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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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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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The Evolution of Nappanee’s Main Street

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.

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A Short Trip Through 1911 New York City and Nappanee

We recently stumbled upon this very interesting video shot in parts of New York City in 1911. A 1911 film would be interesting on its own merit, just because it is now 106 years old, but I wanted to relate life in Nappanee to the film. The first thing I noticed as I watched this film was the huge number of people. People are everywhere, walking along, riding in cars on buses and trolleys, horse-drawn Hanson cabs. Everyone was on the move, going somewhere. The second thing I noticed was the buildings, tall buildings, close together.

Nappanee at the turn of the century

In 1911 Nappanee there were 12 automobiles putt-putting in and around Nappanee. Did the people living in Nappanee then even know about what was happening in other big U. S. cities?  Were they isolated from the rest of the country, did they feel isolated? Maybe a little, but there were opportunities to learn what was happening in the rest on the United States.

One reason people didn’t feel isolated from the rest country was the closeness to Chicago, where several newspapers were published every day. Anyone in Nappanee had access to the big city by train. I know, someone is now thinking that Chicago was not New York in 1911 but the news from New York City could quickly reach Chicago and then to all the small towns in the surrounding area, where newspapers were shipped.

Magazines were another method for knowing what was going on in the world. Mass publications had started, picture magazines, then news magazines were available to the citizens of Nappanee and delivered by the U. S. Mail or purchased at a Store. All of the magazines had advertisements for the latest items.

The first public radio broadcast was on Jan. 13, 1910. 1911 was the infancy of radio. Radio in the countryside didn’t really catch on till the 1930s-40s. So, I think it is safe to assume that Little old Nappanee did not learn about New York City from the radio in 1911.

What was Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. doing in 1911?

. . . They were producing a rather large line of furniture, along with kitchen cabinets, and operating the sawmill and flour mill. In another year, Mr. Dan Zook would die and the partnership would have a friendly breakup. Albert and Charles Mutschler would go back to the plant South of the tracks and continue making furniture and later concentrate on custom Kitchens. Dan Zook’s son Harold would continue with the Coppes Bros, but they would begin concentrating on producing the Dutch Kitchen Cabinets that made them famous. In approximately 1927 Coppes Bros. & Zook opened a sales office in New York City with a small staff with the intention of developing the kitchen market in NYC.

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Young & Widmoyer of Nappanee, IN

I’m guessing that most of today’s readers have never heard of this Nappanee Business. I know that I didn’t before we found this piece of paper. The YOUNG & WIDMOYER, DEALERS IN Fresh and Salted Meats, Sausages, Etc. was a butchering concern, supplying fresh and salted meats to the citizens of Nappanee.

tallow receipt

On Nov. 8th the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. purchased “Tallow for Fcty (factory) a @ $1.25”.

This receipt does not tell the amount of “Tallow” in this purchase, but my guess is a large amount, an amount as large as a barrel full of “Tallow”. My Dictionary says that tallow is animal fat, the hard-white fat rendered (to extract by heating), usually from cattle or sheep tissues and used especially in soap or lubricants.

I doubt that C, Z & M Co. was making soap, so using the tallow for a Lubricant is the logical conclusion. Line shaft bearings and machine bearings are some of the possible uses for tallow.

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Nappanee Stockyards – Date Unknown

Nappanee Stockyards

What a busy place on this day! It may have been some type of special market day or maybe this was the normal amount of activity in early Nappanee – lots of farm wagons bringing livestock to the stock yards for sale. As you can see, the fenced in area on the right side of this photo is the unloading pen. One wagon after another would pull into the pen and unload. Notice that some of the wagons have what appears to be a smaller box pen in the back of the wagons while other wagons have boards across the top, apparently to keep the animals from escaping. I’m guessing, because of my many months on a farm, that the majority of animals being brought to market this day are likely pigs. Although, I can see after an enlargement of the picture, sheep in one wagon and a calf in another.

I think that the camera man was standing on top of a train car that sat on one of the side tracks. Almost every person in the picture is posed, as if the picture taking process does not happen often. The wagon in the bottom center of the photo looks like a freight wagon, certainly not a farm wagon. How he became in that position is fun to speculate about. Did he arrive early and then get caught in the traffic jam, or is he attempting to send his crate on the train? The overloaded wagon in the lower left is also a puzzle. Looks like the wheels are going to fold in because of the weight in the wagon. What does he have in his wagon? Can you find the boy on a bicycle?

This location is at the South end of Elm Street at the Rail Road tracks, looking North toward Lincoln Street and East Market Street. The farthest-away horses are close to standing on Lincoln Street. The church steeple at the top is an early church on the corner of Elm & East Market St. where the Calvary Baptist Church is now located. Another clue to the date of this photo is the street light at the corner of Elm and East Market Street. Do you know when Nappanee put up street lights? Also, I’m not sure (the trees may be in the way) but I don’t see any large two-story buildings on the West (left) side of Elm street that could be the Coppes Hotel. Samuel Coppes left the Coppes Brothers Company in 1890 for other business enterprises, one of which was the Coppes Hotel which he had built in 1891. This picture must be before 1891.

This raises another question in my brain: what is the oldest picture taken of a building, a location or person in Nappanee? Do you have an early Nappanee photograph you would be willing to share with everyone? There are several very early reprinted photographs in the Nappanee centennial book They Called it Nappanee.  If you have not seen this book, the Nappanee Library has a copy in the historical section. I learned a lot from reading it.

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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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President Hoover Visits Nappanee

Hello, A little something different today at Bill’s History Corner.

Our boss had this picture in his collection for a long time, so long that he doesn’t remember where it came from. What we have is a photo of Nappanee people standing at the Train station listening to President Herbert Hoover as he makes a campaign stop during a trip through the Midwest on Nov. 4, 1932.

Hoover at the Depot

I’ve been looking at this picture for about an hour by now and have a couple ideas. Instead of me attempting to explain this picture, I’m going to suggest things that you can do if you are interested in finding more information.

First, you can now do Google internet searches, I did, and found several listings for this event. You almost never have an exact picture in your mind of what you will find on the internet. I find that I’m usually surprised by what stuff is on the net. You can read what President Hoover said from the train’s rear platform.  I’ll bet there were “newsreel” films of the stops along the way.

No doubt, the Nappanee News had reporters covering this event and pictures published in the local papers. In 1932, this was big news in Nappanee. This event was only 86 years ago, so it may be possible that some local people were at the event – if they remember the event- it will depend on how young they were, but this may lead to the discovery of some family photos taken this day. I do see a couple young children in the lower right of the picture.

I hope I have encouraged you to take a larger interest in your history. I don’t have all the answers. I also don’t have all the questions that should be asked. Your help would be appreciated. If you find any new information about this picture, I hope you will share it with us so we can post it for all to see. Remember my motto, HISTORY MAKES YOU SMART, HERITAGE MAKES YOU PROUD.

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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.

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Pay Day at the “Green House”

Today we are looking at a picture of workmen lined up to receive their pay packet in front of the Green (painted green) office building at the Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co. Nappanee, IN. As you can see, the photo has “PAY DAY, C.Z.M. Co. Nap.” Written on the lower right corner.

Pay Day

The office building was constructed in 1898, several years before the partnership started. This picture got me thinking about other photos we may have of the office building. At the end of this history corner you will find other pictures of the Coppes Bros. & Zook office. Enjoy.

Two things about the photo help date it. First the “C.Z.M. Co.” which stands for Coppes, Zook & Mutschler Co.: the partnership between John & Frank Coppes, Dan Zook and his son Harold Zook and Albert and Charles Mutschler that lasted roughly from 1903 through 1913. On Nov. 15, 1912, Dan Zook died and the C, Z & M Co. partnership split up, with Albert and Charles returning to the buildings that were originally the Nappanee Furniture Company (now Mutschler complex). Harold Zook continued to be associated with the Coppes Bros. with the new 1913 name becoming Coppes Bros. & Zook, the same name as before the partnership but now with Harold instead of this father Dan Zook as the associate. Most likely the partnership split was as friendly as it could be. These men were related to each other, and they knew they would be running into each other often in the small town of Nappanee. Also, they were smart men and knew that a good business relationship would be good for both companies.
Charles Mutschler was married to John & Frank’s niece Della. Della was Samuel Coppes’ daughter. Harold Zook was the stepson of Elizabeth Yarian. the daughter of John & Frank’s older sister Eliza & husband Benjamin Yarian. After the death of Daniel Zook’s first wife, Elizabeth became the 2nd wife of Dan Zook in Nov. 1885.

You should pay particular notice to all the trees and other plantings in the picture. The C, Z & M Co. was responsible for the beautification of Market Street. The company hired landscape architects (1908-09) to design the plantings in front of the factory and the majority of the street. The three principal members of the company had houses along East Market St. so it was for their benefit the most.

The other important item in this photo that helps date when the picture was taken is the large building behind the closest brick building. The first building in the photo is the 1884 “Coppes Bros. Planning Mill & Box Factory”. The rear building in the photo is the building that was constructed to provide workspace to build the furniture line that was promoted by the new partnership (bedroom sets, dressers. Commodes, etc.). The modern showroom, the stables & wagon garages, and the infill building between buildings A & B was not constructed at this time. This rear building was named “Building B” and was constructed in 1902-03. With all those factors in mind, I would date this “pay-day” picture 1913-15. I like the style of dress then, where everyone seems to need to wear a hat of some kind.

Here are five other pictures of the office building for you to compare.

Green House one

Office Green House

Green House Office for Coppes

Coppes office

early office photo