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This Changing World

The Columns of Will Ball

Logansport Press, Jan. 9, 1949

 Early Furniture Makers

One of the early industries of Logansport, of which no trace remains today, is the manufacturing of furniture.  With a supply of the finest raw material right at our door and with a healthy demand, it was only natural that the furniture makers or cabinet makers, should have flourished.

 One of the first cabinet makers to open a shop in Logansport was W.T.S. Manly, who came to town in 1837 and later put up quite a shop on the north side of the Eel River, east of Sixth Street near the Canal, water from which was used for power for his machinery.  He prospered and a little later began the manufacture of coffins.  These were not the caskets with which we are familiar today; they were widest at the shoulders, tapering to narrower dimensions near the feet and head.  For the most part, they were quite devoid of ornamentation, although nicely finished and made of hardwoods, walnut being the favorite.

Mr. Manly took a partner, Leopold Smith, who, after Mr. Manly’s passing, conducted the business until his own death in 1882 when Ash and Horley, owners of a furniture store at 425-427 Market, bought the place and operated it as the Logansport Furniture Co.  Mr. Ash, who managed the manufacturing business, as a master craftsman who turned out good merchandise, specialized in piano benches and dining tables.

 After Mr. Ash’s death, his son, E.B. Ash conducted the business, later moving to the plat now occupied by the L.P. Machine Company.  E.B. Ash moved to Indianapolis in 1929 where he still lives.  Miss Emma Ash still lives in the old home on West Broadway.

 Joseph W. Henderson & Sons, whose three story frame building was located on the east side of 5th, south of the canal, was outstanding both as to quality and range of product.  For many years they made a general line of furniture of the highest class.  There are many old pieces still around town from that plant which are treasured heirlooms.

 One of the workers in the Henderson plat was known as Indian Charley.  He was reputedly a half breed, whether Miami of Pottawattamie this writer has been unable to learn.  He was a skilled bench maker, that is, he was particularly good at putting the finishing touches on the assembled pieces, such as carving and other handiwork.  James H. Reed, Liberty Street, retired cabinet maker, learned his trade at Henderson.

Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April, 2009

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