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What is the history of the Tell City Chair Company?

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The Tell City Chair Company was founded in November 1865 but was called the Chair Makers' Union until the Tell City name was adopted in 1924. A group including Mr. A.P. Fenn bought the business in 1885; Fenn then bought his partners out in 1900. Later that year, he started a new partnership with his son-in-law, Jacob Zoercher, a partnership which continued in each family until the company stopped manufacturing furniture in September 2011.

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The company began as a cooperative, meaning that most of the employees were also shareholders. This structure changed when a group including A.P. Fenn, J. Weisenberger and G. Walter purchased the company in 1885. Fenn's partnership with Jacob Zoercher began a month after he bought his first partners out in 1900, with Fenn serving as president and general manager and Zoercher as secretary and superintendent.

Christian F. Fenn, A.P. Fenn's son, joined the company in 1911 and succeeded his father as general manager in 1920. His brother, Roy N. Fenn, succeeded him after his death in 1944. Zoercher also died in 1944 and was succeeded by his son, Karl J. Zoercher, who had joined the company in 1922. Bert Fenn, Christian's son and Zoercher's cousin, succeeded the latter as president upon his retirement. His brother, Paul Fenn, became vice president and factory supervisor.

Doug Fenn, Paul's son, was elected president of the company in 1989 and oversaw long labor disputes in 1994 and 1996. The latter eventually ended the company's manufacturing, which Doug officially closed in 2011. Tell City purchased the company's buildings as a city landmark, and the company continues to sell antique products as of 2015. The 1950s-era Young Republic line is particularly popular with collectors.

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