As settlers moved from the coast and started farming, log cabins gave way to homes in western Pennsylvania. Trees were felled for farm fields and logs hauled to sawmills. In 1888, Grandpa started a sawmill in Atlantic, Pennsylvania. He turned logs into timber, planks, boards, siding, flooring, and shingles. A steam engine, fired with sawdust and slabs, powered his mill. It was tricky feeding in the sawdust without putting out the fire.
Just before the sawmill ceased operation in 1919, Dad took me, a six or seven year old, to visit Grandpa. I remember him as a short, thin man with a mustache and goatee. Someone needed a log sawed into timber. We went to the mill and fired the steam boiler to the proper pressure. Dad asked me to open the valve to start the engine. It looked very scary but, with Dad's help, the valve was opened and the flywheel began to roll. The steam governor rotated with the large flyballs settling into position to control the speed of the engine, like speed controls on today's cars. By moving the belt from "idle" to "run", Grandpa advanced the log into the shirring saw. The mill with all the belts and pulley shafts that powered the various saws was mighty impressive to a "little squirt". Grandpa lost two or three fingers during his work at the sawmill since quards were not used in those days. He lost one of his fingers as he explained to a friend how another finger had been cut off by the saw!
When Grandpa's orchard of apple and pear trees needed pruning, Dad and I did so under his guidance. He showed us how to graft a scion onto a limb using sharp tools, wax and tape. Grandpa also selected the insecticide for the winter spraying and one dry, windless day my Uncle Clark came over with a horse, wagon and spray system. Uncle Clark pumped, pressurizing the system, and Dad used the spray gun to spray the trees. I tried to help Uncle Clark, but I was too small to do much.
At downtown Atlantic, a block or two away, was the General Store. It had a potbelly stove, pickle barrel, empty kegs for seats, and shelves and tables for dry goods, grocery and hardward items. Occasionally Dad and I walked over to buy something needed at Grandpa's home and get the latest news.
During his youth, Grandpa studied penmanship in a log cabin in Geneva, Ohio under the tuelage of P. R. Spencer, founder of the Spencerian System of Writing. Later Grandpa taught this system of writing. The fine quality of his penmanship is evident in his 1914 autograph in Dad and Mom's genealogy book. This booklet traces the decendants of two free men, Thomas Thayer and Richard Thayer, who came from Braintree, Essex County. It is known that Augustine Thayer of Thaydom, Essex near London, England, had a coat of arms conferred upon him.
Grandpa enjoyed a pipe after dinner and regularly he and his brother left their pipes and tobacco on the entryway bench. Two of the younsters, my uncles, "fixed" the clay pipes. While the elders were finishing their dinner, the kids put some tobacco in the pipes, added a bit of gunpowder, then filled the pipes with more tobacco. Grandpa and his brother came by, picked up their pipes and were pleased to see that the pipes were already to light. While the men were sitting in their chairs, peacefully puffing away, one of the pipes "exploded" causing the men to wonder until the other pipe also "popped". Oh, Oh, those Katzenjammer kids again!
Next - - - 2. Silica
3. Oil City
4. Boat Trip
5. Chris's Home
6. Hubbard Lake
7. Hunting and Fishing
8. Our Farm
10. The Depression and the 30's
11. Michigan State University
13. Our Home
16. The Tropics
17. With The Kids
18. It Is Written