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Following the Toilet Paper Trail

Hello, welcome to Bill’s History Corner. This is the place where I try to explain items/information we find about the factory that made the Napanee Dutch Kitchenet.  This week I going to attempt some bathroom humor. As we are going through the boxes of old factory receipts, we find some very interesting things. This receipt got my attention, and then I tried to think about how I could explain it. Well, here is where bathroom humor meets Coppes, Zook & Mutschler.

This receipt is from the L.H. GARDNER PAPER CO. successors to LAUREN H. GARDNER MANUF’R OF TOILET PAPER, from MUMFORD, N.Y.  This first receipt is dated Feb. 26, 1906. Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. ordered three cases of CULL toilet paper, which weighted in at 520 pounds (the railroad thought it was 550 pounds). After a 2% discount for prompt payment, the cost of the 3 cases was $22.90. Wonder what the difference between CULL toilet paper and the best grade is?

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We also have the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. freight ticket for this order. A notation on the freight receipt is written as “1 Bx Broken open contents apparently ok”.  Looks like the C, Z & M Co. gave a .15 cents tip to the railroad Co., possibly for repacking the toilet paper. My inquiring mind wants to know: how many rolls of TP were in these three cases? I would never do this, but have you seen houses around Nappanee that were TPed?

The second receipt is from the same company and dated Jan 31, 1907. This order is also for three cases of cull toilet paper. This order weighed 460 pounds and cost $20.70. So far, these two receipts are the only ones we have found, there are sure to be others. A penciled notation on this receipt indicates that 1 case was sent to building “B” and 2 cases sent to building “A” for use. Interesting, none were sent to the office. Maybe they brought their toilet paper from home. And that concludes the bathroom humor for today.

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The Dutch Lady on the Road

Hello and welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. Keep those cards and letters coming. This week I was thinking of how I could write about something that would be interesting to everyone. I couldn’t think of any, so I’m writing about a store in Fort Dodge, Iowa. This should make at least one person happy.

Fort Dodge Showroom

A picture I want to show you today is a store’s showroom window. I assume it was on the street level so it would catch the attention of people passing by. The display in the window is two Coppes kitchenet cabinets with the Dutch Lady and a lot of signs.

The cabinet on the left side is a 1922 Model G, and the one on the right is a 1922 Model E. So, we can guess that the time period for this picture was the early 1920s. We know that the “Dutch Lady” found her way into Coppes advertising around 1916, but we still don’t know where she came from or who thought she would be a good addition. This window was a typical showroom window; we have several pictures of showrooms. Making use of existing stores was the main method that Coppes used to sell cabinets during this time period, and if the store had a picture store window, the better the sale.

Try to picture an over-the-road salesmen with a Coppes Kitchenet in the back seat of their car, going door to door. Besides the two cabinets and the “Dutch Lady,” this window had several smaller signs pointing to the better points of a Coppes Dutch Kitchenet. Also, a 42-piece dinner set would have been given to each purchaser of a cabinet. A sign that is difficult to see and read is the “A. D. McQuilkin Co. ” sign in the lower left.

A.D. McQuilkin Co. Store Discovered

When I finally realized this sign was there, I was off and running, hunting the Internet for more information on this store. Among some of the interesting items I found on the Internet is this next picture of the street where the McQuiltin Co. store was located. The building on the right side with the sign painted on it is the McQuilkin store. The sign reads “The big store with the little prices”. Notice the horse and wagons in the street. This is a 1915 picture.

DesMoines Register Newspaper Ad 1923

Another item I found is this newspaper advertisement for the Coppes Co-Operative Sale. This paper is the Des Moines Register from Feb. 11, 1923, and lists 81 stores (including A. D. McQuiltin) that are having a Coppes kitchenet Sale at the same time. This is the first time we have known of a ‘Co-operative” sale. How did that kind of sale work? Normally when an individual store had a Coppes Kitchenet sale, as part of the contract, a Coppes employee who specialized in kitchenet salesmenship was in the store during the 3-4 day sale to help with the cabinet sales. How did that work when there were 81 stores in the same area? Inquiring minds want to know.

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A Peek Inside the 1952 House & Garden Book of Building

Hello, and welcome to another Bill’ History Corner. We recently acquired a 1952 issue of the House & Garden Book of Building. We mainly got this magazine because it had a Coppes Inc. advertisement in it.

What has been of great interest to us is the comparison between the Coppes advertisement and other kitchen cabinet companies in this magazine. This magazine is intended for people planning on building a new house and has 40 new house plans and sections on remolding and maintenance. It seems like a great place for a Coppes advertisement for kitchen cabinets.

I wonder what the advertising budget for Coppes Inc. was in 1952. From what we see in this magazine, that advertising budget was not very big. Here are some of the ads in this magazine. Decide for yourself if the advertising was the best they could have had.

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A Unique Find From Saskatchewan

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Bill’ History Corner. I have been having an interesting email conversation with a young lady for the past several months. Her emails started as so many other emails have. Basically, people are asking when their cabinet was made and which company made it? “What can you tell me about my kitchen cabinet?” Usually, I can give a positive answer, then sometimes I’m completely stumped. The most difficult questions are the ones with cabinets that have no markings and look as if any of 20 or so companies could have made it in their factory. I’m sure that I’ve said it before, but cabinet companies borrowed ideas from other cabinets that were already on the market. This is why so many look alike.

This History Corner does not have that problem with this story. The kitchen cabinet that I have been emailing about looks like no other cabinet I have ever seen. First, it was made in Canada, the country to the North, in case you have forgotten. Second, I thought it was a one-of-a-kind kitchen cabinet, and I think our email conversations bear that out. The drawers have hand-cut dovetails. The young lady’s initials are MB (I told her I would not use her name). The cabinet has the name of MB’s Great Grandfather,  G. HAMILTON + DONGOUGH (his town) + SASK (Saskatchewan) written on the back side.

dovetailed drawer from 19th c cabinet

Furniture that I have seen with a person’s name written on it is usually an indication that it was made by the person that signed it. So, from the beginning, I thought this cabinet was a one of a kind cabinet having been made by G. Hamilton. When I suggested this theory to MB, she was not so sure but has since found military records indicating that G. Hamilton was indeed a cabinetmaker before he entered the military for WWI. MB has started to piece together her family genealogy, which is very rewarding for anyone who does it.  This is what history she has shared so far.

 “My great grandparents did not have a lot of money, so it is definitely possible he built it. My Great- grandpa (Gavin Hamilton) was a farmer later on in life. I’m not sure what he did before 1933 (cabinetmaker). I think I mentioned this before, but he brought his family (including my infant grandmother) over from Saskatchewan to British Columbia in 1933 via horse-drawn covered wagon. He bought a plot of land just outside of Nelson, (about 30 acres and some of it lakefront) built a barn, cleared land for a farm and built a home [with] the help of the older sons. He then became a farmer for a living: mostly cows and chickens. He would have been about 50 years old when he was doing all of this! He was 40 when he started having children with my great grandmother when they had their 9th and 10th children (twins) he was 60 years old!   The property is still owned by my family. My mom’s cousin owns the upper 20 acres of the property including the original barn which until this past summer was still being used for cows and chickens. My mom and her sister own the original house together and we go up at least once per year.”

This is the cabinet that we have been discussing.

Early Hoosier Cabinet

As you can see, it needs some work. MB is planning on repairing/restoring/fixing it but does not want to lose the original color or character of the cabinet. Notice that the work surface appears to pull out like a genuine Hoosier cabinet, so likely Mr. Hamilton may have seen a Hoosier cabinet in his work as a cabinetmaker. I’ve suggested she add some color where needed and basically leave the rest alone.  It’s her cabinet, she can decide what to do.

Another very interesting aspect of this cabinet is the interior tin work. The flour bin is on the left side, and there are tall containers for tea and coffee with sugar in the center, shelves for spice jars and spaces for cups or other cooking utensils. This tin work is different from any that I have seen. It does look familiar, but I can not place it yet. Still working on the tinware, maybe in the U. S. patents, is where I remember seeing tinware like this. I do think the tinware was commercially made and that Mr. Hamilton may have ordered it from a mail-order company- Sears, possibly. It does look like the three-part tin portion would pull forward and out of the cabinet, for cleaning and filling.

tinware inside a custom Hoosier cabinet

What would you do if you inherited an old family piece of furniture with that much history that needed some repair, how much would you fix it up or leave it alone?

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A Lightbulb Moment at CZM – 1909

Hide Leather & Belting Co.

This week we are looking closely at a couple receipts from the Hide, Leather & Belting Company from Indianapolis. This batch of receipts are from the 1909 -10 period. Coppes, Zook & Mutchler Co. ordered extensively from this company. We have receipts for large orders at least every month of this year.  The sales receipt lists the company products as the following, “Mfg. of the Volt and other oak tanned leather belting, also rubber belting, hoses, and steam packing. Also, agents for Rainbow packing, Eclipse, Gasket, and Dodge Wood Split Pulleys, and Buckeye Electric lamps, Shafting and Hangers, Steam, Water and Air Hoses.” I would think that the C, Z & M Co. had a need for most of this companies’ products.

The 1st receipt I want to show you is a straightforward purchase of a length of “VOLT” style belting. The receipt is for 68 ft. of 10-inch-wide Dble Volt belting with 1 foot added for the lap joint, making it an endless style of belt. This belt weighed 98 pounds and was shipped by railroad from Indianapolis. I’m assuming the term “Dble” means double thickness, making this a very large and strong belt for driving a mainline shaft from the power source.  The price of this belt is listed as $67.62. The company received a 2% discount on this order. Next to this receipt is the Railroad Company shipping receipt. We do not know when the order was placed, but the receipt was typed up on May 11th, also shipped by the rail company on the 11th, arrived in Nappanee 3 days later on the 14th and then the receipt marked PAID by Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co on May 27, 1909.


On March 18, 1909, the C, Z & M Co. ordered 100 – 115 / Volt 40-Watt Tungsten (lightbulbs) at $110.00. There was a $30.80 discount on this order, making the total cost for 100 bulbs $79.20. So far so good, but for some reason, the factory that manufactures these light bulbs also sent a shipment of 100 of the same kind of light bulbs. Both shipments are on Hide, Leather & Belting Co. paper, so clearly someone made a mistake. What did C, Z & M Co. do about this mistake? First, they contacted the Leather company asking for a credit Memorandum on the number of bulbs they didn’t order. They received the credit on the order and a business letter from the company explaining the mistake (click images to enlarge).

What the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. did with the 100 extra 40-watt light bulbs is explained in the penciled in notations on the receipt. The Nappanee hardware store of Howenstein & Burbach was contacted, and the bulbs were sold to the hardware store.

We have found several business receipts from the Howenstein & Burback Co. to the C, Z & M Co. It was likely that the hardware store kept a running charge account for the C, Z & M Co. We have found receipts where there is a purchase and charge every business day, some days more than one. It would have been so handy for someone to walk to the hardware store and pick up whatever was needed at the time. Then at the end of the month, a bill was submitted to the company. This is typical of business life at the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Company in 1909.

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Runners for a One Horse Open Sleigh?

Wright invoice

Today we are looking at a receipt from Feb. 1st, 1912. The Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. purchased one set (2) sled runners from the concern of JOHN J. WRIGHT, BREMEN, IND, MASHALL COUNTY.

“2 PCS. SLED RUNNERS, 4×4 x 5-10 AT $1.80” was how the invoice read.

To better understand what this actually was we need to know that the C, Z & M Co. was using large horse-drawn sleds in the winter when the ground was frozen to bring logs to their sawmills. These “runners” were 4 inches square by 5 feet 10 inches long. Most certainly these “runners” were steam curved in front and would be fixed with a steel wear plate to make them last longer. Notice that this invoice was signed “O. K.” by JDC (John D. Coppes)

Update 1/2/20

Since publishing this post, we shared it with our friends “down the road” at Historic Bremen, and they shared a little more information about John J. Wright. Take a look at these great photos and captions they provided!

Wright building
“Wright’s Bent-wood Factory” (pictured here in 1888) was built by John Wright on the corner of W Plymouth and S Whitlock Streets in 1869. Products include bent-wood material for building carriages, houses, fencing, etc. The Wright’s Bent-wood factory was Bremen’s largest employer in 1890.
John J. Wright
John J Wright was one of the foremost businessmen of Bremen in its early days, coming to town in 1868 and starting a box factory and wood bending works (bentwood was used in the manufacture of carriages and furniture) and a dry goods store with an opera house above.
Note: the same photo was used in his 1911 obituary and noted as having been taken for his 50th anniversary in 1904.
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Wherein Bill Investigates a Little-Known Nappanee Company From the 30’s

Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. This week I’m going to introduce a company that I know very little about. How is that for a teaser? The company is the Nappanee Water Filter Co. From the little I have been able to discover, this company was in business during the1930’s, with company headquarters located on S. Clark St. I have not found much information in the Nappanee Weekly Newspapers. I’m assuming this was because of the Great Depression, but I’m just guessing about that. One small undated Newspaper snippet reads as follows:

“Harry Greene and A. E. Jervis sold their interest in the Nappanee Water Filter Company and the Specially Manufacturing Company to J. E Gall and have started a partnership in the old building in the rear of 1452 S. Clark Street where the factory headquarters was located several years ago. A lease has been taken on the old saw mill formerly operated by Coppes Bros. in the East part of the city and on Tuesday of this week the New firm Known as the Nappanee Roof Paint Company began the making of paint there.   

Later on the company will begin the making of water filters but for the present intend to confine their activity to the making of roof paint.”

I think that this Harry Greene is the same Person that was a cashier at the Farmers and Traders Bank in 1909. He was also the son-in-law of George Lamb of the Lamb Bros and Greene Mfg. concern that started making the wonderful art glass lamps in Nappanee. The other two gentlemen mentioned in the story are still a mystery.

As you can see, the NAPPANEE WATER FILTER Co. receipt (dated Jan. 14, 37) lists the company products as BATTERY AND DOMESTIC WATER FILTERS and NAPPANEE WATER SOFTENERS, ASPHALT [??????] ROOF PAINT – ASPHALT ROOF PAINT, PLASTIC ROOF CEMENT, at a location on Nappanee St.

This receipt makes it appear that the Nappanee Roof Paint Co. and the Nappanee Water Filter Co. were once again joined into one company. Does anyone know more about these companies? If you have information to contribute, please contact us.

The reason for starting this History corner is the fact that a Nappanee Battery Filter was donated to the Coppes Hoosier Cabinet Museum. Here is a picture of the filter and the sign I put on the display.

“This is an example of the BATTERY WATER FILTER manufactured by the NAPPANEE WATER FILTER CO. This company was located in various buildings in Nappanee during the 1930’s (one of those was the old Coppes Saw Mill building). An office was at 50 Nappanee St. in 1937. This company did little advertising, consequently very little is known about the company. One receipt from this company lists their products as “BATTERY and DOMESTIC WATER FILTERS and NAPPANEE WATER SOFTENERS, ASPHALT ROOF PAINT, & PLASTIC ROOF CEMENT.

Donated by the family of Virgil Welty, originally from Nappanee. His children are Vavon Welty – Goshen, Merritt Welty – Boise, ID, Ellen Welty Nussbaum – Ohio. Virgil worked as Head Mechanic at Elkhart Packing Co. where this Battery Water Filter had been in use. It was given to him for his faithful years of service.”

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History Detective Help Wanted

Just wanted to say a quick hello to all my regular readers, those in the West and those back in Pennsylvania. Here is a joke intended to make you smile: Seems an old man, one-room school teacher would always say this to his class about two weeks before Christmas, “ I want to thank those of you who have sent Christmas gifts to my house, I really appreciate them.”

If you read this space on a regular schedule, you know that I enjoy hunting for new discoveries. Well, this one has me stumped. I’ve looked at everything I can think of and then some other stuff just because I didn’t know what else to do.

I purchased this tin nameplate or medallion, (whatever you want to call it) at a local antique store last year. I think it would have been soldered on the Clothing Washing Machine. The most important part is the line MNFD. by J.C. Mellinger of Nappanee, Indiana. You likely remember the J.C. Mellinger name. As a reminder, J.C. was John & Frank Coppes’s brother-in-law. He was married to John & Frank’s older sister Lucinda. J.C. Mellinger was also the sawmill owner that John & Frank first began working with in 1876. Then when the business started to boom, the brothers purchased J.C. Mellinger’s share of the business. We know of some of the jobs that J.C. had after the sawmill business. He worked as a teller at the Farmers & Traders Bank and was a partner in a local brick-making company. I’m speculating that J.C. was looking for a business where he could invest some funds. The Washing Machine Company would explain my idea. I’m just guessing here because I have no information beyond this tin medallion.

So, I’m asking for any help, or suggestions you can offer. Have you ever seen a clothing washing machine with a label like this? I searched the Patents for this date and found nothing related to these names on the label. I searched EBAY to see if anyone was selling a washing machine like this one. I did a Google search, but only found some sites that tell about the old-style hand-powered washing machines and have lists of examples. But this is not what I was looking for. In 1891 the home washing machine was the plunger-type of machine: a long handle on a sheet metal device that was worked up & down in the laundry tub. Seems like there were 100s of different types manufactured.


Fast Forward

That was last night. As I sat here rereading this story tonight, I thought I may as well give it another shot. This time I tried Google Patents. Typed in Herrington, 1891 and voila, there was the Herrington patent for a CLOTHES-POUNDER. Now why didn’t I think of that before, maybe I did, don’t remember. So, here is a copy of the patent, which is number 460,966.

A portion of the text for this patent reads “In operation, the clothing or other articles to be washed are placed in the tub or suds box employed with the proper quantity of soap or other cleansing agent and the device lowered upon the clothes and vertically reciprocated.”  Don’t you just love the legalese and patent language that people used in the patent descriptions?

More questions. . .

Now the next task is to find out if this “Clothes Pounder” was ever actually manufactured by J.C. Mellinger. Now remember, this business did not necessarily happen in Nappanee. Nappanee is just where J. C. was living, I could see the situation where J.C. Mellinger purchased an ongoing business located in another city. But again, the existence of the name tags indicates that the “Clothes Pounder” likely, may have been produced. Something else to hunt for in antique stores. I just love this job.

During my searching for J.C. Mellinger information, I found this house picture with the caption “J. C. Mellinger House. This was a picture taken by Nappanee’s famous photographer John Keller and now in the Evelyn Lehman Culp Heritage Collection Photograph Collection. Thanks to the Nappanee center. I suppose that is Lucinda (Coppes) Mellinger setting on the porch. Anyone know where this house was located? Thanks for reading see ya next week.

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Site Beautification 1911

Hello and welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner. This is the place that we give up the secrets. Ha Ha, just kidding; any secrets we think we know were likely spread during the last century. What we do know, we know by studying the paper trail left by the Coppes factory. Somewhere during the last century, maybe several times, employees did not destroy (as directed) company papers. Rather, they stored them away in an unused area for someone to find in the future. Well, the future is now, and we have found boxes of company papers and company receipts from the approx. years of 1895 to 1920. Everything that the company purchased during those years is recorded in these boxes. I’ve said it before and I want to keep saying it; we owe a huge amount of gratitude to those employees who had the foresight to protect the company history the way they did.

Vaughan Seed Store Catalog

This week I want to discuss the Vaughan Seed Store, Chicago ILL. We know about this because we have found the receipts in those boxes, I was telling you about. The Vaughan Seed Store was massive. They could supply almost anything you could imagine in the plant line. Today there is still a large supply of information on the Internet about the Vaughan Seed Store. The first two scans I want to show you is from the Internet. These are scans from one of the vintage catalogs that Vaughan sent to customers. Color pages of flowers help sell merchandise.

Vaughan Store Receipts

We have several receipts from the Vaughan store during 1908-12. Here are some of the more interesting ones below. The first one is dated Oct. 21, 1911, just about this time of the year. The order was for 12 different types of flowers. I’m thinking these were bulbs to be planted in the fall for blooming in the coming year. I hope I’m correct about that. (I have been corrected, some bulbs, but some must have been live plants) To the left side is a pencil notation that says, “see Marvin” (Coppes). Apparently, Marvin Coppes planned on planting a lot of flowers. I wonder where he put them? By 1911 Marvin was 30 years old and was married for nine years, so likely he and his family had a home of their own. Two of each of these flowers would make a large flower bed.

The 2nd scan I want to show is also for Marvin Coppes but is in the following May of 1912. This receipt is for 1 Bu. (bushel) lawn grass Seed, Chicago Parks —$3.95; also   5 Lbs. White Clover (seed) —-$2.35 ; the third item is 100 LBS. V’s Lawn & Garden Fertilizer  —$3.00.  Looks to me like Marvin is making a new lawn, has he purchased a new home, maybe built a new home in the country?

The next scan I want to show was divided among Marvin, Ivan and Harold Coppes, children of Frank & John Coppes. This receipt is for red raspberry and black raspberry plants; Special offer Grapes; 12 of V’s “Best Hardy Roses”; 2 different Peach trees; three different Cherry trees; and two types of apple trees. I wonder where all these plants were intended for. Sort of gives you a different impression of these men, doesn’t it?

Early Landscaping

The last two pictures I want to show you are from approx. 1910 & 1912. The street in front of the factory was paved with brick, as was Main and the remainder of Market Street in 1909. Soon after this, the Coppes management decided to “beautify” the property. They brought in a Landscape Architect to make plans for the project. The results of that plan are shown in these pictures. First the plants are really small and planted close together and also close to the street. Later the plants (trees) are larger and there are none along the street. What happened?

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Purchase Premiums with the Dutch Kitchenet

Hello, Welcome to another edition of Bill’s History Corner. This is the place where we talk about the things we find about the Coppes Companies. We are still going through the treasure trove of company receipts that were saved by some former employees. I wish I could thank those employees in person.

Today we are learning where and who supplied the silverware that was offered as premiums when purchasing a Coppes Kitchenet. The general public that went to any of the Coppes sales stores would receive a prize of some kind. Often it was a measuring cup with the Coppes Kitchenet name embossed in the bottom. Other times it was a hand mixer – something to help the person remember the Coppes name. Newspaper advertising for Coppes Kitchenet sales offered other premiums with a cabinet purchase; sets of dinnerware, silverware, canister sets, steak knives and utensils and even a supply of canned goods.

We have just learned from whom some of the silverware was purchased with these newly discovered receipts. The Manufacturers’ Premium Co. Chicago, Ill. “PREMIUM SELLING and PREMIUM SERVICE” was one such company. From this receipt, we learned that C, Z & M Co. purchased 100 – Thurlow N. S. 26-pc. Sets and Leatherette cases at $248.00   – – Silver shipped from factory   Cases shipped from Chicago.      Building B Purchase OK.

This receipt was dated Aug. 9, 1911. Likely this silverware was planned as the premium gift during a sales promotion with a store somewhere in the U.S. Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. often gave premiums with the purchase of a Coppes Kitchenet. I wonder if this silver was an idea originating with the Coppes factory or from the sales store. I also wonder if the sale price of each cabinet was increased to compensate for the free gift.