On Aug. 22, 1906 (113 years ago today), J. D. Coppes ordered 1-gal. Ice Cream, which cost $1.00. Mr. Coppes purchased the Ice Cream “in account with” “GEORGE FREESE’S SONS, Wholesale Produce Dealers, Nappanee, Ind.”“In account with” meant the same thing as credit, or I’ll pay you later. Approximately 2 weeks later (Sept. 6th) this bill was sent to J. D. Coppes and paid for by the company, as verified by the PAID company stamp near the bottom. I hope they enjoyed the ice cream on a warm Aug. day.
Here’s another interesting tidbit from the history of Coppes. This is a receipt from THE JOS. LAY CO. of Ridgeville, IN dated Aug, 28TH, 1905.
The Lay Co. manufactured “BROOMS and BRUSHES OF ALL KINDS.” This receipt is for 5 Doz. #4 rattan Mixed Brooms — $3.00/doz. = $15.00. While hunting for new History Corner paper goods, I actually found ten receipts from THE JOS. LAY Co. from 1903 to 1908. The Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. placed at least 10 orders for brooms. A total of 564 brooms were ordered during this time period at a cost of $136.72. That is a lot of brooms, but then there were several buildings that made up the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. factory.
I have heard several old-time employees state that when the electricity went off or the factory work shut down for a machinery break down, you had better find a broom! If the bosses were around, you’d better be using it too, or the likely hood of you being sent home without pay would increase.
Hello, Welcome to another issue of Bill’s History Corner. This is the place where we discuss all things about the Coppes factory. We will also try to answer questions that you have. With this week’s find, I think we can finally answer the question “where did the sheet metal flour bins and bread drawers come from?”
At least we have one example of the answer. As we are eager to do, because everything we find is a new discovery, we were searching through the boxes of old company receipts that somehow survived the various office moves and company cleanouts that former employees have told us about. I’m just speculating here, but I think several former employees at different times (and not necessarily acting together) stored or hid old factory records at various places in the factory so they would not be destroyed. I don’t know who these guys were, but we all owe them a big thanks for what they preserved.
Where the metal components of the Dutch Kitchenets came from has long been an unanswered question. For example, did the factory have its own sheet metal shop that made the parts that were needed? Flour bins and sifters, bread drawers, and various small shelf racks inside cabinet doors were some of the different metal parts needed to complete a Dutch Kitchenet. I can tell you as one that sorted through the trash in the factory that there were no scraps of sheet metal or broken tools that would have been used to make the sheet metal components. It has been my opinion that the factory didn’t make its own metal parts, but where did they come from? We can now answer that question with some certainly, but did the Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co. have an inhouse metal fabricating shop to build the parts or were they a middle man company?
The Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co., Indianapolis was one of the major providers. We found several receipts related to metal parts for Kitchenets. This batch of receipts is dated 1911 & 1912. The Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co. was huge. You can get an idea of the products and services they provided by studying the billhead. This time period in American history saw the development of several huge stores in Midwest cities, of which the Van Camp Company was one. I fully expect we will discover receipts from other hardware businesses as we keep digging into boxes of paper.
Let’s Look at the Receipts. . .
The first receipt I want to show is dated Jan. 26th, 1912. This is for “1- SAMPLE BREAD BOX XXX”. I think the XXX means that the Van Camp Company made one sample bread box at no charge, fully expecting a large order to follow. Someone has written on this receipt what must have been the estimated cost for each bread drawer at $.43c. The 2nd receipt is a follow-up order.
The receipt dated 8/12/12 is for “2009 – BREAD BOXES 47 (each) $944.23.” There is additional information we can gather from this receipt. One example is this line, a discount for “Less FW (freight, ???) $39.69, ” which means less by that amount of freight cost. However, there is also a B & O Rail freight receipt pinned to the back of this for “ 1 Car, Bread Boxes – $135.00”. Seems like it took a full train car to ship the 2009 bread boxes. I don’t understand it. What was that discount for? Also, C, Z & M Co. subtracted a 2% discount ($18.18) for prompt payment, even though it took 17 days to make the payment. Clearly, on the receipt, it states “TERMS, 2% for cash in 10 days”. Wonder if this was standard practice with C, Z & M Co.: pay late, but also take the 2% discount for payment in 10 days, unless the company complains. Likely most companies would not complain for late payment. They may be happy just to get the payment. There is an additional note indicating ½ of order sent/billed to C ( factory C, where they built kitchen cabinets) and ½ to B. I wonder what they made in factory B that used bread drawers.
The next two receipts go together, I think. They are also from Van Camp Hardware & Iron Co. and refer to “HOPPERS,” which I think are the flour bins.
The first one dated June 5th, 11, is for “1 – “9 ¼ X 9 7/8 HOPPER – 32 –32.” Someone has written “Sample – for new cabt”. I feel for sure this is an example of the company ordering one sample to see if it will work. This sample cost $.32. The 2nd receipt is for “500 – HOPPERS – 32 – 160.00”. On this receipt, someone has written “ small hopper for 1556 cabt” & also “C Purchase” meaning the order was going to building “C” and charged to the expenses of building “C” where they were making the cabinet. The final picture I want to show you this week is a scan of a No. 1556 Coppes Cabinet. As you can see, the flour bin is mostly wooden with a funnel-shaped “HOPPER” and sifter at the bottom. See ya right back here next week. Stay Cool.
Welcome to this week’s Bill’s History Corner. This is the place where we talk about all things Coppes. First, I want to say it is not my intention to make anyone sick or to make this a bad experience for you. I’m going to be talking about “hide glue,” (made from horses) the type of glue that was very common in the first part of the last century. The type of glue that 100% (that is a guess) of furniture factories used to build their products. Even today, there are professional furniture makers that will use nothing else. They think it is that good. The one appeal for hide glue is that you can undo a dry glue joint with heat. Apply heat and the glue will soften. Just don’t think about what hide glue is made from.
That’s a Lot of Glue!
Coppes, Zook & Mutschler used hide glue, Boy-O-Boy, did they use hide glue. While searching the Coppes Commons paper collection we found several receipts from the UNITED STATES GLUE CO., MILWAUKEE, WIS. This is at least one of the companies that Coppes purchased hide glue from. The C, Z & M Co. used a lot of glue. In a two-year time period from Feb. 1912 through Dec. 13, 1913, we found 13 different receipts from this company for hide glue. Each order was for “three bbls. (barrels) of ground joint glue”. The average weight of each barrel was approx. 550 pounds each. The company ordered a total of 20,781 pounds of glue in this time period. Another way to think about this is that amount is more than 10 tons of glue. The cost was $.13 or $.14 cents per pound.
How and Where the Glue Was Used
As you might expect, the C, Z & M Co. used this glue at many locations in the factory buildings. Wherever parts were assembled there needed to be a glue container at the ready. Workers glued door frames, side panels and frames. We can still tell where many of these glue operations were located in the factory, because there is a thick layer of glue on the floor there. If a workman dropped just one drop for each door he glued together, the result is the large mess on the floor today.
But most likely the largest amount of this hide glue was used in the glue room. Just off the main machinery room was the glue room. This is the two-story brick building to the far West of the building complex. This building is unused now except for storage, but in its heyday, this room was very busy. Workmen sent pieces of wood from the machine room to the glue room when larger pieces were made by gluing them together. An obvious item that was made from this technique is a cutting board where it is best to make the larger item from narrow strips that a glued together. This ensured that it did not warp or twist.
An Interesting Discovery
Several years ago, when I was sorting trash in the buildings, I found two hide glue containers. These containers were almost unique. I had not seen anything like these before, and I fancy myself as knowledgeable about tools and related subjects. After doing some patent research, I discovered the glue containers were patented July 3, 1883, by a man from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Hide glue needs to be kept warm so it will be soft enough to spread into the wood joints. There are several glue containers that have the means to keep the glue warm. Weatherly’s patent does this by attaching to a steam or hot water pipe. The water jacket is heated from the hot pipe and this, in turn, keeps the glue warm. This patent idea does allow the smaller inside glue container to be removed and carried to the location where needed, then returned to be kept warm.
Other types of hide glue containers or glue pots were available at the time. Smaller pots made of cast iron (heavy cast iron to hold the heat) worked the same way. Basically, a glue pot is two containers, the larger pot contains heated water and the inside smaller one contains the glue. Keep in mind you will need an additional heat source during a full day’s work. Electric glue pots became available when electricity became widely used.
Some Conjecture On the “Glue Man”
We just don’t know, but I suspect there was a workman in the early factory that was the glue man. It was the glue man’s responsibility to arrive early every morning and mix the hide glue for that day’s use. Think of this as cooking the glue, because that was what he was doing. The hide glue was purchased in dry flakes, (remember those barrels) and needed to be mixed with water and heated. I’m sure there was a formula for the correct mixture, but a lot of this job was done by eye, getting the right consistency for the various departments in the factory. It would need to be thicker and heavier for the gluing of frames and thinner and lighter for the veneer department. The glue man could expect some one could come to him at any time of the day with an empty glue pot and want more glue. Many workmen depended on him to keep a supply of good glue ready for use.
A Parting Thought
Just one more thing before I go for the week: I couldn’t help but notice the symbol in the upper left corner of this United States Glue Co. receipt. Here is an enlargement of the symbol. Now ask yourself, I wonder where Coppes, Zook & Mutschler got the idea of interlocking letters to paint on the outside of the building and use on company letter heads.
The Flour Mill Cupola
In last week’s Bill’s History Corner, I was discussing the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. Flour mill. Someone asked a good question, and because I think I know the answer, I’ll try to answer the question here this week. It was “What was the little cupola on the top of the mill for?“
The cupola is high on top of the building for a reason. The small building-like structure is to protect the machinery inside the cupola. This machinery inside is the central elevator or leg that lifts the grain from the unloading area to the top, then dumps the grain into shoots that allow the grain to slide into storage bins. The reason it is on the top is so gravity can pull the grain downward into the different storage bins that were on the top floor. Gravity doesn’t cost anything to use. All the bins can’t be in the same place, so the elevator needs to dump out the grain into shoots higher than the bins so gravity can take it to bins farther away from the center elevator. These shoots, they were wooden at this time, were angled away from the main elevator. The higher the elevator the farther away the shoot could slide the grain. If the grain shoot was too close to horizontal the grain would not flow smoothly and backup. You can see examples of this all over the Indiana countryside.
Some modern farmers that have several of their own storage bins also have an elevator type tool in the middle of the bins that lifts the grain to a higher point where it is dumped in shoots to slide into the different bins. It was the same principle at the flour mill, only they built a small building around the machinery to protect it from the weather. Sure looks cute in this picture, doesn’t it?
A New Mystery for This Week
This week’s History Corner is a small Puzzle. Hopefully, someone can help us out here and give us a bit more information so we can understand what was going on in 1909 & 1910. Possibly for many other years also, but we have not searched for other years for this company’s receipts yet.
As you can see by the scan below, this receipt Dated December 2nd, 1909 is from the “Office of INDIANA STATE CHEMIST, Agricultural Experiment Station, LAFAYETTE, IND. To W. J. Jones, Jr. State Chemist. DR. I only listed the purchase lines from the other receipts, as the bill heads are the same.
We have found seven receipts (see list below) for this 12 – month time period. All the receipts are for “100# (100 pound) TAGS” either the No. 2609 or the No. 2610 TAGS. What were these tags for and why did the C, Z & M Co. need to order them from this INDIANA STATE CHEMIST at the AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION, in LAFAYETTE, IND? Was Purdue involved in the INDIANA STATE CHEMIST at LAFAYETTE? Inquiring minds want to know.
Boy-o-Boy, if we only had one of these tags, maybe that would tell us something. As a guess, I would think this would have something to do with the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. Flour Mill. The receipt does have the name “AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION” printed on it. The Flour Mill is certainly more agricultural related than the cabinet shops. Could this puzzle be as simple as the C, Z & M Co. needed to send samples of some of their products to the office of the INDIANA STATE CHEMIST for detailed testing before they could put a STATE tag on it for sale? Sort of like the GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SEAL OF APPROVAL, only this tag was for either a type of flour or another product they were making. If anyone has an answer to this puzzle, please let us know your thoughts.
December 31th, 1909 – – For 1875, 100# tags No. 2610 = $15.00
March—— 3rd. 1910 – – For 2500, 100# tags No. 2609 = $20.0
August ——-7th, 1909 – – For 2500, 100# tags No. 2609 = $20.00
“ “ “ – – For 2500, 100# tags No. 2610 = $20.00
May ———5th, 1910 – – For 2500, 100# tags No. 2609 = $20.00
“ “ “ – – For 2500, 100# tags No. 2610 = $20.00
December 15th, 1910 – – For 2500, 100# tags No. 2610 = $20.00
December 21th, 1910 – – For 3125, 100# tags No. 2609 = $25.00
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
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://firstname.lastname@example.org,-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:
indiana/https://www.nps.gov/indu/learn/historyculture/centuryofprogress.htm (see the links at the bottom of the page for each home)
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/
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.
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.
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.
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?
I don’t know about you, but I love old pictures. I guess that is the reason you see so many in the history Corner. I keep thinking of the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Today I have four pictures for you to look at. Maybe you will see some detail I missed. We have already looked at pictures of the East side of South Main Street. Today I am showing the West side of South Main. South Main has always been the heart of the retail center of Nappanee. I’m not going to even try to name all the different stores and businesses that were located on South Main. The pictures I have to show you span approximately 50 years. Starting with a picture from the Book “THEY CALLED IT NAPPANEE, A HISTORY 1884-1974.” This is a great book put out to celebrate Nappanee’s centennial. I know that I have learned a lot reading this book.
The first picture has the title, Nappanee, 1878. 1878 is just a couple of years after the town was platted. This picture has the camera pointing north looking at the buildings on the west side of Main Street and the intersection of what is now Market and Main Streets. Porter’s Saloon is the large building on the northwest corner. Notice the outside stairway leading to the “Auditorium”. This building has had many different businesses located inside. Hardware stores, (someday I want to do a study about Nappanee’s various hardware stores) this saloon, a public school, and a place for stage shows. Along South Mai,n the first building next to the intersection was originally the shoe and broom shop of Dan Metzler. In this picture you can make out the “DRUG STORE” sign under the covered walkway. This drug store was the business of a Mr. Lake who moved his store inventory from Locke to Nappanee. Dan Metzler was one of the three neighbors that platted the town on Dec. 12, 1874. His “Broom shop” was the first shop/store in the area that would become Nappanee.
Next to the broom shop is an empty lot. I will be talking about this location later. The next building appears to be empty but would make a very nice general store for someone. Notice the buggies in the street and the five little girls and one boy standing on the boardwalk, keeping perfectly still to have their images recorded in this historic photo.
Picture number two is also of South Main but from a different direction. You’ll notice that now the cameras is located in the intersection and is pointing more to the south and we can see all the buildings in the first half block. Again, we have a number of people, men or boys this time, lined up for their 15 minutes of fame in front of the building that has a “Restaurant – BAKERY” sign out front. Too bad they didn’t tell the photographer their names. Any guesses as to the word following MOUNTAIN ________? Could it have been “Tonic,” As in Mountain Tonic – For Sale here – sample bottle free. I’m thinking that we will never know, unless the newspaper had started by the time this picture was taken and the store did some advertising. The Nappanee Weekly News was first published on March 27, 1879, so maybe there is a chance we could find out.
The empty lot that I mentioned in picture one is now the FARMERS & TRADERS BANK. This is the first version of the building, not what we know today. In approximately 1917 a new stone front with columns was added. This bank is the one that Samuel Coppes purchased in March, 1891 after he left the Coppes Brothers partnership company. Samuel purchased the bank from Mr. Daniel Bechtel and Son. I don’t think I have ever thought of it before this, but what do you actually purchase when you purchase a bank? Does the purchaser get the building & solid contents, along with the bank’s name and reputation? What about the customers’ accounts, and the safe deposit boxes?
What is your guess as to the time of the year that this picture was shot? About the only indicators I can see are the clothing being worn and the condition of the dirt in the street. What do you see?
Picture number three is a postcard with the title “SOUTH MAIN STREET, NAPPANEE, IND.” A whole lot of construction has taken place on South Main Street. This is after 1917, because of the new bank front, but also notice the new brick building on the corner. Most everyone knows this building as JOHNSON’S DRUG STORE.
An item in the Dec. 23, 1908, Nappanee Weekly News has this title, “FIRST TO OCCUPY NEW BUILDINGS. COPPES PHARMACY OPENS DECEMBER 31. AN EXTRA FIND OUTFIT.” It seems that John Coppes built this building with the intention that his son Marvin would operate it in a positive manner. Marvin Coppes had recently graduated from Purdue with a business degree. The newspaper goes on to describe the building’s fine interior woodwork and fixtures being manufactured by the workmen at Coppes, Zook & Mutschler. Also, the door with “side panels and fancy lamps shades” were mfg. by the Geo. L. lamb factory.
Beyond the bank building in what were four separate buildings, there is now one brick exterior covering the fronts of all of them. Beyond the alley is the Hartman’s store. Please notice that at this late date there were still railings to tether horses and not automobile parking spaces.
Here is another picture (color) postcard of the same South Main St., likely from the 1940s by the shape of the cars. Not much has changed with the buildings. The greatest change is because of the automobiles. New sidewalks with car parking and street lights to make it convenient for customers to get into the stores and buy something.