THE PIONEER SPIRIT

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Earl Entler of Hugo, Illinois, head sawyer, slices off another board with the restored Pat. 1889 Garr Scott sawmill.
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Earl Entler of Hugo, Illinois, head sawyer, slices off another board with the restored Pat. 1889 Garr Scott sawmill.

The purpose of this article is to pay tribute to a man who is of
a vanishing breed and should be recognized for his unselfishness
and dedication to his fellowman. This story begins in the year of
1976 when the Douglas County Historical Steam and Gas show at
Arcola, Illinois had just purchased from the original Peterson
Estate in Indiana, a patented 1889 Double Bladed Garr Scott
Sawmill. The mill was of heavy duty type construction and consisted
of large castings and mortise and ten on wood beams for both the
husk and the track. The mill had long since sat idle and had
deteriorated to a point where total restoration was going to be
necessary.

Having purchased the mill for its rareness and the fact that it
was a steam engine company manufacture, plans were made to move it
to the Historical Jacob R. Moore showground’s. The mill was
piled in a heap in the barn and various visitors began to shake
their heads in wonderment of why such a piece of machinery had even
been brought to the showground’s. Wood patterns and dimensions
had deteriorated to powder and sawmill brainpower was going to be
needed in great abundance to bring this mill back to its original
working condition.

Two weeks after the arrival of the mill I can still remember an
old green Chevrolet pulling up in front of the barn and a gentleman
leaning out and asking if this was the place where an old sawmill
had been brought in. I said yes it was and from that moment on I
was to experience the friendship of one of the nicest people I have
ever met.

Earl Entler far right, poses with his friends and neighbors in
his Hugo General Store while enjoying morning coffee and good
companionship.

Earl Entler of Hugo, Illinois, slid out of that front seat,
grabbed a packet of Red Man chewing tobacco from his hip pocket and
immediately headed for the barn. Upon seeing the rusted pile of
iron he immediately stuffed his mouth full of Red Man, pulled up an
old nail keg, and surmised the situation. He finally looked up at
me with a devilish grin and said, ‘She’s an old one, and
will take a lot of work, but I believe it can be restored.’
From that moment on I was to see Earl Entler every weekend that
weather permitted and the seemingly unsurmountable task began.

Weeks turned into months and over a period of roughly two and
one half years Earl worked on the mill and never once said I
don’t believe we can do it. As a result of heavy lifting,
hand-mortising, in depth figuring, and sheer determination, the
mill began to take shape under Earl’s guidance. Earl also cut
on his own sawmill, (which he still operates along with the
original Hugo General Store) heavy white oak beams for the husk and
provided an ample supply of every kind of tool imaginable to
accomplish the job. The 1978 show came and went and the mill was
still not completed. Earl refused to give up and called upon many
of his friends to help with the final restoration of the mill. I
will not mention Earl’s friends or mine because of the great
numbers (and lest I forget one), but they know who they are and how
much Earl and I appreciated their help.

The sounds of hammering, sawing, drilling, welding, and good
fellowship prevailed as the mill began to near completion and just
to put the final icing on the cake, 13 yards of concrete was poured
for a permanent foundation. The 1979 show dates had arrived and
Earl, assisted by his friends, completed the mill the day before
the show opened. A double cylinder Reeves steam engine had stood by
patiently through the hours of the afternoon, sighing and hissing
while awaiting the drive belt which would signify the christening
of the restoration project. With a long awaited signal from Earl,
the Reeves big flywheel slowly began to turn the 56′ blade on
the bottom and the 24′ blade on the top saw to a high pitched
hum that had not been sounded by that mill for many, many
years.

From left to right: B.J.K. Helmuth of Arthur, Illinois, Bob
Valentine of Monticello, Illinois, and Martin Prosser of Hugo,
Illinois, assist Earl in turning a log on the carriage.
(Photographs courtesy of James Gray.)

The rest is history as Earl sawed log after log at the 1979
Douglas County Show and there was no doubt that Earl and the Garr
Scott mill were a big hit of the show. Earl, hats are off to you
and may we, your friends, be graced by other acquaintances as
rewarding as yours has been to us.

Enclosed are photographs which are of Earl in his Hugo General
Store and operating the restored mill.

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