Independence, Iowa

During the late 1915 era Louis Hammelman and his father-in-law, George Wurtz, were manufacturing children’s toys in the “Old Armory” building (located on 2nd St. SW-where Indee Car Wash is now located).

The upper story was devoted to machinery used in cutting out the “Flying Horses”.  The lower floor housed the varnishing, painting, assembling and shipping departments.  Many eager high school boys sold these products for spending money. 

The brochure that was enclosed in every package advertised ‘suitable for a child from 1-6 years.  Comes all set up ready to hang.  Just what you have been looking for, a swing a child could swing themselves in, not only securing amusement, but getting a wonderful exercise.  Something absolutely unbreakable, guaranteed to stand the hardest kind of rough and tumble play and is protected by mechanical patents.”

On June 4, 1920 a fire was discovered in the SE corner of the building during the noon hour.  It was remarkable that the building did not burn to the ground as the firemen were unable to enter the building because of the flames and suffocating smoke and fumes from the paint and varnish.

“Flying Horses”, 9,344 of them, were stored on the lower floor and 1,000 kiddie horses which were either burned or ruined by the fire and water and were considered a total loss.  Evidently a few have survived the years – a few local residents remember the old company and so have a   souvenir or two of the factory.  The Buchanan Co. Historical Society has one of the porch swings in their archives.

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