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The History of My Life

by Harvey Tucker Emrick

(edited & donated by Duane L. Emrick)


Sometime January 25, 1897 I was born in Paulding County, Ohio. It was on my Uncle Benjamin 'Frank' Blank's farm where my father and mother, George and Elizabeth Ann (Blank) Emrick had rented the land to work and make a living for a family of eight. When I came into the world I was the ninth child. I cannot remember ever living on this farm, but my first home with memories was at Holcombville, Ohio; just 1 miles NW of Paulding, the county seat of Paulding county.


Stave Mills and Tile Mills

Holcombville became a village in the early lumbering days. When I came here with my folks there were many long drying sheds there for the lumber. The mills that processed the lumber were called 'Stave Mills'. They made staves for all barrels, wooden buckets, butter tubs, horse troughs and any other water holding vessel. It had not been operated for a few years before I came here, therefore I did not see this machinery work. The land was cleared and being farmed while I was living there.

The farmers were in need of drain tile and the mill was converted into a 'Tile Mill'. New machinery had to be installed and a narrow gauge track ran from the second story of the mill down and out to a pit where they found clay perfect for making tile. That was a sight to behold; while two streams of real firm wet clay were forced out of a machine, side by side, laying on rollers. The man who made the finished (green or wet) tiles allowed a little over three feet of the clay ribbons to roll out then pulled down a part of the machine with tight wires like violin strings and cut the clay streams into six twelve inch chunks. He then quickly grabbed the two new tile nearest the machine and sat them on end in a truck. After forty or fifty tiles were stacked, a black man would roll it away over boardwalks to the drying sheds. These were the same sheds previously used for drying lumber.

The tile remained in the drying shed until they were completely dry and then were taken into a 'Tile Kiln' and burned until they were strong, solid and red. A 'Tile Kiln' was built of brick in the form of a circle about thirty feet in diameter with eight or nine foot walls. The roof was made of brick and shaped like a dome. Long narrow openings were left in the walls and theses were the furnaces where wood was burned for the time it took to make a finished tile.

Tier upon tier of tile started at the floor and went up as high as a man could place them in the dome. The pit where the clay was dug was 12 to 15 ft. at its deepest point. I remember seeing it after they quit making tile. As the rainy seasons came water gathered in the lowest holes then joined and formed a pond. This pond was only as large as two to three acres as I recall. Of course someone must have thrown some minnows in there because folks who liked fishing reported catching quite large carp. Of course carp are a muddy water fish and I don't recall any other kind of fish being caught there; but there might have been.

This pond was no more than one quarter of a mile from my home. I never had a chance to spend much time there as my mother kept close watch over all of us. We also had chores and jobs for even the youngest on our rented farm in Holcombville. The next time I saw that pond was after June, 1933, after we moved to Gladwin, Michigan. At that time erosion had played havoc with that pond. The entire bottom of the pond was grassed over and not very deep. One of these days I do want to go back and look at it again as I have been in Michigan 67 years. Erosion can do allot in that amount of time, even in clay soil.


School Days in Holcombville

I would like to say a few things about my schooling in Holcombville. Everyone of school age attended the same school. I had some schoolmates that were black and I have always "Thanked God" that I grew up in such a society. I never forgot my one little black chum, Ernest Griffin by name. He lived father from school than I did and had to carried his lunch. We both walked home the same direction after school although my home was just a block away. In that distance Ernest would open his dinner pail and have a sandwich and give me one also. His mother had spread "Sorghum Molasses" on them in the morning and it was dark brown then. By late afternoon the slices of bread had absorbed the molasses and the whole sandwich was an amber color, but it sure was good!

One schoolteacher I had at Holcombville was a man by the name of Jay Printy, a very odd ball. He never brought any lunch with him for dinner. At noon Mr. Printy would ask some boy to go over to the corn crib of Jordan and Barnes. These cribs were just of the school grounds and were apartments for the laborers in the "Stave Mill" days. He would always tell the boy " Don't steal the corn though". He would shell some corn off the cob, put it on top of a large cast iron stove, and when the corn was parched he would eat it. That gave him his nourishment for the afternoon. In later years I attended a school reunion hosted by another schoolmate, Annie Alspaugh.

Our home was in a row of 6 houses all built alike. These houses started at the Cincinnati Northern Railroad (which ran north past Holcombville) and went due west in a straight line with about 125 feet between them. The Ankney family was at the railroad, next west Olsen, next Emrick, the next two I don't remember, but the 6th house was the Green family. Houses number four and five were not occupied continually although I remember a family named Baker living in one of those two for awhile.



A disastrous happening on this farm was when an epidemic of "Hog Cholera" swept through Paulding County. It hit my fathers hogs and our neighbors; they all suffered a great loss. One other year my father rented some pasture land on the Furnace farm north toward the town of Cecil and put in some young cattle. One day he found one steer that had tried to squeeze between two small trees and became wedged in. By the time he found it the steer had dropped to the ground and could not go forward or back. It was very hot weather which made it worse for the steer. We had to take a team of horses and a "mud boat" to bring the steer home as it was too weak to walk. No doctoring we could do would save the steer and it died. I was less than eight years old (1905) at that time and any loss like that to my parents made sorrow also come to me.

One more thing I shall never forget was when my brother Arnold Emrick, four years my elder, had "lung fever". When this struck him he began to get very weak and lost his appetite. Dr. L. R. Fast from Paulding was asked to come and look at Arnold. He checked him over and told my folks that there was a large pus sack in one of Arnold's lungs. To prove it he took a syringe with a long hollow needle and ran it between two certain ribs and drew out a good amount as a sample so my folks could see. Dr. Fast said that an operation was needed real quick. This frightened my parents as our neighbor, Mrs. Olson, had a tumor removed from her shoulder and some of my folks saw her die as she lie near a window where the operation was performed. It was not the tumor nor the operation that caused her death. The one who administered the chloroform to put her to sleep didn't know his business. Dr. Fast told my parents that Mrs. Olson's doctors were "Quacks". He said , "I know what this job needs and I will call on my own brother from Fort Wayne, Indiana and the two of us can save your son."

A day was set and he told my parents to clean up their large kitchen. He would use the kitchen table for the operation. He would need one of my mothers nice stew pans, an enameled one of 1 quart capacity and have some one hold it to catch the pus.

He ran the knife between the two certain ribs and the pus shot out as if it were under pressure. It missed the stew pan at first but the pan was soon near 3/5ths full. Then who do you think had to bury the pan? It was my sister Hannah Elizabeth's husband George Elbert Brown and myself. Our garden ran from the house north to the barn yard fence nearly 150 ft. Elbert and I took a shovel and the stew pan and made a hole just as near in the corner of the garden as he could dig. That is where that pan and its contents lay to this day; I shall never forget it!

Now I am nearing the time when my father George Emrick lost his job of farming this land which belonged to Mr. Barney Moening, who had been a wonderful landlord. He had just sold this land to some Jewish folks from Illinois who had got all the land they could buy in Paulding County. My father thought he could stay right on working for them but they said they were using farmers from Illinois to work this land and left my father out in the cold.

About this time my father met an old friend, Joseph Benson, a Civil War veteran who had moved from Ohio up to Michigan. He told my father about 80 wild acres in Gladwin County, Michigan that he didn't need and would sell it to my father. In the latter part of August 1905 both my parents, my sister Erma (Woods) and I went to Gladwin to look over this 80 acres. We stayed with old friends Mr. & Mrs. O. E. Wineman. They were the parents of my own brother-in-law, A. P. Wineman who had married my oldest sister, Stella Henrietta. They also had moved up to Gladwin from Ohio. My father took many samples of dirt and was satisfied to buy the piece if the price was not too high. Mr. Benson said the land cost him $500 plus two train tickets at $13 for both. My folks decided to buy it.


Farm Equipment / Moving Day

About the last day of March or April 1st, 1906 we began to pack and haul all we owned from Holcombville to Paulding, a distance of about two miles. My father asked for two boxcars to be spotted on a siding that had a team track accommodation. We need to fit all our household goods and all our farm machinery on those two cars.

The machinery consisted of:
2 left hand Oliver plows (404 and 405) 1 Wood frame spike tooth harrow
1 Deering 6 ft. cut grain binder (req'd 3 horses) 1 Deering Mower 5 ft. cut
1 riding cultivator a row ea. side, w/ steel wheels and high metal fenders
2 dbl. shovel cultivators (walk behind) 1 Deere corn planter (check rower)
1 full circle hay baler (alligator hay press) 1 farm wagon & 1 buggy

rakes shovels hoes forks
grub hoe corn sheller "Ohio corn cutters"
butchering equipment lard press sausage stuffer large iron kettle

One of the last things to go was the farm wagon. Two of my older brothers, Phillip Lamasters E. and George Clarence E. were allowed free transportation with the two boxcars to tend to the live stock which needed feed and water every eight hours. The freight train started north on the C.N.R.R. the next morning and the rest of the Emrick family ( 9 children, 2 parents) followed the next morning in a passenger train headed for Bay City, Michigan then to Gladwin, Michigan by the end of the second day. (continued in Gladwin Co.) 


Copyright 2014 - Candy Ditkowski