A STORY OF A 20TH CENTURY IRON-MAN


| March/April 1974



Yoke of oxen

This scene shows my Father and yoke of oxen with timber cart and loads, 1939. Courtesy of John Goslee, Sharptown, Maryland 21861

John Goslee

Sharptown, Md.

When reading the IRON-MEN ALBUM there is always a story that brings back memories about some Iron-Man, either deceased or still living. Today I have decided to write one about my father, Eddie L. Goslee of Sharptown, Maryland (1894-1969), who was not a threshing man but a sawmill man one of the best that ever pulled a mill lever.

He was a Christian man who always put his God first, and could always be heard above the sound of the mill, singing a hymn. He started at the age of twelve driving a twelve-mule team a distance of about twenty miles a day, with a wagon load of lumber. Freezing rain or snow did not stop him. He would leave early before day and would not get home until after dark. (Not many boys would do that today if any!) At age of fourteen he was firing a stationary boiler. The mill he was working at blew up and killed several one day while he was gone with lumber. The owner got a new outfit and put him firing the dust burner boiler. He said he found out a man was not always reliable, so he would try a boy this time. He did this a long time until he learned to saw.

By this time Uncle Sam had plans for him a short while in the army. When he came out of the army he farmed with his father and brother a few years. Then he married and went to work at the Sun Shipyard in Chester, Pa. But as is the habit of many steam men, they have to go back to the steam engine. So he took a job sawing in a large stationary mill. When the owner died he went on a steam pile driver for quite a number of years and became the foreman of the crew. In 1935 he went in the lumber business with his brother-in-law, Samuel W. Owens, a carpenter and sail-maker. They started out with a Knight Mill and a little 16 H.P. Aultman Taylor traction engine that belonged to another Iron-Man, although a very small man. (Ernest Culver of Hebron, Maryland) He knew this little engine well, as he had bought it new about 1918. Mr. Culver did the firing and could be heard singing 'O Where, O Where has my little dog gone with his ears cut short and his tail cut long. Where, oh, where has my dog gone.' My father was the sawyer and he could be heard singing a hymn 'I shall not be moved.' In 1937 they bought a 35 H.P. Reeves engine. This engine was a powerful engine but a hole came in the boiler and could not be repaired. Engines were cheap then, so they junked her and bought a ten-year old 25 H.P. case for $300. This turned out to be an iron marvel. It was very easy to fire always with green pine slab wood. They used this engine from 1938 to 1958 with practically no repair other than tubes and a set of piston rings. I used to ride the left-hand seat over the drive wheel with my brother when they moved the engine from one tract of timber to the next. They had to move the mill and engine under its own power as much as sixty-five miles.

One time he was to cut a tract of timber for the E. S. Adkins Company of Salisbury, Maryland. They had to go through Salisbury to get to their destination. The mayor and fire marshall, who was Mr. Adkins, said they could not go through town unless it was on a trailer. They could not get one, so when the one o'clock freight train went through on the same route, they fired up and went through also, while everyone was asleep. The engine had to pass by the fire marshall s front door. Two days later they sent the first load of lumber to the Adkins Company.

The first question was 'Who hauled the engine through town?' When they were told what Dad had done, they all had a big laugh.