Posted on Leave a comment

Nappanee Stockyards – Date Unknown

Nappanee Stockyards

What a busy place on this day! It may have been some type of special market day or maybe this was the normal amount of activity in early Nappanee – lots of farm wagons bringing livestock to the stock yards for sale. As you can see, the fenced in area on the right side of this photo is the unloading pen. One wagon after another would pull into the pen and unload. Notice that some of the wagons have what appears to be a smaller box pen in the back of the wagons while other wagons have boards across the top, apparently to keep the animals from escaping. I’m guessing, because of my many months on a farm, that the majority of animals being brought to market this day are likely pigs. Although, I can see after an enlargement of the picture, sheep in one wagon and a calf in another.

I think that the camera man was standing on top of a train car that sat on one of the side tracks. Almost every person in the picture is posed, as if the picture taking process does not happen often. The wagon in the bottom center of the photo looks like a freight wagon, certainly not a farm wagon. How he became in that position is fun to speculate about. Did he arrive early and then get caught in the traffic jam, or is he attempting to send his crate on the train? The overloaded wagon in the lower left is also a puzzle. Looks like the wheels are going to fold in because of the weight in the wagon. What does he have in his wagon? Can you find the boy on a bicycle?

This location is at the South end of Elm Street at the Rail Road tracks, looking North toward Lincoln Street and East Market Street. The farthest-away horses are close to standing on Lincoln Street. The church steeple at the top is an early church on the corner of Elm & East Market St. where the Calvary Baptist Church is now located. Another clue to the date of this photo is the street light at the corner of Elm and East Market Street. Do you know when Nappanee put up street lights? Also, I’m not sure (the trees may be in the way) but I don’t see any large two-story buildings on the West (left) side of Elm street that could be the Coppes Hotel. Samuel Coppes left the Coppes Brothers Company in 1890 for other business enterprises, one of which was the Coppes Hotel which he had built in 1891. This picture must be before 1891.

This raises another question in my brain: what is the oldest picture taken of a building, a location or person in Nappanee? Do you have an early Nappanee photograph you would be willing to share with everyone? There are several very early reprinted photographs in the Nappanee centennial book They Called it Nappanee.  If you have not seen this book, the Nappanee Library has a copy in the historical section. I learned a lot from reading it.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Dutch Girl Rides Again. . . . on a Parade Float

I found this picture at the Nappanee Library’s Heritage Room several years ago. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I could ever use it is a meaningful way. Then the History Corner started, and several pictures I collected have gotten a new lease on life.

dutch girl on parade float

This is a float for a 1921 Nappanee parade.  It is likely a 4th of July parade because of the bunting on the float, but there is no other indication of which parade it may have been. Someone had the foresight to write some information on the picture. Bertha Silberg is playing the role of the “Dutch Girl.” In 1921, the Coppes & Zook Company was producing thousands of the “Hoosier” cabinets every year. The 20’s was the peak production years for the Coppes & Zook Company’s Napanee Line of kitchen cabinets. We have one order ledger from 1924-25. This is the only company ledger we have in the collection that lists the number of cabinets sold and who (which store) purchased them. We found this ledger in the large piles of trash left behind in the old parts of the factory. We may never know where the other ledgers went, but we sure would like to find them.

Likely we will never know exactly how many “Hoosier” type kitchen cabinets were manufactured during this time period. So far, we have collected names and information on 50 different companies that made and sold kitchen cabinets that could be called Hoosier kitchen Cabinets. Not all of the companies were in Indiana, (ohio, Penna, Texas) but they made cabinets that looked like the Hoosier cabinets that were so popular during this time period.

Posted on Leave a comment

Coppes Bros. & Zook 1920 Magazine Ad

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner.

Today we have a scan of a page from “THE FURNITURE WORKER” dated December of 1920. As you can read, Coppes Bros. & Zook Company was starting a large advertising campaign in several magazines.

furniture worker

Coppes Bros. & Zook was aiming their ads. at furniture dealers, pointing out how easy it will be for them to have a huge sales event by having a Coppes Dutch Kitchenet sale in their store. This was the method that Coppes Bros. & Zook used to sell cabinets. Any store with enough floor space was a candidate for having a Coppes Kitchen Cabinet sale. Coppes would send a Coppes employee to the store during the sale to help with selling the cabinets. Each family that came into the store just to look at the new kitchen cabinets was given a souvenir, usually something with the Coppes logo on it.

Also, interesting is the notice of two upcoming Dutch Kitchen Cabinet displays at different Furniture Expositions in Chicago at the Western Furniture Exhibition building and at New York’s Furniture Exchange.

Posted on Leave a comment

Early 20th C. Nappanee Map

Today we are looking at a map of Nappanee, date unknown. Hopefully, your computer will allow you to enlarge it to see some of the details. Sorry about the light glare. This map is from my personal collection, one that we were lucky enough to find on eBay. As you may have determined by now my family has a long history with the town of Nappanee. Maybe you can find an ancestor’s name on this map. Good luck hunting!

As far as the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler companies were concerned, or later when the company was just Coppes Bros. & Zook (Frank & John Coppes and Harold Zook) they had a large property footprint in Nappanee. You know by now that the name of the company changed as the personnel changed in the company.

There isn’t a printed date on this map so it will take some educated guesses to determine the published date. To begin the process of guessing the date it will be important to know the dates of the Coppes company name changes. The last of the major name changes was in 1936 when the Coppes Family members purchased the remaining company stock from Harold Zook and his mother. The name of the company became “Coppes, Inc.” after 1936, and continued into the next century. So here are the clues that I found that help date this map.  There is the property that is named “Mutschler Bros Co.” that could only be formed after the breakup of the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. in 1913 after Daniel Zook died. The Coppes owned property has the name of “Coppes Bros. & Zook Co.” on it, so the time for this map was between 1913 and 1936.

To narrow the published date more closely than that you will need to look for other sources of information. The Nappanee News should be a major help determining a more accurate date. You will need to look for property transfers and development properties. There are several areas on this map that are marked as “additions” such as “Hartman’s Add” or “Metzler’s 3rd ADD”. You will notice Barney Uline’s property in the South West portion, later you will know this area as the “Apple Orchard”.  Also, the Factory of Lamb Bros. and Green Co. along the R. R. tracks to the East, these buildings that are on South Jackson St. are still there. The Coppes Bros & Zook Company has their name on four large properties on this map. The area of the original factory, (now Coppes Commons) the Mill Property on South Main St., The area on South Jackson St. where the 3rd sawmill was located, and a lumber storage area on the South side of the tracks. Likely there were numerous other properties connected with the Coppes Companies over the history of Nappanee. Remember that John & Frank and also the Mutschler Bros. built houses with the intent of creating housing for company workers to live in when they came to Nappanee to work for their respective company. For a number of years, there was a housing shortage for factory workers in Nappanee.

If you find other clues as to the date of this map, we would love to hear from you. You can contact me with questions or comments at  thanks.

Posted on Leave a comment

World’s Largest Lumber Ledger

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner

Don’t forget history makes you smart, Heritage makes you proud.

Today I have a treat for some of you folks. If you that like to connect history with your own family, maybe you can do some of that with today’s History Corner.

In the piles of trash that were left in the old parts of the abandoned Coppes factory, we found several ledgers. One of those ledgers listed the timber purchased from local people. Maybe your ancestors will be on the list, I don’t know, but I’m going to give you a chance to find out. Click HERE for an alphabetical listing of SOME OF the people in this timber ledger. Most of the purchases took place in teens and the 1920s.  We are up to page 123 out of ???????.

This list has the person’s name, town or location, date of timber purchase and the page number where the listing is located. If you find a relative’s name on the list and want more information, email me to make an appointment to look at the book. This ledger is one of the larger and more fragile ledgers that we have in the collection. I will have it in the Coppes Commons Kitchen Cabinet Museum on the 2nd floor. We can have it out on the table in the office area so you can take your time looking. Bring your smartphone to take a picture of the page. Looking at the ledger will tell you the number/quantity of timber/trees and the species along with the dollar amount for the purchase. It will also make the historical connection with your family and the Coppes Factory. This ledger covers only a small amount of time in the history of the Coppes Company. Certainly the early sawmill was purchasing great quantities of timber in the local area plus from far-away timber stands that were shipped in by trains. The Coppes Company kept a large number of horses at the factory and teamsters on the payrolls just for the purpose of hauling logs the sawmill.

Good luck! I hope you will find a connection with your family and the timber ledger. Let us know if you have more questions! Email me at .

Posted on Leave a comment

Pondering a Coppes Bros. & Zook Photo Circa 1936

Today we are looking at the front corner of the Coppes & Zook factory in approx. 1930-35.

factory garage

I can determine the date by looking at the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from that era. The Sanborn map from 1924 did not have the garage building connected with the main factory buildings, but the map from 1930 does show the connecting building. Also, the automobiles in the picture help with the date. Does anyone know the date on the cars in this picture? It’s before my time, but I think the car in the drive is a 1936 Chevy. Help me, am I correct?

The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are wonderful if you are studying early factory buildings. I think the Sanborn insurance Company started producing the maps around 1870. They were intended to help their salesmen sell fire insurance to industrial customers. But now in 2018, these maps are a wealth of information, mainly about industrial areas across the United States. There are depository libraries across the U.S. that have collections of the maps. The Fort Wayne library has a set, and that is where we got ours. They can also be purchased online.

Sanborn Map 1931

Back to the picture we are looking at: this low building with the garage doors was where the company stored the wagons that were used to haul logs to the sawmill. The taller building to the rear is the stables for the horses. This stable building is still here and not changed very much. The front “garage” building was converted into the showrooms with huge glass windows along Market St. and also the 2nd and 3rd floors were added for offices.

In 1922 the sawmill that had been at the rear of the Coppes & Zook complex burned to the ground. This fire started the process of moving the sawmill to South Jackson St. This move allowed this area, previously a log storage lot, to be cleared and the “garage” building erected. I can’t help but wonder if this horse and wagon era wasn’t on its last legs in the 1920s. Certainly, using a horse to skid logs in a forest is environmentally friendly, but in 1925-9 how much did the company rely on Horses and wagons and not motor trucks? We do know the company shipped in logs on train cars. By 1925 I would think the company had already purchased and removed all the local timber that could be transported by Horse and wagons.

John and Frank Coppes grew up in the era when they depended on horses (for work and pleasure). We know that both brothers had great pride in the teams of horses they used for their personal transportation. My question then is, did the brothers allow their love for horses to influence their business decision about constructing this horse stable and wagon garage at the end of the horse era, instead of switching to trucks to haul logs?

Posted on Leave a comment

The Coppes Hotel

Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. Today I want to show several pictures and talk briefly about a famous building that was a Nappanee and Northern Indiana landmark for many years. I’m referring to the Coppes Hotel, opened for business in Jan. 1892 and removed in 1965.
coppes hotel front view


The location of this building was on East Market Street, where the Key Bank is now located.

hotel from east

The Coppes Hotel was constructed by Samuel Coppes, the older brother of John & Frank Coppes. For several years the three brothers were in business together as the Coppes Bros. Company, operating their sawmill, retail & wholesale lumber sales, flour mill, and the box factory. In approx. 1890, Samuel left the Coppes Bros. Co. and, with his son Harvey, purchased the Farmers and Traders Bank in Nappanee. Soon after they let it be known that a new hotel was in the works.

coppes hotel with car

The Coppes Hotel Had rooms on the 2nd floor, a reception area and meeting rooms on the 1st floor. There was also a “lunch Room” where many cups of coffee and fresh pastries were enjoyed.

Posted on Leave a comment

President Hoover Visits Nappanee

Hello, A little something different today at Bill’s History Corner.

Our boss had this picture in his collection for a long time, so long that he doesn’t remember where it came from. What we have is a photo of Nappanee people standing at the Train station listening to President Herbert Hoover as he makes a campaign stop during a trip through the Midwest on Nov. 4, 1932.

Hoover at the Depot

I’ve been looking at this picture for about an hour by now and have a couple ideas. Instead of me attempting to explain this picture, I’m going to suggest things that you can do if you are interested in finding more information.

First, you can now do Google internet searches, I did, and found several listings for this event. You almost never have an exact picture in your mind of what you will find on the internet. I find that I’m usually surprised by what stuff is on the net. You can read what President Hoover said from the train’s rear platform.  I’ll bet there were “newsreel” films of the stops along the way.

No doubt, the Nappanee News had reporters covering this event and pictures published in the local papers. In 1932, this was big news in Nappanee. This event was only 86 years ago, so it may be possible that some local people were at the event – if they remember the event- it will depend on how young they were, but this may lead to the discovery of some family photos taken this day. I do see a couple young children in the lower right of the picture.

I hope I have encouraged you to take a larger interest in your history. I don’t have all the answers. I also don’t have all the questions that should be asked. Your help would be appreciated. If you find any new information about this picture, I hope you will share it with us so we can post it for all to see. Remember my motto, HISTORY MAKES YOU SMART, HERITAGE MAKES YOU PROUD.

Posted on Leave a comment

A Busy Scene on the Other Side of the Tracks

rail yards

Today we are looking at a vintage picture of the factory area that surrounded the Nappanee Furniture Co., later the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. building A, and still later the Mutschler Brothers Co. I love looking at these old pictures with a powerful magnifying glass to see all the details. If you can enlarge the photo, you will see the name on the building closest to the tracks. This building is still at this location but now it has red steel siding covering the exterior.   At the time of this picture, there was also a train track spur along the building to make loading easier. Notice how busy the train tracks are. Looks like all these train cars stationary and are off the main line, which could mean each car is doing business with a company in Nappanee.  Some logs on train cars were likely destined for the Coppes sawmill, and at least one animal stock car is at the loading ramp at the stock yard pens. Several freight cars were possibly for the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. for shipping kitchen cabinets and other furniture to far-away customers. This many train cars gives the impression of a very busy Nappanee.

 During the partnership period from 1903 through 1913, these factory buildings were called “C, Z & M Co. Building A”. Having the different building sets named with letters allowed for less confusion. For example, instead of someone saying “take this load over to the big factory” which might cause confusion,  they could have said “Take this load to factory A” and that would have eliminated any confusion and unwanted mistakes.  The brick factory buildings that are now the Coppes Commons Buildings was “Factory B” and the one-story tin building that was (now, no longer there) behind “factory B” was “factory C”. Finally, the sawmill was named “Factory D”.

Other interesting parts of this photo are the stockyards at the center bottom and the Laughlin Bros Co. Onion Storage No. 1 and Onion Storage No. 2 buildings. The roof of the original Nappanee Furniture building has the name on the roof with either different color roof shingles or it is painted on. The building behind the original Nappanee furniture Co. building is the Uline Company building. Very difficult to see, but the words “Butter Tubs” is Painted (or shingled) on the roof of this building.

Behind all of these buildings are huge piles of lumber that is air drying. This is the lumber storage area for the Coppes Bros. and Zook sawmill. If you can zoom in well enough you can see a wagon and men working at one of the stacks directly behind the brick building of “Factory A”. The pile of lumber is more than 2 times as tall as the men. Behind the piles of lumber is farmland.  The whole area that now encompasses Nappanee South of the tracks was still a very rural area when this picture was shot.

Has anyone thought about how or where this picture was shot? I don’t think drones were available back then. This picture was taken from the highest structure in Nappanee, by a photographer using a 1910 era camera and tripod while standing on the walkway of the Nappanee water tower.

Posted on Leave a comment

Pay Day at the “Green House”

Today we are looking at a picture of workmen lined up to receive their pay packet in front of the Green (painted green) office building at the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. Nappanee, IN. As you can see, the photo has “PAY DAY, C.Z.M. Co. Nap.” Written on the lower right corner.

Pay Day

The office building was constructed in 1898, several years before the partnership started. This picture got me thinking about other photos we may have of the office building. At the end of this history corner you will find other pictures of the Coppes Bros. & Zook office. Enjoy.

Two things about the photo help date it. First the “C.Z.M. Co.” which stands for Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co.: the partnership between John & Frank Coppes, Dan Zook and his son Harold Zook and Albert and Charles Mutschler that lasted roughly from 1903 through 1913. On Nov. 15, 1912, Dan Zook died and the C, Z & M Co. partnership split up, with Albert and Charles returning to the buildings that were originally the Nappanee Furniture Company (now Mutschler complex). Harold Zook continued to be associated with the Coppes Bros. with the new 1913 name becoming Coppes Bros. & Zook, the same name as before the partnership but now with Harold instead of this father Dan Zook as the associate. Most likely the partnership split was as friendly as it could be. These men were related to each other, and they knew they would be running into each other often in the small town of Nappanee. Also, they were smart men and knew that a good business relationship would be good for both companies.
Charles Mutschler was married to John & Frank’s niece Della. Della was Samuel Coppes’ daughter. Harold Zook was the stepson of Elizabeth Yarian. the daughter of John & Frank’s older sister Eliza & husband Benjamin Yarian. After the death of Daniel Zook’s first wife, Elizabeth became the 2nd wife of Dan Zook in Nov. 1885.

You should pay particular notice to all the trees and other plantings in the picture. The C, Z & M Co. was responsible for the beautification of Market Street. The company hired landscape architects (1908-09) to design the plantings in front of the factory and the majority of the street. The three principal members of the company had houses along East Market St. so it was for their benefit the most.

The other important item in this photo that helps date when the picture was taken is the large building behind the closest brick building. The first building in the photo is the 1884 “Coppes Bros. Planning Mill & Box Factory”. The rear building in the photo is the building that was constructed to provide workspace to build the furniture line that was promoted by the new partnership (bedroom sets, dressers. Commodes, etc.). The modern showroom, the stables & wagon garages, and the infill building between buildings A & B was not constructed at this time. This rear building was named “Building B” and was constructed in 1902-03. With all those factors in mind, I would date this “pay-day” picture 1913-15. I like the style of dress then, where everyone seems to need to wear a hat of some kind.

Here are five other pictures of the office building for you to compare.

Green House one

Office Green House

Green House Office for Coppes

Coppes office

early office photo