs  2174 ft. @ 7??   =   $15.21

I think I got this one. The company purchased Oak logs from Mr. Yoder amounting to $15.21

7th transaction. —  Frank Walker    by 7450 Clear Shingles  @ $ 2.90     =    $21. 60 T

his one is easy. Mr. Walker purchased shingles that were priced at $2.90 per 1000 for a total cost of $21.60. Clear shingles was a product that the company was reselling. The Coppes Bros. purchased train car loads of shingles at a bulk price and then sold them at a retail price. This is business one-o-one.

8th transaction. —  O. E. Fales      by 10,000  10” Clear Shingles  @ 2.50  2.40       =$25.00   $24.00

Why Mr. Fales was offered a lower price than Mr. Walker and then finally paid a still lower price for the shingles that he purchased is a mystery. Possibly this lot of shingles was in poor condition or maybe there was such a thing as friends and family pricing.

9th transaction. —  B. Uline   by sawing 1200 ft.   Ash, Reed, @ $3.00   =  $3.60

This is the 2nd time today Mr. Uline sent lumber to the sawmill to have sawing done. Business must be good at the butter tub factory. I would like to know more about what the company was cutting. Were they sawing Ash logs that Mr. Uline had or cutting lumber into smaller more useable sizes? As for the word that looks like “Reed” maybe this is a mistake on my part and they were writing, Ash Red. Anyhow the price was the same as earlier in the day, $3.00 per 1000 ft.

10th transaction. —   Bowser house      By 702 ft Cull Oak s1s   @ $12.00

The Bowser House was a Hotel in Early Nappanee. Possibly the “Cull Oak” was planned to be used as a wooden fence around a stable or back yard. The letters “s1s” is a lumberman’s term meaning the lumber was surfaced smooth on one surface. There are any number of reasons oak lumber could be classified as “Cull” lumber after it was sawed. Could be a bad or uneven color, have cracks, or twists, all of these defects are impossible to see while the lumber is still a log.

11th transaction. —   Chas. Teal     By Screen Moulding               40

I’m guessing on this one too.  I think “Screen Moulding” is the small strip of wood nailed around the edges of screen on screen doors or windows. The spelling of the word moulding is an older used style, today the word is spelled Molding. Wonder how much you could get for $.40?

12 transaction. —  Jacob Weygand    By Matching 829 ft. Beech @ $6.00

There is not a final cost recorded for this transaction, that may mean this is just the order to make the Matching 829 feet of beech. It will take some time to fill this order. I think that “Matching” in this instance means making a Tongue and groove wood joint on each piece of this lumber so it could be used as flooring or possible a grain bin where you do not want any cracks between the wood.

13th transaction. —   B. J. miller & Co.        By s2s     88 ft Bass     @ $3.00

Again, this transaction may be the order from B. J. Miller & Co.  The “s2s” is another lumberman’s term meaning smoothing 2 surfaces smooth. Bass lumber is a very soft wood often used for hand carving. Wonder what they were going to make? I was looking ahead a few days to see if I was correct about the last two transactions being ordered today for pickup in the future. I did not find any other transaction for these two accounts in the next 10 days. So, it is unclear what they did. I did find an entry in this book that I have got to tell you about. It does not seem like the Coppes Bros. were drawing a regular paycheck. There are several examples where each of the 3 brothers withdrew cash from the business like it was their own bank account. Often listed as by cash, either for personal items or business items, or nothing noted.

On July 2nd, 1886 this is the entry,  S.D. Coppes – by cash – Per Della & Lille (2 of Sam’s Daughters) – .08    Do you mean to tell me that Sam Coppes, the man that would soon purchase the Farmers and Traders Bank & also build the Coppes Hotel, did not have 8 cents to give to his daughters? There is so much fantastic information in these ledgers that we have to make them available to the public. That is our plan, to purchase an automatic page scanner machine and up load the pages to the web for you to look at. When we do that is still up in the air, but stay tuned, as they say.

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1958 Magazine Donation Provides Interesting Look into Coppes Napanee

The Indiana Business and Industry Magazine is the focus of this week’s Bill’ History Corner. Thanks for visiting; this is the place where we discuss all things Coppes. This magazine is dated October 1958, and was recently donated by Linda & Mike Bultema. As I understand it, Linda & Mike were reading the old article on Coppes Kitchens, became more interested, found our website and then decided to make a fun day visit to the factory.

This magazine, as the title suggests, is all about Indiana business and industry. The other articles in this issue are titled “Oklahoma Oil Company Acquires Gaseteria” (an Indiana oilfield); “Indiana’s Oil progress Report for 1958”; “More Oil for Indiana”; “Press Club Cavalcade”; “A Top Asset – Indiana Geological Survey”; “History of Hoosier Oil” and an article on Coppes Napanee Kitchens. There are also smaller articles and advertising for Indiana services and products. I might add, this magazine was printed by the Culver Press.


I scanned the Coppes Napanee Kitchens article and will show it here. The first picture is of the 1958 management team. Five of the seven men have the Coppes Name.

The next scan is a drawing of the Coppes factory;


and here is an example of 1950s humor.

As you would expect, this article makes the Coppes Factory appear to be the most wonderful thing in the world. Tidbits of information in the text explain that there are only 160 Coppes Dealers in the U. S., and shipping costs to the West coast usually make the sales beyond the mountains prohibitive.

Also, in April 1958 the “Lazy Susan revolving-top Island unit” appeared on the TV show The Price is Right.

Here are pages one thru four of the article. Most of the pictures of factory men working are pictures that we have seen before.

Here is an interesting detail picture from page two.


The Lazy Susan picture caption reads,

“Newest of the design innovations by Coppes Napanee is the ‘Lady Susan revolving–top island unit.’ Counter top revolves full 360 degrees, and built–in electric range and blender-mixer operate even when top is being turned. Base section has pull-out table and two benches to seat four people. Custom-built hardwood unit (as shown) is finished in white maple natural grain stain, trimmed with gold tone provincial moulding and complemented by antique brass hardware.”

If anyone has one of these units at home, be assured, we want it.