This advertisement, from April 1905, features one of the fine cabinets, for which many patents were issued, made by G.P. McDougall & Son.

George P. McDougall, a lifelong Indianapolis resident, was born in 1844.  His family was already well-known in Indianapolis society, as his grandfather, Nathan B. Palmer, was the onetime Indiana State Treasurer and owner of the Palmer House.  Palmer Street is named after McDougall’s prominent grandfather as well.

After serving time in the Navy, McDougall entered the furniture-making business in 1880 with his brother, Frank.  His son, Charles, joined the business in 1895.  G.P. McDougall & Son cabinets thrived with a design based on “The McDougall Idea” – combining cupboard, pantry, closet, and even the table into one time-saving piece of furniture.

George passed away in 1901 from complications from rheumatism.  His death at fifty-seven years old spared him from witnessing the destruction of his life’s work – on September 22, 1909, Otto Truhann, the night watchman at the G.P. McDougall & Son factory started a fire that would leave the building in ruin.  Truhann pled insanity, and was sentenced to twenty years at the Hospital for Insane Criminals in Michigan City, Indiana.

After the fire, Charles moved the business to Frankfort, Indiana.  At that time, he also changed the name from G.P. McDougall & Son to simply McDougall Company.  It is unclear how long the McDougall Company continued to make cabinets, however, there exist advertisements dating to 1921.  Charles passed away in 1933.  Both George and Charles were interred at Crown Hill Cemetery.

9 responses to “Sunday Adverts: G.P. McDougall & Son Kitchen Cabinets”

  1. Rebecca Bandy says:

    I would love to have cabinet just like that today. Along with a Welsh cabinet from England. What a lovely kitchen that would be! Jessica…you have unearthed a wonder this week. A girl after my own heart!

  2. Libby Cierzniak says:

    Thanks for the article. I have a McDougall but I never knew much about the company.

  3. d m shea says:

    There hangs in the Library o Congress a manuscript dated Jan 1929 mailed from 3837 Graceland–Indianapolis. It is the original manuscript to the most-recorded most-enduring translated into most-foreign-languages song–birthed in Bloomington, faceted on a l00 Hoosier pianos and actually christened on Monument Circle–a coined-in-Indiana word added to the English language — is the immortal Hoagy Carmichael composition “STAR DUST”–now encircling the globe (NASA )

    So what has that to do with Hoosier kitchen cabinets? Just a little Carmichael family story that might bear a visit to that house on Graceland (Mike Ahern did a piece there some years back on his WISH tv show with Hoagy son Randy. WISH may still have?)

    Hoagy told the story of his maternal grandparents (Robison)–he a self-taught DIY carpenter etc.. The story goes that when Hoagy was emerging into success, he generously helped his grandparents who had been second parents to him—including helping them move into the house on Graveland. His creative but thrifty grandfather , re-doing the kitchen, had more creativity than money. So he had an idea. Instead of buying a kitchen cabinet like these–he decided to simply “build one” permanently on the walls–and the story goes that his was the ancestor of today’s built-ins instead of free-standing. Just another piece of Hoosier trivia.

  4. Tom Davis says:

    This story, from Crown Hill’s new book and I think also mentioned in the book published in the 1920s concerns another George P. McDougall who must somehow be related because he is also buried in the Palmer lot on the NW corner of Section 25.

    Not all the Hoosiers laid to rest in Crown Hill stayed at home. George P. McDougall was an
    adventurer. In 1845, when he was twenty-five years old, he traveled overland by wagon train from his
    home in Indianapolis to California, then still part of Mexico. California historian H. H. Bancroft wrote about
    McDougall (also spelled McDougal), “He was eccentric, but brave, and a favorite with the frontier
    population.” After the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, his brother John, who had served in Mexico
    as a captain in the Indiana Volunteer Company, joined him in the new town of Sacramento. (John
    McDougall soon became California’s second governor.) Following the Sutter’s Mill gold strike in 1848,
    thousands of miners rushed to California. George McDougall was at the right place at the right time. He
    owned a ferry and a bustling mercantile establishment in Sacramento, but political machinations and
    conspiracies cost him both businesses. Frustrated, he hit the road, wandering east into Utah, New Mexico,
    and other wild territories. Word of McDougall’s death eventually reached his family, who considered him
    lost, and administered his estate.
    In the 1860s Commander George Brown, another Indianapolis native, was sailing the USS
    Stonewall to Japan. A 1913 history of Sacramento related that Brown’s ship made a port call in Patagonia,
    where a delegation of Patagonian chiefs came on board. Among the antipodeans natives was a “hirsute,
    squalid, weather-tanned and very tatooed man”—who proved to be none other than McDougall.
    McDougall told Brown, who was a friend of his Indianapolis family, that he had analyzed some
    ballast dirt on a ship sailing up from Patagonia and realized there was gold to be had down there. And that
    is where McDougal headed, journeying through Central and South America until he hit Patagonia at the tip
    of the continent. When he met Brown, he was prospecting at a solitary station on the Straits of Magellan,
    where a Patagonian tribe called him their chief and served as his miners. The Sacramento history related
    that McDougal was a giant of a man, who “had always been so stately and handsome that he had been
    called ‘Lord George McDougal.’” Brown later stated that after McDougall cleaned up and dressed in good
    clothes, he was “the handsomest and most distinguished man he had ever seen.” When Brown told him of
    his family back in Indianapolis, McDougal “sobbed and cried,” but refused to return to the United States,
    as he was determined to develop his valuable Patagonian mine. But McDougall promised he would travel
    north to the seaport of Valparaiso to meet Brown. When they later met in the ancient Chilean port, Brown
    convinced him to return to the United States. So he did—traveling back to Indiana, and eventually
    settling in Washington, D.C., where he lived until his death on May 16, 1872. On April 6, 1872, adventurer
    McDougall came home to Indianapolis, where the man they called
    the King of Patagonia was laid to rest in Section 25, Lot 232.xiv

  5. Jessica Ballard says:

    Thanks for the information, Tom. When doing my research I also came across a similar account of the adventurer George P. McDougall and I’m sure the two are very easily confused. I’m wondering, since they are in the same plot, if they are perhaps cousins.

  6. Tom Davis says:

    The person who put photos of both graves on Find A Grave speculates they are father-son, and going by the birth years, 1819 and 1844, that is certainly possible. But at this point it’s only a possibity.. Perhaps sometime Sharon Butsch Freeland can work her geneaological magic and I’ll see if there’s anymore in Crown Hill’s files.

  7. Jessica Ballard says:

    That could certainly be true. If it is, it would seem the elder George left for California, and later declared (incorrectly) dead, just as the younger George was born. The dates on the account of the elder George are a little weird (says he died May 16, 1872, but was laid to rest on April 6, 1872), but it certainly makes for an interesting story!

  8. Lavern says:

    I love this story about the kitchen cabinet. In 1970 I purchased a kitchen cabinet that had been stored in a mans attic for fifteen dollars. It had been painted white I removed all the old paint and the cabinet was a beautiful oak cabinet. I redid the finish and gave it to my daughter who lives in New Hampshire. She has it in her kitchen and would never get rid of it.

  9. Anonymous says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *