Welcome to Bill’s History Corner, where sometimes I show you I don’t know what I’m talking about. This may be one of those times. I’m showing a picture today that we have in the Coppes paper collection, but I have no idea where it came from. Maybe if I would ask everyone involved with Coppes Commons, someone might remember obtaining this picture and giving it to the collection. It does have a price of $18.00 written on the back. So if you are the person responsible for this picture, a sincere Thank You.
The picture itself is of two buildings on a dirt street with several men, ladies and children standing very still. The sign on the one building is HELMLINGER & BAUER.
This is one of those times when I wish someone had written a complete history on the back of this picture. But wait. . . there is some information written on the back! In pencil, this is on the back. “TAKEN BEFORE 1875 UNCLE GEO. HELMLINGER + ADAM BAUER STORE, BEFORE NAPPANEE AT LOCKE.”
I think everybody knows the story of Locke and Nappanee, but here is a recap if you don’t remember: Locke was a thriving small town approx. three miles north of where Nappanee is now. When the railroad came through the new town of Nappanee in 1875-6, several Locke businesses moved lock-stock, barrel and building to Nappanee. The railroad was the key ingredient. Because of the location of the railroad, Nappanee grew and Locke didn’t.
Now I’ve got to tell you there is no mention of a Helmlinger & Bauer store in the 1880 History of Elkhart County book. More information would be wonderful. What business was conducted at this store? See the man in the top hat, talking with two other men? See the man in the dirty apron standing to the left of the door? I don’t think he is a store clerk with that apron. But what do I know is that I count at least 10 and maybe 11 children on the porch. When I enlarge the photo as much as I can there is something in the store doorway that looks like a black bear’s face. I really don’t think it is a bear, but definitely a face, maybe a big long haired dog. While I’m thinking about dogs, the two ladies in the doorway of the building to the left have what looks like a black puppy’s head at their shoulder. Can’t read the sign over the door where the ladies are standing. Could be a school, the children look to be too close to the same age to be from one family, so in my mind a school makes sense. I think I can see a new bucket hanging in the store door way, That may be a clue as to the business, also I think there are ice skates hanging in the left window.
Boy, I wish I gould go to this store and shop for myself at 1875 prices! Does anyone know more of the history related to this photo?