Sentinel Staff Writer
Sixty or more years of contact with the outdoors has caused
70-year-old David P. Shearer of South Middleton Township to become
a seasoned woodsman and sawmill operator.
For 32 Years
Shearer who has operated his one- man mill for the past 32 years
along the Ridge Road section of York Road, was born and raised in
Perry County’s woodlands. Outdoor living has come natural to
Although the years have slowed the expert lumberman down just a
little, he still handles a volume of business which would keep a
man much younger than he hustling. Shearer figures he cuts from 60
to 70,000 board feet of lumber annually on his diesel driven
The well – known county resident has thrived in his outdoor
venture and has stuck with it, as he put it ‘because I like
Shearer, mused, ‘I have no boss’ breathing down my neck
and when I want to quit, I close down and go home and watch
Shearer used to travel within a radius of 10 to 12 miles of his
operation to bring in the logs but now the business comes to him.
His work is mostly handline custom made orders for his many
He turns out lumber for various repair jobs, cabinet wood and
for any other order he receives. He personally sees to it that
every order is carried out to the desires of the customer. He
operates his one – man mill from eight to five daily. In the
Winter, when snow is on the ground, he goes out to check the mill
to see that all is well and returns home.
A recent order received by the county saw mill owner was for
3,00b feet of walnut and 1,000 feet of cedar wood which was used in
the Dillsburg school by shop youth in turning out cedar chests,
portable sewing machine cabinets and hi-fi boxes. In spite of his
age, Shearer has little difficulty in carrying out his operation.
He uses a winch mounted on a truck to get the loss to the mill
site, then they are heaved into place with a cant hook. The
resulting boards are cut to the size desired by the customer.
Little Chestnut Left
Shearer laments’ the fact mat the day of chestnut lumber
cutting is just about over. A blight of some 20 years ago wiped out
most of the chestnut wood.
The county resident is a steam engine buff. He is a member of
the Williams Grove Steam Engine Association and is a former
director of the organization.
He has housed on his property an old-time steam driven saw mill
built in 1880 by William J. Barley and Sons of New Jersey. The
boiler is not controlled by a governor. The steam driven saw can
make 400 RPM. H e has restored it with new rings, new belt and
various other parts it needed.
So anxious was Shearer to get the piece of equipment, he spent
two years in coaxing the former owner to sell it. Already he has
$800 invested in it.
Another conversation piece at Shearer’s mill is a Frick
traction engine. It was built in 1919 and is a 275 pound
hydrostatic steam pressure engine. It weighs eight and a half tons
and carries 250 gallons of water. It will be shown at the Williams
Grove Steam Engine show in August.
Ex – Lime Operator
In Shearer’s earlier days he was in the lime business and
worked hard in digging the limestone with ten – pound sledge and
sometimes an air hammer. He was also in the lime . burning business
producing at times 10,000 bushels a year. He burned six cars of
coal annually in turning out the lime.
Some of the lime produced by the local man was placed on the
farm now owned by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mrs. Eisenhower
in Adams County prior to the ownership of the former President.
Shearer has been married to the former Essie Ellen Shughart for
the past 42 years. He has four daughters, Mrs. Ida Eppley.
Carlisle; Mrs. Norma Smyers, Idaville, Mrs. Freda Bender.
Mechanicsburg and Mrs. Dorothy Neal of East Brunswick, N.J.