Collection Showcases Handmade Implements and Farm Tools

Unique handmade farm tools, implements and equipment abound in one Marylander's collection

| May 1999

Buck Gladhill’s farm collection is a sight to behold.

The 90-year-old lifetime resident of Damascus, Md., says he has never thrown anything away. A few hours spent in an outbuilding behind his modest brick home confirms the observation.

“My dad was a school teacher,” he says. “There were eight of us children. He got a farm in the early 1930s. I got married in 1931, and in my early days, I helped him around the farm. I used the implements, and I saved them. Maybe they’re not all in good shape, but I could fill a couple of books with them.”

The collection covers almost every inch of the 14,000-square-foot building, including most of the wall space and a multitude of shelves. Even the ceiling is festooned with a selection of wooden plows, scythes and anything else that can be hung from the rafters.

“I intended for it to be a museum,” Buck says. “I thought when I retired, I’d spend all my time restoring, but it didn’t go like that. It’s a collection I can just look at, but I do intend to preserve it for history. I’ve got the joy out of collecting and showing it to people.”

While much of the Gladhill collection is factory-made, a careful search among the shelves reveals some genuine handmade implements that include a wooden sausage grinder, a wagon jack, a collar used to wean calves, and a wooden butter churn. “Farmers only bought staples,” Buck says. “Years ago, they made their own equipment and hand tools. They didn’t have the money to buy them even if they were available. In my kid days, the farms around this area had two cash crops: a pen of hogs, and an acre or two of tobacco. The rest of the work was for getting something to eat.”

Buck says he doesn’t know the history of the sausage grinder, and has never seen another one like it. Made of oak, it comes in two pieces held together with heavy iron bolts. The interior features a row of crude metal blades at the top, which interact with a crank-driven cylinder on the bottom. The meat goes in the top, and comes out freshly ground at the end.