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Grocers and Food Manufacturers

John A. Craig Co. | R. W. Furnas | Jacob Metzger & Co. | Koepper Whiskies
O'Brien & Mills Fish | Parrott-Nickum Cracker Co. | Polk's Best Jersey Milk Depot

John A. Craig Company

In 1883 seven skilled assistants aided John A. Craig, confectioner, in making fancy candies. The business was housed in a four story brick building at 20 East Washington Street. Craig's business grew successfully and steadily, which was accredited to the use of of only the best ingredients, and the sales of the candies at a minimum price. The storeroom carried a wide choice of "plain and fancy candies and confections, plain and ornamental cakes, ice cream," and other types of candies. His candy sales eventually grew to accommodate a national market.

  • Manufacturing and Mercantile Resources of Indianapolis, Indiana, 1883.

R. W. Furnas

In 1877 R. W. Furnas started a creamery business in Indianapolis. Soon afterward, he founded the R. W. Furnas Ice Cream Company. Furnas died in 1916.

  • Indianapolis Star, May 8, 1916 p. 1 c 3.

Jacob Metzger and Company

In 1877 German-born Jacob Metzger established Jacob Metzger & Co., a bottling company, at 30-32 East Maryland Street. He moved his business into a building that was built specifically for bottling. Metzger equipped the building with the finest and latest machinery. A 25 horse power steam engine supported the operations of the bottling process. The company grew so well that by 1884 he had to expand.

Shortly before 1893 Metzger added equipment that would allow him to manufacture carbonated beverages. He kept a vast variety of stock that was considered by the people of the time as "of general excellence." Jacob Metzger & Co. was the sole bottler of P. Lieber Brewing Company's (Indianapolis) Tafel beer. He also had business with many other domestic beverage companies as well as foreign. For example Budweiser, Bass Ale, Guinness Extra Stout, imported and domestic ginger ale, blackberry brandies, and champagnes were just a few of the beverages Jacob Metzger & Co. bottled. Metzger sold his products throughout Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky.

  • Indianapolis of Today. Indianapolis: Consolidated Illustrating Co., 1896.
  • Indianapolis Illustrated: The Capital City of Indiana. Indianapolis: Consolidated Publishing Co., 1893.

Koepper Whiskies

C. Koepper Whiskies originally started as Hahn and Bals in 1861. After a series of owners and partners, Koepper gained sole ownership in 1894. He had a three story building with a basement to allow ample storage at 35 East Maryland Street. He stocked the cellar with domestic whiskey such as Sherwood, Cummius, and McBrayer. He also imported the best champagne, port, and scotch. His business spread throughout Indiana and parts of Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. Koepper was German by birth.

  • Indianapolis of Today. Indianapolis: Consolidated Illustrating Co., 1896.

O'Brien & Mills Fish, Oysters, Etc.

O'Brien & Mills began as Kamp & O'Brien in 1889. Mr. Kamp's part of the business was sold to M. M. Mills in 1894. Mills was connected with M. Mills & Co. of Baltimore, Maryland, which owned large oyster beds and a large fleet of oyster vessels. It also ranked among the largest packers and shippers in the world. Mr. Mills acted as president of O'Brien and Mills while Louis O'Brien acted as secretary and treasurer of the company. O'Brien was a native of Indianapolis while Mills continued to live in Baltimore.

The company, located at 71 North Illinois Street, overshadowed all others of its type in Indianapolis at the time. It also traded among other states such as Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois. The company specialized in retail dealing Eagle brand Oysters, fish, etc.

Parrott-Nickum Cracker Company

One of the predecessors of Parrott & Taggart Cracker Company began sometime around the Civil War when Horace Parrott and John Nickum formed the Nickum-Parrott bakery. After some time Nickum left the business. However, he soon rejoined Parrott with the names of the business reversed as Parrott-Nickum bakery. By 1883 Parrott-Nickum & Co. occupied three floors for sales, manufacturing and storage at 190-192 East Washington Street. In 1883 the businesses of Parrott-Nickum and that of Taggart Brothers consolidated to form a branch of the U. S. Baking Company called Parrot & Taggart Cracker Company. It was located at 93-99 Pennsylvania Street and was the largest business of its type in Indiana.

Parrot and Taggart Cracker Company manufactured all sorts of crackers, breads, and fancy biscuits. They employed over 150 people and used 30,000 barrels of flour a month. Manufacturing of crackers, snaps, and biscuits was done by time saving machines that were sustained by one 30 horse power engine and boiler. Every ten hours approximately 100 barrels of flour were used. The business extended throughout Indiana, and into Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio. They had annual sales of $150,000.

  • Manufacturing and Mercantile Resources of Indianapolis, Indiana, 1883.
  • Journal January 24, 1903, p. 10 c 5.

Polk's Best Jersey Milk Depot

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness" proclaimed a sign above the door at Polk's Best Jersey Milk Depot. The dairy, owned by James T. Polk, was located at 325 East Seventh Street in Greenwood. Established in 1893, the dairy was already nationally recognized by its third year of operation.

In 1896 the dairy sold approximately 300 gallons of only the finest milk and cream per day. Polk attributed the quality of his milk to the quality care he took of the dairy cows. The stalls were immaculate. The cattle were shielded from inclement weather, and inspected each day to assure every cow was feeling her best. Everything involved in the milking process was clean from the udder to the pails to the person milking the cow. Polk used the best machinery available at the time to process and store the milk to ensure its quality. Polk was also the owner of a canning plant in Greenwood.

  • Indianapolis of Today. Indianapolis: Consolidated Illustrating Co., 1896.