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A Question Answered and Another Posed

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?

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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

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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