Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 2002

Early Cabinet Makers in

Chester Township - 1850

In the pioneer period in this area many specialized skills were needed to supply the needs of the citizens of the area. Obviously, doctors, lawyers and teachers were especially important but close behind them were artisans of all sorts. And, because it was a heavily wooded area furniture makers, carpenters and/or joiners, wagon and wheel makers, and barrel and stave makers were in great demand. Cabinet makers or furniture makers were necessary to make repairs of furniture damaged in the long and rugged journey from the East or to make furniture for families just setting up a household. Seven men were listed as cabinet makers in Chester Township in the 1850 census.

Lewis Davis, Chair Maker, age 22, from Pennsylvania.

William Krisher, Cabinet maker, age 18, from Pennsylvania.

Emuel I, Mowrey, Cabinet maker, age 22, from Ohio.

James Oakley, Cabinet Maker, age 34, from North Carolina

John F. Smith, Cabinet Maker, age 24, from Ohio.

David M. Story, Cabinet Maker, age 18, from New York

John Townsend, Cabinet Maker and painter age 49, from Kentucky

These men usually advertised their business in local papers. Most ads included lines such as "All kinds of country produce taken in exchange for work and cash not refused." or "Lumber will be taken in exchange for furniture, and money not refused." Cabinet Makers often doubled as Undertakers. This line in one ad.. "Coffins made on request at all times and suitable conveyances furnished, when desired, without charge." Though much of the furniture making was custom built, most cabinet makers had some supply "on hand". One especially well-stocked business listed "Sofas, secretaries, sideboards, Centre, Pier, Sofa and Card tables, plain or knock-down wardrobes, enclosed washstands, divans, ottomans, Tete-a-tetes, dressing stands, lounges, French bedsteads, (veneered posts) French, and half French Sociables, Reclining, parlor and rocking chairs of Walnut, Rosewood or Mahogany; and all kinds of plain work, as bedsteads, tables, cupboards, bureaus and all other articles in his line, all of which he warrants to be of the best materials and workmanship, and gotten up in a style that, he flatters himself, will generally please the eye of this intelligent and enlightened community; at least those wishing to buy would do well to give him a call before purchasing elsewhere as his prices will be as reasonable as can be found in the Wabash Valley."

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the apprentice system common in earlier times. It is believed that Tighlman I. Siling known in North Manchester but living at that time in Whitley County apprenticed with Samuel Rufer as did Milton Siling. William Krisher and David Story apprenticed with John F. Smith.