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Wherein Bill Investigates a Little-Known Nappanee Company From the 30's

Bill Warner
December 12, 2019
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Welcome to another Bill’s History Corner. This week I’m going to introduce a company that I know very little about. How is that for a teaser? The company is the Nappanee Water Filter Co. From the little I have been able to discover, this company was in business during the1930's, with company headquarters located on S. Clark St. I have not found much information in the Nappanee Weekly Newspapers. I’m assuming this was because of the Great Depression, but I’m just guessing about that. One small undated Newspaper snippet reads as follows:

“Harry Greene and A. E. Jervis sold their interest in the Nappanee Water Filter Company and the Specially Manufacturing Company to J. E Gall and have started a partnership in the old building in the rear of 1452 S. Clark Street where the factory headquarters was located several years ago. A lease has been taken on the old saw mill formerly operated by Coppes Bros. in the East part of the city and on Tuesday of this week the New firm Known as the Nappanee Roof Paint Company began the making of paint there.   

Later on the company will begin the making of water filters but for the present intend to confine their activity to the making of roof paint.”

I think that this Harry Greene is the same Person that was a cashier at the Farmers and Traders Bank in 1909. He was also the son-in-law of George Lamb of the Lamb Bros and Greene Mfg. concern that started making the wonderful art glass lamps in Nappanee. The other two gentlemen mentioned in the story are still a mystery.

As you can see, the NAPPANEE WATER FILTER Co. receipt (dated Jan. 14, 37) lists the company products as BATTERY AND DOMESTIC WATER FILTERS and NAPPANEE WATER SOFTENERS, ASPHALT [??????] ROOF PAINT – ASPHALT ROOF PAINT, PLASTIC ROOF CEMENT, at a location on Nappanee St.

This receipt makes it appear that the Nappanee Roof Paint Co. and the Nappanee Water Filter Co. were once again joined into one company. Does anyone know more about these companies? If you have information to contribute, please contact us.

The reason for starting this History corner is the fact that a Nappanee Battery Filter was donated to the Coppes Hoosier Cabinet Museum. Here is a picture of the filter and the sign I put on the display.

"This is an example of the BATTERY WATER FILTER manufactured by the NAPPANEE WATER FILTER CO. This company was located in various buildings in Nappanee during the 1930's (one of those was the old Coppes Saw Mill building). An office was at 50 Nappanee St. in 1937. This company did little advertising, consequently very little is known about the company. One receipt from this company lists their products as “BATTERY and DOMESTIC WATER FILTERS and NAPPANEE WATER SOFTENERS, ASPHALT ROOF PAINT, & PLASTIC ROOF CEMENT.

Donated by the family of Virgil Welty, originally from Nappanee. His children are Vavon Welty – Goshen, Merritt Welty – Boise, ID, Ellen Welty Nussbaum – Ohio. Virgil worked as Head Mechanic at Elkhart Packing Co. where this Battery Water Filter had been in use. It was given to him for his faithful years of service."