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The Mutschler Merger and Reader Photos

Welcome to this week’s edition of Bill’s History Corner.
This is what I like to see happen.

Mr. Mark Farmwald sent this picture to us a couple of weeks ago, while he was inquiring about information that he was interested in finding. Mark’s grandfather is the 4th from the right in the top row. This is a photo of the “Machine Room” at the Mutschler Brothers Co.  After being employed at Mutschler Brothers Co. for an undetermined time, Mark’s Grandfather purchased the Home Lumber Co. in Nappanee and renamed it “Farmwald Lumber.” It appears that the picture was taken by HOPERSON PHOTO, which I’m not familiar with. Does anyone know anyone else in this picture, or even a date when this picture could have happened? Farmwald Lumber and  Home Center began operations in 1973 with the purchase of the HOME LUMBER and COAL CO.

The C,Z & M Co.

Mr. Farmwald wanted to know if we had employee records from the Mutschler Brothers Company, because his Grandfather worked at Mutschler’s Co for an unknown time period. Sorry to say, but we do not have any employee records from the Mutschler Company.

As you may remember the Coppes & Zook Co. joined with the Mutschler Brothers Co. in 1912 to form the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Company. This combined company was the one that accelerated the production of the Kitchen Cabinets that would make the Coppes family of companies famous. Before this partnership, the Coppes & Zook Co. operated a sawmill, a flour mill and was producing wooden shipping boxes, but the shipping box business was slowing down.

When the Coppes & Zook Co. partnered with the Mutschler Brothers it gave the new company the manpower and expertise to expand their production capabilities. The Mutschler Brothers Co. was already producing a variety of furniture, including Kitchen Cabinets. The new C, Z & M Co. expanded the production of kitchen cabinets to meet the growing consumer demands. In an 1898 Nappanee furniture Company catalog, there are a couple of kitchen cabinets. This catalog is a record of the first kitchen cabinets produced in Nappanee.

Mutschler Kitchen

Here is a photo of a Mutschler Brothers Co. kitchen cabinet, produced after the partnership breakup in 1913. This Mutschler Brother’s cabinet was given to Albert Mutschler’s housekeeper as a wedding present in 1936.  Amazing things can be learned when people post their Coppes Kitchen Cabinets on our “Hoosier Cabinet Registry” here on the web site.  The Coppes family and the Mutschler family were related by marriage, so I can’t imagine there were any hard feelings between the two companies. Competition to make the better kitchen cabinets, yes, but no hard feelings.

Mutschler Employees

mutschler employees stitched

Here is a group photo of the Mutschler work force. Again, we have no names. Can anyone help us identify any of these men and the 3 ladies?

Farmwald Lumber Timeline

Here is a scan of an advertisement published In the Nappanee Advance News – Centennial Edition – Aug. 8, 1974. This advertisement may help make clearer the ownerships of the lumber company that was always located on South Main St, Nappanee. Thanks for reading.

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CZ&M Era Employee Photos Surface

Hello and welcome to Bill’s History Corner. Today we are discussing three photographs that were shared with us at Coppes Commons. We were allowed to make copies of the originals during the visit. That is great, it’s how we increase our library of information!

Bill and Stacy

The first photo shows a group of workmen posing beside what I think is building “C” at the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Companies factory in approx. 1903-08. Building “C” was the location where the C, Z & M Co. began producing the kitchen cabinets that made them famous. Building “C” was a one-story, corrugated metal clad building at the rear of the complex near the sawmill. Unlike the other company buildings that were built of brick, “C” may have been thought of, in the beginning of the partnership with the Mutschler Brothers, as a temporary building. Before the partnership, the Nappanee Furniture Company, managed by the Mutschler Brothers, were making kitchen cabinets and had beautiful illustrations in their catalogs, along with other furniture.  The Coppes Brothers and Dan Zook (at that time) had no experience building furniture. Their business experience was buying timber and operating a Sawmill, a Flour Mill, and a Box Factory.

Factory C

Stacy Huff, who owns the pictures, said her Great Grandfather was in the center holding his hat. All the men are holding their hats! Stacy’s great-grandfather, Thomas A. Rensberger, is the eighth man from the right. Does anyone have ideas or guesses as to anyone else in these pictures?

On Nov. 22th, 1912 Daniel Zook died. His death led to the friendly dissolution of the partnership with the Mutschler Brothers. Albert and Charles Mutschler returned to the original buildings of the Nappanee Furniture Co. and continued to produce furniture, eventually becoming a world leader in modern kitchen and school furniture production. Frank & John Coppes, along with Daniel’s son Harold, began producing the Napanee line of kitchen cabinets that would make them world famous.

The 2nd and 3rd pictures also have Mr. Rensberger in them, but the location is at the old original brick building of the Nappanee Furniture Company. I would be interested if any reader can tell me how I know the location is not at the Coppes buildings along Market Street.  The picture with only men in the group has 97 men in the picture. That is a huge number for just one of the buildings. I’m going out on a limb and suggest that this is all the men from each of the buildings: some from the Saw Mill, some from the buildings A, B, C, and some from the old Nappanee Furniture Co. buildings. Realizing that all the men worked for the same company, the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. from 1902 thru 1912.

The final picture of company employees has 21 ladies in the picture. This is unusual for the time and in Nappanee. This is the only (so far) picture that we have with factory ladies. (We do have a picture of lady office workers).  What were their jobs at this time? Again, I’m going out on a limb and suggest they had jobs as furniture finishers; applying stain and clear finish to the tables and other cabinets produced in the factory. It may have been early in the day, as all their clothing seem to be very clean (aprons?).  If you enlarge the picture and look at their shoes you can see stains on their shoes, but not on clothing.

CMZ workers with women

Comments on any of “Bill’s History Corner” articles welcome.  Anything you want to add is welcome!

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Ride “The Nap”

Nappanee News Keller bicycle AdToday we are looking at a portion of the Nappanee News from May 12, 1897 that I found in a box of paper goods from an auction. Someone had cut the paper up already, so don’t blame that on me. There are a couple interesting advertisements here. First is the Keller Cycle Mfg. Co. from Nappanee. BUY OUR WHEEL is the title of the ad. At this time the term “wheel” was the common word for Bicycle, either a high wheeler or a two-wheel model. A cut of a lady riding the “NAP” bicycle illustrates that it is easy for everyone to ride, and how much good fun riding will be.  In smaller print the extra lines are “ Snoaring is sheet music – Ride THE NAP and you – will have sweet music”. Interpret that however you want.

The picture below, from the Nappanee Heritage Center collection, is of the workman in front of the Coppes Planning mill and box factory taken around 1890. In front of the group of men is a boy, likely a Coppes youngster, standing next to a Bicycle that looks like a NAP Bicycle. On closer inspection there are actually two bicycles in the picture (one behind the other) one of the workmen appears to be holding the rear bicycle upright. Is the youngster standing there the owner of the bicycle?

Early Coppes Employees with children and bicycle

This youngster had to be a member of the Coppes family, as the workmen would not have let just any city boy crowd into their picture. John Coppes’s eldest son, Marvin, was born in 1881, and Irvin was born in 1883. Frank Coppes’s eldest son Harold was born in 1885, and Claude was born in 1889. So, who do you think he is? Also notice that there are a few children sitting for the picture. Were these children of the workmen or were they actual employees of the factory? The youngster with the Bicycle is dressed so much better than the other children.  I’m just full of questions! Do you think the two gentlemen standing on the right end could be John and Frank Coppes? And who is the well dressed man on the left end?

The other advertisements are for Henry Best Meat Market and the Farmers & Traders Bank. This was the bank owned by Samuel Coppes and Sons. Read more about the story of the Coppes factories on our History Page.

If you have any information or clues on the people pictured or the topics we’ve covered here, we’d love to hear from you! Just leave a comment on this post, or send an email to bill@coppescommons.com.