We recently visited the Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop in Haverhill, Iowa. Matthew Edel immigrated to the United States from Germany. He opened his blacksmith shop in 1883. Until the family could build themselves a house, they lived above the shop in the attic. They were avid gardeners, growing and preserving food from their own large gardens. This photo from 1915, which hangs in the shop, shows Mr. Edel (center) with his then 16-year-old son Louis on the left and a customer on the right.
In 1916, the Edels made $1652.10 net income from the shop. They decided to use their profit to add an automobile repair shop to the blacksmith shop; the total cost of the addition was $1652.20. Their investment paid off, and in 1917 they had a net income of $2200.
After Matthew Edel's death in 1940, the shop was closed and left virtually untouched until the 1980s when it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Edel family donated the shop to the State Historical Society in 1986.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the shop is open from noon to 4 pm. There is no admission fee, but free-will offerings are accepted. Our very informational guide Keith told us about the shop's history and the Edel family.
Above left shows the chimney of the forge. Above right are the bellows.
Another component of the forge and the hammer and anvil.
The saw and drill. Both are attached to a system of overhead pulleys , which worked to make them run.
The pulleys and a collection of drill bits.
The tool above left was used to assemble wagon wheels. Below left is a tool for working on horseshoes.
Besides doing repair work, Matthew Edel was always on the lookout for interesting products he could create and sell.
He made crosses for grave-markers, many of which are in use at the nearby Catholic cemetery.
A couple of these mark his and his wife's graves.
Edel's Perfection Wedge Cutters sold for $3.00 apiece. His advertisement claims that a person with no experience could cut 500-1000 wedges per hour with no power but the hand, and the cutter is so easy to operate that a 13 year-old boy made 650 wedges in an hour.
Edel's Perfection Dehorning Clipper for cattle is shown above.
Didn't he have beautiful handwriting?
Papa's favorite part of the shop was the desk. It folds up into the wall when not in use, but opens for use as a workspace, revealing cubbyholes for bills, books, or whatever else a self-employed businessman might need.
The hammer I am holding in the photo above was quite heavy. I'm sure daily use of it would promote exponential growth of muscles! Blacksmiths were (and their equivalents today are) certainly hard-working people! I very much enjoyed the tour of the blacksmith shop!