‘Mason & Company’

By Staff
1 / 4
The club's 18 HP 'Parmaco' engine.
2 / 4
Blaker Mill.
3 / 4
Keith Mason's 106-year-old L. Spence steam engine.
4 / 4
250 HP 4 cylinder Bruce-Macbeth.

P.O. Box 1754 Clarksburg, West Virginia 26302

Mason & Company is what I call them a group of guys that
joined our club in the spring of ’89. They are headed up by
Keith Mason, along with Jed Mitchell, Gerold Corder, Jack Clayton,
George Fizer, and Tom Proud. Every Wednesday evening, they meet at
Mason’s Machine Shop to saw lumber with an old portable 48 HP
Frick steam engine. They also run a narrow gauge railroad that you
can ride. They had an interesting set-up at our show that featured
a rare 6 HP L Spence steam engine and a 10 HP Spang mounted on the
original baling rig. George brought an item called a
‘velocipede’. It looks like a wooden bicycle with an
outrigger and is used to ride on the rails.

Club members Mark Ware, Russ Carlomany, Mark Sandy, Larry
Grinnan and Bob Fultz restored an old ‘Parmaco’ 18 HP oil
well pumping engine in time to get it to the show. Built by
Parkersburg Machine Company, it may be the only one left in
existence. It was something to watch on the last day when the fuel
pressure got low. It would run about three revolutions in one
direction and then reverse itself.

Our engine show is held on Labor Day weekend at Jackson’s
Mill 4-H Camp. Last year (1989) we had 80 exhibitors from 8 states
and 225 engines on display. We had a good turnout from the Wood
County Flywheelers and our friends from Pennsylvania. We also had
five families from the Florida Flywheelers and one couple from
California. It is hard to recognize everyone, but we send our
appreciation to all of you. President Danny Marshall and his wife
handled the four day registration.

Jackson’s Mill is under the directorship of Bill Frye, who
also sits on the Jubilee board of directors. The Stonewall Jackson
Heritage Arts & Crafts Jubilee has been a great help in
sponsoring our engine show. The Jubilee is a four-day event
consisting of Civil War demonstrations, glass blowing, photography
exhibits, quilting, and some of West Virginia’s finest
craftsmen.

Jackson’s Mill was the boyhood home of Confederate General
‘Stonewall’ Jackson. It is a beautiful park located in the
western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and still houses the
old original Jackson Grist Mill. Blaker Mill is another old mill
that was moved to the park and is being restored.

Blaker Mill, originally located in Greenbrier County in southern
West Virginia, is a three-story wood braced frame structure, with
stone foundation and basement walls, built in the early nineteenth
century. Some local historians claim the mill was erected in 1796,
but research indicates a date closer to 1819, when Jacob Hockman,
builder of the mill, purchased the land on which it was
constructed.

Jacob and Mary Hockman were parents of three daughters: Mary,
Elizabeth and Susan. Susan married George Lewis, a son in a family
which moved into the Muddy Creek area sometime between 1801 and
1807. George was apparently a miller, and may have been working for
Mr. Hockman, since Susan and George inherited the mill in 1842. One
of the Lewis’s daughters, also named Susan, married John
Blaker.

John’s son, James L. Blaker, was the last of the family to
operate the mill. According to William Anderson, the last miller to
work Blaker Mill, the mill ground feed for the last time in the
mid-1950’s. James Blaker died in 1962 at the age of 92.

Paul D. Marshall, architect, from Charleston, West Virginia, was
contracted to develop plans for relocation and restoration of the
mill which was donated to the state of West Virginia in 1984 by
Robert Hockman Blaker of Wilmington, Delaware.

A volunteer concept of labor was developed due to lack of
sufficient capital improvement funds to complete the work by
professional contracting firms. Paul D. Marshall &
Associates’ contract was changed to the new role of
construction manager and Richmond ‘Sam’ Houston was
contracted to act as project superintendent.

Wayne McCord, Carl Bryant, Lawrence Malson and Bob Fish are four
of the group of volunteers from the Wheeling, West Virginia area
who have worked on this project from the beginning to the present
day, doing everything from digging ditches to rebuilding timbers,
disassembly, reconstruction, fabricating components, forming and
pouring concrete and building stone walls. The mean age of this
group is 82 years, with the eldest at 86 and the youngest at 74-1
met these gentlemen at a pig roast and apple butter weekend hosted
by Peggy Doyle and her husband at their farm. Mrs. Doyle is the
executive director of the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee.

Two 50 HP twin cylinder Bruce-Macbeth natural gas engines
donated to the project by the Clarksburg Water Board will be used
to pump water from the West Fork River up to the mill pond north of
the mill building and also recirculate water when the mill turbine
is operating.

These engines were crated and moved by the volunteers.

As to completion of the mill, no date has been established,
since the funding is partially based on donations and availability
of state funds for  shop work on damaged iron mill machinery,
contracts for in-ground concrete work for pump house, dam face,
intake structure etc., some wood material and availability of
volunteers. If the stars align themselves properly, the mill could
be operating in 1990.

January marked the date that another old engine left our area.
It was a 250 HP four cylinder Bruce-Macbeth. Weighing over 35 tons,
it was a beautiful engine, standing about 12 feet tall and about 25
feet long. It was installed in the Clarksburg Water Plant in 1918.
After a bad flood in 1985 that completely covered the plant, this
engine was the first to start up while the new electric motors were
being cleaned. The old girl really showed herself.

Jim Wells bought the engine and moved it to his home in
Greenville, West Virginia. Jim is also restoring Cooks Mill, an old
wooden frame three story grist mill. Cooks Mill is located in a
picturesque valley near Greenville, just outside of Lewisburg, West
Virginia. Jim is planning an engine and craft show sometime in
June.

Watch for North Central West Virginia Antique Power
Association’s ads in GEM and the Show Directory. Come see us in
Wild Wonderful West Virginia!

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