Although La Porte County is generally identified as an “agricultural” county, it has had its share of manufacturing firms. Today, these firms have been replaced with much smaller companies with lesser employees. It is important, however, that we remember how “it was” to understand how “it became what it is today.”
One of the many industries was the Rustic Hickory Furniture Company located in La Porte. This company was organized in 1902 with Edward H. Handley as president and manager. He was the father of Harold Willis “Pee Wee” Handley, who would later become Governor of Indiana. J. C. Travis was treasurer and Warren Travis was secretary. The company was incorporated Jan. 2, 1903. It manufactured exclusively hickory furniture. There are examples of their product on display on the lower level of the La Porte County Historical Society Museum. The furniture was shipped to all parts of the U. S., to Canada and Mexico. There were about 40 men employed there. The product of the La Porte factory was selected to equip the Illinois building at the Portland, Oregon, fair.