Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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.