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History of Nappanee

History of Nappanee2018-10-16T15:04:08-04:00

Prior to 1800, Nappanee was home to the Miami and Potawatomi Indians. In the early 1840’s, the first white settlers came to Union Township to take advantage of Indiana’s fertile land. “Onion was King” among the crops that put Nappanee on the map, including potatoes, hemp and mint, which thrived in the area’s abundant soil. The original spelling was “Napanee,” the name attributed to the Indiana culture. The present spelling “Nappanee” was adopted when the Town was surveyed and selected for a post office under the first administration of President Grover Cleveland.

By 1875, shortly after the railroad came through, the village of Locke started to move south to Nappanee. Not only people, but homes and businesses were sleighed to Nappanee.

The Coppes and Mutschler Brothers were amongst the earliest entrepreneurs, providing a way to make a living through their logging company, saw mill and box-making and furniture factories.

In the last 140+ years, Nappanee has grown to become home to a population of over 6,700 with a diverse economy and unique cultures of old and new living and working together.

Click here for more History of Nappanee.

Since becoming classified as a City under the State laws of Indiana, the following public servants have served as Mayor of the City of Nappanee:

Mayor Years of Service
Willard A. Price 1925 – 1929
Walter C. Uline 1930 – 1934
H. J. DeFrees 1935 – 1938
Ralph L. Arnott 1939 – 1947
Mintle .E. Hostetler 1948 – 1955
J. Maxwell Clouse 1956 – 1961
Ralph L. Greene 1962 – 1963
Robert P. Sinclair 1964 – 1967
Everett Pippen Jr. 1968 – 1971
James E. Newcomer 1972 – 1975
John L. Mellinger 1976 – 1979
Robert W. Callander 1980 – 1991
Kenneth J. Walters 1992 – 1995
Larry L. Thompson 1996 – 2016
Phil Jenkins 2016 – Present

The History of Nappanee from 1816 to present:


  • Indiana becomes the 19th state in the Union


  • Elkhart County was created following the arrival of the first permanent white settlers in 1928


  • Jacob and John Stahly come to the south west corner Locke Township in Elkhart County, Indiana becoming the first Amish settlers in Indiana.


  • Locke Village named for Samuel Lockwood who settled in the township also named for him in 1836. Locke was the last township created in the county.


  • B. Frank Myers & Mellinger Saw Mill


  • B & O Railroad arrives. Nappanee laid out.


  • John and Frank Coppes join J.C. Mellinger as partners in the sawmill in the fall. They were brothers-in-law. In its heyday of the lumber business, the Coppes mill operated both a day and night shift.


  • Union Planning Mill and Starch-box Factory.


  • P.C. Stahly opens furniture business in Nappanee at the corner of South Main and Lincoln Streets.


  • Coppes Brothers buys the Joseph Strohm planning mill and box factory. They bought the building and equipment and continued the business of making boxes for the National Starch Co. and others


  • Coppes Bros. erected the old brick building, which is now part of the Coppes Bros., Inc. building.


  • Nappanee Milling Co., Inc. was established by Coppes Bros., Frank, John and Sam
    Coppes Brothers builds the Nappanee grist mill


  • “The largest lake steamer “Topeka” was launched at Milwaukee on last Saturday. The vessel is 226 feet long, one of the largeset on the lake and the timbers for its construction were furnished by Coppes Bros., Nappanee”


  • The Coppes Hotel was the inspiration of banker S.D. Coppes.
    Daniel Zook, Nappanee attorney, entered the firm which became Coppes Bros. & Zook


  • Old furniture factory, corner of centennial & elm, refitted for Nappanee Shoe Supply Co.


  • Coppes Bros. have built a large box factory, furniture factory and roller mill


  • Coppes Nappanee was the largest manufacturer of the kitchen cabinets known as “Hoosiers”


  • Coppes Brothers buy Nappanee Furniture Company


  • Frank Coppes says Coppes started building kitchen cabinets


  • Coppes, Zook & Mutschler were the largest assessed in the county


  • The first Coppes cabinets with metal flour bins probably appeared about 1910


  • “The Nappanee Lines,” Kitchen Cabinets, known as Nappanee Sanitary Cabinets
    The Nappanee silo is already becoming famous and is going into many Western states
    The wood B&O station is replaced with a Prairie Style brick depot. The last passenger train of the B&O Railroad stopped in Nappanee in the 1960’s.


  • Coppes Bros., and Zook, Inc. emerged as a firm devoted exclusively to the manufacturer of Kitchen cabinets. The line was known as the Nappanee Dutch Kitchenet, a streamlined edition of the old “Kitchen Cabinet” or “Kitchen Safe.” The work top was covered with nickeloid or aluminum over a wood frame.


  • The milling company was set up as a separate corporation operated by Jacob Yarian.
    Herbert Hoover, secretary of commerce, commissioned a time and motion study to determine ways to make the American housewife more efficient. The study concluded that she could save 75% of her time and energy spent in the kitchen using a Coppes Nappanee Dutch Kitchenette.
    As World War II approached Coppes suggested in its advertising that the housewife using a Dutch Kitchenette could get out of the kitchen and help the country.


  • Mutschler introduces the Porta Built line of built-in kitchen cabinetry the forerunner of Mutschler kitchen cabinetry today. They also produced Sampson Office and Directors Tables.
    Miller Lumber & Coal Company real estate was acquired for additional space. Shortly thereafter Mutschler personnel acquired the Nappanee Lumber and manufacturing Company holdings and the firms total manufacturing facility grew to over 250,000 square feet of space


  • Frank Coppes died


  • Lazy Susan cabinet introduced by Coppes
  • Coppes built fuel tanks for B-25s and B-26s, roof sections for GI housing, ammunition boxes, bomb racks, tent floors and motor mounts for life rafts.


  • Coppes bought Lamb and Green building for the Nappanee Milling Company


  • Mutschler’s first custom built-in kitchen cabinet installed in Richard Chapman house on Madison Street
    Featured in House Beautiful in 1948


  • The Nappanee Milling Company discontinued making flour and concentrated on feed and corn meal


  • Lyle Yoder starts Yoder Kitchens


  • Today—on the exact site of the historic sawmill—Coppes, Inc. stands as America’s oldest continuous manufacturer of fine kitchen furniture. Plant expansions in 1938, ’46, ’55, and ’60 have paralleled the growth of both the company and Nappanee.
    Sports personalities like Ben Hogan and Phil Cavaretta, industrialists like the DuPonts, Fords, and Fairless’s, movie stars like Hedy Lamarr and Barbara Stanwyck and other industry leaders, government, and the arts, have personally selected Coppes Nappanee hardwood Kitchens for their home and family.


  • Coppes making kitchen for Frank Sinatra in Beverly Hills and Mutschler’s a custom kitchen for President John F. Kennedy’s Virginia house.


  • Marvin Newcomer and Marvin Miller start Newmar Industries. Freeman Borkholder joined the firm a short time later when it moved into the buildings in Nappanee.


  • Coppes, Inc. sold to Monarch Co.
  • Mutschler merges with American Standard, Inc.


  • James F. Shear, Sr. started Fairmont Homes in an old sauerkraut factory in Nappanee


  • Borkholder Furniture is formed taking over the former Lemler Kitchen factory


  • Gulf Stream Coach was established


  • Mahlon Miller, then president of Holiday Rambler, purchased Marvin Miller’s interest in Newmar. After resigning at Holiday, Mahlon Miller became chairman of the board at Newmar Corporation.


  • EF3 tornado ripped through Nappanee damaging or destroying 200 to 250 homes or buildings

To learn more about the history of Nappanee, visit historicnappanee.blogspot.com.