Farm Collector


Route 1  Mead, Washington 99021

Dear Friends:

Sometimes when searching in Genealogy, you run into other
things. The two following articles I read with interest. I am 70
and never heard of this whipsaw method explained like this. These
items were taken from ‘Wing-field’s History of Caroline
County, Virginia.’


The first sawed lumber in Caroline was manufactured by the pit
and whipsaw method. It took two men to operate those primitive
machines. A hole was dug in the ground, over which a crude scaffold
was built. The log was then put on the scaffold and one man stood
in the pit below the log while the other stood on the scaffold. The
log was first hewn to a square with a broad-ax and then
‘lined’ on the upper and lower sides at every place where
it was to be sawed. This was sometimes done with pokeberry juice.
The men then drew the saw up and down through the log, sawing off a
board about every hour. Two able-bodied men could hardly saw more
than two hundred feet per day in this way. This method was assisted
later by water power mills, using an up-and-down sliding frame with
straight saw in the center with the log fed to the saw on rollers,
later by the log fed to the saw on a carriage and using head blocks
to set the log out to cut off each board, the carriage being gigged
back by hand. Later the circular saw was introduced. Captain Henry
H. George built ‘Thornberry’ in Caroline County, making the
bricks for his house on the premises and sawing the timbers and the
lumber for his house with a whipsaw using one man in the pit below
the saw-log and one or two men on the scaffold above the pit,
sawing all of the lumber for his home and the various buildings on
his farm of Thornberry, by man power.

Sometimes in the later fifties Captain H. H. George purchased a
steam engine and boiler and a circular sawmill and planted this
mill on his farm ‘Thornberry’sawed lumber for himself and
for his neighbors, which business was carried on until the
beginning of the Civil War. During the latter part of the War,
Captain George was detailed to saw timbers and lumber for the
Confederate Government to use in building the fortifications around
Richmond and other Government uses. He went back to his regiment
after this was done and returned to his home after Lee’s
surrender at Appomattox.

On reaching ‘Thornberry’ he found it stripped of
everything movable, by the Union troops who had visited that
section many times during the return of the Northern Army to
Washington, but found the troops had not destroyed the sawmill. He
got to work as soon as possible and began sawing lumber and
continued in this business of manufacturing and selling lumber
until within a few years of his death, which occurred at his home
on June 26, 1902, in his seventy-ninth year.


The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad is a grand
trunk line connecting the transportation lines of the North with
the South. It is operated in connection with the Pennsylvania
system to the North and all of the great passenger trains of the
Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the Seaboard Air Line Railroad
pass over the entire length of its track age. This road passes
through the entire length of the county from North to South, a
distance of about thirty miles and more than a score of passenger
trains pass over it daily. No station in Caroline is more than two
hours from Washington or four hours from Baltimore. Richmond is one
hour, Philadelphia five hours, and New York seven hours from the
heart of the county. Fruit and vegetables may be gathered ripe in
the late afternoon and put on the early markets in New York City
fresh the next morning. By the Rappahannock River Boat Lines
Caroline is two days from Baltimore and two days from Norfolk. The
Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad which traverses the Southern and
Southwestern boundaries of the county gives convenient shipping
facilities to all Western points.

The stations on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac
Railroad in Caroline are, reading from South to North, as follows:
Chandler, Ruther Glen, Coleman’s Mill, George, Penola, Kenbrook
Dairy Farm, Milford, Bowling Green Park, Rixey, Collins, Woodford
and Guniea. Chandler was named for A. B. Chandler, who was for many
years attorney for the road; Ruther Glen, formerly Chesterfield
Station, was named for an ancient town in Scotland; Coleman’s
Mill was named for a mill near the station owned by Emmett M.
Coleman, of Penola; George was named for the George family of
Penola; Penola was named for the celebrated John Penn; Bowling
Green Park was named for the county seat; Rixey was named for the
Rixey family which had its seat near by; Collins was named for the
Collins family of the county; Woodford was named for the
distinguished revolutionary general; and Guniea was named for a
colonial family of the name of Guniey, which lived near where the
station now stands.

The President of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac
Railroad, Mr. Eppa Hunton, Jr. under dale of June 28, 1923, wrote
the author as follows: ‘Our records give the following dates as
to the opening of the several sections of line in Caroline

‘Line opened to North Anna River, February 5,1836.’

‘Line opened to Ruther Glen, June 15, 1836.’

‘Line opened to Mattaponi River, August 2, 1836.’

‘Line opened to Milford, September 15, 1836.’

‘Line opened to Wood ford (formerly Woodslane), Oct.

‘Line opened to Hazel Run, December 23, 1836.’

  • Published on Nov 1, 1971
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