Our Story

In October of 1951, Bill and Marielle Jockey were ballroom dancers on the S.S. Uruguay - a cruise ship sailing from New York to Buenos Aires. But a picnic in Brown County, Indiana was about to change their course. Bill's sister, David, lived in Indianapolis, and on a visit, she brought them to Brown County - at the peak of its fall beauty.

A few months later, Bud Austins' leather business was for sale. So, the Jockey's purchased it and Bud stayed awhile to teach them some of his leather craft techniques. At this point, they were one of five shops in Nashvile, so they could carry almost any merchandise they wanted. On their trips to South America, they brought back weavings, carvings, and unique patterns for leather purses and sandals.

Marielle had always had an interest in American Indian jewelry, and felt there was very little of it in the Midwest. They sent away for some, and when it arrived, they sent back half of it because it was not the quality they had hoped for. Over the years, they gained wonderful contacts in the Southwest and have always had an eye for the highest quality at a fair price. The Jockey's spent many hours at the shop, and well remember the local artists who would drop in from time to time -- Frank Hohenburger, Marie Goth, V.J. Cariani, Curry Bohm, and Carey Cloud. In October of 1958, Mary gave birth to Liana after working the day before at the shop. After this, Mary stayed home more and some devoted employees were hired to help Bill with sales. As Nashville grew and more shops came, The Totem Post became an information center, since it was centrally located and had been around for awhile. Visitors could even buy tickets to the Brown County Playhouse at the shop.

Business began to increase and so the Totem Post expanded its building to nearly double its size. The shop also went "on the road" and took its merchandise to the Flower and Patio Show, and the Christmas Gift and Hobby Show in Indianapolis.

In the 70's, Mary's brother Buz Dryfoose retired from the Navy, and came to live in Nashville. He became a well known representative for the shop. He even met his wife as a result of snappy repartee over a ring sale.
At this point, The Totem Post had booths at many nearby Pow Wow's and at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle shoots in Friendship, Indiana. They also exhibited at several National Square Dance Conventions. For many people, this was their only contact with the shop. During this time, Liana was attending Principia College and working at Disneyland in the summer.

While working for Disney, she learned how important it is to help people enjoy their vacation - to be happy, helpful and informative. When she returned to Nashville in 1981 to help run the shop, she brought this training with her. While working on the cruise ships, Bill and Marielle had had similar experiences. So, a visit to the Totem Post should be fun, informative or uplifting - whatever you are looking for that day.

Liana also brought with her a new type of artistic expression. Bill had stopped doing leatherwork in the 60's due to increased retail business. So now the creative tradition continues.

Liana has made many items to sell in the shop, from beadwork to painted jackets. Lately, she designs and makes mohair teddy bears, and Indian Corn Maidens.

Liana has two children, Skyler and Lily, who are also growing up with The Totem Post.
Since 1952, this has been a family business, in which employees and customers have become family. We strive to bring our customers quality merchandise and affordable items for the whole family, as well as a unique and wonderful experience while you are with us. We plan to be here for many years to come, and hope you will come to see us.

-Liana J. Franklin

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The Totem Post, 78 S. Van Buren, Nashville, IN 47448, (812)988-2511