TIE HACKERS TIE RAFTING AND THE RAILROAD CROSSTIE by jennyyingdi

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									Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 4

        TIE-HACKERS, TIE-RAFTING, AND THE RAILROAD CROSSTIE INDUSTRY
                           AT ARLINGTON AND JEROME




T
                                                                  by John F. Bradbury, Jr
        his is a look at the tie industry,   nies for their supply of crossties.
        once a vibrant part of Phelps          Until the widespread availability of
        County’s economy. Six inches by      portable sawmills about World War
eight inches and eight feet long, the        Two, nearly all the crossties were
railroad crosstie was nearly an article      hand-hewn (switch ties, up to sixteen
of currency over much of southern            feet long, were a different matter).
Missouri. The expanding railroad fron-       While there were many more-or-less
tier after the Civil War created an insa-    full time hewers, tie-hacking, as it was
tiable demand for ties. The North            called, was an auxiliary enterprise for
American railroad network reached its        most farm families. It was a significant
greatest extent in 1916 with about           source of income during the winter,
250,000 miles of track. Every mile           producing cash money for tax and
required nearly 2,500-3,500 crossties        planting seasons. Tie money also pro-
(as trains got heavier and faster, rail-     vided paying jobs for people with
roads found it cheaper to add more           mules or teams, and stakes for young
ties per mile rather than buy heavier        men looking to begin families of their
rail). In the days before preservation       own.
treatment, ties only lasted five to seven      Most merchants in the county stores
years, so track renewal as well as new       along the railroad bought crossties,
construction added to the burgeoning         and, taken as trade, ties settled many
market for crossties. During the hey-        an account for groceries and sundries.
day of the tie industry, Arlington and       They were but a small part of the trade
Jerome became the hub of the trade,          in country produce at
not only for Phelps County, but also         Knobview/Rosati, St. James, and Rolla,
much of Texas and Pulaski counties           but were the major component of the
due to the unique intersection of rivers     economy of Arlington and Jerome.
and rails. Hundreds of thousands of          Those river villages became the local
ties floated down the Big Piney and          hub of the tie industry because of their
Gasconade rivers to the landing at           advantageous location at the railroad
Jerome—the headquarters of a host of         crossing of the Gasconade River.
memorable characters including back-         Upstream, the Big Piney and Little
woods tie-rafters with the bark still on     Piney rivers flowed into the
them and savvy tie-buyers who made           Gasconade and funneled the ties of
fortunes. The landing at Jerome              much of Texas and Pulaski counties as
became so important to the local tie         well as Phelps County to the railroad
industry that it provoked some legal         crossing. Great rafts of ties came
buccaneering over ownership in a case        downriver guided by a tough breed of
that ultimately went to the Missouri         lumbermen who took to the rivers as
Supreme Court.                               easily as they took to the hills in search
   The tie industry in Phelps County         of good timber. There was no better
peaked about World War One.                  landing and tie yard on the upper
Afterwards it declined due to a num-         Gasconade than the one at Jerome,            Albert Emily hacking a tie with a broadaxe. U.S. Forest Service photograph
ber of factors. By then the North            where millions of ties from hundreds         Courtesy of Western Historical Manuscript Collection--Rolla.
American railroad system began to            of rafts were transferred to boxcars.
contract as marginal lines became              There were several components of           bankrupt by 1865. A group of investors     “grandmawed” by hackers from gov-
money-losers and were removed.               the industry: tie-hackers produced the       led by John Charles Fremont (seen last     ernment and railroad lands in the
Railroads increasingly employed              crossties in the woods; men who rafted       in Missouri as major general com-          Ozarks. Timber theft, in fact, was a
preservation treatments (one of the          or hauled ties to delivery points (some-     manding the state before Lincoln           corollary of the tie industry. In the
first was a zinc-tannin process dubbed       times the same individuals cut and           relieved him from command) pur-            Frisco railroad’s first annual report
“Burnettizing,”), so ties lasted longer      delivered the ties); loading crews,          chased the railroad in 1866 and fin-       (1877), land commissioner W. H. Coffin
(up to thirty years in some instances);      hired by the railroads or contractors to     ished the line to Arlington in 1867,       complained that the company’s lands
and in Phelps, Pulaski, and Texas            load crossties on railcars; and the local    whereupon that company also went           were being greatly damaged by tres-
counties, the best and most accessible       merchants, tie contractors, and inspec-      bankrupt. It was 1869 before yet a         passers who cut ties and floated them
timber had already been cut by two           tors on the business end of the indus-       third railroad company finished the        down the Gasconade, selling them to
generations of lumbermen and tie-            try.                                         bridge over the Gasconade River and        the Union Pacific and other western
makers. Finally, the Depression bank-                                                     built westward toward Springfield. It      roads. Coffin reported that the compa-
rupted many railroads and caused                       THE TIE-HACKERS                    was 1876 and another bankruptcy            ny’s reward of $50.00 for reporting ille-
most to defer maintenance. The                                                            before the “Frisco” (St. Louis and San     gal tie-hackers had resulted in a few
demand for ties fell accordingly, along        There seem to be no records avail-         Francisco Railway Company) was cre-        arrests, but timber trespass along the
with prices for them. World War Two          able that show it, but the tie industry      ated. By that time, surely, the crosstie   Frisco line remained a problem.
revived the markets for all types of         in Phelps County must have begun in          had become a major part of Phelps            The best trees were those about a
wood products, ties included, but it         1859 and 1860 as the South West              County’s economy, first for local use,     foot in diameter (larger size meant
was a different industry by then, with       Branch of the Pacific Railroad built         then increasingly for export.              more wood to be removed, and there
increasing mechanization, less hand          westward to Rolla, where construction          It didn’t take much capital expendi-     was no money in chips) and tall
work, and fewer laborers. Sawed ties         stalled until the end of the Civil War.      ture up front to go into the tie busi-     enough to yield two eight-foot ties
(more uniform in size) had replaced          The line was spared extensive damage         ness. In the earliest days the timber      without knots or defect. Site selection
hewed ties, and the railroads now            during the war, but like the other rail-     was free—given away by landowners          was important, especially when prices
dealt strictly with large timber compa-      roads in Missouri, it was worn out and       looking to have land cleared or            were low. Gathering up tools and mov-
                                                                                                                                         Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 5
ing from tree to tree wasted time, and      on the blades. Tie-hackers frequently
getting ties out of the woods to a mar-     worked in pairs to fell trees with the
ket was always a major consideration.       crosscut saw. It was not unheard of for
Pine and oak (white and red) were the       the woman of the family to take the
preferred species, but the railroads also   end of a crosscut saw opposite her
accepted “kindred” woods such as            husband. After a tree was felled, each
hickory, black oak, post oak, gum, and      hacker worked on his own tie, scoring
elm that had not had much marketable        down its length before removing the
value before the tie industry came          bark and chips, called “juggles.” In
along.                                      good timber, a tie-hacker could make
  The tools were few and commonly           ten hardwood or fifteen pine ties a day.
available: a crosscut saw, double-bitted    In later years when tie timber became
axe and broadaxe, files for keeping         valuable enough, the owner of the
edges keen, a measuring stick called a      trees got a portion of the proceeds. The
tie scantling, and a little coal oil to     general rule of thumb was one-half of
keep sap and resin from building up         the price of the tie to the hacker, anoth-



                                                                                         A family tie camp in the brush near Duke. ca. 1909. (l-r) Mandy Green, Edna
                                                                                         Ryno, Jess Green, Joe Green (seated), Nancy Jane Ryno Green, Claude Ryno.
                                                                                         Courtesy of Bill Ryno.
                                                                                         er quarter to the man who hauled the       Freeburg in 1904). Tie buyers couldn’t
                                                                                         tie to the tie yard (as much as half if    keep up with the escalating demand
                                                                                         the circumstances were particularly        for ties, and in peak times tie-hackers
                                                                                         difficult), and the last one-quarter to    could pick and choose between vari-
                                                                                         the owner of the timber.                   ous tracts and the types of timber they
                                                                                           There seems to have been a class of      wanted to work. The Rolla Herald car-
                                                                                         fulltime tie-makers along the Pineys       ried the advertisement calling for tie-
                                                                                         and Gasconade by the turn of the nine-     hackers and wood choppers at
                                                                                         teenth century. Good tie-hacks could       Arlington in March 1902 (possibly for
                                                                                         find work about anywhere in southern       Rock Island ties), and W. H. Ross at
                                                                                         Missouri in boom times, such as when       Duke advertised for fifty tie-hackers to
                                                                                         the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific         cut 4,000 acres of “good timber” along
                                                                                         built its line across Missouri (the Rock   the Piney in November 1910. Tie prices
Most tie-hacker camps were not as upscale as the one shown in this postcard
                                                                                         Island crossed the Gasconade at            were good enough to tempt a number
mailed Aug. 2, 1912. Courtesy of John Bradbury.




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Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 6
of Piney men to cross over into the                                                    Sylvester Pattie, Richard Sullens, Jacob    on the river in Texas County. Some of
Current River watershed in Shannon                                                     Truesdell, and William Walton. Many         the most prominent early citizens of
County in January 1912. Unfortunately,                                                 of them probably knew Daniel Boone          the region were engaged in the
their arrival coincided with a severe                                                  and his family back in Kentucky. If         sawmill business by then, including
cold spell, and the Duke correspondent                                                 they hadn’t become acquainted with          James Bates, John Fourt, and David
to the Herald noted that “they are hav-                                                the Boones earlier, they came to know       Lynch of Texas County; Adam, Isaac,
ing a cold time camping out.”                                                          his son, Daniel Morgan Boone, and           and William Bradford of Spring Creek,
  Depending on the tract, the canvas           Rolla Weeky Herald, Nov. 24, 1910       other Boone kin in the Missouri militia     and Samuel Harrison at the mouth of
and log huts were among the crudest                                                    companies from St. Charles during the       the Little Piney in Phelps County.
shelters seen on the landscape since        from the nearly-solid pine forest in the   War of 1812. They would also have           Addison Bates, James P. Bates,
prehistoric days, or could approach         Current and Black River regions to the     known another legendary frontier fig-       Solomon King, and Gabriel M. Pike
something like permanent quarters as        southeast. The soft, easily-worked pine    ure, Col. William H. Ashley, whose          were prominent lumbermen in the
shown in a postcard view of the time.       was especially desirable for dimen-        militia unit from Ste. Genevieve and        1830s and 1840s. Pike was said to have
However, no matter whether it was           sional lumber and finish carpentry at      Washington counties served along            made more than forty rafting trips to
full or part time, on the farm or in dis-   St. Louis, which quadrupled in size        with the St. Charles militia during the     St. Louis before the Civil War, guiding
tant timber, and in fair weather or foul,   from 1820 through 1840, as well as the     war. Many of these militiamen proba-        rafts of layered lumber in connected
tie-hacking was, as the saying went, “a     growing population centers on the          bly already had long experience devel-      squares (usually sixteen feet square). A
hard way to serve the Lord.”                Missouri River at St. Charles, the         oping frontier resources in the fur         trip took forty to eighty days, depend-
                                            Boonslick region, and, later, the town     trade, mining industry, sawmilling          ing on conditions, and the way back to
THE RAFTERS                                 of Hermann. Pine lumber was also           business, or learned from their militia     the Piney was on foot.
                                            much in demand after the devastating       comrades. The militia companies pro-          The first rafts of pine lumber proba-
  Rafters may be thought of as              St. Louis fire of 1849. The north-flow-    vided a cadre of tough, skilled fron-       bly floated down the river in the
amphibious lumbermen who both pro-          ing Big Piney River provided the           tiersmen with a good knowledge of the       spring of 1817. Place names on the Big
duced the product and transported it        means to get logs and lumber out of        Ozarks and a keen eye for natural           Piney and its tributaries between pres-
to market by water. Lumber rafting has      the interior Ozarks, and there were        resources.                                  ent-day Licking and Fort Leonard
an ancient history and was employed         abundant springs large enough to             When the war ended in 1815, the for-      Wood derive from this earliest
in North America as early as colonial       power vertical-blade sawmills.             mer militiamen had connections, capi-       sawmilling and rafting--at Paddy
times. Rafters in this area hailed most-      The first lumbermen to work in the       tal, and credit enough to begin             Creek (misnamed after Sylvester
ly from Texas and Pulaski counties,         forests of the interior Ozarks were men    exploitation of sites already identified.   Pattie), Boone Creek (after Daniel
where railroad ties made up the             in St. Louis, western St. Louis County,    They were perfectly positioned to           Morgan Boone and presumably near
newest facet of a much older lumber         and St. Charles who had come to            make the jump to the Big Piney River.       his sawmill in 1821), Bald Ridge Creek
industry on the Big Piney River.            Missouri from Kentucky during the          By the time Missouri became a state in      (misnamed after the Baldridge clan),
Lumbermen began felling trees along         Spanish colonial period. These frontier    1821, opening the floodgates to immi-       and Pike’s Defeat (an S-turn in the
the Piney in 1816, working in a neck of     entrepreneurs included Alexander and       gration, the lumber industry on the         river that caused no end of trouble to
shortleaf pine that extended into Texas     John Baldridge, Josiah H. Burkhart,        Piney was already several years old.        Gabe Pike’s rafts and still does to inex-
County (near what became Licking)           Thomas Cork, Archibald McDonald,           By the mid-1820s there were six mills       perienced canoeists today). When the




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                                                                                                                                      Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 7
tie industry began after the Civil War,    stern completed the raft. Rafters          1879, and suggested that the potential
rafting was already a well-established     steered the front of the raft with “set”   increase of that business was a signifi-
facet of the lumber trade and the Big      poles. Poling off the bottom was pre-      cant argument for improvements
Piney a well known avenue to mar-          ferred—pushing off of slippery rocks       (mostly removing snags) costing
kets. It is not known how large the        could have cold, wet consequences.         $50,000 at seventy-six points along the
rafts might have been in the earliest      The “snub” pole provided the raft’s        river.
days, but Adam Bradford brought            brakes. In peak times the riverbed was       Some money was spent on the lower
down an immense raft of 100,000 feet       said to have been scored along its         Gasconade, but rafters coming down
of lumber to Vienna in March 1881,         length with the scars of snub poles. A     to Arlington and Jerome dealt with the
and Kauffman & Oatley delivered a          good rafter in the best of conditions      “unimproved” rivers. Even in the best
raft of 75,000 feet to Arlington in June   could handle 300 ties alone (a raft 8      of circumstances, getting rafts down-
1883. James P. Bates, John A. Bell,        feet wide and perhaps 250 feet long),      river was a tough business. Other than
Kauffman & Oatley, Jim Thompson,           but the usual crew for longer rafts        kegs of nails, blankets, tents, and pro-
Robert Williams, and other Texas           seems to have been two or three men.       visions piled upon a scaffold to keep
County lumbermen floated rafts of          They communicated conditions and           them dry, there were no amenities on
pine lumber downriver to Spring            directions by hollering, and the shouts    the rafts for passengers. The men tied
Creek, Arlington, and Vienna as late as    of the rafters echoing down the valley     up at night, camping on the bank. If
the turn of the century. However, tie      let everyone know that a raft was on       they were within walking distance of
rafts increasingly dominated river traf-   its way.                                   homesites or near the country stores at
fic.                                         Navigation was always a tricky busi-     Dogtown, Edenville, Hazelton,
   Tie-rafters assembled rafts at the      ness, especially during high water, and    Newtown, Raftville, Slabtown, and
river bank after the ties were hauled to   the brakes didn’t always work. In fact,    Duke, the rafters might negotiate for a
the bank with wagons and teams, or         the first known reference to tie-rafting   meal or fresh provisions. Otherwise it
tumbled down bluffs at tie “slides.”       in Phelps County newspapers is in the      was bacon and cornmeal and whatever
Several slides along the river are iden-   May 27, 1872 Rolla Weekly Herald—a         the river provided. They preferred gig-
tified on the “Tourist” maps of Phelps,    report a runaway raft had damaged          ging or trot lines from the rafts, but
Pulaski, and Texas counties published      the railroad bridge at Jerome and          were the acknowledged local experts
in the 1930s. Rafters arranged the ties    delayed trains. No doubt words were        on river and fishing conditions when
crosswise against the river’s current      exchanged between railroaders and          the first sportsmen came to fish the Big
and nailed binders along the edges of      rafters during that episode. The tie       Piney and Gasconade. Urban sports
the ties to form blocks of about 50-100    industry generated enough river traffic    learned they could hitch rides on rafts,
ties. The blocks were fastened together    by 1880 that there was interest in         too, but the St. Louis Globe Democrat’s    The rafting of plank lumber may have
with oak saplings or vines, leaving        “improving” the Gasconade for navi-        “Rod & Gun” correspondent advised          started as early as 1816 on the Big
enough space between them for the          gation. A government engineer esti-        anglers taking this route that they had    Piney River. Tie-rafting was over by
rafts to curve or “snake” around           mated that 80,000 ties had been rafted     better be prepared to swim at any          the time this postcard was mailed on
bends. Smaller blocks at the bow and       to various points along the railroad in    time. The rafters had to be part-          July 30, 1930. Courtesy of John
                                                                                                                                 Bradbury.




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Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 8
                                                                                         tinue downstream.                           as well.
                                                                                           High water caused the biggest prob-         Rafting went on year round despite
                                                                                         lems, not only in navigation (as in the     seasonal hazards. Low water and
                                                                                         railroad incident at Jerome), but also to   quick winter freezes also caused diffi-
                                                                                         rafts tied up along the banks. The Rolla    culties beyond personal discomforts,
                                                                                         New Era reported in August 1876 the         such as the raft of 25,000 feet of lumber
                                                                                         misfortune of Texas County lumber-          that grounded and froze up on the Big
                                                                                         man H. W. Williams, who lost 20,000         Piney at Joe Ousley’s in January 1892.
                                                                                         board feet of lumber tied up at             Despite the difficulties, rafts got longer
                                                                                         Arlington to an unexpected freshet. A       and longer. The Rolla Herald reported
                                                                                         springtime flood in 1878 (said to have      on December 25, 1890 that E. L. Taylor
                                                                                         been the biggest since 1844) cost a doc-    and Lem Stuart had run 513 ties in one
                                                                                         tor named Roach a large raft of logs        strand from Ross’s Bluff near Duke to
                                                                                         when it could not be stopped at             Arlington. It was the largest tie raft in
                                                                                         Arlington, and tie rafters lost 600 ties    the Big Piney’s record at that point and
                                                                                         in the same flood. To assist in rafting     set a new standard. Later, rafts of a
                                                                                         logs and gathering stray ties after         thousand ties or more floated down
                                                                                         breakups, F. H. Brinkerhoff &               the Big Piney, and they were common
                                                                                         Company, lumbermen from Logan,              on the larger Gasconade.
Big Piney rafters John Wesley Wilson, Henry Kohanski, and Robert Wilson, ca.             Missouri, who had leased the old              Rafting on the Little Piney began
1900. Western Historical Manuscripts Collection—Rolla.                                   Rombauer sawmill at Jerome, built in        shortly thereafter, when James Henson
amphibian in any case--photographs         obstructions sank under the weight of         November 1879 a homemade steam              and his sons John, James Jr., and Ben,
show their feet mostly awash at all        the ties, forming dangerous jams. The         tug that drew only eight inches of          along with Frank “Pipe” Huskey,
times.                                     more water-logged the ties became, the        water and made ten miles an hour.           began nailing together rafts at Yancey
  Large rafts could be “doubled” (bro-     more likely the rafters would have to         (The steam tug experiment may not           Mill. Because of the narrowness of the
ken into two pieces) past bad bends or     fasten dry sycamore “floaters” to buoy        have worked, for it was never men-          stream, they nailed the ties together
obstructions, but they broke up fre-       the rafts. Shoals also broke up rafts,        tioned again.) Even men with lengthy        lengthwise with the current. They took
quently enough anyway at Pike’s            scattering ties and lumber all the way        experience could be caught off guard.       the first raft of thirty-eight down to
Defeat on the Big Piney, and Table         down the Piney and Gasconade to               The Rolla Standard reported in April        Newburg in 1909, riding back home on
Rock and Thox Rock on the                  Herman. Breakups caused consider-             1898 that John Pillman at Spring Creek      the mail hack. Later, they took rafts of
Gasconade. Devils Elbow on the Piney       able loss to the rafters, who assumed         had lost quite a number of ties waiting     200 or more ties down the Little Piney
may have also been named during            responsibility for their rafts until deliv-   to be rafted to Arlington. The same         (as many as 1,000, it is claimed). The
rafting days, too, but John Whitaker,      ery. In such instances, rafters had no        freshet broke up several rafts already      last raft from Yancey went down-
one of the last of the old-time rafters,   other alternative but to gather and nail      on the river and was altogether a cost-     stream in 1927. Rafts also went down
claimed the Elbow never caused any         up whatever was left of rafts (provided       ly event. John and Fred Pillman lost        Spring Creek in 1919, contracted to the
problems. Rafts piling up against          the nails could be salvaged) and con-         several thousand ties to floods in 1909     Pillman Brothers.




                            1/4 page Mark Prugh
                            Attorner                                                                         1/4 page Eircil’s Jewelry
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  Rafters were well-known from
Licking to Arlington. Among the better
known were Perry and Tilden Andres,
James P. Bates, Taylor Ballew, Dave,
John, and Nathaniel Borders, George
Bray, Jim, John, Frank, and Nathan
“One Lick” Henson, Ike Heflin, John
and Jim King, George Lane, Alzie and
William Loughridge, Perry McCowan,
George Pape, Mart Riden, D. L. Stuart,
Jim and Andy Thompson, and Zina
Watts (the brother of Rev. John J.
Watts).
  As might be expected from their
arduous craft, rafters had a reputation
for being among the toughest and row-
diest characters in the region. George
Bohannon, the only man hanged in
Phelps County (for the murder of
William Light in 1881) had been a
sometime tie-rafter on the Gasconade.
As in Bohannon’s case, alcohol was
frequently involved in their exploits,
and a rafter full of cheap whiskey was
probably a man to be avoided. Thirst
for alcohol caused the deaths of three
                                                 We can only guess at the reason for this picture. Occasion and location unknown. Courtesy of John Bradbury.
Big Piney rafters in October 1913 after
they obtained several gallons of wood     in Reynolds County, Missouri, Borders      dental dynamite explosion in 1898 and       low rafter Ike Heflin in Texas County,
alcohol by express at Rolla. The poi-     had worked in mines, sawmills, and in      frequently liquored up, Stub was a          and afterwards had minor skirmishes
sonous drink killed John Jackson, T. J.   the timber before coming to the Big        memorable sight up and down the             with the law for assault and carrying a
Jackson, and George Nash near             Piney, where his brothers were also tie-   rivers. Despite the loss of his arm,        concealed weapon. He continued raft-
Hazelton in Texas County, and the         hackers and rafters. He lived succes-      Borders continued to raft ties and for a    ing for the Pillman Brothers, Hobart-
Rolla Times reported that others were     sively in Texas County, on Bald Ridge      time operated a floating saloon at          Lee, and Abeles & Taussig, and was
deathly ill.                              Creek in Pulaski County, and at Jerome     Jerome that was well patronized by          aboard some of the last rafts brought
  Nathaniel W. “Stub” Borders is the      in Phelps County. Missing his right        rafters. He did a stretch in the state      to Jerome in the 1920s.
best known of the rafters. Born in 1873   arm, left eye, and a toe from an acci-     penitentiary (1917-1923) for killing fel-     Borders was the central character in




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                                                                                         cars. A crew of five could load 300 ties    (later Hobart-Lee) out of Springfield,
                                                                                         each in three cars per day, and 400 per     which handled most of the Frisco rail-
                                                                                         day per carrier was considered the          road’s business. In January 1890,
                                                                                         maximum. It took crews about six            Booker H. Rucker became tie-buyer
                                                                                         hours to complete a shift. Loaders          and resident manager for Hobart-Lee
                                                                                         found work wherever ties accumulat-         at Arlington and Jerome. A Boone
                                                                                         ed, but there was nearly always work        County native, Rucker first came to the
                                                                                         at Jerome. Steuben Plake kept twenty        river in February 1889, when his father
                                                                                         men busy for most of 1901 on a con-         John F. Rucker took a contract to float
                                                                                         tract for L. F. Pillman, and by 1915        ties to Hammett & Morrison’s tie yards
                                                                                         supervised the loading of 100,000 ties      at Gasconade City. They had estab-
                                                                                         worth $40,000 at Jerome for the             lished camp at Dogtown on the Big
                                                                                         Hobart-Lee Tie Company. Bound for           Piney when the elder Rucker died of
                                                                                         the Chicago & Alton Railway, the vast       malaria in August 1889, leaving 21-
                                                                                         number of ties eventually filled 250        year-old B. H. to complete the contract.
                                                                                         cars. Through World War One crews           The slight young man, a former mili-
                                                                                         split two or three cents per tie. By        tary academy student and a teetotaler,
                                                                                         World War Two, it was up to ten cents.      no less, impressed hard-bitten rafters
                                                                                         It was good cash money if a person          of Texas County by floating his horse
                                                                                         didn’t weaken.                              on a raft three miles to Slabtown, and
                                                                                            It was on this end of the tie business   later ran a raft of 1,200 ties 107 miles to
                                                                                         that Louis F. Pillman made his fortune.     the mouth of the Gasconade. One of
Loading ties at the tie yard in St. Clair. Courtesy of the St. Clair Historical          In 1883, Pillman moved his mercantile       his greatest exploits came when he and
Museum.                                                                                  operations from Spring Creek to the         George Pape jumped from the Frisco
Clint Arthur’s Backwoodsmen, pub-            example, shipped 40,000 ties from           mouth of the Little Piney, where he         bridge at Arlington onto a runaway
lished in 1940. Arthur cast Borders as a     points between Rolla and Dixon in           resided first in Samuel Harrison’s old      raft that had broken loose unattended
Gasconade-variety Mike Fink,                 1887. The Frisco and Rock Island were       cabin before having a house built in        in high water. They managed to throw
although Stub and the other rowdy            the biggest buyers at Jerome, but the       Arlington proper. His son, John, stayed     a cable around a sycamore as they
rafters he described seem more half-         Chicago & Alton, the Burlington lines,      behind to buy and forward Big Piney         floated past, but when the raft pulled
cottonmouth or copperhead than half-         and other railroads also bought thou-       ties to Jerome. By 1890, Pillman con-       the rope taut, the tree toppled over,
alligator. Like Bill Wilson, the hero in     sands of crossties. The Pillman enter-      trolled most of the river trade in ties,    shivering the raft and dunking Pape
Arthur’s other book, Bushwhacker             prise was by far the largest local tie      and owned “Pride of the West,” one of       and Rucker. Pape didn’t swim, but
(1938), Stub and the rafters were relics     operation and was rivaled only by out-      the earliest gasoline-powered boats (it     Rucker managed to get him ashore
of better times and better men to            fits such as the Hobart-Lee Tie Co. out     may have been the first) on the upper       although he lost his watch and money.
Arthur’s way of thinking, even if they       of Springfield and the Abeles &             Gasconade. Described as “a marvel of           There does not seem to have been
were prone to drink, gamble, fight,          Taussig Tie Co. of St. Louis. First grade   speed” at a mile and a half an hour         any love lost between Pillman and
and, occasionally, kill one another. In      ties brought thirty-two cents each at       against the current, Pillman used the       Rucker. They were in direct competi-
1939, Arthur brought the old-time            Arlington and Jerome in 1906, but           launch to recover sunken ties and for       tion for ties on the Big Piney and there
rafter to Rolla to meet Clair and Bonita     prices skyrocketed to $1.25 during          fishing excursions with his pals. He        had been disputes over the use of the
Mann of the Phelps County Historical         World War One.                              expanded his mercantile interests to        tie yard at Jerome. The simplest solu-
Society. “Nat” Borders was on his best          Inspectors at riverside and trackside    Phillipsburg, Buffalo, and Bolivar          tion for Hobart-Lee was to buy out
behavior that day, for he wanted Dr.         yards measured ties for size and            thereafter and leased most of his hold-     Pillman’s tie business and install
Mann to transcribe and score the “Tie        checked them for defect. Ties with          ings at Arlington. He may have had to       Rucker as resident manager at Jerome
Rafter’s Song”—Borders’ own compo-           knotholes or rot fetched lower prices,      retrench at Arlington due to the finan-     in 1892. Until 1898, when Pillman
sition. Mann called it a “weird kind of      or might not be marketable at all           cial panic of 1893, but resumed the tie     resumed the tie business and became
a thing” and Bonita thought it sound-        depending upon what the railroads           business in 1898. In any case, Pillman      Hobart-Lee’s representative, Rucker
ed like “Indian or South African jungle      were buying at the time. There was          was said to be the richest man in           was the boss tie man at Jerome.
music,” but they managed to record it        constant rivalry between tie-hackers,       Phelps County at his death in 1903.            The money to be made in the tie
after Borders sang to them for over an       tie contractors, and railroad buyers        His sons Fred and John took over the        trade at Arlington and Jerome eventu-
hour. Apparently, Borders also regaled       and inspectors. Some inspectors such        tie business thereafter.                    ally got so lucrative that it drew the
the Manns with a windy tale or two of        as Frank Graham and Steuben Plake at           Pillman’s only significant competitor    interest of another lumber company
brawls and breakups, about which the         Jerome were recognized as honest and        was the John L. Lee Tie Company             and sparked a legal battle over posses-
abstemious local historians didn’t have      fair. Plake may also have been favored
much to say. Whatever their artistic         for his wife’s restaurant that catered to
merits, Stub’s song and his tales            rafters (he had married Joseph
recounted in Arthur’s Backwoodsmen           Loughridge’s daughter). Other inspec-
represent the best folk compositions         tors were not so sympathetic to the
specifically dealing with tie-rafting and    hard-working tie-hacker, and took
the rowdy rafters on the Big Piney and       every opportunity to grade (and buy)
upper Gasconade.                             ties low. On the other hand, every tie-
                                             hacker knew how to whittle plugs to
     THE TIE YARD AT JEROME                  disguise knotholes, and the tendency
                                             for one man’s ties to migrate to anoth-
  Tie-hackers and rafters got paid on        er man’s pile (ties look about the same)
delivery at the yard. Rafters could sell     led to a system of identification marks
rafts to businessmen including Louis F.      stamped on each tie.
Pillman and his sons, John and Fred             When the yards were full, crews
Pillman (doing business at Spring            loaded ties by hand (actually by shoul-
Creek and Arlington), J. H. Freeman at       der) onto railroad cars—300-400 ties
Newburg, and the Schneider Brothers          each depending on the length and
Tie & Timber Co. at St. James. Railroad      capacity of the car. Ideally, ties were
buyers also canvassed the neighbor-          stacked slightly higher than the railcar
hoods for ties, bought them from coun-       floor so they could be carried “down-
try merchants, or purchased them as          hill.” Loading crews consisted of a
they accumulated in tie yards. Rock          “header” who upended the ties and
                                                                                               Hauling ties at St. Clair. Courtesy of the St. Clair Historical Museum
Island tie buyer M. S. Mercereau, for        “carriers” who loaded them into the
                                                                                                                                    Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 11
sion of the tie yard in Jerome. In those                                                                                        County in 1909 over use of the landing
days the tracks ran northward after             RED OAK TIES WANTED.                                                            and to prevent his company from
crossing the Gasconade. The railroad                                                                                            erecting a tie hoist on the river. The
right-of-way ran parallel to the river       We have arranged to commence                                                       suit was actually between the Pillman
and the lower edge of the town of                                                                                               Brothers and Abeles & Taussig over
Jerome, leaving strips of land on either                                                                                        control of the tie trade at Jerome.
side of the tracks for a quarter-mile or                                                                                          Somehow Robert Abeles found out
                                           buying ties made of Pine, Red Oak,
so with room for dozens of ranks of                                                                                             about the questionable ownership of
ties. The riverbank is low on the          Black Oak and kindred woods, in ad-                                                  the landing at Jerome—one wonders if
Jerome side, with an easy grade up                                                                                              B. H. Rucker didn’t tip him to it—and
from the landing. The combination of       dition to our White, Post and Burr                                                   dredged up William F. Greeley, the ex-
terrain and railroad access made the                                                                                            U. S. Army officer who originally plat-
site at Jerome the best landing for ties   Oak tie business. For full particu-                                                  ted the town of Jerome in 1867.
from the upper Big Piney to Gascondy                                                                                            Greeley was a shady character who left
near Freeburg on the Gasconade River.                                                                                           Jerome in 1869 after selling a few lots
  John Imboden of Dixon is the first                                                                                            and giving up the rest of his holdings.
                                           lars write or apply to
known to have used the Jerome land-                                                                                             He next went into business in
ing to draw ties from the river and          Crocker Mercantile Co. Crocker, Mo.                                                Marshfield, where he was indicted but
yard them alongside the tracks prior to                                                                                         acquitted of insurance arson in 1876 or
shipment. He was followed by another         C. C. Vickers, Swedeborg, Mo.                                                      1877. There was a twenty-year period
tie man named Musgrove (or                                                                                                      during which his whereabouts are
Musgrave), who sold out to Louis             M. O. Mitchell, Hancock, “                                                         unknown (a penitentiary somewhere
Pillman in 1883. Rafters apparently                                                                                             seems possible), but Robert Abeles
had used the landing at Jerome freely,         Reproduction of an advertisement in the Crocker News, January 13, 1907.          found him in Boston in March 1910
but Pillman began to tell people vari-                                                                                          and got a quit-claim deed from him for
                                           blocked Main Street and access to the      however, that Louis Pillman had never
ously that he owned or leased the                                                                                               whatever interest Greeley might still
                                           Jerome depot.                              recorded the land in question or paid
property and started refusing access to                                                                                         have had to the tie landing in Jerome.
                                             No one challenged Pillman’s posses-      taxes on it, and title was not recorded
the tie yard from the river. He’d run                                                                                           Moreover, Greeley made an affidavit
                                           sion of the landing or tie yard at         until 1908 by virtue of a purported
off B. H. Rucker, Perry Andres, John                                                                                            that he had not been in Missouri since
                                           Jerome while he lived. After his death     deed made in 1903 that turned myste-
Rowland, and other tie contractors,                                                                                             the 1880s and declared Pillman’s deed,
                                           in 1903, his sons (doing business as the   riously up in the hands of Pillman’s
and limited use of the landing to his                                                                                           purportedly made out by Greeley in
                                           Pillman Brothers Tie Company) took         attorney and executor, J. J. Crites of
own ties and those he contracted to                                                                                             St. Louis and notarized in 1903, a for-
                                           over his business and, by arrangement      Rolla. These points came into dispute
Hobart-Lee. The business grew to such                                                                                           gery.
                                           with their mother, Elizabeth Pillman,      when the Abeles & Taussig Lumber
proportions that Pillman built his own                                                                                            In November 1910, Pillman v. Abeles
                                           the brothers continued to use the land-    Company of St. Louis determined to
railroad side track strictly for loading                                                                                        was heard in circuit court in St. Louis
                                           ing and tie yard and expanded a sand       join the tie business at Jerome. Mrs.
ties, stacks of which sometimes                                                                                                 and judgment rendered in favor of
                                           and gravel operation. It turned out,       Pillman sued Robert Abeles in Phelps




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                                                                           Business Graphics
                           St. Robert Auto Supply                                                                         Designs from Nature
Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 12
                                                                                   was disproven. B. H. Rucker and oth-          The tie business at Arlington and
                                                                                   ers had testified that the yard was         Jerome barely outlasted the court
                                                                                   occasionally empty between loading          maneuverings in Pillman v. Abeles. As
                                                                                   out and the arrival of the next rafts--it   the trade declined locally in the 1920s,
                                                                                   was enough to compromise the                gasoline-powered trucks and better
                                                                                   Pillman claim. The Supreme Court            roads lessened the importance of river
                                                                                   remanded the case for retrial, but it       rafting of ties. Trucks hauling ties from
                                                                                   was a short-lived victory for Robert        sawmill sites not accessible by river
                                                                                   Abeles. Upon retrial, Mrs. Pillman          finally ended this century-old epic
                                                                                   again won judgment, based on more-          component of the lumber and tie
                                                                                   or-less continuous possession of the        industry in Phelps County. Clair and
                                                                                   land since the 1898. The family drew        Bonita Mann saw tie rafts at Jerome in
                                                                                   ties from the river and yarded ties on      1922 (Dr. Mann fished from one), but
                                                                                   the property to the end of the tie-raft-    no one seems to have recorded the
                                                                                   ing period.                                 date of the last raft. About 1925, the




Tie slide on the Big Piney River in Texas County. Courtesy of Texas County
Historical Society.
Mrs. Pillman, based on the Pillmans’     Rucker, Elizabeth Pillman and her
undisputed use of the landing for over   sons, Steuben Plake, John A. Graham,
ten years, and confirmed the title of    Alzie Loughridge, and Berry Hance
the Jerome property to her. The case     before rendering its opinion in 1914.
did not end there, however, as Robert    The justices reversed the judgment of
Abeles filed an appeal with the          the lower court based on twelve points
Missouri Supreme Court. The legal        of legal error. The Court dismissed any
process ground on for several years as   consideration of the forged deed held
both sides compiled evidence. The        by the Pillmans (oddly the record con-
result included testimony from nearly    tains no testimony from attorney J. J.
everyone associated with the tie trade   Crites on the circumstances of the mys-
at Jerome except the late Louis          terious forgery), but ruled that their
Pillman. The Court considered affi-      claim to continuous and undisputed        Picture of 19th century tie raft in 1961, still in alignment, in a clay bank on the
davits by Robert E. Lee, Booker H.       use of the property for over ten years    Gasconade River near Nagogami Resort. Courtesy of Robert Elgin.




                          1/4 page Gasconade
                          Hills Dentall Centers                                                           1/4 page Tony Crismon
                                                                                                                                     Old Settlers Gazette 2005 - Page 13
year the first highway bridge spanned       reduced grades and eliminated the        where long stacks of ties once blocked     and there are more of them in high-
the river between Arlington and             loop that took the tracks between        access to the railroad depot.              speed track--up to 3,700 high-quality
Jerome, seems to be the best guess.         Jerome and the river. The row of           Despite advancements in metal, com-      ties per mile. Sawmills in Phelps,
Today the once-disputed site at Jerome      homes and summer cabins now facing       posite, and concrete ties, modern rail-    Pulaski, and Texas counties still cut
is unrecognizable. During World War         the Gasconade River below the bridges    roads still depend on wooden ties.         crossties, and they will be a marketable
Two the Frisco undertook a major line       sit atop the old landing and railroad    They are larger and heavier now (nine      export from the Ozarks for the foresee-
change along the Gasconade River that       right-of-way. Highway D now runs         feet long and about 240 pounds each)       able future.

                                     Missouri Bureau of Labor Statistics

The statistical summaries of the tie trade shown below are extracted from the “Red Books”
compiled and published annually by the Missouri Bureau of Labor Statistics beginning in 1891.
Listed variously under “surplus products” or “manufacturing,” ties made up a large part of the
forest products exported from Phelps, Pulaski, and Texas counties, but there were also many
carloads of pine lumber, mine props, fence posts, and walnut logs. The numbers for ties are
problematical. Some figures are rendered by the number of carloads, but railroad cars got larger
during this period and carried more ties. It cannot be determined precisely how many ties were
rafted down the Big Piney and Gasconade to the tie yard at Jerome. It must have been a consid-
erable part of the total, but the Frisco had large tie yards at Dixon, Crocker, and other points
along the line in northern Pulaski County, and the ties of southern Texas County would have
been hauled to yards along the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railway (later the Frisco’s
Memphis line) beginning in the 1880s. There are no totals at all for some years (including the
“Panic” year of 1893 when business of all kinds ground to a halt), but there seem to have been
very few years when no ties at all were shipped from the three-county area. Considerable as it
was on the Big Piney and upper Gasconade region, the trade was dwarfed by the massive forest
products industry in the White and Current River areas. Except where noted as carloads, the
totals are given in the number of ties exported.


             Phelps County                      Pulaski County                 Texas County

     1891             176 cars           1891           48 cars        1891             525 cars
     1892             59,400 ties        1892           15,200 ties    1892             [not listed]                                     d
                                                                                                                                      Yar
     1894             25,600             1894           150,000        1894             150,000                                   Tie
                                                                                                                               nd
                                                                                                                             ga
     1897             54,000             1897           8,400          1897             74,880                            din
     1899             31,553             1899           13,289         1899             10,442                         Lan
     1900             43,875             1900           28,575         1900             66,825
     1901             70,650             1901           36,075         1901             9,450
     1902             58,500             1902           27,225         1902             10,900
     1903             39,150             1903           7,100          1903             12.925
     1904             57,150             1904           13,725         1904             12,000
     1905             58,850             1905           21,575         1905             18,000
     1906             184,950            1906           112,950        1906             14,200
     1907             129,500            1907           149,500        1907             18,000
     1908             327,500            1908           175,500        1908             35,000
     1909             [not listed]       1909           181,500        1909             17,500
     1910             445,000            1910           221,500        1910             36,500
     1911             468,500            1911           173,000        1911             27,000
     1913             962 cars           1913           372 cars       1913             104 cars
     1914             959 cars           1914           362 cars       1914             97 cars
     1915             1,004 cars         1915           331 cars       1915             [not listed]


    John Bradbury, Jr. is Senior Manuscript Specialist, Western Historical Manuscript Collection—
    Rolla Branch. He has contributed several articles to the Gazette (see “Waynesville Civil War
    Diaries” (1990), “The Founding of Newburg, 1882-1885” (1991), and “Long Time Coming - The                     The landing and tie yard at Jerome, in records at
    Railroads of Pulaski County” (2002), as well as scores of images from his postcard collection.                the Missouri Supreme Court, Missouri State
                                                                                                                  Archives, Jefferson City.

                                                                              SOURCE
  The Rolla Weekly Herald, Rolla New Era, and Rolla Standard newspapers contain many references to lumbering, rafting, and the tie industry. The first annual report
of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company (1877) is in the Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Rolla. The annual publications of the Missouri
Bureau of Labor Statistics are in the Missouri State Archives at Jefferson City, as are the records of the Robert Abeles (appellant) v. Mrs. E. M. Pillman (respondent),
in Supreme Court of Missouri, Case No. 16,465.
  The county histories published by the Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889 contain some information on early lumbermen and river rafters. Clair V. and
Bonita Mann took up the tie business on May 13, 1950, in the seventeenth of their “Quarter-Hour Broadcasts of Phelps County History” on KTTR Radio. A tran-
script of the broadcast is in the Mann collection at the UMR Archives. The Mann collection also includes information on Booker H. Rucker’s days in the tie business,
Nathaniel Borders’ “Rafters Song,” and a copy of Clint Arthur’s Backwoodsmen (Boston: Christopher Publishing House, 1940). Cecil King’s History of Yancey Mills
(1996) has information on tie-rafting on the Little Piney. “Rafting down Big Piney,” by Tony Shelton, Crocker News, June 29, 1972, features John Whitacker’s memo-
ries of Big Piney rafting. Copies of an annotated map of the Big Piney River by Joe Richardson, II (June 1986), showing place names that figure in rafting history, is
in the archives of the Texas County Historical Society at Houston. Steven D. Smith, Made It in the Timber: A Historic Overview and Context for the Fort Leonard Wood
Region, 1800-1940 (Bloomington: Illinois State University, Archaeological Research Center, 1993) deals with the lumber and tie trade in Pulaski County up to the
establishment of the military base. Lynn Barnickol’s article, “Sleepers Through Time,” October 1996, may be seen on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s
webpage: http://www.mdc.mo.gov/conmag/1996/10/

								
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