VOLUME VII, Number 4 (November 1990)

Peabody Impact Beyond North Manchester and School Seating
By Nolan D. Walker

James B. Peabody who was in the hardwood lumber business with his brother, Simon J. (Jack) Peabody, in Columbia City joined with J.H. Stiggleman of Wabash in 1902 in negotiations with the business men of North Manchester.  An agreement was reached whereby the Excelsior factory building at the corner of Fourth and Beckley Streets was purchased for $3,000.  Peabody and Stiggleman signed a contract with the Manchester merchants to transfer the building debt-free to Peabody Stiggleman Company when 60,000 hours of labor had been paid to their employees.

The officers of the new corporation were J.B. Peabody, president; J.H. Stiggleman, vice-president; and T.A. (Tom) Peabody, son of J.B., secretary-treasurer. 

The balance of 1902 and early 1903 was spent in acquiring manufacturing equipment and materials.  Production started in April 1903.  Many of the patterns for the line of school furniture were purchased from the Wabash School Furniture Company which had dissolved several years earlier.

The first or early years were struggling ones, and many times the management debated at considerable length whether or not to continue.  After two or three years Stiggleman left the company, and the Peabodys  changed the name to The Peabody School Furniture Company.

Things began looking up: the young company began turning out a line of school desks, teachers’ tables, opera and church chairs and folding chairs that became the envy of the industry.

Key people in those early years were J.J. (Jake) Wolfe, plant superintendent; Fred Gingerick, vice president; C.B. (Bert) Delancey, sales manager; Arthur Wagner, woodworking foreman; Chesley Bone, finishing foreman; Albert Olinger, shipping foreman; and Otto Grossnickle, packing foreman.  As sales and production increase, the plant increased from 15,000 square feet to its ultimate size of 230,000 square feet.

As long as Peabody produced school furniture and public seating, it was never completely closed.  During the depths of the Depression production was reduced to a three-day work week, and the unsold furniture was stored in warehouses.  This policy was a direct order from Tom Peabody to furnish limited employment to his employees.

The Peabody Company was largely responsible for starting and continued production of the North Manchester Foundry.  J.B. Peabody, looking for a satisfactory source of castings for his school desks, induced John Stauffer, father of Robert Stauffer, to start the Foundry.  In the late 1920’s the steel fabricating section was added under the direction of Albert Ronk and George Ulrey to manufacture steel desks and folding chairs.

The philanthropies of the Peabodys were numerous, many of which were never publicized.  The Peabody Memorial Home, a retirement home for the elderly, was built.  In addition, Warvel Park was given to honor the memory of Tom Peabody’s close friend, Jonas Warvel.  In 1935 a bonus of $100 per year was given to each bona fide employee for each year the employee had been with the company.  After Peabody’s death his will provided another bequest of $100 per year of employee service.

Thomas Peabody died in 1944, but the company had been under Fred Gingerick’s leadership for several years.  As World War Two came it had a limited war production and a quota of 25,000 desks.  In addition, Army chairs, folding cots, tool chests and tail assemblies for fragmentary bombs were produced here.  After the war full production of public seating was resumed.  Upon the death of Fred Gingerick in 1949, Otto Parmerlee, treasurer and director of purchasing, was elected president; Nolan Walker, vice-president and general manager; Mary Peabody, secretary; Delbert Johnson, treasurer; and Robert Stauffer, chairman of the board.

More recent sequence of events includes installations in outdoor areas
--- New Castle Products Company of New Castle, Indiana, approached the Peabody Board of Directors about the possibility of purchasing the company.  Since a number of the officers and executives were approaching retirement, the decision was made to sell.

Some of the more glamorous or better-known seating installations were outdoor arenas, such as Boston’s Fenway Park, Cleveland American League Park, Baltimore American League Park, addition to Yankee Stadium, Roosevelt Raceway, Aqueduct Racetrack, Kentucky State Fairgrounds, Fort Wayne Coliseum, and a soccer stadium in Saudi Arabia where the chairs had to be packed into the interior by camel back.

Shortly after the sale New Castle Products appointed Howard Barber president of the company.  A new line of school furniture was designed and put into production.

1960 --- Plastic seats and backs were added to the line, and chrome plating was made available on the metal frames.  A year later Curtis Miller became vice-president and general manager, succeeding Barber, and R.J. Piros, president of New Castle Products, also assumed the presidency of Peabody.
1965 --- A folding wall partition was put into production and 70,000 square feet of floor space was added.
1969 --- The American Standard Corporation acquired the New Castle Products Company and the Peabody Plant.  Dick Shoemaker was appointed president of the Peabody and majestic Furnace plants.  Production of school furniture and public seating was discontinued in favor of a line of metal fireplaces.  Sometime thereafter Shoemaker retired for reasons of health.
1984 ---American Standard Company elected to close North Manchester operations completely.

Marshalls’ Sofa Finds Way Home After 65 Years

The 1895 sofa which was part of Thomas R. Marshall’s estate has been donated to the Whitley County Museum in Columbia City by George Francis Tapy in whose family the sofa has belonged since 1925.  A closeup detail of the sofa’s carving is seen in the photo on the right.

A North Manchester native, Marshall died on June 1, 1925.  From 1877 to 1908 he had occupied the house which is now a county museum.

Tapy’s father, a good friend of Marshall’s, served as a superintendent of schools both for South Whitley and later Whitley County.  Marshall was instrumental in securing for Tapy a post at Wabash College and on the Indiana State Board of Education.  In addition to the sofa, the Tapys bought at the estate sale the Marshalls’ dining room suite and a corner bookcase, still in the family.

Riverside and Wednesday Night Band Concerts  
By Dorothy Joseph

The street that runs along the west side of city hall may be South Market Street to you, but to me it is Riverside.   My mother, Iva Hill Stauffer, and I spent much of our childhood on Riverside.  My mother’s family moved to that area when she was eight or nine years old.  After having lived in rental property in several areas of town, my grandfather bought half way down South Market Street, across from the river bend, and lived there until his death in 1911.

I was about the same age when my parents bought their first home on that street a block or so closer to the bridge.  Since the area was not in the city limits, my mother’s family, my sister and I attended Chester School which was the consolidated township school.  We had a choice of routes; either to Main Street through the business district, east, and then down Mill Street across the covered bridge to Chester or south and across the street now called Pony Creek Lane, up past the covered bridge and on to Chester.  We usually went by way of Main Street, especially during cold months, and were lucky because we could stop to warm ourselves by the coal stove in our father’s tailor shop, located where Werking Studio is now.

Those of us that lived on Riverside had advantages over town people for refrigeration: we had flowing wells all along the street in almost every home.  Many homes had the water piped to a convenient location, either on a porch or an enclosed area, such as a summer kitchen.  A basin built for the water to run into had a drain attached high enough so several inches of water could stand.  The constantly flowing water had a consistent temperature, and the food kept well.

At the south end of Riverside, Hank and Kate Lautzenhiser, Joan Koller’s grandparents, kept milk cows.  Many families bought milk from them.  They had a lovely walk-in basement that was used  year-round as living quarters.  At the east end as one came down a few steps through the doorway was a flowing well with a large cement basin that held cooled milk in our individual containers, picked up by neighbors each evening after milking time.  I loved Kate, who continued selling milk long after Hank died.

She let us use the basement in the summertime to change our clothes so we could go swimming in Pony Creek.  That was a great treat in hot weather.  The upstairs of the house was used for company, and the bedrooms were on the second floor.  I preferred the basement: it was cozy in the winter with a cookstove for heat and cool in the summer.

Across the street from our house was anchored a rowboat, used all summer long by the Stauffer children.  It was first-come first-served as to the boat’s use. We were permitted to go as far north on the river as we wished, seldom farther north than the college.  West, downriver, lay the dam.  We could go as far west as the railroad bridge.  Beyond that was out-of-bounds as the current could have swept the boat across the dam.

Riverside There were various forms of entertainment.  After the evening meal was over and the dishes were done, my aunt and mother played music on the pump organ.  One sang soprano, the other alto.  They had learned to play “by ear.”  Once when Grandfather came home from his office, he found neighbors sitting on the front steps, as well as others walking by, listening to the singing.  He promised not to tell his daughters, who probably would have stopped singing every evening.

There were band concerts on Wednesday evenings.  Mom did not know when they first  started, though she remembers attending the concerts with her mother when she was about seven or eight years old.  Grandmother belonged to the Rebekah Lodge, auxiliary to the Oddfellows of which my grandfather was a member.  The meetings were held on the third floor of the building at 135 East Main Street.  On the second floor was a lounge where children stayed.  The windows looked down over Main Street at the foot of Walnut Street where the bandstand was erected each Wednesday.

The lighting was apparently provided by arc lights on each corner of Main, at Market, one above the bandstand at Walnut, and at Mill.  There were no lights on Riverside until John Parmerlee place an oil lamp in front of his house.  Later, after electricity came to Riverside, George Gaddis put a light high over his house, and it did shine over a rather large area.

Cars lined both sides of the street for those to shop or to watch and listen to the music.  The stores stayed open to accommodate those who could not shop during the day.  Some of the older people sat in their cars just to visit with neighbors and friends.

One of the band members, Charley Snider, lived on Riverside.  He practiced during the summer with his door open.  “Pappy” McFann (as Mom called him), a small, wiry man who had been a bandmaster in the Civil War, lived across the street.  He often came over to Snider’s just to pester him and to tell him about his mistakes in playing.  Mom said it was fun just to watch McFann go across the street.

Most people came into town to shop on Saturday evenings when the stores were open.  When my father bought the tailor shop from Thurl Little, Orrel’s brother, mother and father kept the shop open.  I would go to the movie just up the street from the shop, between Lockwood Hardware and the livery stable.  Admission was a nickel.  I gave my nickel to Carrie Lockwood at the ticket window and went into to see the thrilling Pearl White serials.  There was always some type of cliff-hanging scene near the end of each episode of the series when a handsome hero always saved poor Pearl.

Rube Wilkins as well as the Symington brothers moved to Riverside when they retired from show business.  Wilkins had been a clown.  The Symingtons were probably in sideshows at circuses, as they were tiny.  George Gaddis, mentioned above, who lived near the end of South Market Street with his wife, was an excellent carpenter who kept a shop in the back of his house.  He taught the children to use hand tools.  He also taught John Henry Wright to build model airplanes as flying was the one thing Wright wanted to do: he later became a commercial pilot.

We lived in other places besides Riverside, I have felt that Riverside was an important part of my mother’s life as well as my own.

Indian Relics in Northern Wabash County  
By L.Z. Bunker, M.D. Ret.

Many things come to mind when one thinks of American Indian artifacts and relics: baskets, rugs, bows and arrows, flints and stone work, but the only remaining Indian relics in this area are of stone and a very few pieces of burned clay pottery.  The Woodland people and some Mound Builders, who lived here before the red Indians, produced many finely worked stone tools, grinders, sinkers, discoidals, game stones, and flint arrows and knives and fish hooks.

The arrows range from one-inch-long bird points to several inches in length, and also six or seven-inch projectiles used for large game.  It would seem that the arrows and flint spears were made by both groups of Indians.  The more recent red Indians, presumed to have infiltrated this area from the Siberian migrations, appropriated the artifacts remaining from the earlier inhabitants whose disappearance has never been explained.

One of the most useful artifacts aside from arrows was the grinder or manya.  An example is the stone 7 to the right in the photo and was 4” X 3” x 2-1/2”.  This is a comfortable hand size.  The base of the grinder (the metate in Mexican cultures) is not found here and was probably served by a flat stone or wood from a fallen tree.  This device produced corn meal.

A small amount of pottery was produced by plastering mud over woven twig forms, then burning it off.  Some of this pottery was decorated with incised markings, as in the shard shown here (stone 2), next to the large grinder (stone 1).  These forms were used for storage.

Stone 9 is a fire stone which seems rather common, as I have found five of them over many years.  The worn notch shows where it was rubbed against a stick and limbs to produce a flame.

Stones 1, 3, and 7 are grinders, the small ones used to pulverize herbs or minerals, such as iron that accumulated in springs and was used for face paint.  Soot was also used for this.

Stones 11, 10, 8, and 4 are game stones, sometimes called counters.  The Indians played games similar to dice, a crude form of checkers, and a game of matching stones.

In the back row is a fleshing stone (stone 6), used in removing pelts from rabbits and other small animals.  Sharp cutting knives were made by both groups and were sometimes set in poles for fish spears or darts for small game.  A large flint knife set in a long pole was used for hunting buffalo or in combat.

Stone 5 is said to be a stone used in smoothing pottery, the only one of these I have ever seen.

All of the stones and other items which I gave to friends were found in the immediate North Manchester and Wabash County area and was the work of the prehistoric denizens or historic Miami and Pottawatomie Indians.

Where does one find these treasures?  Grinders can often be found in a farmer’s rock pile, picked off the land by the pioneers and left to lie for generations, Indians camped near water, such as creeks, springs, and ponds, hence such an area is often a considerable source of flints, grinders, and so on.

Excavations and shallow digging often bring up grinders, fire stones, etc., that have been covered with dirt for centuries.  An old thicket often yields bird flints.  None of the artifacts shown here has been removed from graves nor has the author ever desecrated a grave in search of relics.  This is an abominable practice, and much digging often produces no results.  Many Indians were buried in “bundles” hung from branches in trees, and their remains were scattered to the four winds.

Spring plowing often turns up flints or an axe.  An ancient battle site gone over with an iron prod will sometimes bring up amazing pieces.  This has been true around the old battle site near Jalapa, near Marion, Indiana.

Of course, the easiest way to acquire these aboriginal artifacts is to buy from another collector or at a sale where a collection is being broken up.  But this is not equal to the pleasure of finding one’s own prizes from upland farms and sandy creek banks.

Rosemary’s “New Hat”

The Historical Society is fortunate to have Rosemary Manifold as its museum curator.

Rosemary is a native of Hancock County where she graduated from Wilkinson High School.  She received her college degree from Ball State Teachers College and returned to Wilkinson to teach music, English, and business education.

It was there that she met and married Orrin Manifold who was her pastor in Wilkinson.  Since then Orrin and she served pastorates in Elkhart, Gas City, North Manchester, Nappanee, Peru, Huntington, Muncie, and Portland.  Orrin was appointed Kokomo District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church.  From there they retired in North Manchester.

Rosemary worked for ten years as a secretary in the college’s office of the Director of Resident Life.  She has played in the Manchester Symphony Orchestra most of the years since 1952.

Thanks, Rosemary.