Farm Collector

Memories Of George Seghers

Box 476 Jamestown, North Dakota 58402

George Seghers had at one time served on the big mills on the
West Coast, which he said had a fast steam carriage. The setter
rode the carriage. He said one night the setter lost his footing
and fell over the log. George said, ‘When I got the carriage
stopped, the man was right up to the saw!’ George said, ‘I
never touched that lever again. I wasn’t going to saw any man
in two.’ This was well before I knew George. I don’t know
just when this was, but the first I knew George he had a blacksmith
and machine shop in Rolla, North Dakota. He liked the machine work
and seemed to do lots of things others would pass up. He would get
a sawing job and would usually see something he could improve in
the mill. When the job was finished he would usually sell or trade
the mill.

I was once in Rolla. There were several carloads of pine logs.
These were hauled out to Belcourt, the headquarters of Turtle
Mountain Indian Reservation.

George was hired to saw the logs. He said when he started there
would be a government man out measuring his lumber. Wasn’t long
till he would come out saying, ‘How’s she going,
George?’ and leave.

His man in the shop told me about a man coming into the shop,
well dressed and carrying a small case. George had one of the long
gears which move the head blocks. He had cut the teeth with a hack
saw and was smoothing them with a file. When he had finished, the
man watching asked if he could look at the gear. George said,
‘Look all you like, that isn’t going to hurt it

He said the man got out instruments, measured that gear every
way possible, then meshed the small round gear. He turned to George
and said, ‘I have a job for you.’ I don’t remember the
amount but it was high for that time.

George took a chew of Copenhagen and said,’ Look here, young
fellow, I own this shop and the house on the front lot. The taxes
are paid and if you look in the shed out there you will see a Model
A Ford. I am making a living here. If I don’t feel like
working, I lock the door, get the Ford out and go fishing. When I
feel right, I come back. I am not going back under the whistle, I
have been under the whistle too long.’

George once told me that he was in Devil’s Lake and was
looking over the iron piles. He saw a big planer and asked what the
man wanted for it. Maretsky said, ‘That is pretty heavy.
I’d have to have fifty dollars.’ George told me he
didn’t think the man knew what it was. ‘That was one fifty
dollar bill I got out awful quick!’ he said.

He had it hauled to his shop in Rolla where he reconditioned it.
He bought an Overland engine from Bill Bucholz which he mounted on
the planer. Through World War II it was often hard to get finished
lumber. There was a lumber yard across the street from George’s
shop. I knew them well but I can’t recall the name. They would
ship in carloads of rough lumber. George said we would start after
supper and have it planed before dark. He said their help cost them
nothing. There were lots who had not seen a planer. Then George
sold the planer, I believe to a Canadian. He also had a house
moving outfit. Sometimes he would be away from Rolla for quite a
time. We miss the old timers. Guess we are the old timers now!

The last mill George built he said had only one piece of wood.
That was the feed lever on the carriage. It was mounted on wheels,
and had a jack hinged to each corner of the track for leveling.

George said ‘I can pull in to a skidway and be sawing in
fifteen minutes.’ I believe he said that was the twenty-sixth
or twenty-seventh mill he had built. He said the bearings were
either International or John Deere so could be he had it welded in
most any farming area. He told me he had the metal work all done on
a shingle mill and it just needed the wood filling.

When Mrs. Seghers got to be in poor health their son-in-law and
daughter moved their trailer house in the back yard. After Mrs.
Seghers died I believe they moved in with George. His son-in-law
had been a grain buyer but he had to quit because of the dust.

I was there one Sunday talking with the son-in-law and he told
me George wanted to see me. He was in bed. He seemed bright to talk
to. That was the last time I saw George.

The last mill stood at the side of the street. I understand the
mill was sold to a Minnesota man. Haven’t heard any more about
it. The machinery was pretty well gone out of the shop.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1993
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