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Meade County: Facts and Fiction also Pages of Memory


Messenger Staff

 This week, we continue to follow William Miller Boling’s column from 1946 in the Messenger offering a unique view of Meade County’s history from 75 years ago.


Part 10


The Old Wagon Maker Has Trekked Westward

Custom or handmade farm wagons built in Brandenburg had an enviable reputation for durability and ease of operation sixty years ago. McFarland’s shop on the river front under the skilled workmanship of Jack Winings produced many of these wagons. Ben Brentlinger, a painter at this shop, knew how to paint wagons.

A.E. Coleman’s shop at the head of Main Street, also, manufactured an equally good wagon. (The last part of this old shop was razed in 1943).

Wagon makers at the Coleman shop during my youth were Harmon Voss, Volney Price, John Wright and “Bud” Overby.

 A first class wagon maker was not just a mechanic, but an artist as well.

 During the day of the custom built wagon, the rough lumber was dressed to patterns by the shop workman and assembled into the complete wagon ready to be “ironed-off” by the blacksmith who worked in close cooperation with him. 

 Nothing but number one hickory was used in making wheels and gear and nothing save clear poplar was fit to put in the body or “bed.”

 Fitting tenons into hubs and fellies, proper anchorage of ‘skeins” on axles, correct alignment of wheels to produce exact “tracking,” proper “cutting” of tires, were a few of the intricate operations performed, showing the mechanical skill of the workman.

 Old time wagon makers were wont to say, -- “A new wagon must ‘cluck’ as you drive it,” meaning that the wheels should have mechanical play upon the axles.

Although many years are gone since the wagon maker sedulously pursued his craft, I suspect that some of these wagons, old and decrepit are still in existence in Meade County.