Henderson County, Kentucky
BIRTH OF THE ROLLTOP
Every year the Kentucky Historical Society sponsors a 100-year-old business program. Each year our local society seeks out 100-year-old businesses, and helps them find proof of their century old business. This year (1999) will mark 100 years of service to the community by way of offering a product at a reasonable price, with a down home atmosphere and with easy financing. The business is the ALLES BROS. FURNITURE STORE.
Herman and Mary Frances ALLES are the owners. Their father Jacob came to Henderson in 1899 to open up a business of well-made furniture and other household items. Jacob and John ALLES ran the business, according to the 1899 City Directory. Not only did they deal in household furnishings, there were in the Funeral and Embalming trade as well. Their ad states that they were funeral directors and embalmers. The business still operates out of the same building located at 223 - 235 First Street.
Herman ALLES is a kind, brilliant and generous man. Henderson is very lucky to have such a resident. We wish him many more years of service to our community.
The Indianapolis Star
Sunday, June 15, 1986
By Sally Falk
ALLES' INVENTION KEEPS DESTOPS A-ROLLING ALONG
Few fathers are as prolific as Jacob ALLES. The Jasper, Indiana native is the father of the rolltop desk.
Hundreds of thousands of his designs house home computers and family bills from Jasper to San Jose. The first rolltops were made in Jasper -- even though they were designed on a Sunday afternoon in Austin, Texas.
Herman C. ALLES of Henderson, Kentucky, heard his father's story often while he was growing up. "My dad was born in 1859 in Jasper and had a retail store here. When he was about 18 years old, he decided to go into manufacturing and started the Jasper Desk Company," Herman remembers.
"When he was about 20, he was traveling in Texas, in Austin, on a Sunday. It was when they were building the state capitol building," he rambles. Jacob was out on the road selling things they made in the factory, Herman adds. He'd go by train to New Orleans, LA, and Texas, all over, selling desks.
"He took up a knife and whittled this curtain for a rolltop desk."
"He picked up scrap lumber from the building and cut him some slates."
Jacob sent the prototype home to Jasper for the factory to reproduce it. It was the birth of the rolltop.
Anyway, Jacob was the first person to make a rolltop with slats glued to a canvas backing, so that the top would slide up and down in grooves. Rolltop desks are still made that way today.
Despite his successful desk design, Jacob didn't remain in furniture manufacturing. In the 1890s, he and his brothers opened ALLES Brothers Furniture stores in Jasper, Mount Vernon and Henderson, Kentucky.
Jacob lived to be 96 and was active in the furniture business about 80 years, points out Herman. The owner of ALLES Brothers in Henderson hasn't missed a day of work himself in years and has been working there, for a little over 50 years. I started in 1935.
"It was my dad's idea to build factories in Jasper. It worked out, I guess, and Jasper's been a good town over the years."
DESK MADE IN HENDERSON
By L. M. Boyd
Client asks who invented the rolltop desk.
That was a craftsman named Jacob ALLES of Henderson, Kentucky. In 1877,
Jacob was a maker of chairs and beds. He sold his rolltops for $2 each.
His beds cost $1.50 each. He only got 25 cents per chair.
Transcribed by Netta Mullin for HCH&GS