1873 - 1931
Joseph Heyda, a carver and cabinetmaker, was born in Bohemia in 1873 of Bohemian and Czech extraction. He arrived in Grand Rapids from Milwaukee in 1897 and made his home on Fourth Street. He worked for Century Furniture in 1913, Grand Rapids Chair Company in 1915, Grand Rapids Carving Company in 1917, and in 1918 with Criswell Furniture Company where he remained until 1922.
Around 1922 Criswell merged with the newly reorganized Johnson-Handley-Johnson Company. With the discovery and opening of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, the Egyptian motif was introduced into furniture; Handley designed pieces with Heyda overseeing and executing the carving.
Heyda retired in 1924 when he contracted tuberculosis, his battle with the disease ended in 1931 at the age of 58. He had achieved a well-deserved reputation as a master wood carver in a city where standards for such were very high.
Excerpted from, History of the Carver, Joseph F. Heyda, by Dr. Marie Heyda, O.P., History Department, Aquinas College. September 30, 1980.