In its primitive state, Paulding County had been a big swamp covered with forests of hardwood trees, mostly oaks, walnut and hickory and the original inhabitants, after the Indians, had moved in to clear the land and drain the swamps. This part of Ohio is very flat and once the trees were removed, the black muck soil made excellent cropland. Often the trees were merely cut down, hauled into a pile and burned but in the 1880ies and 1890ies men with capital exploited the trees for lumber and for making barrels. Cardboard boxes had not yet been developed and nearly everything was shipped in either barrels or sacks. Trees for making barrel staves and hoops were gone by the time I came on the scene and the stave mills and hoop mills went with them. The old saw mill at the south end of Williams Street still ran intermittently, however, and the logs piled up near it waiting for enough to accumulate to make it worthwhile to start the mill were one of our favorite spots for playing tag and other games. When the mill was not in operation we would go inside and play on the machinery. Power for the saws was supplied by a steam engine, the scrap wood being used to heat the boiler. One of our hiding places was inside the firebox. By the time I finished high school the mill had been abandoned and the machinery left to rust away. In the early days logs had been cut back in the woods during the winter and skidded on the snow down to the creek to await the spring thaw when the creek would rise and carry them down stream to the millpond next to the saw mill. By 1900, however, individual farmers brought in their logs on wagons pulled by a team of horses. The creek made a bend at the point where the pond had been built and had gouged out a deep spot which all of the boys in town used as a swimming hole. That is where all of us learned to swim--after a fashion. We didn't wear any bathing suits; I didn't even know there were such things. There was no place where a girl could learn to swim.
Last modified on 17 May 2009 @ 14:53