Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives

Clearfield County

 

Clearfield County Pennsylvania

Present and Past

 

by

Thomas Lincoln Wall

 

Chapter 11

 

Copyright

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Clearfield County Pennsylvania

Present and Past

 

by

Thomas Lincoln Wall

Ex-Supervising Principal

Boggs Township Schools

 

Library Edition

Published by Author

 

Copyright 1925

by

T. L. Wall

 


 

Transcribed for the Clearfield County PAGenWeb Project by

Ellis Michaels

 

 Chapter 11

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rafts tied up at Clearfeld

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CHAPTER XI

Manufactures


     Light and Power. Of all the discoveries that have added to comfort, convenience and luxury in our county, the uses of electricity are probably the most wonderful.


     In 1925,the Penn Public Service Company,which furnishes most of our electricity, has a capacity to supply twenty-five thousand kilowatts of current, equal to thirty-three thousand horse power, or equal to thirty-eight million candle power of electric light. This is carried by two hundred and six miles of transmission line to seventy-four towns, to two hundred and forty works, to two hundred and three mines and to two hundred and ninety-four farms in the county.


     Besides electric lighting, in a great number of homes in the towns, and quite a number in the country, the washing, ironing, sweeping, and even the dish-washing and some of the cooking is done by electricity. The electric motor is now used to do all kinds of work, from running a sewing machine or automatically pumping water for the household, to furnishing power for a mill or factory. Yet we must remember that all these labor saving devices have come into use in Clearfield county easily within the memory of quite young people.


     There was probably not a single electric light in the county in 1880, and even in 1890 electric lighting was con-

 

 

 

 

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fined to the larger towns and not by any means universal in them. By 1912 it was coming into more general use in towns.


     The demand for coal during the World War was probably the greatest stimulus to the use of electricity, both for light and for power. It must be remembered that manufacturing as it is now carried on would be impossible were it not for some source of power,either fuel as coal or oil, or water power. Even electricity must be manufactured. It was comparatively easy to build a transmission line out to a mine and quickly supply it with light and power. Then as these lines brought electricity within the reach of small communities and farms, it was a simple matter to get current for household and farm lighting and power, so that now there are but few localities in the settled parts of the county that are not thus supplied. Almost all the power used to produce electricity in Clearfield county is supplied by steam engines.


     Gas, Gasoline and Kerosene. Before electric lighting became general or even possible, artificial, or in some sections, natural gas was used for lighting and to some extent for heating and cooking. For these latter purposes it is used more and more in the large towns. Also there was a limited amount of lighting by gasoline gas, and acetylene or carbide. Carbide is still used in small mines and on a few farms. These means of house lighting were mostly confined to towns.


     Gasoline and kerosene engines furnish a great deal of power on farms, and of course gasoline furnishes the fuel for almost all of our twelve thousand automobiles and more than one thousand three hundred trucks.


     Kerosene Lamps. A great many farmers, and others, mostly those out of reach of electric current still use kerosene lamps. Indeed it is not outside the memory of the older people when they were even a luxury, and kerosene was only used as a linament for rheumatism, etc.

 

 

 

 

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     Tallow Candles. For many years, probably from about 1830 to 1870, tallow candles, either moulded or dipped, were the standard for light in the county. There are people living who can tell of the time when it was considered extravagant to burn more that one candle continuously during the evening, so whatever work was done in the household after dark, had to be done by the light of this one candle, around which the family gathered, including the children to study their lessons. But before the advent of the candle, and more or less for years after, the "grease lamp" and "boat lamp" were used, or people got along with light from the fire-place or from a pitch pine splinter stuck in a crack in the chimney.


     Labor Saving Devices. In the early days not much thought seems to have been put upon methods for saving labor, in fact anyone that used any unusual means of doing so was counted a little lazy, and wanting to get out of work was almost a sin!


     Possibly we are going to the other extreme by trying to avoid real work.


     For years after its first settlement not a pump was to be found in the county. Water was usually carried up hill from the spring or drawn from the well with a rope by hand or at most by a "sweep." Later a simple windlass was used, then the wooden pump, then the iron pump. Now water is supplied in town by a water system, or by an automatic electric pump. The latter is used on some farms.


     Hydraulic Rams. The hydraulic ram was used by a few farmers after about 1850 to bring up water from the spring to the house, where the flow of water was strong enough to make it work.


     This "battering ram" as it was nick-named on account of the noise it made when working, brought up an intermittent flow of water by utilizing the flowing stream to provide the

 

 

 

 

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power to force a small quantity of water to a higher level.

 

     These rams were never very satisfactory, but were a step in the direction of an improved water system.


     We Owe Much to the Past. And now that we are fortunate, and live in such a wonderful age of comforts, conveniences and even luxuries for all our people, how we should strive to be worthy of it all, and to appreciate the many advantages we have over the pioneers who worked so hard to make our county a fit place in which to live.


     Brick Making. The making of fire brick and of other kinds of brick is probably the greatest manufacturing industry in our county at the present time. The fact that the manufacturers of iron and steel are dependent upon fire brick for lining their furnaces and cupolas and that Clearfield county has some of the best deposits of fire clay in the world, are two of the best possible reasons for the activity of the fire brick business in the county. Glass manufacturers also must have fire clay from which to make the pots in which glass is melted.


     Fire clay was first discovered in Clearfield county in the early 60's, the first brick being manufactured at the Hope plant at Woodland in 1867. This was followed by the Lower Woodland works in 1868. The Harbison-Walker Refractories Company later taking over these plants, now have in Clearfield county seven plants with a daily output of about three hundred thousand brick, employing approximately one thousand men. In addition to this they employ four hundred to four hundred twenty-five men in the mining and preparing of clay and coal for these plants.


     The Harbison-Walker Refractories plants are located, and were put in operation as follows: Hope works, Woodland, 1867; Lower Works, Woodland, 1868; Wallaceton, 1879; Wigton, 1893; Widemire, 1896; Clearfield No. 1 Works, 1899;

 

 

 

 

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Clearfield No. 2 Works, 1900. It requires about four tons of clay to make a thousand bricks, and about one and one-half tons of coal is consumed in burning them, therefore the Harbison-Walker Refractories Company in Clearfield county, use approximately 350,000 tons of clay and 125,000 tons of coal annually, all of which is mined either by the company or individually in Clearfield county.


     It would require thirty box cars each day to haul the daily output of these plants.


     The General Refractories Company plant at Blue Ball was originally built in 1899 by Wm. H. Wynn, his son D. Ross Wynn and his son-in-law, James H. France. There were about four kilns and the output was about half that of the present plant. It was burned in 1904, but rebuilt in 1905. In 1910 The General Refractories Company bought the plant, remodeled it and built what was used as the steam press department, there being previously only hand brick made here. This was done about 1916-17.


     There are now twenty-one kilns, there are 150 men employed on an average and the output is 56,000 brick per day.


     It requires about four tons of clay to make 1000 bricks and about 1.18 tons of coal to burn them.


     The output per year is 16,500,000 fire brick, and to make them, 66,000 tons of clay and 27,500 tons of coal are used.


     There are also a number of other brick plants in operation in the county, at various places.


     Working in Nickel. The American Nickel Corporation has a large plant at Hyde City, near Clearfield. The stock of this Corporation is owned by the Mond Nickel Company, Ltd., of London, England, which furnishes all the nickel used in the American plant, from its refinery in Clydach, Wales. The Mond Company is the largest producer of pure nickel, in the world. It ships to the American company the nickel refined from the ore in the form of pellets, like shot, ranging

 

 

 

 

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is [sic] size from one-fourth inch in diameter to very small pellets, and also in the form of salts, which are used largely in the plating industry. This metal is claimed to be ninety-nine per cent pure nickel.


     The equipment of the American Nickel Corporation at Hyde City is similar in every way to that of the average steel mill, but more elaborate and complete. There are furnaces, both open hearth for the making of the ingots or pigs, and others for the annealing or tempering, casting and welding, cold and hot rolls for the making of sheets of required width and thickness, and round and square bars, and machines for drawing wire and seamless tubing, besides shears and other equipment of that nature. The nickel is capable of being rolled as fine as the ordinary tin foil, and can be drawn into wire no larger than the human hair.


     The open hearth furnaces are two, of the capacity of 2,000 tons each, and the annealing and welding furnaces are of adequate capacity to keep up with the work of caring for this product. All the furnaces are fired by oil, with electric automatic heating control, regulating the flow of oil and air, which keeps them evenly at the desired temperature. An indicator registers the flow and temperature constantly, so that any variation may be detected instantly. The rolls are also electrically equipped, being driven by electric motors, the largest of which (800 horse power) is now being installed. When the improvements and additions now contemplated are completed, this plant expects to have a connected load of 2,500 horse power.


     The Hyde City plant, since being taken over by the Mond Company, about a year and a half ago, has been in the course of enlargement and improvement. The old buildings, which were of sheet metal construction, have been entirely bricked in, and new buildings erected, while the equipment has been added to and modernized until when the present plans have

 

 

 

 

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been carried out, this will be one of the finest plants in the entire country, if not the world.


     In addition to the mill department there is also a large and completely equipped foundry, for the company makes a great number of castings, both large and small. The large amount of machine-finished product turned out requires a well equipped machine department, with lathes, planers, drill presses, polishers, and other machines necessary in this class of work.


     The boiler room has eight 250 horse power boilers, and a 110,000 gallon tank furnishes water for the plant. The boilers furnish steam for two engines which drive a part of the machine shop equipment, and also to heat all parts of the plant. For the protection of the workmen all the most modern safety devices are employed. There is a large and well equipped rest room and toilet, with washing facilities and shower baths with hot and cold water, and lockers for clothing and personal property. There are at present about 250 employees.


     Broadly speaking, the product of the plant is the material in various forms for manufacturing purposes. This comes in sheets and plates, in rods and bars, in seamless and welded tubing, in wire and in castings. The sheets and plates which are produced are very largely used in the manufacture of culinary and table ware, and it is claimed to be the finest metal in existence for this purpose, as it can be readily adapted for cooking vessels, pots, pans, skillets, roasters, etc., and for pitchers, bowls and other table ware, resisting rust and corrosion on the one hand, and being capable of the finest polish, with no disposition to tarnish, on the other. It will withstand the action of acids in food stuffs of all kinds, and is therefore admirable for this purpose. A number of concerns engaged in the manufacture of nickel kitchen and table ware secure their supply of material from the American Nickel Corporation.

 

 

 

 

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     A great amount of the metal is sold to the United States Government for use in vessels and in the ship yards. It is sought and used by the government because of its ability to resist any corrosion or rust from the action of salt water. The government buys rods, wire and shapes of many kinds.


     Wire of various thickness, from three-eighths of an inch in diameter, to the very finest, is drawn in the plant, and is used for many purposes, one of the principal of which is the making of automobile spark plugs, several firms engaged in this branch of manufacture being customers of the Hyde City plant.


     Both small and large tubing is made at this plant, this being drawn cold, in the seamless form, or rolled into ribbons and then shaped and welded. Much of this tubing is used in the manufacture of fire extinguishers, and in the making of dairy machinery, where the advantage of its non-corrosive and non-rusting qualities can be easily realized. Other of the more important products of this plant are anodes used in electric plating, and other foundry castings, both machined and unfinished, valve seats, screen cloth, radio bus wire and ribbons, threaded bolts and nuts, hardware and plumbing furnishings.


     The offices, laboratory and testing departments, all modern in every particular, are located in a two story structure adjoining the factory buildings.


     Making Knitting Machines and Knitting. One of the leading industries of Clearfield county is the Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, whose business is the manufacture of hand knitting machines. The plant is located in Clearfield, on the West Side. The business was organized by J. E. Gearhart, in 1888, and was then located at West Decatur (Blue Ball). Patents on the machine were secured and the manufacture of the machines continued for two years. The second year the business made it necessary to have an Express

 

 

 

 

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Office at Blue Ball and the Adams Express Company opened up an office.


     The business began to grow, and a larger place was necessary to carry on the business, so in 1890 a factory was built in Clearfield, the present location, to which place the Gearhart family and the business was moved.


     The machine was improved from time to time, and manufactured and sold in all countries. It was found necessary to build additions to the factory at different times.


     During the war the machines were in great demand to knit hosiery for soldiers, and all machines were made that the company could procure material for.


     In 1921 the Company was organized under the laws of the State. Mr. Gearhart's three sons, John R., Leonard A., and Emory J. Gearhart acquiring stock. The following year a new three-story factory was built, 38 by 100 feet to which was added a year later, an office building, three stories, 40 by 60 feet. At this time, 1925, another large four-story building is being erected in order to carry on and take care of the business.


     Beside manufacturing machines, a large part of the business is the employment of home knitters all over the country, who at their home& knit hosiery and return them to the company, which market them.


     There are upward of five thousand knitters who in this way have employment. The amount of hosiery thus received and disposed of has become enormous. There is now in the employment of the Company 140 females and 50 males.


     It is a mail order business, and the amount of mail handled makes it necessary for the U. S. Post Office Department to maintain a mailing department in the factory.


     Last year, after thirty-six years of continuous business, the originator, J. E. Gearhart, retired from the firm. His three sons, the other members of the firm, taking it over.

 

 

 

 

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     Making Pottery. The first pottery or "pot shop" as it was called was established by Ira Fisher and Robert Moore about 1840 on the farm, four miles east of Luthersburg.


     The pottery was made of swamp clay and was a red ware. Others succeeded to the business, Joseph Hamilton buying it in 1850, but dying soon after.


     The manufacture was turned into stone ware, soft fire- clay mined close at hand being used.


     George C. Kirk (yet living), Seyler and Potter started anew at the place now occupied by Florence Kirk, one mile east of Luthersburg, Mr. Kirk running it until 1900 when it was suspended.


     Making Silk Plush. The manufacture of silk plush was begun at the Clearfield Textile Company's plant in Clearfield in 1913. These works now have an annual average capacity of 600,000 yards of silk velvet. When running full time, they employ 150 people, three-fourths of whom are women and girls.


     The black dyed Chinese silk, after it is received, has to go through a number of processes on machines, many of which are of very ingenious construction. Before the silk is ready for the loom, it goes through three operations: winding, silk cleaning and warping. Then it is ready for the loom, when there is weaving, singeing, shearing, ironing, finishing, inspecting, wrapping and packing. It is then ready for market. The cross threads or woof are cotton, and have to go through the same processes as the silk, before weaving. The fabric is woven double, and is cut apart in a very ingenious way by a self-sharpening knife in the machine. This leaves the "pile" which stands up on the silk velvet after it is completed.


     Each machine is run by a separate individual electric motor. These are usually operated by girls or women. The plant is heated and ventilated by causing outdoor air to pass

 

 

 

 

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over radiators heated and moistened by steam from a boiler. This is done, both for the health of the employees, and for the purpose of keeping the silk in the right condition for working. The temperature is kept uniformly at 78 degrees and the humidity at 60 degrees, automatically, in the workroom. In addition it is tested twice daily. The workrooms are lighted from above. The whole plant is kept clean and sanitary. The number of employees out for all reasons, including sickness, is not over five per cent. They are paid for piece work, with a bonus for good work. The Company has a fine, light clubhouse for their employees. It is about 45x100 feet, containing dancing-room, reading-room, and lunch-room, besides separate toilets and shower baths for men and women. The rooms are furnished with player piano, victrola, tables for lunch and chairs, also library. Coffee is served to employees who bring their lunches. There is a tennis court nearby, for the use of the employees. The Company has built eleven double and two single houses, all equipped with bath, running water, toilets and electric light, lawns and gardens, which they rent at a moderate rate to their employees. They are now occupied by twenty-four families.


     Tanneries. At present there are still a number of large steam tanneries in operation in the county, which furnish employment to a large number of men.


     But the industry is declining in so far as Clearfield county is concerned, some having been closed and others only running part time. The hemlock and rock-oak timber having been cut there is little bark brought in. Then too, tanning is now done in a great measure by the use of chemicals and so new tanneries when built, are located nearer to centers of large population.


     There are at present large steam tanneries at Curwensville, Clearfield and a few other towns in the county.


     Early Tanneries. It seems probable that Benjamin

 

 

 

 

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Hartshorn had the first tannery in the county on his farm north of Curwensville some years prior to 1812, when Josiah Evans came to Curwensville. There were a few others started at nearly as early a date. All operated on a small scale, and by the old process it took quite a long time to tan a "side" of leather.


     Daniel Spackman had a tannery near the present pike east of Curwensville and Thomas Reynolds had the first one in Clearfield where the Judge McEnally house stands, and Jacob Irwin had one where the Dr. Boyer house stands.


     Other early tanners were William McNaul in Curwensville 1819, Benjamin Bonsall near Luthersburg 1814 to 1820, a Mr. McPherson near Luthersburg, afterwards run by others including John McGaughey and Wm. Kirk. In 1825 Orvis Hoyt built a tannery in Clearfield, afterwards the Shirk tannery. Russell & Smith opened a tanyard in Pennville (now Grampian) about 1848. Tanneries were also established at New Washington, Glen Hope and other places. In 1882 there were still three of the old time tanneries in operation in the county.


     In these early tanneries the bark was ground between mill stones, the power being supplied by horses. All the other work was done by hand, and the hides were soaked in the vats for months.


     Steam Tanneries. In 1882 four steam tanneries had been established in the county with an aggregate capacity of 335 hides per day. Later many other large tanneries were established at different places, and an immense business was done, and the bark business became quite a source of income to farmers and lumbermen.


     The prices received for bark were often low, but it brought an income when times were otherwise rather dull.


     Much hemlock bark was sold as low as $3.00 and $3.50 a cord, but there was such a rush to get it off and get the

 

 

 

 

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money for it, that trees were sometimes cut and peeled for the bark and the timber left lay and rot in the woods. Sometimes such a flood of bark came in to the tanneries that they could not make use of it and had to refuse it for a time.


     Besides those now in use, steam tanneries were formerly operated in Osceola, Penfield, DuBois, Mahaffey and Westover, most of which have been abandoned or are about to be.


     Woolen Mills. Woolen Mills seem to have become a thing of the past in Clearfield county.


     The last woolen mills in operation seem to have been John Hill's at Curwensville and Johnson's Factory near Bells Landing. This last was run at the last by James Pontefract, until it burned in 1890.


     One of the first woolen mills in the county seems to have been built on Hogback Run, below Curwensville "by George Leach and Mason Garrison in 1815". The carding machine was brought from Lewisburg by keelboat on the river.


     However, "The Elder saw mills and carding machine were erected and put in operation on Little Clearfield Creek near its mouth in 1815." These were built by James I. Thorn who came to the county for that purpose. The building also included a tavern. Elder never resided in the county.


     This was about where Dimeling Station now stands and was owned originally by Robert Elder of Half Moon township, Center county. Other accounts put the date of the Elder Mill as 1826, and that it was operated by William Raimsay.


     The Bridgeport Mill was built in 1824 by John Draucker. This mill with improvements added at later times was run until June 1881, when it was destroyed by fire.


     In the old days "it was the custom for the farmers to bring the wool to the mills after sheep shearing time and have it made into rolls. It was then taken home where the women would spin it by hand, some using the small, others the large

 

 

 

 

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spinning wheel." The former was operated in a sitting position by means of a treadle, but with the "big wheel" the operator supplied the motive power by means of a pin held in the hand and was obliged to run to and fro, drawing out the thread and winding the yarn. Good exercise it was, too!


     "The weaving was also mainly done at the homes, the raw cloth being returned to the mills to be fulled, dyed and finished preparatory to making up." In later times it was the practice for the factory owner to drive from farm to farm with his "Wool Wagon" trading finished cloth, blankets or yarn to the farmer for wool.


     Grist Mills. There are but few mills in the county grinding flour. There are still a few run by water, which was probably the first source of power used in the county. Now a number of mills are run by electric power. Farmers also do much feed grinding by gasoline, while a few use electric power for this purpose. At different times there have been 40 or 50 grist mills built in the county.


     There are at least three that are still run by water power. Hagerty's Mill at Madera, a mill at Burnside and one at Cherry Tree.


     The manufacture of flour for bread is now almost entirely from hard spring wheat, and the great mills for making bread flour are located in Minnesota.


     The later mills use the Roller Process for making flour, but the old mills used French Burrs, and the first ones used millstones quarried from native rock.


     The first grist mill in the county was build by Matthew Ogden on Moose Creek, near Clearfield, about 1804.


     It was very simply but effectively constructed from the material at hand. It is said there was but one piece of iron in the whole structure, a spike used for a spindle. "The bolter was made of cap cloth and was geared directly to the water wheel by a strap, but notwithstanding its rude construction,

 

 

 

 

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the mill supplied grist for the neighborhood for some time, and until Robert Maxwell built the second mill on Anderson Creek some years later."


     Before Matthew Ogden built his mill, Daniel, the father, had to go to Lock Haven to get grinding done, using a canoe on the river to make the trip, and when meal was low, he used an old jointer plane turned bottom up, and by drawing an ear of corn along the surface, managed to manufacture a sufficient quantity of meal to supply the family demand.


     In 1816 James Moore built a grist mill where Grampian now stands with one run of stones and a coarse bolting cloth. In 1827 he built a frame grist mill with two runs of stones. The stream being small, additional power was supplied at times by a sweep-power propelled by horses. in 1838 a steam engine, the first used to run a grist mill in the county, was installed. The engine was bought in Pittsburgh and hauled on wagons from Johnstown.


     During dry seasons it was run night and day; wagons with grain frequently coming forty miles or more. Each being compelled to await his turn, the crowd was often very great, men having to wait from one day to a week, and some times turning in and helping farmers of the vicinity with their crops. Some men said they had driven as much as a hundred miles from one dry water mill to another, on their way.


     This first engine was rated at eight horse power, but the boiler was eighteen feet long and thirty inches in diameter, without flues and made of three-eighth inch iron plates. The cylinder was ten inches in diameter, with three foot stroke. The balance wheel was thirteen feet in diameter.


     When the engine was ready to fire up the engineer from Pittsburgh who installed it, took his seat on the safety valve, and when he thought steam was high enough, suddenly got off, when it gave out one of the most unearthly sounds imag-

 

 

 

 

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inable, which sent the crowd of children that had gathered, home in a hurry. This first mill is said not to have been a financial success, though it served a valuable purpose in its time. It took so much coal that it was very expensive to run.


     Making Maple Sugar and Syrup. When the first settlers came to the county, it was almost impossible to get much or any cane sugar. At that time sugar and syrup were made from cane mainly in Cuba; all sugar was dark brown. Then there was no means of transportation except by going after an article a long ways either afoot or horseback. But most people knew that sugar maple sap could be boiled down to make syrup and sugar. So maple syrup and sugar, made by boiling down sap in a common iron kettle was about the only sweet they had, unless a bee tree was located in the woods during the summer, to be cut in the fall when the combs were full of honey.


     Necessity is proved to be "the mother of invention" by the ingenuity displayed by the pioneers under stress of circumstances. This is well illustrated in the matter of making sugar and syrup, and in so doing, making use of the materials, no matter how crude or apparently unsuitable, that were at hand. As most families possessed an iron kettle, which was at that time, an almost indispensable article for making soap, butchering, heating water for washing, etc., the means of evaporating the sap by boiling, was at hand. Along in March then; the sugar maple trees, of which there were plenty, were "tapped" either by cutting a slanting notch in the side of the tree near the ground and inserting a chip down which the sap could run and drop into the vessel set under to catch it, or by boring auger holes in the tree a foot or more from the ground and inserting spiles made from sumac or elder stalks, which had a pith that could be punched out leaving a channel in each, through which the sap could flow into the vessel set to receive it. Vessels being scarce, troughs of wood were made

 

 

 

 

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about two feet long by splitting short logs into juggles and then hewing them out on the flat side so they would hold sap.


     The kettle was hung on a pole held up by forked stakes driven into the ground in a convenient place in the maple woods and a wood fire made under it. Then the sap was carried from the trees in buckets, by the children and others, and boiled and boiled until it began to get thick enough for syrup. It was then.taken off, and if it was to be made into sugar, the syrup was "sugared off" over a fire, probably in the house, where it could be stirred continually and carefully watched to avoid burning. At a certain stage of boiling in the kettle outside, some syrup was taken out in a dipper and poured in cold water, or better on snow. If it hardened properly on touching the snow, it was ready to take off. It was also in a most delicious state for taffy making, which was the great thing to which the children looked forward.


     In later times, a few people made quite a little family business of making syrup and sugar. Soon improved methods of tapping, gathering, evaporating and "sugaring off" were used. The Joe Davis sugar camp in the Grampian Hills was a typical example of the industry. Mr. Davis, a farmer, had quite a large family of boys and girls and he also hired some extra help for the camp season. At first he made spiles of pine wood, boring them out. Later, however, he procured metal spiles. On these tin buckets were hung and even covered with lids of wood or tin so that all dirt could be kept out of the sap. Then a camp was built in the maple woods, in which one or two large evaporating pans were set over brick furnaces.


     The sap was hauled on a sled on which barrels were carried to hold the sap as it was gathered from the trees in buckets. When the barrels were full, the bung was driven and they were hauled to the camp, where they were rolled on a skidway which reached up beside the evaporating camp.

 

 

 

 

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Then, one by one, the barrels were put in position, a flexible rubber pipe was inserted in the bung-hole and the sap siphoned out into a tub, being strained and cleaned as it flowed through a muslin strainer.


     From the tub a faucet let the strained sap drip into the evaporating pan nearly as fast as it boiled away, until there came to be a syrup in the pan, of the right consistency. Then by an ingenious contrivance, the pan could be swung off the furnace and the syrup drawn off into a keg or other vessel. Afterwards the syrup was taken to another building, put in a pan on a range and by means of a hygrometer, brought to just the right consistency,—eleven pounds to the gallon, so that while sufficiently thick, the sugar would not readily settle to the bottom. After this it was canned up hot so it would keep all summer. If it was desired to make sugar cakes, then the syrup from the boiling house was put on the range and boiled somewhat longer than for syrup, or until it was quite thick and then tested in water or on snow and when of the right consistency, was poured into greased moulds, like little cake pans of various sizes, and left to cool, when it was turned out as sugar cakes, most delicious to eat.


     This camp was run for a good many seasons, and was a great resort, especially for young people and children, who could here buy a pure and delicious confection that they could see in the making, at a low price. But eventually Mr. Davis got up in years, the children grew up and found homes of their own, so the camp was abandoned and later the trees cut and sawed into lumber. Practically the same fate has befallen all of the old sugar camps, the trees have been cut for lumber, often because no one wished to continue to open and run the camp. However, the demand has never ceased for maple sugar and syrup. It is even greater now than ever, since the population of the towns has increased, and some day probably some enterprising person or family will revive this industry from a younger growth of sugar maples, in a

 

 

 

 

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manner adapted to our changed conditions of business.


     Making Shook. In the years between 1860 and 1880 quite a business was carried on at different places in the county making "shook", that is the material for barrels, put up in bundles.


     Red oak was cut up into blocks of the proper length, then split into staves three-fourths inch thick and hauled to the shook shop.


     Here the staves were shaved by hand and cut with wide middle and tapering ends to allow for the bulge of the barrel. Then the staves were cut with howel at ends and made true, were set up and heated by fire made inside of the barrel form, and staves were bent into proper shape, temporary iron hoops being driven on and the "chine" was cut with a "croze". After the staves were thus shaved, cut and bent, they were numbered, the barrel was taken down and the bundle of staves for each barrel was fastened together with a white oak hoop at each end, the ends of each hoop being hooked together. Then the bundles were hauled to the railroad. Many of them were shipped to Cuba to make barrels to hold molasses and rum. There were shook shops in Luthersburg, Rockton, Lumber City, Grampian, Curwensville and other towns in the county.


     Making Things at Home. The early people of the county did their own manufacturing right at home. Nearly every farmer had a workshop, and in this he made nearly all the articles he needed.


     Thomas Kirk, Sr. made the first threshing machine in the county and it was used for many years. Jason Kirk, his son, could make all kinds of tools and not only did so, but taught his sons to make a sled, wagon, spinning wheel,turning lathe, nail, mill, house, or to put a spring in a lock.


     William Wall learned how to make shoes by tearing up an old shoe to see how it was put together.

 

 

 

 

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     Women learned to take the wool off the sheep's back, card and spin it into yarn, weave the yarn into cloth and fashion clothes from it for the family, even dyeing the cloth with vegetable coloring matter.


     Slate pencils for children were cut out of the slate rock, and ink, in which to dip their quill pens was made from berry juice.


     Every boy learned to whittle and to work in wood more or less and ingenuity in making things was highly thought of.


     Girls too, learned to make much of little, so must fashion their clothes neatly from the material at hand, and be able to cook an appetizing dinner with common victuals, making up in skill what they lacked in material.

 

 

 

 

188

 

RAFTS TIED UP AT CLEARFIELD
Matthew Scouten Ogden Barn in Extreme Left Background. Taken about 1888.

 

 

 

   

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