Photos from the book will be added later
Farmer, Lumberman, State Official
GAVE UP COLLEGE AND GOT MARRIED
Having been, since my earliest recollection, very fond of reading and studying every book and everything I could get hold of, I had always dreamed of a college education. How this could ever be brought about I did not know. But a way seemed open, finally, and it was about as follows: A minister by the name of O.C. Hills owned or controlled a life scholarship at Hillsdale College, Michigan. My eldest brother, James, was at Ann Arbor College, Michigan. A council was held with the minister and he promised the scholarship to me. My brother Frank, at this time, was a rather prosperous young lumberman, and he agreed to pay my expenses.
Everything looked splendid and the time was set to go, when one day I found my father crying,-- a rather extraordinary experience, for he seldom ever was seen to shed a tear. Of course, I was alarmed and implored him to tell why anything should cause him to shed tears. He summoned all the courage of his manly heart and unfolded to me what he had firmly intended to carry with him to his grave, for he never was known to complain, no matter what happened.
He said, "Phil, I have worked hard all my life to make a home for my family. I have sacrificed everything for them to keep them in school, to give them the best that I have. Mother is failing, and the doctor tells me that she will have to have a rest and change or she cannot live the year out. As you know, Jim is in college; Frank is married and gone for himself; Rupert, that faithful boy, is still helping me all he can; and now you are about to leave me to take up your college education. With five younger children, none of whom can earn a livelihood for many years to come, I have a feeling that I will be unable to manage, for I feel myself breaking under the long strain. If I fail, surely it will kill mother, then all will be lost." He could go no farther. His massive frame shook with uncontrolled agony.
For the first time in my life I saw my father weep. That great, loving spirit, that truest and purest of fathers had reached his extremity. His heart, which had driven him over many a crisis, which had never faltered, which had suffered without visible or audible complaint during all these years of hardship of the life of a pioneer, had at last broken.
As he wept I sat as in a dream, and lived over my eighteen years as vividly and as clearly as the daylight before me. How a father and mother labor and wrestle with the problems incident to the rearing of a family! The anxiety, the trials, the visitations of those awful diseases of childhood; the long vigil through the night; the obligations that must be met to pay for the doctors, nurses, etc.; the heartaches, the misgivings, the social responsibilities, the church relations, and other duties of life too numerous to mention.
Then I thought of what I had gotten out of all this and how little I had actually contributed to my share of all that had been done. I had lived my life, so far, like a colt in the pasture with no harness or halter. It is true that I had learned to do everything that could be done by a boy. I could not only drive horses but I could make the shoes and nail them on their feet; I could lay a stone wall or build a house with carpenter tools; I could use a paint brush or almost any tool found on a farm or around a lumber camp. In the house I could cook, sweep, make beds and knit, spin or weave carpet or cloth; I could play several musical instruments; I could play ball, run or jump fairly well, but what of it all? Most of everything that I had ever done was for my own gratification.
I awoke from my dream, which seemed to take me hours, just in time to see my father wiping the tears from his eyes and making an effort to throw off the last semblance of distress of inward heartache. And, as though ashamed of his weakness, a forced smile came through it all.
Then I had my inning, and I scored a home run, which has given me more genuine satisfaction than any other in my rather eventful life. I said, "Dad, I see it all now. I have run around here enjoying my life as though there was nothing to do but play. You have carried the load long enough. I am a husky boy, weighing a hundred and sixty pounds. I can do anything that anybody else in this country can do, and if you will let me go and visit some of my friends for a few days, I’ll come back and take charge of the work and let you play. I’ll unpack my trunk and forget about college, and, by the grace of God, I’ll be as good a son to you as you have been father to me."
The time was just before the holidays, 1886. After the holiday season had passed, I drove team for my brother Frank, drawing bark to the Manhattan tannery. The winter was cold and the snow deep. Hundreds of teams were engaged in that work, and there was rare enjoyment in driving a fine team of horses where so many others were engaged at the same occupation.
Time seemed to fly and the winter was all to short, probably because I found myself, like many another boy, slowly but surely falling in love with what I thought then was—and now know to be—the prettiest and most wonderful girl in the world.
My meeting with her was, of course, a big day in my life, and worth relating here. My brother Frank had been married for some time to a very fine woman, and was always telling of a younger sister of his wife’s that was about as pretty as a girl could be. Of course, I was interested in all he had to say and hoped the day might come when I could meet her.
One evening, at a party where I had been engaged to play, remembering, of course, the experience I had with Kitty, referred to in a former chapter, I made an early engagement with one of the belles of the community to take her home after the party.
Feeling justified that I had used superior judgment in my early plan, I settled down to playing probably better than ever before. Everyone seemed to be happy, and the dancers were certainly doing their best to have a royal time.
Presently, there arrived a new company of people from a distance, with several young ladies among the lot. As they came into view my eyes fell upon the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. As she came in the door her red cheeks were only outdone by the perfect set of pearly white teeth she showed as she greeted her friends. It soon dawned upon me that the hostess was her aunt and that she was the long awaited sister of my brother’s wife.
Although I had seen hundreds of dancers, I had never seen one that one that could dance like this little girl, whose name was Elnora Haner. I was not long availing myself of the opportunity to meet her, and obtaining a substitute to play for me while we danced together. I then and there committed, perhaps, what some would call the unpardonable sin—I obtained her consent to walk home with her that evening, for she was going to stay with her sister; and I dismissed all thought of the former engagement I had with the other girl.
I believe this was the meanest thing I ever did in my life; and although it has been forty-seven years since I so cruelly jilted that girl, I have never for a moment regretted my action. Somehow I have always believed that she, like Kitty, was glad to forget me without further notice.
Well, I soon found that Elnora was to stay with her sister, and thus we were constant companions form day to day; and naturally, our affection just steadily grew stronger as the weeks flew by.
The spring rains soon melted the snow and the streams were filled with water. Another log driving season had arrived and I was, as usual, at my accustomed place as foreman of the drive.
The drive over, I made a trip to Mansfield to visit some of my old school chums; then to Sylvania, Troy, and Blossburg, where my eldest sister lived. While there I had a chance to work, building the abutments for the river bridge at the lower edge of the town. Mark French of Mansfield was the contractor, and the work appealed to me for it was something different. My brother-in-law, Selden Merrill, was a stone-mason, and I was assigned to help him. He was good to me and taught me all about stone cutting, so that within a few days I was actually cutting coping stone for the big county bridge.
This was the spring of 1887, and I had not been long at the stone cutting business when I received a letter from my father stating that Ervin Lewis, a neighbor, had taken a bark job and wanted me to work for him; and in a postscript note stated that "Nora Haner is going to assist Mrs. Lewis."
It is hardly necessary for me to here state that we had kept up a rather lively correspondence since my departure, and when my father called my attention to an opportunity for work where we could be again together, it seemed to me rather encouraging and not at all distasteful; for I was getting frightfully homesick for some reason. Of course, I would not permit myself to believe for a moment that I could possibly be in love, but I was just homesick, that’s all.
Mr. French paid each Saturday at the close of the work, and always in silver dollars. I had about as many as I could well carry; and when I told him I had a call from home, he gave me another pocketful and I started for home. Railroad accommodations at that time were not the best, and I wanted to carry home as much money for my father as I could, so I brought a ticket from Blossburg to Morris, then walked twenty-five to reach home that same day.
The next Monday I started peeling bark for Ervin Lewis, and Elnora Haner started helping Mrs. Lewis with her housework. We were about a mile from my brother’s home and almost every evening we would walk there together; and, somehow, each day brought us to a new realization of what we were to each other.
Everything comes to and end sometime, and finally the bark peeling time is over; and this broke up our pleasant walk each evening. I took home to my father a tidy sum of money, for I had resolved that he should have every cent of the money I earned except my actual necessities.
I had hardly spent a day at home before I hired out to work for D.K. Marsh to help in haying and harvest. I was quite at home with the common scythe, and could easily keep my end up with any of the men. The haying done, we started in cutting oats and other grain.
Being too far from my friend, whom I now almost dared to call sweetheart, to visit every evening, after a hard day’s work, I would go about every other evening. Her father had died some years before and her mother had married again, so she divided her time between the home of her mother and her sister.
One Sunday evening, while we were seated on an old bridge wall by the side of the road, it occurred to me that while we were constantly in each other’s presence whenever it was at all possible, and although life seemed to hold no other charm for me, I had never said a single word of love to her. We were both lovers of music. I could sing fairly well and she was the most lovely singer I had ever known. Her voice was sweet and silvery, and she sang from morning ‘till night in all her waking hours.
We were crooning together an old melody "Molly Darling," and in the same tune I interpolated these words:
" Do you love me, Norah Darling,
Do you love me? Now confess!
If you love me, Norah Darling,
Let your answer be a kiss."
She looked at me with those big blue eyes, as if to inquire whether I really meant what I was saying and singing, for I had never alluded in the remotest manner a single word to her before. When I repeated the strain again, those dancing eyes filled with tears of pure joy, with the love light streaming through those tears, and, placing both her arms around my neck, she sealed my request with her answer, and we were engaged to each other without any of those delayed tragedies so frequently found in story books.
This new life, this new joy, was to us as much as it has ever meant to any other couple anywhere or at any time. I promised that as soon as the oats were cut for Mr. Marsh, we would go without delay and get married.
That field of oats did hang on, and finally I waded in with a vengeance, and with a cradle cut three acres of oats in a single day; then went the next day with my sweetheart to Austinburg, where her aunt lived, then to Troupsburg, NY, and were married. I was a little less than nineteen and she was a little less than sixteen years of age.
Before starting on our trip, however, I gave my father one hundred and twenty-five dollars, and kept five dollars for wedding expenses. I borrowed a buggy from Sam Champaign, and a fine young colt, three years old, from my brother Frank. I paid the minister three dollars for his services, gave Champaign one dollar for the use of his buggy two days, and, on the way back, saw a beautiful lamp in the window of D.K. Marsh’s store, marked one dollar. I bought this lamp, gave it to my new bride, drove home to my father’s house with my young wife, without a single dollar. I showed the marriage certificate to him and asked what he thought of us. He answered with a characteristic smile, " I don’t think any less of you."
During these short years prior to our marriage I had gained a world of experience. I had worked a little at almost everything that anybody in that part of the world knew anything about, and it had resulted in my being able to step from one thing to another, so that if one job was finished I could easily turn my hand to something else; therefore, I have never been out of a job in my life. There has always been something that I could work at and make a livelihood.
I was soon to be nineteen years old. November 12, 1887, I was nineteen, and besides celebrating same as a holiday, I purchased my first team of horses. Always a lover of and early a driver of horses, I had dreamed of the time when I could own a team of my own.
Most of the afternoon of that day I spent braiding their manes and tails, decorating them with red and blue ribbons. I curried their sleek coats over and over, and patted their noses. Finally, I could resist no longer the temptation to hitch them up and drive to town under some pretext that answered the purpose. How I watched their every step as they pranced off during my first trip with my own team! Verily, I must have been a proud lad, to be possessor of a beautiful and lovely wife and a fine, spanking team of horses, at the age of nineteen years.
Next day I started in plowing with that team, and kept at it until the ground began to freeze.
In the meantime, I had taken my first lumber job—the hauling of a quantity of logs that had been skidded down to the splash dam on my father’s farm. Soon the snow was falling, and, with a crew of several men and teams, the work progressed in delightful form.
I had learned the progressive features of high-powered lumbering from the Champaign, the Putmans, the Smiths and others, so that our breakfast time was set at four o’clock in the morning; and this gave us nearly as much time before daylight as from dawn until dinner time. We drew logs on sleds, and in the early morning hours could hear logs pounding in every direction where other contractors were using slides.
So well did we manage and so favorable was the weather that I did not have to draw any payments as the work progressed, as was usually customary and as I was entitled to do, but waited until the contract was entirely finished, when I drew the entire payment at one time and all in cash. The logs belonged to Charles B.Watrous, who had contracted the stocking to George McCracken, who in turn had sublet to me the hauling of a certain lot. McCracken gave me an order to get my pay from Mr. Watrous. When I presented that order for the entire payment of my contract without having been compelled to take up a single cent on the work, Watrous was much impressed with what he called a precedent in lumbering never before known to him.
He told me, as he handed me that money, that he had many million feet of timber in the Elk Run basin and in other places, and that so long as I was available no other contractor would be consulted in the matter of stocking. This promise he kept religiously and I stocked many big contracts for him until the last log was sawed.
As soon as my job was finished, I took my team and started trailing logs for P.B. Champaign on Buck Run, a tributary of Cedar Run, thus filling in the entire time until the spring drive was about to start.
I was passing by the store of C.B. Watrous one day, when he asked me to stop in a minute. I did so and this is what he said: " It looks like rain, and I believe we are going to get a driving flood right away. I am leaving in the morning for Jersey City and New York to make some collection for I have sent there, and I want you to get some men and teams and start my log drive. I will allow a certain amount per thousand feet, and if this does not prove to be enough so that you can make anything worth while, I’ll make it up to you so that you will be satisfied. Do the best you can while I am away, and when I get back I’ll turn in and help you finish the drive."
Now this was almost too much for me to believe. I asked him over several points to make sure there was mo mistake in what he was saying to me, and found that I had understood exactly what he said and meant. I had become very fond of Mr. Watrous by this time, and I could readily see that he had great confidence in my ability to accomplish whatever I undertook, or he never would have selected me from among the hundreds of lumbermen in that country for such a responsible undertaking.
I could not understand why all this display of confidence, so ventured to ask; for he was one of the most kindly men I had ever known, and at the same time a most successful business man.
This is what he said: " Philip, do you remember some years ago when you came into my store with your father, and we were settling an account covering several months of interchange of merchandise from my store and of logs from your father, that you discovered a mistake that we both made, and I was about to draw a check of considerable size in favor of your father to balance accounts, when you called our attention to the mistake, which made our accounts nearly balance without the exchange of any payment, whatever?" I acknowledged that I did remember, when he continued: " I began watching you from that day on, with a firm determination to see that a boy of sixteen years that was clever enough to discover the mistakes of two old school-teachers, and honest enough to call our attention to the matter when it meant the withholding of a large sum of money from his father, was a worth-while boy; and I felt determined that he should never lose anything from me because he was honest. I have noticed that you are good to your horses, that you are kind to children and considerate of the feelings of elderly people. I have also noticed that you are not lazy, that your habits are good, and that you know how to not only work, yourself, but that you can get more accomplished with a crew of men than any other man I have ever seen; and I am going to do whatever I can to give you an opportunity to get started right in this world, for I believe you are a worth-while boy and will make good in whatever undertaking you may identify yourself."
I gave him a sincere promise of my faithful cooperation in the great responsibility he had thus thrust upon me, and we separated for the time being.
Hardly had he started on his trip when it began to rain. The snow began to melt and the water began to rise. I let no moment go to waste, but proceeded without delay to organize a crew of men and teams for that my first log drive. A force of men must be selected to attend each of the five splash dams on the stream, for the purpose of closing the gates until the dam was full of water, then open the gates that the artificial flood might carry the logs down stream to the mill.
The day to begin was Friday, and some would have been too superstitious to begin on that day; but I was not superstitious, for Friday has more often than otherwise been my most fortunate day for real success. We began breaking the landings all along the streams at the same time, taking care that every man that could be used to advantage was used at the upper dam, breaking in logs and sluicing them through the flood gates.
Soon the last log was rolled in the pond and sluiced through the chute. Then the sacking of the rear began. About half of the crew was stationed on one side and the other half on the other side, with levers to roll the logs in the stream while the dams were being filled with water; then, when the splash came, all would work with might and main to drive them as far down stream as possible before the splash was exhausted. Teams were used to draw back into the stream the logs that had been thrown too far out on the bank to be rolled in with levers.
Logs would frequently jam in the middle of the stream and fill up the entire course, so that it would be necessary for a crew of "jam crackers" to pick loose the key logs while the splash was at its height, so that the jam might be made to move down stream, thus allowing the channel to flow clear again. Often the jam would be so strongly pressed behind a huge boulder, or an old stump that had found its way into the center of the stream, that teams had to be used to draw out the key logs while the dam held back the water.
This was the most dangerous thing to do, for if a splash should come tearing down upon unsuspecting men working below a log jam, the horses might be caught in the deluge and carried away. This called for the timing splashes so that those engaged in hauling out a log jam could work in comparative safety. Therefore, a saddle horse was always handy for me to ride from dam to dam, or from one place to another, to keep everything moving to the best advantage.
We worked like beavers, and every strategy known to the log driving art on small streams were used; and the Elk Run waters that I had learned to love, both for pleasure and now for business, behaved most wonderfully and contributed in a most providential manner to establish my reputation for log driving, which lasted as long as there remained a log to drive in any of the streams in northern Pennsylvania. Each splash took the rear log down the stream a substantial distance, and each man seemed to enjoy watching the great log piles float away as the key logs were loosened. The dexterity with which the teamsters would manage to maneuver the teams into the stream with a log in such manner that the grab would be pulled without the use of grab skipper, oftentimes, and then get the team out and away before some stray log floating down the stream would catch the team, was amazing.
Soon the second dam was reached, when a strong wind began to blow up the stream, carrying the logs back upstream, and thus practically stopping all progress until something could be done to overcome this tremendous handicap. Quickly we gathered together all the coupling grabs available and coupled together all the long spars, booms, etc., that could be gotten together; and after anchoring one end securely to one side of the pond, the other end was floated around the upper end of the pond and above the logs, until all were all corralled within the hastily constructed boom; then, with the combined strength of all available men pushing with pike poles from the upper side, we were able to force the last log through the chute and into the stream below.
Again the same or similar process prevailed, until we reached the third, fourth, and finally to the fifth and last pond, which was the goal or destination, and our drive was finished.
So anxious were these men to finish up the work in a commendable and efficient manner that in order to find room below the last riffle and into still water, where they might be easily reached during the summer when the water was low, they actually grabbed the logs that were not too large by the "Jack Bell" method and carried them bodily up on top of the great jam which filled the pond and stream for a long distance above the mill.
The Jack Bell hold, so named after a State of Mainer bearing that name, was executed by half the crew taking hold of the log on one side and the other half taking hold on the other side, toward the front end of the log, with their levers, each lifting and pulling in a forward movement, and with one man behind, with the hook of his lever lifting and pushing from the back end, so that great logs were often pulled or carried for a long distance without the use of teams.
About the time we finished this my first log drive, Mr. Watrous, for whom the work was being done, returned from his New York trip, and was about as happy a man as one would wish tosee. He had never dreamed that the drive would be finished upon his arrival, and had fully expected to turn in and help bring the drive through.
Each man was paid his wage on the spot, and all were well satisfied, for it was a record breaking time for a log drive in that country; and upon my settlement it is needless to say that I was entirely satisfied with the price originally agreed upon, without any subsidiaries whatever.
In addition to the former promise that I would have the first opportunity for stocking any logs in the future, I now received the additional promise that I would also have the opportunity extended to the log driving as well. Each year thereafter I had the privilege of not only cutting, skidding, and trailing whatever logs there were to come to the Watrous mill, but the log driving as well, until the entire stock was cut and the mill dismantled.
The reader will please note that I was still but nineteen years of age. There were no politics in my success, for I had not yet reached the age where I could vote. There was no so-called pull, which some people believe is the cause or reason for all eventual successes. Therefore, my only answer to the establishment of a well founded career at the age of nineteen years, without money or strong influence on the part of anybody, was the firm, well grounded desire to accomplish, and the stick-to-itiveness to bring about the work to a successful conclusion.
BARK PEELING AND LUMBERING
During the early summer, our first child was born. Having just read the book entitled " Guy Earlscourt’s Wife," both my wife and I were impressed with that name, and we named our boy Guy Harrison, for Benjamin Harrison was then President of the United States.
My brother Rupert took a bark-peeling contract the spring of 1889, and I engaged to help him peel this bark. This tract was on the north end of the D.K. Marsh farm.
One of the most important discoveries that was ever developed in the lumbering business, and I firmly believe the first time in history that the axe was replaced by the saw for cutting down timber, was when my brother and I introduced that method there at Marshfield. It happened this way: The contract was for the peeling of the bark and the cutting of the logs—both to be conducted simultaneously so that all the bark would be peeled, and when the trees fell close to the ground by cutting and rolling the logs over, there would be no strip of bark left next to the ground. We soon found that instead of chopping down the trees with an axe, as had been the custom since tree cutting was known to man, then saw off a butt end after the tree had been felled, that we could cut down trees much quicker and much easier with a cross cut saw than with axes, and we saved the effort of sawing off the butt after it had been chopped down.
Never from that day did we ever chop down trees on a lumbering job again. This new way was picked up by others, and it was only a short time after that when all lumbering operations were using that method.
Perhaps we were stimulated in our effort to not only save time and work but to save timber as well, by the wasteful process we had recently witnessed in a pine job near by, when men had cut down sound pine trees with an axe, then cut the same tree off again with a saw after it had been felled to the ground; then another timber saver came along and made shingles out of the butt ends that had been so wastefully left in the woods. Thus the simple method of sawing down timber instead of chopping it down as before saved millions of feet of lumber during the following decades, as well as the saving of toil and time.
While working at this job I had an experience that I shall never forget, and one that nearly cost me my life. My brother and I had just felled a tree, and he was "fitting" the tree while I was spudding off the bark. Fitting a tree means trimming off the limbs close to the body of the tree, then ringing the bark with the axe in rings about four feet in length, and slitting the bark on the top or side so that the spudder could insert the spud under the bark and remove each ring separately. The spud is an implement made of steel and iron, about two inches wide, with a sharp edge on one side and around the tip or end, and with a lip or notch on the other side to be used as a hook in breaking off the bark in proper sizes for easy handling and for drawing the piece from under the tree, or for whatever useful purpose might be found for it. A wooden handle about eighteen inches long completes the spud.
We were about half way along the length of the tree when the crew working next to us cried to warn is that the tree they were felling had broken the wrong way and was falling directly toward us. My brother cried out to me, also, and ran for his life. I was stooped over the tree in the act of removing the ring of bark from the opposite side and directly facing the tree. The tree I was working at lay flat upon the ground, and I was on my knees, for the tree was probably not more than twenty inches high. As I looked up, the falling tree seemed to be only a few feet above my head, and coming straight toward me. I tried to rise and flee, but one of my feet was caught by a loose limb in such a manner that I could not rise readily, and I had no time to waste in meditation. Instantly I threw myself prone upon my face, close upon my face, close to and alongside of the tree, and waited for whatever might be my fate.
Of course, I had not long to wait, for the falling tree was close upon me when I dropped beside the other. That tree struck directly over where I was lying and broke into a thousand pieces, with limbs, knots, and flying pieces of wood all about me and literally covering me with the debris. My brother hurried to me and began to dig me out. When he had removed enough pieces to see how I was situated, he discovered that the main body of the tree had broken across the one by which I was lying, and broke again where it struck the ground, only about four feet away, and that I was directly under this short piece of broken timber; and that a dry knot, about three inches in length, was sticking directly toward my back and almost against me. In other words, had that knot been two inches or perhaps an inch longer, it would have crushed out my life like the snuffing of a candle.
The other men came to the rescue and assisted in removing this broken tree so that I could crawl out; and I found that I had not a scratch of any kind. Close calls went with a lumberman’s life, and after a short recess we were at it again as though nothing had happened.
Farming and lumbering were the order during the years 1888 and 1889—then the June flood (better know, perhaps, as the Johnstown flood), which destroyed many things and among them our log slide.
My brother Frank and I took a contract to cut and skid and trail a big stock of logs in Big Hollow, a tributary of Elk Run, to the Marshfield Dam, a distance of about four miles.
The logs were cut and skidded in regulation order, the slide repaired and everything set for snow and freezing weather. December went by, then January, with a few freezing night followed by rain; and this repeated, with hardly any change, until March, when we had a few days of snowy weather and cold enough so that we managed to get in a few logs when spring came. And we were like all the other lumbermen in that country—our money used up and logs still in the woods, the spring of 1890.
Then it was that Mr. Watrous again showed that extraordinary qualification which characterized his whole life. He offered a subsidy—and it was gladly accepted—and sent me straightway to look over another large tract of timber which was to be peeled that season. The timber was straight and sound, the ground was smooth and easy to get about. I readily accepted this contract, and also brought a tract of timber, which I stocked simultaneously with the other two jobs. The last log was skidded and ready for winter, and Thanksgiving day was celebrated with genuine thanksgiving. On the second of December the snow began to fall and before night we had begun to haul logs.
So unlike the year before, when we waited in vain all winter for cold weather! On the seventeenth of December it began to snow in good earnest, keeping it up all day and all night, covering the ground with a carpet of four solid feet of snow on everything in the country.
Well, this was a new experience, for the oldest inhabitant had never seen such a snowstorm. Men could not walk through the snow; horses could not move in such snow. We were compelled to shovel roads in the same manner that we had often shoveled ourselves through a snowdrift. This was a slow and costly process, which necessitated the employment of a double crew of men—one crew to shovel snow and the other to do the work of hauling the logs. When spring came, however, we had every log placed nicely on the banks of Elk Run, including the Big Hollow contract which we were unable to finish the year before.
Thus, we came down to the spring of 1891, the log drive finished and farming started again, when my good wife presented me with our first baby girl, Grace Esther. Now we were the proud possessors of a fine boy three years old and a plump, smiling daughter.
I did not know much about what a million dollars would look like, but I firmly believe that when I reached the age of twenty-five years I should at least be worth a million.
In 1890, my grandfather Dewey died at Sullivan, Tioga County, and my father felt a desire to go back to the old homestead of his youth. Accordingly, a conference was held with the heirs and he bought out all their interests. And, after selling his homestead to me, my father, mother, and four younger children moved to the old Dewey homestead on the State road, five miles east of Mainesburg. My young wife and I were the sole proprietors of the Dewey homestead on Elk Run; and now, in 1891, I owned three teams of horses, wagons, sleds, tools, cows and other stock, was the proud father of two beautiful and rugged children, and was just exactly twenty-one years of age while my wife was eighteen.
It would be to tiresome to follow out year by year all my activities, and would serve no real purpose. My main object in narrating so many small details, heretofore, has been for the purpose of giving the reader a rather clear idea of pioneer life and of the business of lumbering, as well as the manner in which my own life has fitted into the picture.
There has been less written about the great lumbering interests of Pennsylvania than of any other industry within its borders, and yet that industry has been the most extensive, for it covered the entire area of the State; it has been the greatest, because of the number of men and people engaged in that business; and its far-reaching importance can only be understood in the most remote manner when we take into consideration the various industries that were affected by the tremendous operations:
With thirty-six sawmills, all working at one and the same time in the city of Williamsport, the dam across the Susquehanna River forming a backwater to Larry’s Creek, almost to Jersey Shore fifteen miles away; with piers made of timber cribbing and filled with stone at short intervals and the heavy boom strung the entire length, strong enough to hold hundreds of millions of feet of logs coming down with the great floods from almost every small as well as the large tributaries of the majestic Susquehanna, the whole thing is so stupendous that it staggers the best intelligence in even trying to grasp the enormity of such an undertaking.
And what was being done at Williamsport was being emulated in a smaller and lesser degree in all sections of the State. Sawmills were built at almost every important intersection of two or more streams. Tanneries were placed at strategic points where the bark could be drawn from the timber tracts with the least effort or trouble. Hundreds of miles of corduroy roads were built across lowlands or clay soil where otherwise the wagons would sink in the mire. Hundreds of splash dams were built on the smaller streams for the purpose of making artificial floods. Thousands of thoroughbred horses were used in the business, and tens of thousands of men were engaged in the various activities of the enormous business.
All this, and much more, before the entrance of the log railroad, the steam loader, the band saw to take the place of the circular saw. These new methods of lumbering formed a new era, a new epoch. Soon after the Goodyears built the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad to Austin and Galeton, the great Goodyear mills were a revelation in lumbering activities. There were times when twenty log trains, each carrying twenty cars of logs, were coming into each of these mills in a single day. A bark train was usually equipped with eight bark cars, and would average from fifteen to twenty cords of bark to a car. These bark trains were carrying hemlock bark to tanneries located almost everywhere throughout the timber districts.
Soon after the Goodyears began lumbering in hemlock timber, in Potter and Tioga Counties, the Emporium Lumber Company came along and lumbered in pine and hardwood timber. These operations had a tendency to cut short the great lumbering interests at Williamsport, for there must be an end to everything some time and that time was beginning to loom up during the nineties.
In 1891 I lumbered at Sweden Valley for the Newmans, taking out the timber from the top of Denton Hill down toward Sweden Valley and through the region now traversed by the Roosevelt Highway.
During the following six years my lumbering business grew to considerable proportions and covered activities around the headwaters of Pine Creek, Kettle Creek, Cedar Run and Lick Run, as well as our own Elk Run. Each spring I would drive down the Watrous drive, then go on down on the Pine Creek drive to Williamsport.
And during this period two more children had been added to our little band—Maude May, born in 1894, and Harry Philip, born in 1895.
The Champaign Brothers drove the Pine Creek drive five springs and I was their foreman each spring. The Bailey Brothers drove this drive two springs afterwards, and I was their boatman, for I had learned to manipulate a bateau during my long experience in log driving.
On one of the Champaign drives, when we had reached Blackwells, the water being very cold and the animation for deep wading having somewhat subsided, I had asked one of the men to push some logs that were floating around in circles and not making any headway, toward the current. His first name was Jay, and Jay protested that the water was too cold. When I rather insisted that it was no colder for him than the rest of the men, he finally obeyed, but seemed rather inclined to be ugly about the matter.
That evening, after work, he, together with two others, went to the hotel at Blackwell and proceeded to tank up on booze. And, as they tanked, they proceeded to conjured up a scheme to kill or drown that foreman(Dewey) the next day.
Next morning Jay started in by asking me, as I was using the towel near his bunk, if I would "run out and see if the ark was out on dry land." Replying that I thought the ark was still in the water, Jay, without further notice or warning of what he had in mind, struck me a terrific blow on the nose with his fist. Blood flowed freely and it looked as though he had almost finished the plan of the evening before. And filled with the joy of drawing blood so soon in the battle, he squared off for another blow—and at the same time his two backers were urging him on to finish the job, now that he had such a good start.
That the reader may better understand something about how a sleeping ark is constructed, will say that it closely resembles a sleeping car except for elegance. It has the lower and upper berth, and the sleepers are packed in, side by side, like sardines in a box, rather than having separate bunks for each passenger, as on the Pullman.
Jay and his two friends were in the upper berth and I was standing on the floor. Realizing that I permitted a trouncing under such circumstances I would lose about ninety-eight per cent of my standing with that crew of men, I placed my heel on the bunk behind me and sprang squarely on top of the warlike Jay. To my astonishment, the two friends made a quick get-away and left Jay and me to settle our difference without interruption.
It took less time than it takes to tell about it to convince Jay that he had made a mistake and that he was ready to sign an unconditional surrender if only I would discontinue the methods I was using in dispensing punishment. The armistice was agreed to and hostilities came to a standstill.
I crawled down from my perch and proceeded to wash my bleeding face, when, without warning, this docile and much aggrieved Jay struck me over the head with a big Wisconsin driving shoe. If there is anything worse with which to strike a man than a Wisconsin driving shoe, I have never yet learned what it is. This particular shoe had about a hundred driving calks in the sole, each sticking out from one-half inch to a full inch in the heel. This blow came near knocking me out of the box. It came without any interference and struck to kill.
Where or how I gathered strength to keep him from repeating the blow I do not know, but I do know that he did not strike me the second time, for I picked him bodily and threw him clear over the big lobby stove sitting in the middle of the lobby, and he did not stop going until he reached the side of the room and struck in such a manner that his head was under the bench along the wall.
He was in no condition to sue for peace and I was in no mood to listen to the pleas of others, who thought if we were not already killed he soon would be by the punishment I was liberally dealing out to him. George Champaign and Robert Watrous, after a time, succeeded in pulling me off from this chap and, with the assistance of four men, he was able to be removed to the hotel, where he stayed for some weeks recuperating from his frolic that cold April morning before breakfast.
I am not particularly proud of this experience, and have not attempted to boast in any way about the matter, but it was just one of those little instances that occasionally occurred in the lumbering business.
Again I washed my wounds, ate my breakfast and went on with the business of driving logs without any further trouble, and be it said that I was never molested again while driving logs.
In the winter of 1897, after I had finished my own job, I took my teams to English Center to help Sweet and English, who had one of the biggest jobs that was ever undertaken in the annals of lumbering. They had fourteen million feet of logs to slide and to draw to the landing about five miles away, on the banks of Little Pine Creek at English Center. They had all the teams they could hire drawing with sleds, and besides, they had a slide running the entire distance and were using all the men and teams sliding they could get. The weather was not the best and frequent breakups were encountered. I have never seen such a splendid lot of logs piled up together in my life as those great piles, and so many of them! And we were working nights as well as days to get in as many as possible.
Perhaps I am different; at any rate, most of the men were constantly blaspheming. The logs, the slide, the roads, the tools they used, the men they worked for, the pay they received, the team, the weather—all came in for their share of the blaspheming. The early morning of February 2, 1897, at about two o’clock in the morning, under clear, cold starry canopy of heaven, I knelt on my knees in that lonely mountain, in the middle of the road, lifted my face toward high heaven and asked my God to save my soul and to deliver me from such an environment. At the breakfast table later that morning, Mr. Sweet asked me to go out in my country and send in all the teams and men I could to help finish that job, for it was getting late and they were afraid they could not finish without more help.
I immediately started for Cedar Run station through the woods; and, while waiting for the train, the message came over the wire that the Capital at Harrisburg was burning. I took the train and after arriving at Gaines, arranged with as many men and teams as possible that afternoon; then went to my home, and with my family to the little schoolhouse at Knowlton to church that evening.
My wife had been a consistent Christian from childhood, and I had been reared by Christian parents; but I had always been too busy to think about the matter. My experience in the wilderness at English Center during that starlight morning of this same day, had left me in a most receptive mood to listen to the entreaty of a passionate and spiritual preacher.
Rev. John Lyons, the Baptist minister of Marshfield, had just started a series of revival meetings at the little schoolhouse where I attended school in my early youth, and on this occasion it seemed that almost every man, woman and child in that community were present.
After a sermon filled with eloquence, advice, pleading and power, he extended the opportunity to make a public confession of faith. Without hesitation I arose and walked firmly down the aisle and grasped the preacher by the hand. At the same time I made my first audible confession in public. Upon looking around, I saw my faithful and loving wife standing by my side. It was the happiest moment of our lives. And from that hour we have both been ready and willing to testify to the wonderful saving grace and power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I have never meant to play to the galleries of life; I have never tried to claim any undue credit for anything performed in my own career; yet I firmly believe that stepping out with a firm determination to do my duty without hesitation at the critical moment or period in that revival was the signal for the greatest revival ever held in that whole country. Within a few minutes about forty people stepped out for the first time in their lives, and such a meeting as that I have never attended at any place or time. The news spread like a wild fire and people came from other communities, filled with a desire for the same experience.
The next day I started with the teams and men for the lumber camp at English Center. We had reached Leetonia on the way when the sun peeped through the clouds, warm breezes began to blow gently over the snow, and within a short time the water was running like rivulets down the road. We kept on going for some time but soon the snow had entirely vanished from the road, when we held a council upon the wisdom of continuing, for it appeared that a break-up of the winter was assured.
It was the consensus of opinion that it was folly to go farther, so we retraced our direction and headed for home. Our wisdom in this decision was amply assured, for the snow did leave and there was not a log moved from the woods during the balance of the winter.
We were back home at eventide, and that permitted us to attend church again that evening; and the house was filled to overflowing. An experience similar to the evening before was repeated and nearly every person in that community confessed their faith. The schoolhouse was too small to hold the people that came from everywhere, and the church at Marshfield was used instead. What a change came over the community! The people were truly happy, and the effect of that great revival is still daily manifesting itself in the lives of the people who took part in those meetings.
A Sunday -school was soon organized at the Knowlton Schoolhouse, and I was elected the first superintendent—a position I held for eight years.
A Sunday-school teacher may not receive compensation in dollars and cents, but as a Sunday-school superintendent I have been clipping dividends for thirty-five years from the investments I made in accepting that responsible post. The youngsters are now all grown to manhood and womanhood, and on festal occasions and old homecoming day the pleasure of having those sturdy men and women tell of the wonderful lessons they learned from the Bible while I was their teacher back there in the little schoolhouse is one of life’s greatest blessings.
During the first few warm days of that eventful summer, my good wife and I were baptized in the sparkling waters of Elk Run. We had set the noble example, and to witness that that example emulated by the multitude that followed was perhaps the richest blessing of our lives, excepting only that of our children.
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