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Nichols Manufacturing

Nichols Manufacturing

Charles Brannen (View posts)
Posted: 29 May 2004 11:28AM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Brannen, Ensley, Patterson, Criswell, Schlagel
My name is Charles Brannen. I live in West Virginia. My father gave me a framing square that was made by Nichols Manufacturing in Ottumwa IA. It was supposed to have been my grandfather's. My great grandfather, William Brannen had ties to Appanoose County. He was married there in Dec. 1864. He also had two aunts migrate there during the 1850s. Could anyone shed any light on Nichols Manufacturing? The square is old enough to have been hand struck with the numerical formulas that are on it. The font of the numbers is not one seen today either. Also it has no product number on it. Meaning it has to be very old. Thank you in advance for any info you can provide to me.

Charlie Brannen
St Albans, WV

Re: Nichols Manufacturing

Bill Hansen (View posts)
Posted: 5 Jun 2004 11:26PM GMT
Classification: Query
The following is from the book "Ottumwa: Yesterday and Today" published in 1923.

"The Nichols Manufacturing company, 401 to 405 West Main street, with an annual production of 55,000 framing and carpenters' squares, is one of five factories in the United States which makes squares and the only one west of New England according to Fred Hardsocg, owner and manager.

In 1901 four men formed a partnership for manufacture of a framing square on which Moses Nicholls, a carpenter, had secured a patent. The four men were Mr. Nicholls, Martin Hardsocg, T.F. Norfolk, and A. Wheeler. Martin Hardsocg purchased first the share of Mr. Wheeler and later that of Mr. Nicholls, and Fred Hardsocg, his son, purchased the interests of Mr. Norfolk. Later he bought the remainder of the holdings from his father and has been managing the business for about ten years.

The plant is operating at capacity and is unable to meet the demand. In addition to squares the Nicholls Manufacturing company produces floor scrapers, wood pullers, and grass hooks. When the company was established it was a real pioneer in the west and in order to obtain the expert workmanship desired Joseph Miller, and eastern mechanic, was employed to come here. He made the first square and is still with the firm."
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