Coal company logo: surfaced recently among a pile of materials in a Carmel, Indiana, antique store.

Dauner Wholesale Coal and Coke Company
Bituminous coal has been one of Indiana’s most valuable natural resources since its discovery along the banks of the Wabash River in 1736. These resources began to attract industry around 1804, when public land surveys identified a number of outcrops.

Indiana coal was part of the first cargo taken by Robert Fulton in the maiden trip of the steamer “Orleans” down the Ohio river in 1811.”

It seems reasonably certain that coal was mined for local consumption in Indiana between 1811 and 1837, when the American Cannel Coal Co. inaugurated commercial mining in the state with the opening of a mine at Cannelton in Perry County. The first official government recognition of the industry in Indiana appears in the 1840 national census, when the state was credited with an output of 9,682 tons. Progress for the coal industry was steady, but slow, marked increases in production not appearing until the close of the Civil War.

However, by 1918, production exceeded 30 million tons.

From scant available records, it appears that the Dauner Wholesale Coal and Coke Company was established by Frederick E. Dauner (1873-1950) around 1904. The business was located in the State Life Building at 15 East Washington Street (later called the Thomas Building).  Frederick would become the company president. The business would incorporate in 1908 with a capital stock of $5000 and three directors: F. E. Dauner, Harvey D. Trimble, and W. S. Harman… and it would adopt what is arguably the most beautiful coal company logo ever wrought. The artwork resurfaced recently in a Carmel, Indiana, antique shop — in a pile of vintage correspondence.

dauner add 32

Polk Directory, Indianapolis listings.

The Dauner family made their residence on North New Jersey Street.  Newspaper ephemera and society page mentions reveal F. E. Dauner to be an avid supporter of his church, with an appreciation of music. Daughter, Louise, was active in the local music scene as a performer and also a violin teacher.

State Life Buildling

The State Life Building, later renamed, the Thomas Building. (Image: Library of Congress)

It’s unclear at this time what happened to the Dauner Coal Company. It disappears from city directories after 1932 and was, perhaps, subsumed by a competitor. The State Life Building where Dauner was once located, however, holds a special place in Indianapolis history:

– It was the tallest high-rise in Indianapolis from 1895 until 1908, when One North Pennsylvania (formerly Oddfellows Building) was competed.
– It was the first building in Indiana to have more than 12 floors above ground.
– It was gutted in the 1973 Grant Fire, one of the largest in Indianapolis history.

Share with us in the comment box below:
What do you know about Dauner Coal Company?
What are your memories of the State Life/ Thomas Building?

Indianapolis Polk Directories, IUPUI online archives
The Black Diamond, 1908
Indiana Geological Survey
Coal Men of America, 1918
Indianapolis Star, Indiana State Library newspaper archives
Library of Congress