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The Mystery of Carrie Birhl and the 115 lb. Ham

Hello and welcome to Bill’s History Corner, where we discuss all things Coppes. This week we are still looking at receipts from the treasure trove of company records. Sometimes we find things that make us scratch our heads and sometimes we find things that make us smile. This is one of those smile items.

I love it when we find personal items; when Frank, John, Albert, Daniel, or Charles did something that is not related to company business. For example, when Dan Zook wanted a speedometer for his fancy new car, he went to Kauffman’s in Nappanee; or if Frank wanted a new suite of clothing, where did he go to purchase it?

The receipts we found this week are for HAMS – yes, the kind of tasty hams that grow on pigs. It seems that the Coppes personelle liked ham. So far, we found ten receipts from the H. H. MYER Co. of Cincinnati, OHIO. H. H. Myers Co. is/was a meatpacking house. PARTRIDGE BRAND is the brand name of their line of products. Here is a postcard picture of the H. H. MYER Co.

The  1st receipt I want to show you, dated 8-31-1911, is addressed to Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. Nappanee, Ind. and is for 9 CANV 12 # (pounds) hams at a cost of $18.90.  I assume that is canned hams. We also have the B & O train freight receipt for this shipment which weighed 115 pounds. That’s a lot of ham. Were they planning a company party? Possibly a company picnic? Were they giving a ham to retirees?  Inquiring minds want to know.

The 2nd receipt I want to show is dated 9-15-1910 and addressed to C,Z & M Co. in, SYRACUSE, IND.  This order was for six “Burlap Partridge Hams” and one “Burlap Select Partridge Wide Bacon” at a cost of $16.25. This shipping crate weighed in at 100 pounds, as you can read on the B. & O. RR freight receipt. I’m thinking that the six Burlap Partridge Hams was a kind of smoked ham that did not need refrigeration.

If the Syracuse address is confusing you it is because of PICKWICK PARK on the lake. Several of the influential families of Nappanee, Including Frank, John & Daniel, had summer houses on the lake in Pickwick Park in Syracuse. So, this order was sent directly to Syracuse. How it was divided is unclear.

The 3rd receipt I want to show is like the others, this one is for 5 -12-pound HAMS. But someone has written on the receipt “Please pay this will find out how to divide”. This receipt is also addressed to C, Z & M Co. and at the SYRACUSE address.

The last Part of this story is this piece of paper. Sorry, it does not have a date and I cannot find a direct connection to any one of the H. H. MYER  receipts. So, there must be more order receipts somewhere. At first this paper looks like a bunch of jumbled up writing, but when connected with the receipts for hams from the H. H. Myer Co. it makes better sense.  

At some point, the company must have ordered 10 large hams and divided them between these 8 people. Carrie Birhl got 1- 11 1/2 # ham at a cost of $2.12, less .05 which was the share of the cost of freight. Who was Carrie Birhl? How was she connected to the company?

The other hams were divided among Irwin Coppes, J. D. Coppes, Frank Coppes, C. Mutschler, D. Zook, Marvin Coppes, and A. Mutschler. It appears that Frank Coppes got 3 hams, 2 @ 12 ½ # and one @ 10 ½ #. He also paid for that larger share or at least was charged for a larger amount. 

All this begs the question, what was the reason they purchased hams from a Cincinnati company instead of purchasing locally? Surely there were local butchers that could provide fresh meats, or was the purpose to purchase preserved meats that would not need refrigeration? As I said inquiring minds want to know. Boy, that is a lot of HAMS. I’m getting hungry for a nice ham sandwich. Thanks, be sure to come back next week, maybe we will find they purchased eggs from Cleveland. That was a joke. Hope it made you smile.

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Coppes Commons – the Amazing Before & After Pictures That Reveal Just Part of Our Transformation

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner. I think you will be amazed at these pictures. It is so easy to forget what the buildings looked like when the demolition was started. I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves. With the first pair of before and after pictures the camera is positioned on Lincoln St looking East. The camera is just to the West of what is now the Right Angle Steel building. You can see the corner of the building at the same position in each photo. Originally this was part of the Coppes Inc. complex. Easy to forget that we could not drive through on Lincoln Street.

The second pair of before and after pictures are also of this same area but from the other side of the buildings and pointed the other direction. With these pictures, the camera is again on Lincoln Street, but we are now looking West. The demolition had started and soon Lincoln Street would be open for traffic. How many of you tried to drive through here before the street was paved and got stuck in the mud?

We have come a long way, Baby!

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C&Z Teamsters and Shively Bros. Horse Goods

Hello and welcome to this week’s History Corner. If you have been reading my History Corners you know that we have been looking at old Coppes, Zook & Mutschler or Coppes Bros, & Zook Co. receipts. We have a treasure trove of old paper in the form of business receipts from approx. 1895 -1915. We just started sifting through the boxes, so who knows what we will find! Stay tuned, as they say, when people want you to follow along.

“All Kinds of Horse Goods”

This week I’m talking about the Shively Bros. store of Nappanee, Indiana. Their different billheads advertise “HEAVY AND LIGHT HARNESS, HORSE FURNISHING GOODS,” also “manufacturers of HARNESS, And Dealers in ROBES, BLANKETS, -Whips and All Kinds of Horse Goods.” In other words, anything you may need or want for your horse. Around 1896 the Shively Brothers, John F. Shively and Ulery J. Shively took over the Shively and Rusher Company. (M. H. Shively & W. H. Rusher) That earlier company was “dealers in HARDWARE, STOVES, TINWARE, and BUILDERS SUPPLIES. TIN ROOFING A SPECIALTY.” In  Jan. 1896, the Shively & Rusher Co. repaired Daniel Zook’s roof at a cost of $.35.

The June 1905 Industrial Nappanee paper, which was printed in Nappanee by the Nappanee News, has a full-page article on the Shively Bros. Company. A picture of the storefront and an interior picture are reprinted here.

C&Z Teamsters and the Shively Bros.

Do you think the Coppes Bros. & Zook Co. and the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. would have a need to do business with the Shively Bros.? You can bet your bottom dollar they did. Not only did the principal members of the companies have their personal horse harness repaired and horses’ health cared for at the Shively Bros., we also have learned that the company’s teamsters shopped at the Shively Bros. store. Finding the names of the group of men that had to be the company teamsters made my week. The names of the men changed a little over the six years that we found receipts between the Coppes Companies and the Shively Bros. I’m going to list the names of the men below.

Store Credit

First I want to explain how I think the system worked. I think starting in 1898, each Teamster had charge of maintaining his team and wagon, looking after the horse’s well fair, keeping them in tip-top condition, for doing the hard work of pulling heavy wagons filled with logs to the sawmill. When a teamster needed a “harness repair” piece or “gall cure” for their horse, each teamster went to the Shively Bros. and completed the purchase without prior approval, charging the cost of the item to the company. The Shively Bros. recorded each transaction on the individual teamster’s record. At the end of each six months, the receipts were submitted and paid by the company. This way the company could tell which teamster was costing the company more money, possibly by being careless with his team and which teamster was more careful of his charge.

Teamsters Roster

Here are the names of the teamsters, sorry if I got the spelling wrong. They didn’t care about first names

Starting July 1st, 1898. Edger; Hampshier; Hoffer; Reed; Smith; Lopp; Swanner; Burns; Grover; (9 names)

Jan 1 – June 31, 1900. Lopp; W. Olinger; J. Alinger; I. Swanner; Hampshier; Holderman; Neely; Williams; Gise; Ganes; Jackson; Smith; Reed. (13 names)

Dec. 1 – June 31, 1902. Lopp; Frank Smith; Swanner; Garrison; Waterman; Reed; Hampshier; Frenger;                       Peffly; Rupert; Miller. (11 names)

July 1st – Dec. 31, 1902. Scott Lopp; Ora Swanner; Chas. Reed; Jerls; Frenger; Ira Miller; J. Hampshier;      Rupert; Nixon; Joe Peffly; C. Neely (11 names)

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Early Sawmill Labor Force

This week we are looking at a picture titled Coppes “Employees, Nappanee.” There isn’t a date printed on or associated with this photo. But just look at those smiling faces, someone must have just said a joke or else they are so cold they want to get the picture over with as soon as possible.


I think these 36 men represent the Coppes Bros. & Zook sawmill crew and the company’s teamsters. Around 1899, there were as many as 13-15 teamsters bringing wagon loads of logs to the mill in Nappanee. The Coppes Teamsters worked almost like what we would call “independent contractors” today. Each man oversaw the maintenance of the wagon or sled they used and the care of the horses in their charge. And by care, I mean feeding and watering morning and night and brushing and bedding down each horse each night. They also took care of things like having horseshoes replaced when they are lost or worn down. The company stable was the brick building to the east of Coppes Commons next to the parking lots. This is where the horses were housed, cared for and looked after.


The building that these men are in front of has the shiplap siding that was used on the sawmill buildings. I think this building is the 2nd sawmill building that was located behind the Coppes Commons buildings, south of Lincoln St. The log storage yard for this sawmill was where the parking lots are now located. That’s my reasoning for this group of men being the sawmill workers.

During times when there was an abundance of logs, the sawmill was operated 24 hours a day. Other times it cut back the schedule as needed. When the sawmill was working will, I would think a single log may take approx. 10-15 minutes to be cut into boards. 


Realistically there needed to be three crews working in and around the sawmill. One crew would be operating the mill itself, controlling the machinery and setting the carriage for each new cut. Another crew would be charged with bringing logs to the staging area where they can easily be rolled onto the carriage. This crew would need to keep up with the saw operators. In a 10-hour work shift, this crew may need to drag/haul/ push/pull as many as 40-50 or more logs from the storage yards, all the while being careful not to have a log roll over them. The third crew is the men that remove the cut boards and stack them in the yards for air drying. No forklifts for this crew, every green and heavy board was moved by hand. 


Notice how some of the men are dressed. Some with gloves, some with wide-brimmed hats (keeps the sawdust off their heads) and heavy shoes. Almost all have their shirts buttoned up to their necks if not their coat also. Was it the cold or were they just trying to keep the sawdust out? Whatever, it was hard tiring work, but this was also the business that the Coppes family of companies was built upon. For that we sayTHANK YOU and extend our gratitude to all former employees of the Coppes family of companies.

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Worlds Fair Houses Part II

And now for an update on last week’s Bill’s History Corner.

I love it when people contact us about some part of a History Corner. In this case, we were notified that there were five houses at the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1933, and they have had an interesting history after the fair ended. I hope you will excuse me for not knowing more about these houses, but I have only lived in Indiana for 12 years.

I contacted Indiana landmarks with a question about these Worlds Fair houses and their response is below. There are three web addresses for you to look at in the response email.  If you are interested, you can also look at these homes (now private residences) with Google maps here: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.6841349,-87.0013551,3a,75y,354.07h,76.27t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1se8uNABR05PD8orNy0WRdgQ!2e0!7i3328!8i1664

Does anyone want to tackle the House of Tomorrow? Talk about a one of a kind house! See you next week, same time same place.   I hope. Thanks.   

A Note from Indiana Landmarks

“Hi Bill, Thank you for contacting Indiana Landmarks. There are five Century of Progress homes in the Indiana Dunes National Park. Indiana Landmarks works in partnership with the National Park Service to lease the homes to individuals who have funded restoration and preservation of each. We host a tour each September (tickets will go on sale in August on a yet-to-be-announced date). Here are some links with more information on the homes: 

https://www.indianalandmarks.org/2016/09/century-of-progress-homes-

indiana/https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/historyculture/centuryofprogress.htm (see the links at the bottom of the page for each home) 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_of_Progress_Architectural_District 

One home has yet to be restored, the House of Tomorrow. We are currently requesting proposals from individuals interested in taking on the project. You can read more about that home here: https://www.indianalandmarks.org/about/house-of-tomorrow/ 

If you’d like to receive email updates on our tours & events which will include notification of dates related to the Century of Progress tour you can subscribe here:https://www.indianalandmarks.org/e-newsletter-signup/  

Thanks,………………………………
Jessica Kramer
Executive Assistant
………………………………
Indiana Landmarks
www.indianalandmarks.org

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Coppes & Zook at the 1933 World’s Fair

“A Century of Progress, 1933,” or “Chicago World’s Fair,” 1933, take your pick. Each name is for the same thing. We recently purchased a 36-page booklet titled The Florida Home at A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 1933.

It seems that the state of Florida (and maybe other states as well) built and furnished a model home at the Century of Progress in Chicago with Coppes and Zook furnishing the “Scientifically Designed Kitchen.” Marvin Coppes wrote an interesting 2-page spread highlighting the benefits of the Coppes and Zook kitchen that appeared in the booklet. This booklet was likely given to people who toured the home during a visit to the World’s fair. Coppes and Zook may have furnished the kitchens for other state homes, but we don’t have that information yet. This is the first booklet from the Chicago World’s Fair that we have found.

Every piece of furniture and every item of decoration is described in detail, pointing out the designer or the manufacturing company that made it. Each piece of furniture also has a numbered picture in the booklet. They talk a lot about upcoming trends. The use of metal in furniture is one example of what they considered a growing trend, so you should be sure to purchase your next furniture with metal legs or framework that is visible.  I like this line that was used often in this booklet, “Florida, where summer spends the winter.”  

One of the last paragraphs in the booklet reads,” The many who have been thru the Florida tropical Home and secured this booklet may, upon reflection in the quiet of their home, away from conflicting reactions due to the numerous exhibits taken in—desire to purchase some of the items in the home or be desirous of building a similar house. Because of the fact that the Florida tropical home is built and sponsored by the State of Florida, we are unable to include prices in this book.”

“However, we will be pleased to give you complete information concerning all details of furniture and other items, in which you may be interested, together with prices on all articles, delivered to your station or post office. When writing, kindly give brief description of the particular things in which you are interested and the illustration number.”

The kitchen in the Florida house is of Coppes & Zook’s modern style with one countertop on several base cabinets and wall cabinets. Coppes & Zook were producing this “modern” style cabinet while still manufacturing the Hoosier Style cabinets till approximately 1944. I don’t really know when the last ‘Hoosier Style” cabinet left the Coppes factory. Sometime during the Second World War is my guess.

As a sidebar, if you do a Google search for “century of progress Chicago” you will be able to see dozens of art deco style posters from the fair, like the following one. I love this time period. Thanks for your visit to Bill’s History Corner.

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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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Quality Control at Coppes Napanee in the 60’s

Welcome to Bill’s History Corner. Today’s Corner is written by guest writer, Dodie. Thanks for filling in.

Employee Monthly Progress Reports

Read the attached sample, how would you feel if you were being evaluated with this report?

employee evaluation

How would you like to have been a supervisor at Coppes, Inc. in 1964 and have to evaluate each of your subordinates on these five thought-provoking questions once a month?

Which of these five: Quality, Quantity, Human Supervision, Technical Supervision, Use of Equipment, would you regard as the number one priority or are they all equal importance?

This is a huge monthly observation for a Supervisor in every department.

So glad to see that the “Quality of employees work” section could have a “Normal number of mistakes” category, but sorry to see the fact that in the “Use of Company Supplies and Properties,” any employee could be marked as “Occasionally misuse tools, materials and machines. Sometimes careless”.

You should notice that the four different possible ratings in each section are not in descending order of workmanship. The supervisor needed to be very familiar with this “Progress Report”. Needing to do one of these reports for each employee every month would be a big job. We have found stacks of these “Monthly Reports” mixed in with employee records. I expect they intended to keep them all on file for the working span of each employee.

Coppes has a great reputation of providing perfect products and the employees have great pride in providing a quality product. 

*more information on Coppes Napanee and products being made today can be found on our New Kitchens & Restorations page.

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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.

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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.