Most of the furniture we buy today is factory made, often in a plant located some distance away. Sixty years ago, however, much of the furniture was manufactured in small 'shops' and sold locally. The proprietors of these shops were usually craftsmen who did much of the work by hand. Such a man was Robert Herman Hitzler, who was a leading furniture maker in our county in the 1890s.
Mr. Hitzler located in Warsaw in 1858 and for over fifty years made beds, dressers, tables and other articles of furniture. He was a master craftsman, having learned the trade in his native Prussia. In the East Center street home of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Funk are many articles of furniture made by Hitzler. There are probably many more pieces of Hitzler furniture in the homes of our county residents. Mr. Funk remembers well of seeing this craftsman at work in his second floor shop on West Center street.
Hitzler was born in Breslau, Prussia (now Germany), on October 12, 1830. He began learning the cabinet making trade at the age of 14. From then until he was 26 he worked at the trade, in Prussia first as an apprentice, then as a journeyman. In 1856 Hitzler decided to come to the United States. Locating first at Fort Wayne, he moved to our county two years later.
In checking our family trees, many of us find that we have German ancestors who came over to America at about the same time as Hitzler. Many of these German immigrants were disturbed over the rising spirit of militarism in their country, which was at that time beginning to be dominated by Bismarck and his policy of "blood and iron." Almost without exception, these Germans became industrious and prosperous American citizens.
Hitzler built up a fine furniture business in our county. His success can be measured in part by the fact that he was able to build a business house at the southwest corner of Center and Lake streets in Warsaw. Now occupied by the H. J. Schrader Co., the building is still standing and across the top can be seen the name, R. H. Hitzler.
Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Feb. 17, 1953