The Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

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?
The sign on the left advertises new low prices as a result of the Great Depression.  The charge for sharpening a plow went down from $0.85 to $0.50.
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!


  1. Really enjoyed this post and all information you shared :)

    Will be super if I could have the opportunity to visit the blacksmith shop! :)

    And you are quiet strong girl :)
    Much love darling x

  2. Thanks was a fun place to visit.

  3. very cool images and information. we have one in our area, in allaire state park, i really love going back in time!!

    how neat that you were able to join in the fun. you have a beautiful smile!!!!

  4. Thanks Debbie! Yes, it's neat to see how people lived and worked back then.

  5. I love the pictures, and thanks for all of the information! :) I wanted to tell you that I nominated you for the Liebster Award on my blog! You can go check it out here:

    Have a nice day!!

    In all sisterly love,

  6. Well written you are giving us a wonderful tour of Iowa- Awesome photos the items everything looks so historic.

    I am really wondering if those dehorning clippers actually had a perfect cut they look quite painful and heavy. I loved the desk too. Thanks for sharing...


  7. I'm sure the clippers are a lot duller and rustier than they were new; would need some serious work to get them in shape!

    Thanks Laura! :)

  8. Hello Bethany, Thanks for coming and visiting and joining with me! I love the Title of your Blog...
    Please keep in touch and is this the blog you use for most your posts?
    Happy freedom and bask in HIS love!!
    Yours, Roxy

  9. Thanks Roxy! Yes, this is my main blog (my other one is just for my chess team). I enjoyed visiting your blog--lovely design! God bless!

  10. There's also a secret lock on that well as a secret lock on the first drawer, across the room, on the work bench... (beside the forge) truly a unique place to visit. ..

    1. That's neat to learn! I'll have to ask about it if I'm ever back there again. Thanks for the interesting information.