Thursday, February 22, 2007

Eli Riffle, Blacksmith On Clover Fork

Eli Riffle was a blacksmith and a man with an eye to the future. We've had two stories handed down to us about Eli and his love affair with the gas powered engine.
1. The first is from the Bard of Buzzardtown, Uncle Zeke. He wrote the following:

Bill Dolan told
Reuben Blake
that Jack Sam told him
that Alva Barnett said
that he heard Dick Skinner say
that he overheard Russ Riffle
tell Luther Conrad
that Eli Riffle
was goin’ to
put wings to his cane mill.

And Jim Skinner said
that “Mooch” Riffle told him
that Tom Wymer said
that he heard Jack Skinner
tell “Chub” Kidd
that Bunk Blake said
that it was all a lie,
that Eli was goin’to run his molasses makin’ machine this year with gas.

For more of Uncle Zeke see Oct '06 entry Uncle Zeke From Buzzard Town

2. In the second, Dale Barnett tells us that Eli and his brother-in-law, the wheelwright Charlie Blake went into business together. They set up a small gristmill. They bought a set of used burrs and used an Overland auto for power. Eli told Charley “We are rich!” but Charlie said, “No we are just well to do”

At the top are two examples of cane mills borrowed from the internet. When the sorghum canes are fed between the rollers the juice that is forced out flows into a trough below. The juice is then evaporated and sugar crystalizes leaving sorhum syrup or molasses.

Below is an example of a burr stone, again, borrowed from the internet. This one has a 12 inch diameter. It's easy to see how a blacksmith could hook the rod in the stone to the back axel of an old car and make it spin!

1. Eli Riffle was the son of Jacob Isaac Jr. and Matilda (Conrad) Riffle, born in 1875. He married Esta Ann Blake about 1899, they had 11 kids and when he died in 1953 he was buried at the Clover Fork Cemetery.

Note: More about sorhgum on the farm from March '07 Flukey Posey – Baritone, Sheep Shearer & More: "Flukey and Mina Posey on the Road Run . . . always raised a crop of sorghum. After the sorghum was harvested, the heads of the canes would be dried in the loft of the barn and would be used to feed the poultry crops. Wesley recalls that the flocks of birds loved the seed from the cane heads."

comment 1: Donna Gloff
Eli Riffle wasn't the only one looking to the new technology with a creative eye. David Parmer tells us "Dr. Trimble was also an inventor of sorts, having invented a tool to remove clincher tires from clincher rims on early automobiles. This invention became obsolete with the invention of the balloon tires for automobiles."
To the right is Stanton Trimble posing with his invention.

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