Greene County Arkansas

Paragould, Arkansas

Centennial Edition Section 5

    6- Section 5, Centennial Edition                                                                                                                      Paragould Daily Press, Monday, August 29,1983

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A work crew poses at the W. C. Hasty Mill on Lake Street, one of the many mills active during Paragould's heyday as a timber town. seated on the front row, far left is Jerry Anderson Massey, father of the photograph's owner.

 

  The rock pattern in the yard of the W. C. Hasty home on Main Street left no question about the name of the occupants. A greenhouse, water tower and windmill also distinguished the residence.
    Whippletrees and adz
                  at local lumber firms


   I'm not old enough to remember all the 37 woodworking mills in Paragould that I've been told there were.
   I do remember the J. F. Hasty and Son Cooperage (barrel) plant in oper- ation. My father, T. E. Clifford, led me into it as a lad of 5 or 6 years old. It's a shame one didn't have a movie camera and colored film to record this beautiful sight.
  The barrels were set up for assembly
on a hearth abut a foot high. Three men worked as a team. The shop was very dark. Windows had long ago smoked up --if there were windows -- and a fire, which must have used wood, was in the center of the hearth like a black-smith forge. Many sparks were flying and reflections off the sweaty bodies of the men stripped to the waist was indeed a sight to behold.
   The Hasty cooperage was east of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway at the east end of East Hunt Street.
   Most old timers knew the story about  Uncle  Henry  Wrape,  "Big Henry." At a board meeting, he recommended the company cut slack barrel staves (then used as shipping containers). He saw a good future in slack barrels. It was promptly voted down. The meeting continued and as
business at hand came to an end,Uncle Henry arose and said "Gentlemen", whether you like it or not, the Wrape Company is going to cut slack staves. Meeting adjourned.
   The nephews and grandsons used
anything and everything that would
make a slack stave -- any soft wood.
They tried to cover up the world, rent-
ing ground all the way to C Street to
air-dry them.
   World War I came along. All were
sold and more needed.
  Lumber as such as not sawed, to my
knowledge, on any great scale. Ross
Coffman had a sawmill on East Court
Street. There were many others
around that cut house patterns for
local use, bridge timbers, etc.
Our family's planing mill, on East Lake
Street west of the railway, used "bolts" and "blocks" from there. My mother's father, John Good, and mother's uncle, Dave Good, manufactured: kegs, cast, barrels, boxes, handles of every description, axes, adz, hoes, rakes, picks, mauls, hammers,drawing knife -- or "spoke shave" --handles, sucker-rods, buggywhips to whippletrees, spokes and hubs for every wood wheel made at that time.Also molding, flooring, neat ceiling, wainscoating, baten, lacelike-barger-boards, jigsawed brackets and curlicues.
   Most of their woodwork was long
been removed but there are still signs
of it on many structures (also see pic-
tures in the Centennial Cookbook).
 
    I told Joe Straub, a well-known car-
penter who was repairing his house at
Highland and Second streets, that my
great uncle Dave had made those
flamboyant curvileanor brackets.
   "My God," he said, "it looks like
that would drive a man nuts."
   "He died in the asylum," I said.
   Joe's mouth flew open like he had a
bee in it. I still don't know whether I
had no respect for my elders or
whether he had given me the reason
for Uncle Dave being there! But you
know, I felt better.
   The Hickson and Rodgers Manufac-
turing Company was farther from home. It made dowell pins, staves,
spokes and hubs. I didn't know any-
thing about it until after 1918.
   Sometime in the 20s, I became a
Western Union messenger and hand-
led an order for pins for Hickson-
Rodgers. I was told to call it in by phone. This I did, but they requested
that it be delivered. It was duly done.
   E. H. Borneman seemed to read it
two or three times before signing for
it. I wanted to leave but was told to wait. He then unlocked a walk-in vault, went in, fumbled around and brought me a dollar bill. He hardly said a word but I want you to know Hickson-Rod-gers got service, if I had anything to do with it. And I always got that dollar bill.
   Dowell pins were punched by very
fast-running machines, from blanks or
blocks which were fed into the punch
by hand. That punch didn't know a
finger from a block. I always worried
about Charley Ward, who ran a
punch, until he pulled his glove off
and showed me no finger on that hand
that he used.
   A word or two about other indus-
tries. We had lots of gins -- not the
drinking kind. Also grain and flour
mills. Numerous grist mills, cream
stations, creamery (butter and ice
cream), ice plants, mattress factory,
poultry and eggs, tile and building
block factory, brick plant, machine
shops, a host of blacksmiths and an
opera house.
   But probably the most hair-raising
and exciting was the stock market --
four-footed stock market.
   Both railways had stock pens which
were used to feed, water and rest
stock on the way to market at St.
Louis,. Stock was not hauled then; you
drove them. And it was not uncommon
for half a dozen men on horseback to herd a drove of cattle that would fill the street for a block or more. The trail boss always had permission from the marshall.
   Of course, the cattle wanted to dart
into every opening they could find,
which really was not to serious unless
you had a garden or flower beds or wash hanging on the line. Then it
would be a very foolish person who
would try to smooth the ruffled feather
of the owner of that clean wash.
   We all had a part in the progress,
the housewives and the children: We
ran for our lives.

                                                    Tom Clifford
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The Hasty home from the front. Mrs. Hasty, her sister Mrs. A. V. Hampton and their working help are among those in the photograph.
                                                                          photos courtesy: Glenda Barry

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Church with all day singing
            and dinner on the ground


   Prior to World War I, the big ditches were dug in the Greene County area. A small unassembled dredge was ship-ped in and reassembled and it started digging Six-Mile and then moved and did Eight-Mile. These ditches followed the natural route of the creeks in the area and were supposed to cut down on the spring flooding. They did drain off a large area of  the county.
   The railroads were very active. The
Missouri Pacific ran a fast passenger
train through Paragould -- Memphis
to St. Louis. It was called the Cannon
Ball and it really moved.
   The Cotton Belt ran a series of fast
fruit express trains, pulled by passen-
ger train engines, through Paragould. All passenger trains went "in the hold" for the fruit expresses. They hauled fruit from New Orleans to the north. I rode the cab of one, engineered by Mr. Micklewright, from Jonesboro to St. Louis. When I asked him, "How fast does she go," he replied, "In order to make schedule, she goes 70 uphill and I let her roll going downhill."

 
     Fine cotton was produced in the flat lands to the east of the city, and in the fall the downtown streets would be filled with cotton wagons awaiting a buyer.
   A spin-off from the stave mill was a residue of wood from the making of barrel heads. They were called "goose-necks." This fine wood was used by all of the Paragould house-wives to supplement their kitchen stovewood in their cooking and baking.A wagon load of goosenecks cost about a buck-fifty and was delivered, for the most part, by a Mr. Little.
   The churches of Paragould were
very active. During the summer, many areas of Greene County held "all day singing and dinner on the ground." The singing was great and the food -- bring your own -- was super. At these meetings, the local politicos held forth for re-election, when possible.

                                    Orlando O. Whitman
                                      El Paso, Texas

Picking and Chopping Cotton

 

Transcribed by: PR Massey

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