Peabody Singing Tower

 North Manchester, Indiana

Recipient of Indiana Historical Society's Awards--"2013 Outstanding Project Award" &
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Early 1880s
1890 Directory
1904 Advertisers
1920 Businesses
 Main St. 1923-1928
Beery Orchard
Blackmore Cigars
Cabinet Makers
Canning Factory

Cigar Factories
DeWitt Auto

DeWitt Building
Drug Stores
Excelsior Factory
Farm Implement
Flour Mill
Furniture Making
Grandstaff Rendering
Grove's Grocery
Hayes Motors
Heckman Bindery
Hotel Sheller
Howe Bait
Leedy Motor Co.
Louie's Candy

Mfg Industries
N.M. Airport
N.M. Foundry
Oppenheim-125 Yrs
Peabody Retirement
Peabody Seating
Planing Mill
Rex Windmill
Stickley Furniture
Telephone Cos.
Wagon Makers
Warner Brooder

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Source: North Manchester Journal, June 13, 1889

The Rex Manufacturing Co., desires to trade wind pumps for two good horses. Business with the company is growing so fast that more teams must be bought to do the work.

Source: Rochester Tribune, May 16, 1890

B.O. West has added another improvement to his already convenient and attractive property. The Rex Windmill Co. of North Manchester placed one of their complete outfits in his dwelling and lawn. Mr. West now has conveniences almost equal to those that could be secured from a system of water works.

Source: North Manchester Journal, January 5, 1893

A.G. Lautzenhiser is on a trip through the southern part of this state and in Kentucky for the Rex Co.

Source: North Manchester Journal, November 23, 1893

Won the Suit.

The Rex Wind Mill Company is feeling very much elated over the outcome of its suit for infringement and damages against the Flint and Walling company of Kendallville. The suit has been pending for nearly two years and has cost them a great deal of time, bother, worry and money and they feel quite fortunate in securing a verdict. Some time before the Rex company was organized W.J. Hogue of LaOtto, the patentee of the Rex Mill, sold a shop-right to make his mill to a man in Avilla. Later the Rex Co. was organized and bought of Mr. Hogue the patent for the whole United States and territories. The Avilla man afterward sold out his business to the Flint & Walling people and they began making the mill although the Avilla man had no right to transfer his shop-right to anyone. The Rex people began suit for infringement and to collect damages in the United States court at Indianapolis and a great deal of testimony was presented in the case which resulted in a complete knocking out of the Flint & Walling concern. A compromise verdict was then agreed upon to save further trouble, the Flint & Walling people agreeing to stop further manufacture and to pay a royalty of $2.00 on each mill they had made after the Rex patent, each litigant to pay their own costs. Judge Taylor on last Saturday rendered his decision in accordance with this arrangement. We have been unable to learn what the $2.00 royalty will amount to but it will probably cover the costs incurred by the Rex people if not more.

Source: North Manchester Journal, December 13, 1894

A deal was closed yesterday between M.L. Butterbaugh and the Hewitt Brothers, proprietors of the new implement factory here, by which Mr. Butterbaugh has sold the Rex wind mill business to these gentlemen. They will continue the manufacture of the mill at their factory, making it one of the principal departments of their business. Mr. Butterbaugh will enter the employ of the Hewitts and will probably have charge of the wind mill business, as he has had much experience in that line. The consideration has not been made public.

Source: Fort Wayne News, July 30, 1898, p. 7

A special from North Manchester, Ind., says: This vicinity was visited yesterday afternoon by the most destructive storm in many years. Trees were blown down and many buildings were unroofed. One end of the Rex windmill plant was blown away, the top of the main school building was carried to the ground and lightning destroyed three barns in town. Hundreds of acres of corn have been laid to the ground and great loss to fruit has  been sustained. The storm lasted about thirty minutes.

Source: Silver Lake Record, April 18, 1899

Mahlon Butterbaugh, of North Manchester, has filed a petition involuntary bankruptcy.

Source: Goshen MidWeek News, April 25, 1900

Given $3,000 Subsidy. The Syracuse Mfg. Co., of which David Lamb, formerly of Goshen, is one of the principal stockholders, will remove its plant to North Manchester, that city having raised a $3,000 subsidy to induce the removal of the novelty works, which manufactures fire screens, parlor easels, hall trees, and other novelties in wood. The firm now employs between forty and fifty men, it is claimed. The factory will occupy the old Rex windmill buildings at North Manchester.

Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 2002

Rex Windmill Building

An air of absent minded forgetfulness comes 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 occurred 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

Page Eleven

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

Page Twelve


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.