An Eccentric Sawyer


| November/December 1989



12 HP Frick

The 12 HP Frick now owned by Lorcn Runals of LaGrange, OH.

Route 1, Box 332 Adena, Ohio 43901

This article is written from some memories of my childhood and stories told by my dad, Edgar Flowers, and good friends, Lemoyne Cline and Weir Griffith of Harrisville, Ohio.

Bob Cray was on old-fashioned sawyer who lived alone in a shack in the middle of a field that, as I remember, was mostly covered with briars and skeletons of old sawmills, piles of lumber, scrap iron piles, etc. I was scared to death of Bob for he was a huge man who wore rags which weren't very clean. He was a rough talker, when he did talk, and was rather eccentric in general.

Bob had five sawmills and five steam engines. He never owned an automobile or truck but walked to whichever mill he was running at the time. He would carry his saw tools, sledge, axe and wedges, etc. in a burlap sack over his shoulders. He would accept a ride from anyone who would pick him up, if he was in the mood.

One sawmill was located on the Watson farm by Fair point, Ohio. I wasn't able to find the make of the mill but the engine was a 16 HP Russell. The second was at Wheeling Valley, southwest of Harrisville on the Siebert farm, where he used a 12 HP Frick engine which is now owned by Loren Runals of Lagrange, Ohio. This is the Frick that Raymond Laizure bought from Bob's estate in the late forties. Randy Shrider showed this engine at Barlow the last time it was run. It was this Frick, on which my dad helped Bob install new flues, that whetted his appetite for a steam engine and got the hobby started. Bob, being a huge man, wasn't able to get into the fire box to work. My dad, being a small man, was able to work in there.

Another sawmill and engine was on the Smith farm between Harrisville and Adena. The original engine, being small, was to be replaced by a large steam engine that had belonged to Panova Coal Company, where it had been used to run a dynamo to make electricity for the mine. Lon Hutton moved this engine to the Smith farm for Bob. The sawmill was located on a hillside that led to a big hollow. While getting belted up to the mill the engine got away from Bob and went to the hollow. He spent months, using a cable and turn buckles, getting this engine out of the hollow, and then never fired it again and had it cut up for scrap!