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Black Fork District

Walnut Avenue, Hambleton, WV, circa 1918

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Parsons

Article on Bretz which is near Parsons in the Black Fork District.

Reminiscing by H.A. Ridgeway 25 Nov. 1943 (Reprinted in the 10 Oct. 2001 Parsons Advocate)

Bretz is the topic of this week.

The first house built in Bretz was the store house which E.M. Moss built. It was built for a store house when the word was passed around that a company was to build a large saw mill at this point.

A.L. Rheame was the man who started operation of the mill in Bretz. He bought land of Jacob Long and his wife (Lucinda) about Feb. 9, 1889, and was also bought from Davis and Albert Long about the same time, and bought of Jesse Pennington, also from L.E. and P.B. Goff. This land which he bought was located near the Blackfork bridge, and along the railroad to near Roaring Run. The object of this purchase was for a canal along the railroad where logs could be run down to the mills which were to be built at or near the Blackfork bridge, and was later built at this location.

Jas. W. Bowman took the contract for placing a log boom in the river just below Roaring Creek (now watering place for the Western Maryland) and a canal was cut through the creek bank at the upper end of land bought by A.L. Rheame and the canal leading to the mill was cut so that logs could be floated down to the mill when built along the West Virginia Central Railroad. Before the mill got underway. Mr. Rheame sold out to Randolph W.V. Boom Co, and this company built the mill and was to saw timber for the Condon Lane Boom and Lumber Company in Randolph County. Mr. Rheame held other timber contracts and sold in part to F.C. Jennings and Co. The mill was completed in the fall of 1889 and spring of 1890 and was in operation for a few years after which the mill became the property of the Condon Lane and Boom Company who owned a large tract of timber in Randolph county and adjoining counties, but as the risk of losing logs in high waters and since the logs could not be moved when the water was low, the mill was dismantled and moved to Horton in Randolph, where it was set up in close proximity to their lumber and was in operation there for many years, but after the Dry Fork Railroad was taken up the mill had to close down as it was too expensive to get lumber to market.

Soon after the news got around that a mill was to built in Bretz lots were sold and buildings were put on same. The Longs aforementioned and Jesse Pennington sold lots and building of homes began. S.R. Blackman bought about the first land in Bretz and built a home and later built where the old Blackman home now stands, which was about the first dwelling to be built in Bretz. He would make trips to Cumberland, Md., quite often to buy materials, (so he said) but once he went away and very mysteriously disappeared or rather he never returned leaving his shop and interests here to be sold later.

The writer taught school on the hill above Bretz, and back of the Henry Shrader property on land now owned by A.C. Shaffer. This was before the school house was built in Bretz, and after the building was erected I taught in in the new school for two terms.

Barndollar and Son (James) bought a large acreage of white oak timber back of the Henry Shrader place and sawed same at the site and trucked it to the West Virginia Central Railroad in Bretz. A large part of the timber was sawed into what was called flich and it was very hard to handle, and it was cut four inches thick and no edge trimmed and a piece of lumber lying flat was very hard to turn over as it was from 12 to 18 feet long and sometimes was 30 inches broad. This was loaded on the cars at Bretz and shipped. A store was built at the siding at Bretz where it was operated for many years.

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2001, Janet Cooper

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