Greene County, Arkansas

Lumber Industry: bygone era in



This came from the Clay County Democrat Sept. 1, 1982

When Joe Cupples went out of the sawmilling business in 1973, it marked the end of the lumber - timber industry that began the town of Marmaduke.

Lumbering was one business that "boomed" and continued for as long as the trees were available .

Cupples remembers the stories of how his dad , John Wiley Cupples , was into sawmilling before 1900. There were other partners until 1912,when John Wiley bought a sawmill at Piggott and moved it toMarmaduke. The sawmill was placed at the site on the curve south of town. The land was the curve south of town. The land was covered with timber and there was no highway to Paragould then.

All theCupples brothers were involved in the timber work in some phase. Sullivan (Sub) helped in operation of the mill and the other brothers checked timber, cut, hauled logs or worked at keeping the team and mill in running order.

He tookover the business in 1936 and was sole operator. He described his operation as "small scale... I worked myself ... didn'thave much help, couldn't afford to pay anyone.

Cupples said that the lumber he cut was rough and that the bulk of it went into barns and bridges . He bought a planer in the latter part of 1940 and then cut and planed the lumber to build his house and three other houses near them. Team's of horses were used in skidding the logs and for hauling in skidding the logs and for hauling the timber until about 1955 when a truck and tractor were used. His son Bob worked with him then.

Sharp Estimator

Cuppleshad the reputation of a "sharp estimator" and accordingto some , he could walk over a tract of land and tell what it was worth or how many feet of lumber one could expect to cut. When asked about this , he chuckled and said "I've heard that said but I never was that good. I could afford to buy it. If someone wanted the tract it off. (to see how much good timber there was) I had to be careful not to cheat myself or the other fellow.

"When you've been into sawing as long as I was , you better had learned something about timber ," he added.

Cupples was born , March 30, 1899 on the home place (Charles Graham anephew , owns the farm now. There were three brothers , Sullivan(Sub) , Verni, and Arvel (Friday) , who lives in Rector , and two sisters , Clara Dunnigan and Lora (Ode) Graham , who lives near the homeplace on Highway 134w. He was named A. Boyed but when he was a tiny baby his father called him Joe Peter Bill, which was shortned to Joe and he never used his legal name,

Cupples married Clara "Dutch" Prince on Aug. 21, 1926 , and they moved to the farm and lived there about 20 years . This year was the first time they have celebrated their anniversary ,"never wanted to remind Dutch about the fatal step she took"he jokingly said.

They have five children - Martha Jo, Merts of Las Alamos, N.M. , Billy Ruth Finch of Memphis , Bob Cupples of Paragould , Patty Teal of West Minister , Calif. and Jimmie Cupples of Colorado Springs ,12 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Cupples said he didn't farm to heavy , but back when we started if you wanted to eat , you just about had to grow your food. He said he couldn't depend soley on farming , so he worked at putting his crop in and then had all winter to mill. As the farming changed and the demand for lumber increased . Cupples worked more at the sawmilling.

After W.W.II farmland became more valuable than timber and the method of clearing land changed drastically . Bulldozers were used and no young timber was left for later growth. Timber became scarcemeore expensive and the Cupples operation was no longer competitive.

Hickory Grove School

Cupples attended Hickory Grove School until he was almost 18 years old . "Bad weather didn't interfere with going to school as the terms were only two or three months and you were glad to have a chance to go, " he said. Some of the teachers he remembered were Ivie Hodge, Versa Cribbs Butler, Oscar Harvey , J. FrankShelton , a local lawyer , and "Miss Blugie" (MargaretBrewer, called one of his better teachers .

"I'm in good health ... never been sick ... no serious illness."Cupples continued and he attributes this to the fact that he"took care of myself , I've always worked outside but wore warm clothes and boots , never did work with wet feet , and we ate good wholesome food .. no junk lots of beans and potatoes.



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