In The Beginning

Having just graduated from a watchmaker’s school at Peoria III., James H. Ellis struck out for Indiana, intent on making a living. He worked for a jewelry store in Bluffton for a few years, then for Claude Howard’s Jewelry on the west side of the square in Frankfort. In 1916, Ellis and a partner, Chris Arnkins started their new business …

Continuing Dynasty

James A. Ellis started working at Ellis Jewelry while a 17-year-old at Frankfort High School. He was drafted into the Army two years after graduating from the Bradley University School of horology in Peoria, III. When his father passed away in 1952, Jim returned to Frankfort to help his mother run the store. Elizabeth Ellis was 56 when widowed but …

The New Location

It was a courageous step when Jim Ellis moved his store to 52 East Washington in 1963, Ellis Jewelry had occupied a spot near the bus station with only 324 square feet of room. The new quarters, formerly the Style Shop, offered more than 1000 square feet. WILO Radio continued to operate on the second floor. Ellis Jewelry’s staff consisted …

New Product Lines

In 1965, Jim Ellis felt ready to take on new product lines. He seized the opportunity to establish a bridal and gift department. New Brides-to-be were able to register gift ideas, thus avoiding the duplication of wedding gifts. They could choose between 110 china and 90 flatware patterns. The store also offered 300 watches, 2000 rings, 675 necklaces, 900 ear …

All Things Meechanical

Anyone who knew Jim Ellis, realized that he had a passion for all things mechanical. Maybe it grew from his training as a watchmaker. He had a contract to keep the clocks on the courthouse tower running in unison. For a few years, he drove around Frankfort in a tiny Italian automobile that could be entered only from the front. …

Ellis Originals

In 1979, Ellis Jewelers hired Sally Stuve to design and handcraft jewelry using a client’s own gems or those bought at the store. “The term jeweler is defined as a manufacturer of jewelry,” Jim Ellis said. As demand for Ellis Originals grew, Brian Hardesty and Brady Posey joined the staff. Posey is still creating customized pieces today. Drawings are converted …

New Store Purchased

In 1978, Jim Ellis purchased Hall Jewelers in Lebanon. With a wink and a smile Mike says “It was Dad’s intent that I would manage the Lebanon store so we wouldn’t have to work together.” With Jim’s passing in July of 2015, Mike has assumed the mantel of president. He continues to live in Lebanon, runs the Lebanon store, and …

The Antwerp Trip

In 1987, the three Ellis Jewelry Store sent their top brass to Antwerp. Belgium to buy diamonds. That included Jim Ellis from Frankfort, Mike Ellis from Lebanon, and John Anderson from Martinsville. Rigid rules were offered only in packets, not sold individually. Jim Ellis came home knowing he had bought 100 stones. They were delivered by an armored vehicle, and …

Street Clock

Jim Ellis had wanted a clock to stand in front of Ellis Jewelry Store for several years. In 2003, instead of buying an already-made clock, he designed one himself and had a friend build it for him. Tom Tolen, a retired auto mechanic, used sheet metal and items from a metal scrap heap to transform Jim’s ideas into reality. Others …

Awards and Affiliations

During its 100 years, Ellis Jewelers involved itself in almost every community activity available. It participated in parades, home shows, and sidewalk days; made awards at county fairs, and gave jewelry demonstrations at the library. They also participated in the United Way, March of Dimes, Humane Society, Relay for Life and Little League. The stores are a member of the …