Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Jennings Lumber Co. mss., 1867-1915, consist of accounts, records, and correspondence of the Jennings family of New Castle, Indiana, with particular reference to their several business and manufacturing firms.

Levi Allen Jennings, 1834-1914, was born in Wayne County, Ohio, the first child of Obadiah and Mary Jennings. After schooling and some years as principal agent for the Ball Reaper and Mower Company, Jennings decided to leave Ohio, and settled in New Castle, Indiana in 1867. His parents joined him that same year and he and his father entered into a saw mill business, and somewhat into the general lumber trade. The following year Jennings opened a planing mill, lumber yard, and a sash, blind, and door factory. Within a short time he became primarily engaged in the manufacture of furniture.

Levi's brother, Simon Peter Jennings, 1840-1914, joined Levi in New Castle in 1868, and with Levi and another partner, opened a general hardware and stove trade. In 1875, Simon entered the lumber and building-material trade and in 1889 enlarged his factory to allow the manufacture of axe, hammer, pick, and sledge handles.

Simon's eldest son, Harry Edmond Jennings, 1874- , took part in his father's business from his childhood days. In 1893, Harry established his own factory for the manufacture of barrel hoops. He opened a plant for the manufacture of staves in Milton, Indiana, in 1904 in partnership with his youngest brother, Walter Pickering Jennings, 1878- . Walter re-settled in Milton to manage the business directly.

Simon's second son, Charles Wesley Jennings, 1876- , also entered the business and in 1898 went to Charleston, West Virginia to operate a branch of the handle business. He returned to New Castle in 1900 and continued working with his father in all facets of the enterprise.

The Jennings lumber yard and building supply outlet prospered on the same site from 1885-1975. In 1975 the building and its contents were sold at auction.

The papers present here include: incoming correspondence, 1891-1902, virtually all of which is business related and primarily for Simon P. Jennings; twelve copy books of outgoing correspondence, November 1890-October 1904; thirty-three "Lumber Order" books, March 1885-October 1906; three "Timber" books, 1890-1900; three "Broom" order books and production records, November 1900-May 1902; fourteen "Handle" order and shipping books, 1889-1902, and three payroll books, 1893-1898; order, production, and shipping books for "Hoops," April 1894-November 1897; and six volumes of "Accounts payable," 1890-1911. An inventory is available.

Gift. 1985

Collection size: 2,128 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.