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Thoughts on the CZ&M Flour Mill

Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. Today we are looking at three items associated with the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. flour mill.

  • A picture of the actual Coppes, Zook & Mutschler flour mill is credited to the Nappanee center. They have always been generous with sharing their early pictures. Thank You.
  • A Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. postcard with prices of 10 their products
  • A receipt from THE NAPPANEE NEWS. THE NEWS BOOKSTORE. Gordon N. Murray, Proprietor.

This photo of the mill was shot before the streets were laid with brick in 1909, and before some of the additions to the flour mill building were added. You can clearly see a huge pile of wood (cutoffs and scraps from the C, Z & M  sawmill) that was intended for use as fuel in the boiler to make the steam that powered the engine that turned the equipment that ground the flour and other products. There are not many houses in the background. I love old pictures like this. I have looked closely with my magnifying glass. Have you noticed the wood board sidewalks?

Baking with Perfection

This particular postcard (above) was intended to be mailed to customers and was used as a company record. Someone has written on the back side the date of “9/10/10” and “Received from the news printing Office, ——-  Jay”. The card has “PRICES CURRENT” listed for 10 of the company’s products. There were four brands of Flour and five items that I think were animal feed, which was priced by the ton. PERFECTION flour in paper or cloth sacks was priced at $5.40 and $5.55 per barrel.

How large a quantity is a barrel and how much does a barrel weigh you may ask. The answer is in the details. The illustration of the flour bag has a weight of 24 ½ LBS printed on it, and at the bottom of the bag are the words “one-eighth barrel”. So, the answer is found by multiplying 24 ½ lbs. by 8 to find the weight of a barrel of Perfection flour. The answer is 196 LBS in one barrel. That does not mean they packed the bags in a wooden barrel before they sold them; a barrel was the unit price that flour was sold in. If you only wanted one paper bag of flour, divide $5.40 by eight and that will be the price for one bag. ($0.67). You could bake a lot of pies with one bag of flour. In 1910 the baking practices in the normal American household were much different than nowadays. Ever wonder why the flour bins in early Coppes kitchen cabinets were so big? The reason was that most households did their own baking and needed large amounts of flour.

I like the catchy phase on the right side of the card.      “IT PLEASES THE USERS

Besides publishing The Nappanee News Newspaper, this company also did a huge amount of printing for local companies. I would be hard pressed to name all the different types of printed material that The Nappanee News did just for the Coppes companies.

Nappanee News Stationery

The receipt below is typical of the 100s of The Nappanee News receipts that we have in the Coppes paper collection. I don’t know how it happened, but it appears that most of the company’s business receipts for the years (approx.) 1902 to 1915 were stored in small file boxes that somehow survived in the factory buildings till now. Think about it, these boxes survived company moves, room cleanups, trash days, public auctions and they are still here for us to learn some of this history.

The date of this receipt does not match exactly with the date of the postcard (I’m taking liberties), but I’m sure there is one somewhere, we just have not found it yet. This Nappanee News receipt is dated Feb. 1, 1905, and lists several printing jobs for one month that the News did for the C, Z & M Co. If you add together the number of postcards printed in this one receipt you will find the answer is 2,000 cards. That is a lot of mail.

The 1st line reads,  Jan 15 – To one doz. Pencils — 60 —             -was this Office supplies?

The 2nd. Line reads    Jan. 12 – printing 1,000 Postal Cards, one form, Flour Mill – 1.25

The 3rd. line reads     Jan. 12 – Printing 500 postal Cards, one form, Flour mill – .75

The 4th line reads        Jan 12 – 25,000 Finish??? Reports, chemy folo  —        8.75

The 5th line reads      Jan 12 – printing 500 P. Cards, 3 forms, Flour Mill   —       1.75

The 6th line reads       Jan. 19 —  500 Lumber Tally Sheets, print paper   —           1.75

The 7th line reads      Jan. 26   – 1,000 Kene?  Statements                    —                2.50

The 8th line reads       Jan. 26   – 1,000 – No. 6 Blank tags                   —                 .75

                                                                                                                                                    $18.10

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Coppes Bros. 1884 Logging Patent

In 1884, the Coppes Bros. sawmill was going full blast. Thousands of logs were brought to the mill location every year, either by train car or if more local by horse and wagon. Loading the logs onto the Coppes log wagons is the subject of this US Patent by John D. Coppes. This US Patent dated June 3, 1884 and given Patent Number 299,746, is short and concise, describing how the “SKID HOLDER” is intended to work. Basically the “SKID HOLDER” is part of a ramp that is connected to the wagon bolster and leaning against the top of the wheel that will facilitate the rolling of logs on to the wagon. This metal “SKID HOLDER” holds the wooden ramp/skid in position so the heavy logs will not fall if the ramp slips and falls to the ground possibly injuring a worker.

patent drawing

How many wagons the Coppes Bros had and used for hauling logs to the mill in the 1880’s is anyone’s guess. We have ledgers from this time period, but so far, we have not deciphered the exact jobs the many employees had. We do know and can say with confidence that the Coppes Bros Co. had horse and wagon teams at the sawmill (just don’t know how many) and also during busy periods advertised in the Nappanee News to hire outside drivers to use their teams and wagons to haul logs to the mill.

How did they actually load logs on a wagon?

We need to imagine what it would take to load a wagon with logs. First, the process needs to be portable, the forest or woods where the logs were cut was never at the same place. These “SKID HOLDER” ramps could be transported from location to location. If there were a relatively small number of logs to be loaded at one location, the “SKID HOLDER” system would work well. If another location had a huge number of logs it may be to their advantage to construct a temporary loading platform at that location. Remember this was the 1880s, and logs were moved by muscle force from either man or horse. Rolling a heavy log up the “SKID HOLDER “ramp onto a wagon bed would take a team of men working closely together. Each man had a hook tool that grabbed on to the log and allowed the men to roll the log with greater leverage.  I can’t imagine how they loaded logs two or three high on one wagon. I’m thinking of the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler log parades that were part on the Onion Festivals in the years 1908-1912.

We have pictures of wagons that were loaded three high with big logs with the driver sitting on the top log. . .  But that needs to be the subject on a future History Corner. Stay tuned.

Using Google Patents

Searching for a patent is so much easier now with the Internet. We used to have to go to regional libraries and search through patent books in hopes of discovering a patent. Then we would write to the actual Washington D. C. patent office and request the correct paper forms to order copies of any patent (also paying for them). It was a long process. I use a computer program called Goggle Patents. With it I can search the entire US patent office records. By typing in a couple items that I know in the search line, the Google Patents program will search for patents with those actual words. For example, if I have an item that has a name and the patent date on it, I’ll list the name and date in the search line and strike the enter key. If I’m lucky there will only be a few hundred patents for me to search through. The more information and the more accurate information you can enter into the search line the better off you will be. Go ahead and try it – open the google program on your computer and type in the words Nappanee patent. You will be surprised how many patents were issued to people from Nappanee.

As a side bar, John Coppes assigned one half of this Patent to his brother Frank. The witnesses that signed the text portion were Conrad D. Volknann (was Volknann the early spelling, then changed later to Volkman (Conrad was the first person to purchase a building lot in Nappanee and a blacksmith in the 1880s, he likely made the SKID HOLDERS) also William F. Peddycord (then, Nappanee’s postmaster).

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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