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Mason County Memories

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James Miller worked for a while in the woods under Oliver Sproule, who formerly lived at Custer on the present Laskonis farm,he swamped there, cutting limbs from trees and making roads for the big wheels, Which carried the logs out to the railroads where they were loaded on flat ears and taken down to the river and stamped with the comppany stamp, and floated down the Pere Marquette river to the little lake (PerewMarquette), There they were sorted, put in boons, and then taken to the mills where they belonged.

In Ward's camp there was one big day to see which team could draw in the most logs. Fred Smith, later living around Custer, drew in the most logs with the big wheels.At night the eamp was lively with music, dancing (just men), and some eard playing. One there was a fire in the woodsj as the men were unable to stop it with the little equip-ment they had, they started a fire around the camp to save it from destruction. Later, Mr, Miller worked at Ward1 s North Mill,in Ludington, on the boom at night. He had to pull the logs close to the mill, and was paid 11,75 a day. This was very hard work when the winds were east and northeast, as the logs drifted out as fast as they could be pulled in.

George F, Woodard's first Job was corduroy road building across the swampy ground for the big wheels; then he worked in tan bark, where he had the job of ringing and slitting for the spudders. There were fire Indians in the group, two sawing, one limbing, and two spudders, Mr, Woodard's next job was rolling up and bunching logs for the big wheel, and when the first logs were bunched, Eddie Beggie, the bigwheel teamster, told the young greenhorn to get the canary. The other young fellow working with Woodard went and picked up a long iron with a hook on one end, which he shoved under the logs. The chain wae hooked on it and palled through. Mr. Woodard didn't tell then until a couple of weeks later how green ha had been, and the old hands enjoyed the joke hugely.

Later on, he had the job of tailing down and unloading tho big wheels. He couldn11 keep up with the Indian working with him, but he could unload) he would slip in between the horses and drop the neck yoke and drop the toggle hooks. Johnny Reed waa the top loader, and old Betsey was the old steam loader. Old Jim, the engineer, went wild one day when he was pulling then back to dump, the logs began to away, the logs began going over, and the track was torn up.

Woodard also remembers George Shunk setting steel tires on the big wheels, and a weight-lifting contest in the blacksmith shop, which ended with the cook lifting a bar no one else could. While he was in the swamp, two shipments of laborers came in from foreign portal Swedes, Norwegians, Germans, very few of whom spoke English,

There was one large tract of timber located one mile east and three-fourths mile north of Sugar Grove across from the Ernest Bookus place there must have been 200 acres, Just like a circus tent inside the woods. There the men could cut three or four saw logs before they hit a limb. This was finally let out to jobbers. W. Depeel out most of it, and George Genson 100 acres. Sam Genson took the job of cutting logs, and Warren Genson and Mr. Woodard also out logs.

In 1901, Woodard and his brother-in-law Jay Lyons piled on a big skidway 750 logs they cut on their place, they had hired William Thompson and his crew and portable mill to cut it.

The thing that stands out in the most in the memories of William Whitaker is that he brought in the largest log ever to come in on a wagon in this vicinity; it sealed between 1,100 and 1.200 feet of lumber, and was pulled in by four horses. Mr. Whitaker started hauling logs at 16, and at 21 wanted to learn more about logging. In the summer of 1907, he drove the tean on the big wheels, worked with fruit in the fall, and in the winter, hauled again. He had his own farm at 23" and at 2l worked in Cartier's camp by the Freeman school, the next fall taking the Job of cutting, skidding, and hauling three forties of timber around the South Victory cemetery.

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