Blacksmiths, Livery Stables and Wagon Makers - July 2014

2014-07-01

Businesses have always played an important part in the history of Greenfield. In this addition we're going to explore some more of our businesses and industries that have helped shape who we are as a community.

Blacksmiths, livery stables and carriage makers were skilled tradesmen. These businesses are trades that we don't see today and they are true pieces of business Americana. When I visit the Indiana State Fair every year the one place that I always have to go and spend time in is the Pioneer Village. There you can see blacksmiths, potters, coppersmiths, threshing machines, saw mills and many other pioneer trades. These trades are still practiced by men and woman who have been gifted with the skill that we don't see in stores in our downtown areas anymore.

Today these businesses could be related to mechanics garages, or AutoZone and Napa Auto parts. In fact one of these new auto parts stores stands on the exact location as one of our original livery stables. So even though the building doesn't exist the property is still producing the same type of service to our public.

A blacksmith is a metal smith who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut (cf. whitesmith). Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils, weapons and horseshoes.

While there are many people who work with metal such as farriers, wheelwrights, and armorers, the blacksmith had a general knowledge of how to make and repair many things, from the most complex of weapons and armor to simple things like nails or lengths of chain.

The "black" in "blacksmith" refers to the black fire scale, a layer of oxides that forms on the surface of the metal during heating. The origin of "smith" is debated, it may come from the old English word "smythe" meaning "to strike" or it may have originated from the Proto-German "smithaz" meaning "skilled worker.

Blacksmiths work by heating pieces of wrought iron or steel, until the metal becomes soft enough to be shaped with hand tools, such as a hammer, anvil and chisel. Heating is accomplished by the use of a forge fueled by propane, natural gas, coal, charcoal, coke or oil.

A blacksmith was very important trade to our early settlers. With horse and buggy and wagons as a means of transportation parts and repairs were needed.
 
2014-07-02

Mr. Jeffries taking his horse and buggy for a ride on the city streets of Greenfield.

Livery stables were important in a downtown area because it provided a place to board your horse, store your tack and insured that you would have feed and water. Some of the hotels in the downtown area offered stables that were nearby so overnight guess would have a quick and easy place to board their animals for the night.In doing research of blacksmiths and livery stables I found that there was little information written and collected about them. I found it hard to believe that vital resources as these businesses were that they would go undocumented in history. Maybe there were so many of them and they were such a part of regular everyday life that they were simple overlooked and taken for granted in their significance to our community.
 
The first blacksmith shop that I found register to was to a George Plummer in 1848.
 
The 1882 business directory list under Blacksmith and Wagon Makers – Walker and Morford, Lineback and Barr, Huston and King, S.W. Wray and William Newhall.
Under Feed Stable it listed John E. Tindale.
 
The same business directory listed Livery Stables – J.W. Morgan and AC Gambrel. It also listed Carriage Makers as W.E Harris, Lineback and Barr and S.W. Wray.
 
A 1916 business directory list Marshall McBane, James Moran and Morford and Son as Blacksmith and livery owners.

2014-07-03

This is a picture of Jeffries and Son Livery Stable which was located at the southeast corner of North St. and State Road 9. This building was torn down in early 2000’s and is now currently a parking lot.

 
 
2014-07-04

Another view of the Jeffries and Son livery. This picture is taken on State Road 9 looking south. In the right hand corner of this picture you can see what most likely is or at least it is the same location of the Barr and Morford Blacksmith Shop.

 
 
 
2014-07-05

Another picture of Jeffries Livery Stable from State Road 9 entrance.

 
 
 
2014-07-06

This blacksmith shop was owned by Allan Cooper and Taylor Morford. It was in operation until 1906. They sold and manufactured Morford and Cooper wagons also which could be purchased for $70. They built 28 to 35 wagons a year. This stable was located on the corner of Pennsylvania and South Street, which today is the current location of NAPA Auto parts store. This same property or at least the Taylor Morford family side is also probably related to the Walker-Morford livery and stable listed in the 1882 directory and the Morford and Son which was listed in the 1916 directory.

 
 
2014-07-07

This is a photo of Huston Livery Barn. It was believed to be located on S. Pennsylvania St. Tom Offutt is at the right, Ed Frost (auctioneer) is second from right, and Charles W. Huston is in the center and Ed Sullivan is third from the left. The date of this picture is May 5, 1911.

 
 
History also shows that E. Kinder and Sons Livery Stable was located on the south side of East Main St. where the County Jail is today located.
 
There was also Kinder and Varner Livery Stable which was located on East Street and North Street. This would have been connected to Jefferies Stable.
 
Barr and Morford Blacksmith Shop, which was dated 1892, was located on the Southwest corner of State Road 9 and North Street. This would have been directly across from the Jefferies Stable.
 
 
2014-07-08

The picture above is the Wray Wagon, Machine and Carriage Shop, located west of the Wray residence on Main Street. It was operated by Samuel William Wray and his sons, Arch and John, until 1912. The Wray’s had a patent on a combination plow and corn planter. They had another patent which was sold to Studebaker Brothers in South Bend on a convertible wagon. The Wray residence was located at 403 W. Main Street. The home was moved in 1956 to 20 South Noble Street.

 
 
2014-07-09

J. M. Hinchman Buggy Supplies was located at 202 E. Main Street. From their add on the side of the building you could get all of your buggy supplies from springs, wheels and harness. Today the property is home to the Kenneth Butler Soup Kitchen.

 
 
 
2014-07-10
 
 
I think it would have been fun to visit and watch these men at work for a day working their magic in this skilled trade. There is hardly any other business that would have been such an instrumental part of one's everyday life than the old livery stable. Stables have played a backstage role to American history. From a location where John Wilkes Booth boarded his horse on the night he assassinated President Lincoln to making appearance in almost every TV western.

So the next time you head to the auto parts store think about getting shoes for your horse along with a little hey and water.

 

Greg Roland

Reference:
Richmond History of Hancock County
Binford History of Hancock County
Wikipedia
Images of America Hancock County, Indiana by Joe Skvarenina
Hancock County Historical Society

 

More Greenfield History