of the North Manchester Historical Society, Inc.
VOLUME XIX, NUMBER 1 (FEBRUARY, 2002)
The Maple Leaves
North Manchester High School
Leaves from an Old Diary
Lulu L. Strickler - believed to be a member of this class)
(The following leaves are supposed to have been taken from the diary of an old man, one of the first settlers of Chester township, Wabash County, Indiana. Although the date of the months may be incorrect, the dates as to years are history.)
I just returned home from Shippensburg from muster-day. I heard them discussing this new country west of the Allegheny mountains, and I was so impressed by the talk that I intend to look into the matter. Brother John expects even to start soon.
I went as far as Carlisle with Brother John and his five companions who are on their way to Ohio. On account of father's health, I am forced to remain here.
Just received a letter from Brother John. He says: "I am located in Richland county, Ohio, some few miles southeast from Mansfield. Here the land is very rich, though the country is broken; even the chestnut ridges produce great trees from three to five feet in diameter. The bottom lands are so fertile that the timothy grass grows about four feet tall, and the other products grow in the same proportion; the beets weigh about one hundred and fifty pounds and the potatoes are so large that a man may sit upon one end of it while the other is in the fire roasting." These few items together with our eagerness to investigate the territory for ourselves soon caused father to want to come out as far as Johns, if not farther.
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We started early today on our journey. Father, Betsy and the little ones rode in the wagon, which carries our necessities; and the boys and myself armed with the rifle and some axes, walked along urging the team over the rough ground, and provided food both for them and for ourselves. We camped at night, hobbling the mules to keep them from straying.
How relieved we feel! We have reached brother's in safety. Father, who has been rather downhearted, has cheered up upon finding John's all healthy and in good spirits. We leave the things in the wagon until we located for ourselves. Today father seems interested in everything; he admires the large chestnut trees, and when, after asking about the beets, John told him that they were dead-beats he couldnot conceal his surprise and distrust. Then he asked about the potatoes. John seems not to understand him, for he asked, "What potatoes?" "Oh, those like you wrote about that you can sit on one end of while the other's in the fire roasting." "Oh, that is nothin; just cut them in two."
I am tired of trying to farm this broken and hilly country and as there is an opening of lands in Indiana to be had at a dollar and a quarter an acre, I will sell out and investigate that.
The day is favorable for the journey to Indiana. I have sold my land and with Mike Secrist and Mr. Clever start on foot to see the new country. We carry an ax and a rifle apiece but very little money and little more ammunition.
We had traveled for three days and for about a hundred or a hundred and thirty miles we had to follow our way along a line made by the surveyor's blaze, until we came to a large river which we learned from an Indian was the Wabash. He showed us a trail which soon brought us to a village which boasted one store and a tavern and a few dwellings. The little postoffice is called the "Treaty Ground Postoffice". The settlers here are hospitable and prevailed upon us to
stay and view the land in the neighborhood and north for about fifteen miles. We put up at David Cassett's Tavern, where we obtained a guide. He says the land south of the river is hilly, and rather rolling, but as he describes it, it does not form what I call good farm land, and so we will turn our attention to the north.
We traveled about four days, examining the land, before we came to the water-way our guide called the River Eel; and we had gone about twenty miles, though the direct distance is said to be but twelve. After ascending the bluff at Wabash Town, we immediately entered level country, which continued up to within about a mile from the River Eel. All this land is well timbered and full of underbrush. Our guide says there is a clearing several miles up the river where a Mr. Helvie is wintering; and so we forded the river, ascended the bluff on the other side where we were surprised to find the barrens so much talked of in Ohio; and then followed the river until we found the opening. Mr. Helvie says the lands we passed through near the river are the best in the locality, for they are well drained. Our guide returned to Wabash Town, convinced that we would locate here, instead of near his town. We went with him until he struck our trail and then we followed the river up its east side. About two miles from Mr. Helvie's we found a good spring and a good place for a cabin. I, then and there, made up my mind that that land was to be mine. Mike will enter his land about a mile up from mine, but Mr. Clever don't like the place and is anxious to return to Ohio, and so we will start back in a few days.
All three of us kept together until we reached the land office at Ft. Wayne, where Mike and I entered our lands. Clever got a horse and went on, but we followed on foot and beat him here by two days!
We got to our lands early this morning and unloaded near the spring. I felled an oak about four feet in diameter, which had several large branches, one high enough for us to stand under. Then I placed elm bark from the ground to the top of the branches so that it makes a tent-shaped shelter, which will be our home until I can get a cabin.
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Yesterday the neighbors, with a man from LaGros, came in to help build my cabin, and tonight I have a double cabin, with two good fire-places. I put Pete Ogan, Jesse Moyer, Teal and Mr. Lukens in the fatigue party, and Jim Abbot and John Ogan hauled the logs to the site and assorted them. Mr. Harter, Simonton and Mr. Comstock hunted the roofing and fixed the puncheons for the floor. Sam Thurston, Cox, Gill and Anderson were the corner men, and everything was in readiness this morning for the lifting.
Our crop of corn has done well and will furnish meal for us throughout the winter, and the fodder will keep the oxen in good condition. I have just returned from registering the stock, so that I may let them run at large until cold weather, feeding on the nuts and acorns. My herds are marked by a hole in the left ear and a slit in the right one. Neighbor John just came from Richmond with his load of salt for the neighborhood. I got about two barrels of it, paying twenty-five dollars for it. I poured a small bucketful of it into a springy place down near the river to make a lick.
Neighbor John came over this morning and said that this is the time for butchering and that the other neighbors, ready for work, would soon be down to the river. I made all haste to get there in time to help with the catching of the cattle and swine. They fenced in a large pen near where the animals spent the night and tolled them into it with grain. The hundred and seven head which entered made us a good day's work, John got fourteen but only twelve of mine entered, although I had wanted fifteen.
We have just been to Neighbor John's to a husking bee, given for the new neighbors. Some of those there were James Abbot, Col. Helvie, Mr. Ogan and his brother John, Mr. Harter, Mr. Halderman and John Wesley Williams. John Ogan says his new corn-crcker is now almost ready to grind; and this means no more trips to Bristol for meal. The last part of the evening was spent in the telling of their various experiences, especially of those with the Indians. We had not
all told our experiences when a big chief came to the door calling for the "jenup -man." He had a squaw and a papoose with him which he placed by my side. Then he would walk part way from us with little Conrad, our black-eyed and black-haired boy. He would bring him back and start away with his squaw; then he would repeat these actions. When I saw he wanted to trade his squaw for my boy, I shook my head and said, "no, no," and the Indian, understanding me better than I did him, walked away with his squaw, all the time saying, "You no jenup-man", evidently thinking that any gentleman would trade.
Today I have worked as usual on the new Methodist church at North Manchester, and we now have it almost ready for dedication. It will be one of the best and most comfortable churches around, for it is large, roomy and well lighted, and the benches are well finished and comfortable.
(Note) Evidently each student was allocated a certain space and that allocation ran out here...I wished for more (ED).
Annual Business Meeting - a summary of the Work of the N. Manchester Historical Society during 2001
Held at the Oppenheim Building or the North Manchester Center for History on January 14, 2002
Membership There are 213 members, l48 local, 38 out-of-town, 17 life members and 10 business members.
Slate of new members of the Board of Directors; Davonne Rogers, Joe Vogel (second term) William Eberly and Chad Harris, lst term.. An unanimous vote cast.
Marshall House Frantz Lumber Co. has begun the work of completing the renovation of the Thomas Marshall House. Inside work will continue as needed and erection of a porch to provide access will be done in the spring. Funds for this work and for the furnishings is still needed.
Trips.. Two highly successful trips were sponsored by the Historical Society this year and co sponsored by the local Shepherd's Center.
The first, May l , was to South Bend and included the Studebaker Museum, the Oliver House and other places of interest. The second, September 27, was to Indianapolis and included the Crown Cemetery, the Indiana Historical Society Building and other sights. Each meal concluded with a very special meal for about forty people involved. Future trips are being planned together with the Shepherd's Center.
Treasurer, Ralph Naragon reported monies available for the general program this year $7,237. for the Thomas Marshall House $8,132. and for the Center for History $57,489. Loan on the Center for History remains the same.
Dr. Bunker's Writings.... A Sense of Place.... edited by Charles Boebel has sold steadily during the year and a third edition will soon be considered.
The Homes Tour, December l and 2, 2001 was successful helped by an amazing number of volunteers and incredible weather. A total of 847 tickets were sold, and net profit was $3,820. Laura Rager and Jeanne Andersen were co-chairs of the committee and Betty Hamlin prepared the financial report
The Museum- Center for History. Just about one year ago the Board of Directors of the N. Manchester History Society took a major step in purchasing the Oppenheim Building. Mary Chrastil, chair of the Museum Committee gave a report of the activities since that committee's first meeting on February 8, 2001.
Purchase of a computer and museum software and computer recording of present inventory of holdings Community focus group to gather information on local interests. Contract with a museum consultant, Bill Firstenberger Museum renovations - second floor painted - removal of lst floor shelving and furnishings - removal of basement ceiling tiles - preparation of collection storage area,,, covering shelves with mylar, etc. - cleaning... and again, cleaning and removal of trash Hiring of project manager, Jeanne Andersen Moving of holdings from the Town Life Center, packing Jan 3 and 4 Moving Jan 5... finished about 10:30 a.m. Decision on Name.. North Manchester Center for History, Phone 260 982-0672 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use of the Building by Community Groups during the year 2001.
During Fun Fest The Indiana Auto Tour. A stop and a presentation Musical presentation depicting Grace Van Studdiford and Maude Quivey by Carol Streator and Diane Scheerer During Harvest Festival - Peabody Entertainers directed by Carol Davis
The Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner... catered to about 190 people by Chartwells.
Cost estimates for the preparation of the building for our purposes $l,l50,000. This includes some funds for endowment for maintenance and repair. About $900.000 remains to be raised
The focus of the Center is North Manchester and the Eel River Valley. Programming will include curriculum for children in the public school, walking and riding tours planned and public program series..
A few of the special collections received this year include the Root Beer Barrel. the Walrod Medical collection, Florence Freed collections, the D.A.R. materials \, the Dorothy Freeman 1907 maps. The 1907 maps of the town were displayed and were a center of interest during the evening.
All this was accomplished through the hard work of many people--an incredible number of volunteers.
From "As You Like It"
A publication of the Senior Class, N. Manchester High School, 1904
A summary of advertisers in that publication.
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Now that the building is no more it seems appropriate to review the life of this building.
In 1911 The S. S. Cox Show Case company came from Bryan, Ohio. By help of the local commercial organization and local investors what was later the Watner Brooder building was built new for this company. S. S. Cox was head of the company and Cecil Shelley was factory superintendent. The product was strictly first class and was pointed to with pride in many mercantile establishments and offices in which it was installed, yet the business was never profitable. Soon it went into the hands of a receiver, Joe Wetzel being left almost alone to look after the big building from which the high grade machinery was sold piece by piece.
The Northfield Furniture Company came from Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 1935 to occupy the building which had been vacated by the Cox Show Case company. This company had enjoyed a good business in Wisconsin but was seeking a more central location. Ernest W. Schultz was the president and sales manager. A. F. Henckel was the very competent factory superintendent. Death took Mr. Schultz, and the majority of the stock voted his young son in as superintent. The old management was ousted, business went to pieces and in a few months the equipment was sold piecemeal at public auction. The building was put on the market about 1943.
Years before Boyd Warner saw some little chickens shivering in
the chilly cold. His sympathy was aroused and the Warner Electric Brooder was the result. Possessed with a good appetite for fried chicken Arden Strauss became interested with him, and the factory was started in a small room on the south side of Main Street. Electric light bulbs were first used under the hovers, but later a more efficient heating element came into use. The business soon outgrew the Main Street building and the old Syracuse factory building was bought. Business continued to grow, so in about 1943 when the Northfield building came on the market it was purchased by the Brooder company and made into one of the most complete factory plants in this section. As the business continued to grow Wendell Scheerer and Robert Stauffer came into the organization and a more complete line of supplies for poultry growers was prepared. During its lifetime this company was a main supply source for poultry equipment in many States.
An air of absent minded forgetfulness come to the old timer when asked about the Rex Windmill company that erected the factory building later used by the Syracuse Screen and Grill company, later still by the Henckel Furniture and Miller wood working plant... About 1886 Fred Baker, an inventive genius and an uncle of W. G. Hatfield, patented a windmill using an eccentric action in the gearing. A company was formed to manufacture it, the names of many of the old time residents of North Manchester being listed among the stockholders. The building was soon up, the mills were getting out into the wind and all seemed to be going well for a time. Things in fact seemed to be going so well that, according to scanty memories unearthed here and there, too many of the stockholders looked for good paying jobs that called for little effort.
But it seems that in the end it was largely Michigan business that decisively put the company on the down grade. A hard working and valuable salesman went into the Wolverine State, finding a ready market among the farmers who were tired of pumping water. He collected enough cash to pay his commission, taking notes for the balance. It was these notes that proved the undoing of the company. Hard times of 1892 and '93 came on, the notes were almost worthless.
The windmill company had endorsed the notes, discounted them at various banks and spent the money. Cash on hand was soon exhausted and the windmill business was Gone with the Wind, a long time before Margaret Mitchell had thought of using that as a title for another dream that had blown away.
As financial clouds began to appear there was a scurry on the part of some of the ones on the inside to get out from under and to unload their stock on the unsuspecting. If later stories are true there may have been a number of rather unethical doings that left sore spots still tender for fifty years or more. Mahlon Butterbaugh whose death occured in the late 1940s at the Second Street bridge was one of the unfortunates. He had sold his sawmill at Rose Hill to the Douglass interests and had also sold a farm. Most of that money went into the windmill business to be blown away with the investments of others.
Contrary to many ideas, the name Rex as applied to the windmill was in no way connected with Orlando Rex of telephone fame, or infamy, depending on who does the remembering. Gus Frame remembered the windmill but little of the doings of the company. His father, David Frame, used one of the mills to pump water for his residential water system on the lot where Gus lived, later. During a windstorm the gearing intended to hold the wheel broke loose and the wheel started to run away. It fell to Gus to climb the tower and lasso the wheel.
In 1900 the Syracuse Screen and Grill company headed by D. C. Lamb moved from Syracuse occupying the building that had been erected for the Rex Windmill company . The output was quickly popular. Soon no well regulated household was thought complete without a big cloth covered screen in the living room to hide something or other and ornamental wooden grills across two or three doorways, all long since relegated to the attic. Differences among the managers followed, there was a strike in which the thirty employees walked up the Main street in support of one side or the other. J. A. Browne came into the factory and later J. W. Caswell and Win Runyan. More differences followed. Caswell and Runyan leased the vacated Dunbar Heading buildings, but before the move was completed a change was made to Huntington where radio cabinets soon
took the place of screen and grills.
Those of the younger generation may wonder what these screens and grills were like. The screens, usually of three panels, had frames of three-quarter inch curtain rods, and were fitted with cloth of varying degrees of brilliance or quality depending on the price. The top of the center section was ornamented with a complicated piece of wooden scroll work. The grills were wooden frames filled with an assortment of spindles, balls and wooden doodads, all finished in the flossiest of Grand Rapids varnish.
When the Warner Brooder business outgrew their original quarters, they purchased the Syracuse Screen and Grill building and were there until 1943 when they purchased the Northfield Furniture building. The next occupant was a dairy business for a brief period. The building was sold to Mr. Henckel who had been general manager of the Northfield Furniture Company and on December 2, 1943 he started the A. F. Henckel Upholstered Furniture Company with the slogan Good Upholstered Furniture and the Trustworthy Line. This company needed wooden frames and in July 1945 Earl Miller opened a wood working shop in a part of the Syracuse building. In addition to making furniture frames he did a large variety of other wood work.
About 1925 Max Drefkoff brought the Syracuse Cabinet company from Syracuse to North Manchester, oddly enough to occupy the Syracuse Screen & Grill building,,, That company had come from Syracuse nearly thirty years before. At Syracuse Drefkoff was short of working capital, and friends interested him in coming to North Manchester where local people endorsed notes to provide this needed capital. Cedar chests were the principal product, at one time nine of the ten chests listed by Sears, Roebuck being made in North Manchester. But the moth scare wore off, people changed their tastes, or had less clothing to store, so in its latter days the business of the company was not good.
Drefkoff was of Russian descent, originally was educated as a rabbi, later for the law, and diversified business experience equipped him with words to talk himself out of many a deep hole so he was able to talk his sponsors into renewal of the notes. As the high wave of 1920 to 1929 artificial prosperity subsided the chest business waned
to the closing point, Drefkoff moved to Warsaw where more tribulations were to follow. It was not long until he was in Washington on a government job, last heard of being connected with Indian affairs.
There is a story that on one occasion during his factory life here he so far forgot his rabbinical training as to begin swearing at one of his workmen, who very promptly slapped him down. Jumping to his feet, Drefkoff yelled: "For what you do that? Why didn't you cuss back?"
One summer Mrs. Drefkoff spent considerable time in North Manchester. She was a Russian writer of some repute, was very active in her literary work while here, causing some speculation as to the real purpose of her visit and her work.
Memories of the ablest of the old timers is dim when they are questioned about the Excelsior Furniture factory that antedated the Peabody Seating company, corner of Fourth and Beckley. It was started some time between 1880 and 1884, A. C. Mills being one of the active local men in the organization that brought it here. Lots were sold in the A. C. Mills addition to provide funds to interest out of town promoters. The best information obtainable seems to indicate that John Hewett came here from Chicago to head the company. He is said to have been accompanied by another, a big man physically, whose name is lost in the ashes of the past. Hewitt was a brother of the president of the Miehle Printing Press company, and it was while he was here that an acquaintance was formed with W. H. Warvel, better know locally as "Squire" Warvel, which later developed in Warvel becoming legal advisor for the printing press company.
Folding beds was one of the outputs of the factory, but they did not seem to go any too well. Right at that time stories were rife of people being killed by folding beds folding up while occupied and nervous folk were poor customers. Some say that excelsior for packing was one of the products and that was the reason for the name. Others say nothing of that kind was made. W. H. Sharpe, who in later years came to be the cussed and discussed editor of the Wabash Times-Star came from the Pullman shops as a cabinet maker for this factory. Later he worked in a woodworking shop operated by Herschel Leffel on West
Second Street. He did finishing work in a number of houses, among them being the quartered oak wood work on the John Mills house, later the home of John Fultz on West Fourth.
Hard times, coupled with little demand for the folding beds, finished the bed factory dream.
The Stickler [sic: STICKLEY] Furniture company came in to manufacture occasional furniture, finally closing the plant some time after 1894. This company continued operation with a extensive factory at Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Following the departure of the Stickler [i.e. STICKLEY] company the buildings were unoccupied until the Peabody company took charge in 1902.
During the latter part of 1902 James B. Peabody and J. S. Stiggleman started the Peabody-Stiggleman School Furniture factory in what was known as the old Excelsior building, Beckley and Fourth. Stiggleman soon retired and the business became the Peabody School Furniture company, later the Peabody Company and still later The Peabody Seating Company, Incorporated. By 1950 the board of directors included Robert Stauffer, chairman, Mrs. Mary Peabody and Otto M. Parmerlee. James B. Peabody died in California November 15, 1934, but the factory had for some time been under the direction of his son, Thomas A. Peabody, who with Fred J. Gingerick continued in charge. After the deaths of both of these men a new organization was formed with Otto M. Parmerlee as president.
Other public seating was added many years ago to the school furniture line. By 1950 in point of output and number of employees this factory was at the top of the list in North Manchester.
For many years in the Peabody office was an interesting relic of the old days, a letter press book in which copies of letters sent were made by dampening the original, putting it in a book with tissue paper leaves and applying heavy pressure. This old book contained probably a couple of hundred pages, and in it were copies of all of the letters sent during the year of 1903. Today it would take many times that much space just for the federal tax reports, and other information demanded by the government. In 1903 one clerk could act as bookkeeper and stenographer, while the manager could generally handle the office routine in a couple of hours, having the rest of the day to superintend actual production.