“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Delphi in Carroll County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

The Cooper

Making Barrles to Move Produce

— Wabash & Erie Canal Park Village —

The Cooper Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, July 18, 2020
1. The Cooper Marker
Cooper Shop: An Ancient Craft
The Cooper trade is an old one which came to America in the 1600s and was a leader in developing and introducing machines to replace the handmade methods. Before modern plastics and cardboard materials were perfected, barrels were used to store all manner of goods and they were easy to move. If you could not lift them you could roll them. Barrels are still used for fine wine and spirits.

Delphi's great lime belt produced finished products placed in barrels on canal boats. In 1857, Harley & Hubbard erected a kiln on land acquired from Dr. Grimes who had built a hotel which failed becoming known as "Grimes' Folly.” Here was started a barrel making cooperage to ship quality lime used for plaster, whitening and mortar. A second important use for barrels in Delphi was for packing and shipping salt pork back East. Delphi was one of the largest pork packing towns in the Midwest.

"White" coopers make "whiteware" such as buckets, tubs, tankards, piggins, pitchers, etc used in dairies, local kitchens and barns. These were made out of white or light colored woods. Unlike

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the darker woods, they were easy for the user to see if it was clean and ready to use.

"Wet" coopers make "tight" barrels and casks to hold liquids such as vinegar wine or cider which required hardwoods such as white oak with strength enough to endure rough handling.

"Dry Tight" coopers formed casks to hold dry product like sugar, flour, salt, lime. Gunpowder often used softer hardwoods such as maple, elm, basswood, linden and chestnut.

"Slack" coopers produced casks out of sawn woods about 1/4" to 3/8” thick, bent while green. They were not watertight. They were used to transport heavy goods such as bolts, nails and other hardware. Indiana had several slack barrel factories making nail kegs hardware.

In Delphi, James Lunney began manufacturing slack and tight barrels on Main Street by 1879. A mill adjacent to the cooperage with the machinery for the trade employed up to 15 men and manufactured up to 35,000 barrels per year. Slack barrels mainly were sold locally and tight ones shipped to Chicago.

Canal-era business card of Daniel McCain. McCain later became general manager of The Delphi Lime Company in 1871 which was a collaboration of several independent operators. Together they produced and marketed as much as 500,000 bushels of burned lime annually.

How a Cooper Makes a Barrel
After shaped staves running

The Cooper Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Craig Doda, July 18, 2020
2. The Cooper Marker
from the top to the bottom of the barrel are formed with tapered ends, the wide middle of the staves create the barrel's center bulge. Metal hoops are placed around a barrel to bend- in the staves after they are softened from the heat of a fire. Arranged vertically inside a metal raising hoop, a firing process took place in an iron basket inside the new barrel. Warmed wood fibers are relaxed, which allow progressively tighter metal hoops to be hammered in place that form the finished shape. Finally, the ends are leveled off and a groove cut into the inside edge to receive the rounded ends which close up the barrel.

Barrels, Casks and Kegs Popular Sizes
A keg or a cask can be a container of any size and U.S. sizes can differ from those of the United Kingdom. Bever is the smallest of barrel designs and holds one or two gallons often used for salt- mackerel in brine. Kegs came in various sizes used to contain linseed oil and sometimes reinforced with iron hoops. Depending on the product a slack keg was ideal for durables such as nails. Firkin normally one-quarter of a barrel in size was a tight cask used for consumables such as butter or lard. Standard-sized U.S. barrels hold 31 gallons, a half gallon less than a traditional wine barrel. Puncheons at 85 to 100 gallons and Butts at 108 to 110 gallons were the largest casks. The majority

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of casks produced were Hogsheads at 54 gallons.
Erected by Tippecanoe Arts Federation.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Wabash & Erie Canal series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1857.
Location. 40° 35.517′ N, 86° 40.817′ W. Marker is in Delphi, Indiana, in Carroll County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of West North Washington Street and North Charles Street, on the right when traveling east. The marker is on the Grounds of the Wabash & Erie Canal Conference & Interpretive Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 12252 West North Washington Street, Delphi IN 46923, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Education Along The Canal (here, next to this marker); Broom Maker (here, next to this marker); The Broom Making Process (here, next to this marker); The Paper Maker's Shop (a few steps from this marker); Cabin Homestead 1830s (a few steps from this marker); Fouts Kitchen And Medical Plants Garden (a few steps from this marker); Loom House Weaver (within shouting distance of this marker); An Herb Garden (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Delphi.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 25, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 25, 2020, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. This page has been viewed 137 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 25, 2020, by Craig Doda of Napoleon, Ohio. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 16, 2024