Lamar County Kin
By: Barbara Woolbright Carruth
Appeared in The Lamar Leader September 22, 1999
The log on the wagon is over 5 ft. in diameter and 12 ft.long
In the early days of Sulligent, Kentucky Lumber Company was the main industry. Lots of large timber surrounded the town and timber workers or lumberjacks were everywhere. My father, Jack Woolbright was one of those lumberjacks, and in an interview by the Commerical Dispatch in the 1970s he shared some of his experiences about logging in the area near Sulligent.
"When we came here with Kentucky Lumber Company and went down in this, Buttahatchie River, bottom, we logged with an eight wheel wagon and old iron tire wagon, with about 6 inch tires on it, eight wheels 'n' five mules. Some of the logs we hauled out of there were just nearly as thick through as I am tall. We hauled some logs that cut two thousand feet to the cut in them. There was a lot of red gum in there, 'n' they were bigger." Jack Woolbright was asked about the biggest tree he had ever cut. " Me and Ed Kitrell once hauled a cypress out of this bottom down here that had five sixteen foot cuts on it," he said. "That tree had five thousand and some (board) feet in it. It was about six foot through at the butt. They had to weld two cross cut saws together to cut it down with. Most of those saws was about six to six and 1/2 foot long to begin with. They had about four men on the saw and it took seven head of mules to handle the logs. We had to use a block and line to get the butt cut on the wagon with. It was an eight wheel wagon. Most folks don't know nothing about a double block now, but that's what we used, a double block. Thing was, that it would triple your power. And the ground was about as dry as it is now and we mired down with that cut on the wagon about three times before we got a quarter of a mile with it to the landing. We carried it ourselves to the railroad and dropped it off on the track there. Had to tie it to a tree to keep from turning the car over that they loaded it on."
Jack Woolbright sat in the chair on his porch and grinned, shaking his head.
"There was so many things happened when I was logging. I don't remember most of 'em," He continued. "We handled a whole lot of stuff, and there ain't much to tell about it, other than just a whole lot of hard work to it. Now in this day and time, when you log, they take most of the manual labor out of it. But, that was about all you had back then, manual labor and a mule". He was asked about cutting logs for use as ship masts, and how long they had to be. "Well they'd take it in different lengths," he said. "But most of it was short lengths.
"Most of what they cut down here in the pine was what they called dense pine. Real fine grain pine, you know. But what we called buttermilk, they wouldn't have it. Then you couldn't give it away, much less sell it. But most that Kentucky Lumber Company dealt with, their biggest sale was this red gum, and what they called 'figgered' gum, y'know. There was a lot of trees anywhere from three and a half to five foot through. When they cut it off into a plank, it'd have different designs on it, just like something had been painted there or stamped there on it. That was the thing they mostly went for, I don't know what they sold that for, but we cut a bunch of it, that and red gum. Red gum back then was about the only kind of gum that would sell. Sap gum, where it didn't have the heart, wouldn't sell.
We logged the bottom for them for several years, we stayed with Kentucky Lumber Company until they got done and they quit. Then we scattered out, and got on our own."
In 1921, W. E. Delaney of Lexington, Kentucky was in Sulligent looking over his Kentucky Lumber Company holdings.
When Kentucky Lumber Company left town, the town fathers joined together and the crisis was overcome. The lumber company was replaced with a planing mill and oil mill by W. W. Ogden. The farmers turned to agriculture, growing cotton and corn. The town prospered without the lumber company with the leadership of some very fine people. My relatives that visit me from other states often tell me "Barbara you are living the good life here!" I must agree, I cant imagine living any place but here in Lamar County!
Queries of the Week:
Searching for a picture made in Sulligent, AL. This picture was made in the 1940s in a small cafe owned and operated by the late Babe and Myrtle Nix. There were only four people in the cafe when this picture was made. Babe was standing at the grill that he fried burgers on. His wife Myrtle was standing by a stack of wood crates that contained the cold drinks. Lloyd Sizemore an employee was standing near the coal burning heater and a male customer was sitting at a table. I had one of these pictures but got it misplaced and never did find it. If I can hear from someone that has this picture, I would appreciate it very much if I could borrow it and have a reprint made. I will assure you that I will mail it back to you unharmed.
Care Center, Vernon, AL, phone 695 6803
Looking for a picture of the callaboose that was located across the railroad tracks near where Ogden Management is today. For those of you that dont know, the callaboose was the local jail.
Searching for history of Union Ridge Church also known as Coon Heaven. If you have any information that will help in writing the history of the church, we need you.
If you have any information on the above queries contact me at 205 698 9427;
P. O. Box 579, Sulligent, AL 35586 or email coco @ fayette.net. If you have enjoyed this column and would like to see it continued, you should contact the Lamar Leader at 205 698 8148 and tell them. This could be the last week that I write, so I want to tell you thanks for your encouragement, your comments, and information that you have given me. Check Lamar County Kin website htttp://www.fayette.net/carruth/lamar.html or MS Bs Place http://www.fayette.net/carruth/