An Eccentric Sawyer

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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!

The next sawmill was set up on the Lyle Morgan farm on Route 9
near Unity Cemetery. There he had some huge white oak logs that he
avoided sawing for the saw wouldn’t reach. These logs were
later hauled to the Dickerson farm where my dad had bought a
sawmill to saw out his uncle’s white oak woods. He waited for
two years for Bob to move in so he bought his own mill. My dad
bored holes in these large logs and dynamited them apart so that
his saw would reach. Bob never spoke to my dad again.

The fifth mill was set up at the Thomas Griffith farm at the
corner of Route 250 and the Mt. Pleasant Road. Here Bob sawed and
helped build a large barn for Tom Griffith. He even split the
shingles for the roof by hand for this barn. The farm and barn are
now owned by Tom Sprag, a grandson of Tom Griffith’s. This barn
was built in 1927. The steam engine used here was a Leader that had
been used from the early teens by Alvin Harriman of Harrisville,
Ohio to thresh. This steam engine was the last to be used on my
dad’s farm until he purchased the Greyhound in 1965. Harriman
used to blow the whistle and my dad would run to meet him when he
came to thresh.

Lemoyne Cline tells of a time when he loaded a complete sawmill
on his truck and was to get $20.00 for the move. Bob wanted Lemoyne
to unload the mill that evening at his place and reload the next
morning to take it to the new site. He and Lemoyne had words so
they finally unloaded the mill and he then got someone else to haul
it on to the new site. Lemoyne never got his $20.00! Bob sold off
his sawmills in the forties except one which he moved to Pleasant
Grove, where he also moved, having sold out in Harrisville. He set
up the mill using the 12 HP Frick. The mill was possibly the one
from Wheeling Valley. He died in Pleasant Grove in the late
forties. Raymond Laizure secured the 12 HP Frick from the estate
and it was this Frick and a Russell that he had when he started
having a show at his farm on Stumptown Road. The show was the start
of the Stumptown Steam Threshers shows.

All these facts are as true as my memory can serve.

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