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A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

Posted by gandle 4 NE (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 28, 12 at 10:54

My mother died when I was very young so I lived with my grandparents. I called grandad "dad" because he actually raised me. Grandad and an older brother apprenticed as a blacksmiths when dad was 14, his brother a few years older. Adter 5 years their father helped them buy a blacksmith shop in north-east Kansas. This was in 1898. The brothers were busy and the business thrived.

Grandma's father died and left a farm to her so dad began farming but when his brother had a severe stroke and could no longer work they hired Rudi Schultz to run the farm and dad and grandma moved to town and he began again as a blacksmith. Business was very good and he bought his brothers share and continued to work the shop by himself. At that time he no longer shoed horses too much business in the shop. He bought the most modern machinery of the time, 1900 and it became the most progressive shop around. He did wagon repair and every kind of iron work imaginable. Farmers would come in and describe something they needed made from iron and no problem it was done. He did put in electricity when it became available made an essentially a dark long building much brighter inside. All the machinery, trip hammer, metal lathe, grinders and all the other shop machinery ran from the power of a huge old gas engine. It is called a "hit or miss" engine this had a large belt from a pulley on it running to a long shaft at the ceiling and all the machinery could be operated by sliding a belt over to a wheel that was turning from the shaft on the ceiling.

There were dozens of different tongs he used in crafting the iron work some of which he made for a specific use.

Dad operated this shop until 1946 when he sold it to a man who was more of a tinker than a smith but he was very good at repairing about anything. Dad's tool are still hanging where he last used them, the machinery still operates, the calendar on the wall reads 1946, the new owner really didn't use any of the smithing tools except a very few. He did use the forge and anvil but thats about all. He would also go to auctions and buy just about anything that nobody else would buy and it was stacked so that it completely covered most of the machinery and the floor was covered except for about 20' in the front. This was probably a good thing brcause some of the plaster fell from the 14 foot ceiling and instead of landing on the machinery it hit the junk covering it. So, essentially we have a blacksmith shop that has the tools and machinery, the forges and anvils that dad and his brother put there in 1898, they are still where he put them. There is a desk with an old fashioned phone on it and just above it are the ledgers that dad kept his records in. This desk required for you to stick a nail in a certain hole hidden on the side so you could lift the lid. Dad showed me how and if there were a few pennies in the lower right hand corner they were mine. I would run to the shop after school and check. The pennies weren't there daily but often enough to keep me interested.

The tinker didn't believe in changing anything so the shop now cleaned out of all the junk he stored in it is just as it was in 1898 except for the electic lights. The last time I had been in it was 1945 when I got home from the navy and went in to tell dad goodbye since I was going west after a job opportunity. Now it is on the national register and is a museum as an example of an early complete blacksmith shop. The only one of it's kind.

It is hard to describe the emotions I felt when I walked in there for the time last week. In my minds eye I could see dad at the forge then swinging around and hammering a piece of hot iron on the anvil but when they started the old hit or miss engine, I broke down. That sound did transport me back to early childhood and I actually thought about looking in the corner of the desk for pennies.

Now that I've bored you all to tears I'll just say enough.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

What an emotional experience that was and how beautifully you described it. I felt like I was right there with you, hearing the sounds, and smelling the smells of the shop in action. So many of the things from that era were just discarded as being outmoded. Its wonderful to have it preserved as a museum.

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

Bored? Nothing could be further from the truth. I thought it would be a place you'd never seen/experienced and jsut a glimpse into his life. You were there?! That's even more fantastic! Oh, what joy! I am deeply moved.

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

Lovely memories. Thanks for sharing them.

There are smells, colors, sounds that evoke equally strong memories in me. Funny how the mind can store that stuff away, and then let it come rushing back to our consciousness.


RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

Love your story, but I also smell it. I mean the smell of a smithy. That tang is completely different from anything else, and different when its working from when it is cold. From what I have read, smell is one of the strongest memories.
George, I would have looked in that desk! And you never can write too much, it's always interesting.

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

  • Posted by mwheel East. WV-Z.6 (My Page) on
    Tue, Aug 28, 12 at 21:09

I've been waiting for you to post your memories, George; they were worth waiting for. What a wonderful treasure that blacksmith shop is and how great that it's preserved. Truly, it was a way of life that children today could never imagine, but with your Dad's shop, they can see how it was.

Thanks again. You, boring? Never!

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

George, if you are boring I love to get bored by your stories! It is a wonderful thing to have the old shop preserved, it was kept in mint condition and it teaching different way of life.
Californians are always so ready to tear things down and have so little respect for the past.
I had occasion once to go and pick apples at a nearby farm, they had a huge barn, stuffed full of all sorts of things, turns out it used to be a stage-coach stop. Would you believe nobody was interested to go and check out what all was in that barn? Wonder if it's still there.

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

George, you are a wonderful story teller. I felt as if I was right there with you. Great memories.

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

There is a personality that grows at a work place among the machinery, the light streaming in through windows, the dust accumulated and each piece of machinery as though they are each a piece of the whole of the body. Your description tells of skills and knowledge seldom continued in this modern world. That personality is a friend that welcomed those that spent so much of their time there.

So glad for you to have the opportunity to visit a place of such personal memory and connect with the spirit of those that dwell there. We all leave a piece of ourselves in the places we occupy and listening we can detect the ones that went before us. I hope I have the privileged to see this part of you and your family's history. Thank you for the mental images.

RE: A trip back in time. Part 2 might be long.

I luv reading your story and I'm so glad you and your family got to participate in the history museum.I can see why it was emotional to go back in time since you were part of that time.

When I lived back east, I would travel to historic battle fields. They built a whole village where they had a blacksmith shop among many other "village" shops.
I'm glad your dad's shop is a permanent reminder of times past.

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