|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
John W. Teel and Frederick Badet combined their resources in a small shop in South Bend to capitalize on the popularity of the lawn game croquet in 1874 to begin constructing croquet sets.
Frederick Badet (August 30, 1848 - February 15, 1946)
The son of Henry S and Elizabeth Badget, Frederick was native to New London, Connecticut. Frederick learned the grocery business from his father after receiving his elementary and high school education in the New London public schools. Frederick migrated to South Bend Indiana in 1873 and married Harriet Spencer in 1876. After arriving in South Bend Frederick worked for John C. Kablock as a clerk until he formed a partnership with John W. Teel to manufacture croquet sets.
John W. Teel (1842 - 1915)
The author could find little information regarding Mr. Teel other than he was a woodworker. He and Frederick Badget entered into a partnership in 1874 to manufacture croquet sets.
Historians believe the first version of the game croquet appeared in a game played by French peasants in the Thirteenth Century. The game involved using wooden mallets to drive a wooden ball through hoops made from willow hoops. The modern game arose in Ireland during the 1830's. Croquet spread to England in 1852. Called "Crooky," the game became popular in England and spread throughout the British Empire. The game became a particular favorite of ladies, as it gave them a chance to gossip with other ladies out of the listening ears of chaperons. By 1867, croquet had come to the United States and soon became a popular lawn game.
South Bend Toyworks
Badget and Teel started their company in a fifteen square foot workshop with a $1,302.40 investment. They made croquet balls, mallets, and stakes in their spare time. Their endeavor was successful and grew. On December 22, 1882, the men organized the company as the South Bend Toyworks. Their toy line grew to include coaster wagons, wheelbarrows, stick and hobbyhorses, ball bats, dolls and accessories. The factory employed over 400 people in the 1970's. The company merged with Playskool in 1960. Milton Bradley eventually acquired Playskool, which in turn was absorbed by Hasbro. The factory in South Bend closed in 1985 and is now a vacant lot.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning