Saturday, February 17, 2007

Childhood in Orlando: Early Remembrances of Hauling Lumber

by Tom Jeffries

The first home that I can remember growing up in Orlando was a small house that stood on the hill above the Samantha Henline homeplace on the western side of Oil Creek The house belonged to my great uncle “Polar” Henline who had moved to Parkersburg.

I can remember the house having a coal stove in the living room and a gas heater in the dining room. Of course, the kitchen had a wood stove on which my mother cooked. Later, the wood stove was replaced by a gas stove bought at the Earse Posey sale. There was no heat in the bedrooms.

In the mid 1940s my father, Coleman Jeffries, bought a farm on Oil Creek from my great aunt Margaret Nixon. My dad also owned the land on which the old Rush Hotel building sat which was formerly the residence of Charlie Knight. I can remember going to the old hotel building after the flood of 1950 with my mother and my Aunt Opal (Jeffries) McCrobie to clean up the lower floors. There was about an inch of mud on the floors. It was quite a nasty job. I think I was more in the way than a help.

About 1951 my father decided to tear down the Rush Hotel building and salvage the building materials to build a new home on the Oil Creek farm which he had bought from his aunt Margaret Nixon. It was located about two miles up Oil Creek from Orlando. Of course, not only would the old hotel have to be torn down but also the building materials would have to be moved two miles to the new home site.
At the top is Tom Jeffries with his younger brother John.
Below that is the Rush Hotel.
To the right is the ford at the Semantha Henline homeplace where Oil Creek could be crossed by wagon. (Click of the photo of the Henline house to enlarge it.) See this house in the 1912 photo in an Oct '06 entry, Beham Henline's Funeral

My father did not own a truck but he did have a team of horses. He also owned a somewhat serviceable, but long obsolete, horse-drawn freight wagon. The wagon was much in need of repairs and, after a particularly difficult repair on the front axle the wagon, was ready to haul.

On many Saturday mornings, Dad, my brother John, aged six, and I, aged seven, loaded the bed of the wagon with 2x8s, 2x10s, and 2x12s salvaged from the demolition and started on the trip to the farm. I’m not sure how long the trip took in the slow moving wagon, but it seemed like an awfully long time to sit on the hard seat of the wagon. Dad wouldn’t let us walk if we got tired of sitting. He must have been afraid we would have been hit by a speeding car! As everyone will remember, the Oil Creek road was always in disrepair and hardly fit for automobiles.

The road which passed through our new farm from the Three Lick Bridge on toward Roanoke was just in the process of being built along the old B & O right of way. I recall being curious about all of the construction equipment and the earthmoving that was taking place.

In due time we would arrive at the farm, unload the lumber, allow the horses to feed and water, and return to Orlando. We would then eat lunch, load another stack of lumber, and repeat the trip. As I recall, we could make about two trips per day.

Dad often had trouble with wheels of the old freight wagon. The wheels tended to shrink in the summer heat allowing the steel tires to become loose on the wooden wheels. I remember on one trip about halfway to the farm one of the rear wheels came off. Dad had to unhook the horses, jack up the wagon, replace the tire and secure it to the wheel with wire. We made it to the farm moving very slowly. Before returning to Orlando, Dad allowed the wagon to soak its wheels in Oil Creek for a couple of hours to expand the wood. I can remember him doing this often. Sometimes he would roll the wagon into the deep water at the ford in front of the Henline house in Orlando and allow the wheels to soak overnight.

Above right is Coleman Jeffries with his horse team and June and Billy Nixon. Click on this photo to enlarge it.
To the left is a freight wagon.
Below right is Uncle Heater.

Another problem Dad encountered with the wagon was a loosening problem with the metal hub which fitted over the wooden part of the front axle. Normally a fitting like this is a shrink fit. In other words the metal is heated until it is red hot and then is driven onto the wooden axle. When cooled, it would shrink to a tight fit. However, on our wagon the wooden axle was worn and undersized so the normal remedy of a shrink fit would not work. My dad consulted his Uncle Heaterhuck Henline about the problem and as usual Uncle Heaterhuck had an answer. He told dad to soak burlap in tar and wrap the axle with the soaked burlap and then do the shrink fit process. It worked like a charm. Dad was very impressed with Uncle Heaterhuck’s common sense and mechanical knowledge.
See a Dec '06 entry, My Great-Uncle Heater Henline

After Dad bought a 1951 Chevrolet truck in 1954, and renewed his expired driver’s license, we could make many more trips a day. Still, the building activity went slowly. It was not until the fall of 1955 that we moved into our new home on Oil Creek. My father and mother lived in that small but comfortable home until 1993. Our family has many fond memories of growing up on the farm that we cherish to this day. The farm was sold and the house we built was torn down and replaced by a modern log home.

Above is the is that small but comfortable home on Oil Creek that Coleman Jeffries built.

As a side bar, the freight wagon used to haul the lumber up the Oil Creek Road was retired and stored in Uncle Homer Mitchell’s barn on Clover Fork. The wagon bed was stored under Uncle Homer’s grainery. When Uncle Homer died and his estate auction sale took place, Dad sold the wagon at the sale.

Comment 1
David Parmer was asked, "I didn't know Oil Creek could be forded anywhere in Orlando, certainly not downstream from downtown."
His response: "Yes, there was a ford in Oil Creek behind the Catholic Church which went to the south side of Oil Creek. There were deeper holes of water just above and just below the ford."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the picture of the homeplace! Samantha was my great great grandmother and I've heard so much about the place from my mother and grandmother. They told how some of the Henline uncles worked on the train and would wave when it went right by the house. Does anyone have a picture of the pool hall?

    One funny story my Mammaw told was about her cousin Coleman. She said he was afraid to cross Oil Creek at night, so if he came home late at night he'd yell for his mother to come help him across it. One night my Mammaw (Sophie) said she and a couple other family members decided to go down by the creek as he was coming home and put on sheets and go spook him into thinking they were ghosts!