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

4 responses to “Sunday Ads: Loveliest Logo – Dauner Coal”

  1. michelle hammons says:

    What can you tell me about Litzelman Coal? It was owned by my great-uncle Oz Litzelman and I know it was on the west side of Indy. I also remember my mom and her cousins talking about his house having a bowling alley in it!

  2. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    The Dauner named died out in Indianapolis because Frederick and Mary Dauner had no sons, only daughters. The oldest Dauner daughter, Margaret Louise Dauner (1907-2005), never married. Middle daughter Dorothy Dauner (1913-2004) married Robert Ballentine (1914-1998). Youngest daughter Helen Dauner (1915-1990) married Glenn D. Binegar (1913-1980). On the 1930 Census, Frederick Dauner was still listed as being a coal dealer. On the 1940 Census, Frederick Dauner was listed as being a Realtor. Margaret Louise Dauner’s obituary appears online. Apparently, she moved to Baltimore late in life, to be near her sister Dorothy, who had moved there some years earlier. Here’s the link to the obit: Frederick Dauner, his wife, his daughters, and their husbands are all buried in Memorial Park Cemetery (about which there was an HI Mailbag article back in April of 2014).

  3. Danny Hergenroether says:

    I did find the Dauner family in the 1940 census–seems they lived at 3817 New Jersey, but not sure if it’s north or south but it did list his occupation as Realtor I also found Frederick grave at and his daughter Marys grave and also his other daughters grave but it listed her birth as 1907 but it was actually 1909

  4. Sharon Butsch Freeland says:

    The Dauners’ home was at 3817 North New Jersey Street. All three daughters went to IPS School 66 aka Henry P. Coburn and to Shortridge High School.
    Mary Dauner (1873-1971) was Frederick Dauner’s wife, not his daughter.
    Margaret Louise Dauner was indeed born in 1907 (not in 1909). She went by her middle name of Louise, which is how she is listed in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). I provided to the link to her obituary in an earlier comment.

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