Timber and Turpentine Industries

Naval Stores Industry

Even before the area which is now Horry County was opened to settlement by the colonial government in Charleston there was the beginning here of the naval stores industry. In 1734 a young English gentleman traveling with a party from Georgetown saw barrels of pitch on the banks of the Waccamaw River. These men were exploring the area to find likely places to file for as soon as the government permitted warrants for land to be recorded. They used the barrels of pitch, one of the products of pine sap, for their campfires.

Naval stores is the collective name of all products of the gum of the pine tree. Its name derives from the original use of tar as a caulking and waterproofing substance on ships—hence, “naval.” The gum from the yellow or longleaf pine proved to be a very versatile resource. Uses for it expanded by accident and experiment until it practically dominated the burgeoning industry of America.

One method of extracting the product involved old fallen trees which had high concentrations of gum—what some Horry Countians would call "lightwood". These logs were cut up and piled in a shallow pit and covered with earth. A slow burning fire lighted in the top of the pile caused the gum to liquefy and the tar to run down into catch basins outside the mound. These tar kilns were a common sight in the area from the earliest settlement.

In the early 19th century industrialization was accelerating in the United States. Those who found themselves amidst forests of pine were sitting in the middle of a resource for which there was an enormous demand in the outside world--a demand comparable to that for petroleum in our time. Like petroleum, it became almost a universal ingredient in manufacturing. That is, many products were made from it and it was used in the production of many others.

Early in this century a government publication listed the use of turpentine in thinners for paints and varnishes, solvents for waxes in polishes, waterproof cements, cleaners to remove paints and oils from fabrics, disinfectants, liniments, medicated soaps, internal medicines, ointments, synthetic camphor, celluloid, explosives, fire works, synthetic rubber, glazing putty, printing inks, lubricants for grinding and drilling glass, moth repellents, insecticides, crayons, patent leather, in petroleum refinement, textile manufacturing, and ore refinement. And this is just the turpentine.

Rosin was used in soaps, sizing for paper products, paint dryers, axle grease, waterproofing products, emulsified oils, leather dressings, enamels used in ceramic manufacture, fire kindling, artificial wood, papier-mâché, roofing materials and roofing cement, grafting wax used for trees, linoleum, oil cloth, lutes and violin bows (!), ointments, plasters, veterinary medicines, disinfecting compounds, dry batteries and electrical insulation, setting bristles in hair brushes, insect powders, fly papers, printing inks, cements for glass—and the list goes on.

Horry County was a great source of this product after about 1830 and the industry lasted here until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Pine trees had always been tapped here for medicinal, caulking, and other purposes, but naval stores was introduced as an industry when the pine forests of the coastal plain north of here played out. Longleaf pines were destroyed by the technology of the day—scoring trees to cause them to "bleed" eventually killed them. A heavily tapped forest could be depleted and destroyed in a decade. When that happened the industry was forced to move on to find new forests to exploit.

In the pre-Civil War period great plantations which had more male slaves than they needed for their work, sometimes leased slaves to men who in turn hired them out in the turpentine woods. It was in this business that Anthony Burroughs, the father of F. G. Burroughs, first came to Horry District. After the war slave labor was replaced by wage labor, but wages were pitifully low.

In Horry County , the industry took on a slightly different format. In Virginia and North Carolina turpentine “farms” tended to be large and white laborers hired themselves to the landowners. Here, in addition to the large landowners, there were also many small landowners and it seems that most of the laborers in the pine woods were the small farmers and their sons. They produced the turpentine from their own trees and took their product to a nearby distillery. Larger landowners took their labor from the same pool and a good many North Carolinians came to Horry during this period following the naval store industry. They knew no other way to make a living.

In other places a “crop” of turpentine which could be tended by one man amounted to 10,000 boxed trees spread over 50 to 100 acres of land. This was generally not the case in Horry. Each farmer gathered turpentine from as many of the trees on his land as he was willing to work.

A. J. Baker, who grew up in the Bakers Chapel area of the county, described the naval stores industry here this way:

I was raised on a farm and had every opportunity to observe just what was going on in and around that small farm surrounded by almost a primeval forest where workers of the industry were constantly seen during the summer season. Nearly all of the farms were small and provided only provisions consumed at home. Hence the turpentine industry to bring in a little cash.

The tools used in carrying on the industry were the boxing ax, the hack, the puller, the dipper, the scraper, the bucket, the scrape box, and the barrel. Some of these implements, I know seem foreign to many of the people living today, and I wish I had some of them at least, with me so that I could demonstrate how they were used.

The predominating forest of trees, at that time, was the long leaf pine from which the sap was extracted. A notch or box, as it was called was cut near the ground in the tree, holding about a quart. This was done with a boxing ax. The next tool used was the hack, which was used applying streaks until the face of the tree became about a head high.

Then the streaks were applied by the puller. The streaks were applied weekly during the spring and summer. Usually the streaks would dry out in a weeks time stopping the flow of sap. Then, of course, a new one must be applied to start the sap flow again. When the notch or box mentioned was full of sap or turpentine, as it was called, it was ready to be dipped, put in barrels and hauled to market. This was known as dip turpentine.

During the spring and summer season, the working period, I just mentioned, some of the sap would lodge on the face of the boxed tree. The face I’d better explain, is where the numerous streaks had been made by the hack or by the puller. Since not all of the sap of the tree would reach the box below; some of it would lodge on the face. Here it would harden flake white, lose much of its liquid appearance, and become a sort of dry turpentine. During the summer season, the accumulation of this turpentine amounted to quite an item.

During the fall and winter, this turpentine was scraped from the face of the tree, gathered in suitable boxes, packed in barrels, and was ready for market. This was known as scraped turpentine and gave the workers something to do during the off season. The trees were now again ready for the prime summer season.

After the turpentine was gathered and placed in barrels, it was hauled to market by mule wagons (there were no trucks then) and if there had been, the roads were inadequate for their use.

At the market place, the barreled product was weighed, paid for at a certain price per gage weight . . . whichever gage weight was in force. I never knew just why the gage weight varied. . . .

The next step of the gummy product was the distillation. I was too young and unconcerned to know very much about this process. The barreled turpentine was bought up by the larger merchants who owned the stills. The stills consisted of a large retort with a capacity of several barrels. The retort was built in upon a furnace under which a fire producing a slow heat would drive the spirits into a condensing or cooling system. It was placed in tight non-leaking barrels for shipment to the commission merchants. The residue or rosin was also poured in barrels for shipment.

As is the system today of tenant farming, the land owner would sharecrop his timber land to producers as tenants on a share-crop basis. I think the method varied in different communities. The small landowner would be his own producer, while the large landowner would perhaps have several tenants and producers in common. The tenant usually was allotted a certain number of boxes or pines as a crop, but I do not remember how many composed the allotment.

Distilleries were generally owned by local firms, who did the initial processing of the sap and then shipped it out as turpentine, spirits of turpentine, or rosin.

A turpentine still was a fairly simple operation. There was a large kettle into which the gum as it was brought from the woods was dumped. The kettle was connected to a worm which coiled through a vat of water of about the same size as the kettle. When the kettle was heated, steam and vapor rose from the kettle and went into the worm where it condensed into water and spirits of turpentine. The turpentine, being lighter than the water, rose to the top. It was drained off into 50 gallon barrels and was then ready for market. The process generally took from three to five hours.

The fire was removed from the kettle and the rosin or residue from the distillation was drawn off and run through a screening process into a trough from which it was dipped and stored in barrels for shipment.

Local newspapers carried in every issue the current market prices. On May 10, 1888, the Horry Herald reported that virgin turpentine was worth $3.00 for a 320 lb. Barrel, yellow dip was $2.25 and scrape $2.25.

The men who toiled in the woods and were the primary producers didn't make much. They were usually paid in tokens issued by a nearby distillery (or in the case of cut timber, the local sawmill) that could be exchanged at the commissary store established by the distiller for any goods which were in stock. J. W. Ogilvie expressed his disapproval of this system when he wrote about Horry in the 1880s:

The circulating medium was almost exclusively a piece of round or square cardboard bearing the information that it was good for such and such an amount in trade at so and so, and further that this was not transferable. These bits of cardboard represented the price of labor. They were the shackles that bound the people. The laborer was even denied the privilege of spending the fruits of his labor in a manner and in such a way that to him seemeth best in contributing toward the comfort, happiness and pleasure of himself and family. (Horry Herald, 25 November 1909)
Turpentine stills broke the gum down into the primary products of spirits of turpentine and rosin. These were put into barrels which were branded with the mark of the distiller and shipped down the river to Georgetown on Winyah Bay and then on to factors in New York and New England, who received them, exchanged them for goods, and then shipped these goods back to the distiller for sale in his store. Very little actual money actually changed hands.

In the county, the economy, especially for the poor, was one of barter. Produce was traded to the merchants for goods which couldn’t be produced at home.

Those who prospered the most were the owners of the stills and the sawmills. Burroughs and Collins was the largest of the firms engaged in the timber and turpentine business and operated at Conway, Cool Springs, Grantsville, Grahamville, Board Landing, and Socastee, as well as other places. Others were J. C. Bryant, J. P. Derham, and J. A. McDermott, at Green Sea;. J. W. Holliday, at Galivants Ferry; Reaves, Suggs & Co., at Round Swamp; the Allsbrooks Brothers at Sanford (later Allsbrook); Joseph Todd, at Toddville; Buck & Beaty at Bucksville, Dusenbury & Sarvis at Socastee; J. P. Williams at Port Harrelson; Higgins & Banta at Star Bluff (Wampee); and S. L. Jordan, at Jordanville.

By the beginning of the 20th century the turpentine woods of Horry were depleted and the industry moved on. Many men, some with their families, moved with it. They followed it to Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas—everywhere the longleaf pine grew. The industry came to Horry in the 1820s, reached its peak in the post-Civil War decades, and moved on, beginning in the 1880s. One scholar wrote:

The exploitation of the long-leaf pine forest of the Deep South . . . was one means by which southerners recouped their capital after the war. . . . In approximately two generations, from 1870 to 1930, most of the original stands of long-leaf pine, covering 130,000,000 acres, were consumed. (Percival Perry in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture)

Lumber Industry

As soon as immigrants arrived, they cut trees to build their first cabins and other shelters on their new homesites. Rough log construction was a common method of housebuilding at first. Indeed, homes of this construction could be found late into the 19th century. Nathaniel H. Bishop, who paddled the length of the Waccamaw River in 1874, described one:
In the tall pines near at hand was a cabin of peeled rails, the chinks between them being stuffed with moss. A roof of cypress shingles kept the rain out. The log chimney, which was plastered with mud, was built outside of the walls and against an end of the rustic-looking structure. The wide-mouthed fireplace sent forth a blaze of light as we entered the poor man’s home. (Voyage of the Paper Canoe)
Rough logs were followed in time by logs from which the bark and thin slabs had been removed to “square them off.” This trimming made them were more nearly uniform than the rough logs and therefore easier to use in building dwellings.

There was a sawmill at Little River before the Revolution, perhaps the first one in the area. Eventually small mills became commonplace and houses were constructed of lumber generally sawed on site or a short distance away. Logs could be floated to a nearby mill, but roads were too rough and hard on oxen to pull them any distance overland. Construction using sawed lumber was in use well before the American Revolution. The old Bellamy home (1775), for example, which stood near the Waccamaw River above present day Highway 9 was constructed of boards as was the Randall house at Little River and the house at Bear Bluff Plantation on the Waccamaw, to name a few.

The commercialization of the timber industry took place in Horry County in the third decade of the 19th century. By that time most of the forests of the northeastern United States were beginning to be depleted and lumbermen were looking for new forests to exploit.

In the 1820s a young lumberman from Maine made his appearance along the lower Waccamaw. Henry Buck came from the family that founded Bucksport, ME. His people had been engaged in shipbuilding and in the lumber industry there, but the forests of New England were by this time “picked over” if not truly depleted.

When Henry Buck came up the Waccamaw River, he saw the rice fields of the Neck and then he saw the forests of Horry District. Once Buck saw the cypress swamps of the lower Waccamaw, he knew he had found a lumberman’s paradise. There were already sawmills along the stretch of the river he most favored and he went to work for the Pickett firm. Almost as soon as he set foot on Horry soil, he bought his first slave. Not long after that he bought an interest in the sawmill where he worked and then began to purchase land. It was not long before he was sole owner and engaged in a flourishing trade with his contacts in New England. Sailing ships began to come up the river to Bucksville to load the fine lumber this mill and two others he built produced.

According to the American Lumberman Buck’s mills could load the hold of a sailing ship with timbers 90' long and 15" square at the small end. Such magnificent timbers were in great demand, particularly for the construction of public buildings where they enabled architects to design large open spaces unobstructed by supports.

When Robert Mills compiled his famous Statistics of South Carolina in 1825, he mentions the fact that the area exported timber, but he does not mention the presence of a lumber industry (that is, timber processed by milling) in Horry District.

By 1850 the Buck mills at Bucksport and Bucksville were producing 3,000,000 board feet of lumber each per year. There is a story that when the guns of Fort Sumter were heard kicking off the War Between the States six sailing ships were at Bucksville. Two were loaded and waiting for the favorable tide to go downriver; two were being loaded at the docks; and two were waiting in the river to be loaded. It is difficult for one familiar with the Waccamaw as it is now to envision such an industry. Buck was reputed to be the richest man in Horry District by this time.

It is not surprising, therefore, if Buck had sympathies towards preserving the union. His family was in Maine; his business with the northern states was lucrative. On the other hand, he owned about 300 slaves and he had married a woman whose family went back to the earliest settlers. He had cast his lot with South Carolina and he supported the Confederate cause with his wealth.

For the Civil War years Buck produced lumber in support of the southern states. As soon as the war was over, he resumed his trade with New England and other places around the world. His business was gradually getting back to its pre-war production when he died in 1870. His eldest son, born of his first marriage in New England, took over the mill business. The following year William L. Buck entered into a business partnership with C. F. Buck, B. L. Beaty, and James Elkanah Dusenbury. The enterprise at Bucksville was known as the Greenwood Steam Mill. It flourished for three years, but in 1874 the mill burned. The loss was uninsured, so the partnership dissolved. W. L. Buck rebuilt the mill, but it never again attained the production it had before.

The last quarter of the 19th century saw the greatest production in Horry’s history. Lumber became the dominant industry, eclipsing naval stores which by this time was already diminishing. In 1874 Burroughs and Collins in Conwayborough built a mill on the banks of Kingston Lake near Snow Hill, the F.G. Burroughs home. Kingston Lake Drive which leads from Main Street to the lake was originally constructed of sawdust and was known as the Sawdust Trail. It was a smaller operation than the Buck mills, but still produced 10,000 board feet a year.

South Carolina: Resources and Population, published by the SC Board of Agriculture in 1883, indicated that forty or fifty vessels a year regularly loaded at Bucksville and sailed to New York, Baltimore and ports in the West Indies and South America.

In 1887 the enterprising Chadbourn Lumber Company of North Carolina built a railroad from the Wilmington, Columbia, and Augusta line south to the Waccamaw River to open up the forests of northern Horry County for the timber industry. The Wilmington, Chadbourn & Conway Railroad extended the company’s rails from Mt. Tabor, NC, to Conwayborough and ran the first train into Conway on December 15, 1887. This company differed from most in that it paid in silver dollars which it hauled in kegs along the route to pay the construction workers. The silver was accompanied by armed guards, but there is no record of any attempt to hijack the payroll.

In the course of doing business in naval stores and in timber, Burroughs and Collins had been buying cheap land. Many landowners were willing to sell land they regarded as worth nothing for little more than they would charge the business to cut the timber or harvest the pine gum. The firm was well positioned to enter the lumber business in an aggressive way. Over the county they established mills and distilleries which formed the nucleus of small communities which always had a commissary store operated for the firm by some trusted clerk or manager.

Much of the acreage acquired by Burroughs and Collins lay near the coast, some of it purchased from Dusenbury and Sarvis, once one of the largest turpentine dealers in the area. At what is now Myrtle Beach there was a camp for the Burroughs and Collins crews. It was the company’s need to transport its product from the coast to the Waccamaw River to take advantage of water transportation that drove Burroughs’ sons to construct the first railroad to the beach.

Subsidiaries of Burroughs and Chapin, the successor firm, are still engaged in forest production and in manufacturing forest products.

In the 1894 George Officer, an Englishman and J. W. Little, a Canadian, developed a large lumber mill on Eddy Lake, off Bull Creek. Most of their workers were imported and they were fed, housed, and clothed for four and a half years before they drew paychecks. According to one source, they were finally paid in 1899 80¢ an hour for a twelve hour day. The Eddy Lake Cypress Company built the Eddy Lake and Northern Railroad into Gunters Island to harvest timber there.

Waccamaw Lumber Company was organized in 1899.

In 1902 the largest lumber company ever in the county was organized by D. W. Raper. His Conway Lumber Mill was sold to the Willson Brothers. They brought in H. W. Ambrose to run it in 1906 and under his management it became the second largest plant on the Atlantic Coast. At its peak it produced 100,000 board feet of lumber a day. The Conway Lumber Company built its tramroads into the wilderness of the Little Pee Dee Swamps and connected with the Conway, Seashore and Western Railroad to bring its logs into the mill at Conway. Franklin G. Burroughs, who died in 1996, told of seeing logs of a diameter greater than the height of a man.

Mills were highly susceptible to fires. In 1914 Conway mill burned to the ground but was rebuilt. It operated until 1944.

In 1905 John H. Sizer of Allentown, PA, founded the lumber company that bore his name. It was located along the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad north of Conway. This firm became the Trexler Lumber Company in 1908 and its mill burned in 1917.

The Hammer Lumber Company, headquartered in Philadelphia, had a mill at Little River where one of the most spectacular explosions in the annals of the county took place. At Bucksport Donald V. Richardson established the Richardson Cypress Lumber and Shingle Company.

When Burroughs and Collins laid out the town of Aynor, it was not long before John H. Shelley had established a sawmill there.

Among the other firms engaged in the timber and lumber industry were the Kanawha Lumber Co., Butters Lumber Company, and Gardner and Lacey Lumber Company. The last named built a railroad from Little River to Red Hill, near Conway to transport timber to their mill.

The men who worked in the woods, black and white, worked under harsh conditions for low wages. The companies maintained “camps” near where the logging was being done. According to Paul Sarvis (IRQ 18:4:21-22), these “camps” were room size and gave housing for two men. They were early portables—that is, when the logging was completed in one area, these crude little buildings could be loaded on flat cars and moved by rail to a fresh site. They were heated by little stoves.

Men stayed for the working week in the camps in the woods, doing their own cooking and washing. Leftovers from their suppers became their dinners in the woods the next day. Many times these men were paid by tokens issued by the company and could only spend these wages in the commissary store which was company owned and operated.

It was a harsh working environment. Men dealt with deprivation and discomfort every day and accidents were common.

Wages were pitifully low. In 1883 wages were reported to be $5 to $16 dollars by the month, $50 to $125 by the year. Paul Sarvis said he was paid $40 a month and had to buy his food out of that, leaving him $10-$15 for the support of his family. Boston Gause made 90¢ a day working in the swamps for the Richardson Shingle Mill. Men at the Conway Lumber Company made 10¢ an hour or $1.00 a day.

Eventually the cypress swamps were cut over and the longleaf pine was destroyed by the primitive technology of the naval stores industry. Neither of these trees is easy to reestablish and have never regained the prominence of the 19th century. Other kinds of wood remained in abundance and the timber industry still provides a livelihood for Horry families and the basis of several small industries.

The wealth in Horry citizens, even for the wealthiest, during the heyday of the timber and turpentine industries was generally in land, not cash. There were always Horry families who were leaving for new beginnings and better prospects toward the south and west. The owners of the mills, stills and commissary stores acquired land in various ways—sometimes by purchase in lieu of a lease, sometimes as the result of mortgages held by them.

Nonetheless the land thus acquired formed the basis of future empires. Land owned by Burroughs and Collins and others along the coast fueled the development of Myrtle Beach and the other strand resort developments.

Some of the prominent business men of the county [in the late 19th Century] were J. C. Bryant, J. P. Derham, and J. A. McDermott, at Green Sea. The latter two were not in politics then but afterwards took a prominent part and were elected to several prominent offices. J. W. Holliday, at Galivants Ferry, Reaves, Suggs & Co., at Round Swamp. After the death of Mr. Reaves it was succeeded by C. C. Suggs & Co., with branches at Hickmans X Roads, conducted by Nathan Hardwick, one of the partners and at Hammond, conducted by, (Joe Allsbrook ?), the other member of the firm, Burroughs & Collins, at Grahamville, the head of river navigation. There was a store or so at Little River, but I cannot recall, just at this time, who conducted them. Joseph Todd, at Toddville, Buck & Beaty, Fred Buck and Ned Beaty were the members of the firm, at Bucksville, J. E. Dusenbury, S. S. Sarvis and S. S. Dusenbury composed the firm of Dusenbury & Co., at Socastee, J. P. Williams, at Port Harrelson. Mr. Williams afterwards sold out to J. E. Dusenbury & Co., and Mr. Chas. Dusenbury becoming the manager. S. L. Jordan, at Jordanville. These were the business firms of the county all told, except those at Conway.

In reference to the men who did business in the county in the dark days now passed, mention of whom was made in my last instalment, should be added the names of Burroughs & Collins, at Cool Spring--Henry Homer Burroughs manager; the same firm at Grantsville, with C. C. Holmes as manager; I. T. Lewis, at Lewisville, of which W. R. Lewis was the manager, and Higgins & Banta at Star Bluff, or Wampee.

The circulating medium was almost exclusively a piece of round or square cardboard bear the information that it was good for such and such an amount in trade at so and so, and further that this was not transferable. These bits of cardboard represented the price of labor. They were the shackles that bound the people. The laborer was even denied the privilege of spending the fruits of his labor in a manner and in such a way that to him seemeth best in contributing toward the comfort, happiness and pleasure of A. J. Baker.

During the last century and the first decade of the present century, the turpentine industry was one of the chief occupations of the male laboring class, that is, as I remember it from my boyhood days as applied to the coastal county of Horry of our state. Although the same condition was true in other coastal counties and even other states where coniferous forest existed, my remarks will be confined to the locality in which I was brought up.

I was raised on a farm and had every opportunity to observe just what was going on in and around that small farm surrounded by almost a primeval forest where workers of the industry were constantly seen during the summer season. Nearly all of the farms were small and provided only provisions consumed at home. Hence the turpentine industry to bring in a little cash.

The tools used in carrying on the industry were the boxing ax, the hack, the poller, the dipper, the scraper, the bucket, the scrap box, and the barrel. Some of these implements, I know seem foreign to many of the people living today, and I wish I ahd some of them at least, with me so that I could demonstrate how they were used.

The predominating forest of trees, at that time, was the long leaf pine from which the sap was extracted. A notch or box, as it was called was cut near the ground in the tree, holding about a quart. This was done with a boxing ax. The next tool used was the hack, which was used applying streaks until the face of the tree became about a head high.

Then the streaks were applied by the puller. The streaks were applied weekly during the spring and summer. Usually the streaks would dry out in a weeks time stopping the flow of sap. Then, of course, a new one must be applied to start the sap flow again. When the notch or box mentioned was full of sap or turpentine, as it was calld, it was ready to be dipped, put in barrels and hauled to market. This was known as dip turpentine.

During the spring and summer season, the working period, I just mentioned, some of the sap would lodge on the face of the boxed tree. The face I’d better explain, is where the numerous streaks had been made by the hack or by the puller. Since not all of the sap of the tree would reach the box below; some of it would lodge on the face. Here it would harden flake white, lose much of its liquid appearance, and become a sort of dry turpentine. During the sumemr season, the accumulation of this turpentine amounted to quite an item.

During the fall and winter, this turpentine was scraped from the face of the tree, gathered in suitable boxes, packed in barrels, and was ready for market. This was known as scraped turpentine and gave the workers something to do during the off season. The trees were now again ready for the prime summer season.

After the turpentine was gathered and placed in barrels, it was hauled to market by mule wagons (there were no trucks then) and if there had been, the roads were inadequate for their use.

At the market place, the barreled product was weighed, paid for at a certain price per gage weight of 280 lbs. Or 320 lbs. Which ever gage weight was in force. I never knew just why the gage weight varied. The weight times the gage price divided by the factors of the gage, say 4 and 7 or 4 and 8 would give the purchase price to the producer.

The next step of the gummy product was the distillation. I was too young and unconcerned to know very much about this process. The barreled turpentine was bought up by the larger merchants who owned the stills. The stills consisted of a large retort with a capacity of several barrels. The retort was built in upon a furnace under which a fire producing a slow heat would drive the spirits into a condensing or cooling system. It was placed in tight non-leaking barrels for shipment to the commission merchants. The residue or rosin was also poured in barrels for shipment.

As is the system today of tenant farming, the land owner would sharecrop his timber land to producers as tenants on a share-crop basis. I think the method varied in different communities. The small landowner would be his own producer, while the large landowner would perhaps have several tenants and producers in common. The tenant usually was allotted a certain number of boxes or pines as a crop, but I do not remember how many composed the allotment.

As the fisherman always had his spun yarns, so did the turpentine workers.

One bright spring morning, a box puller spied a big black snake poking his head high around the tree. He jumped, and as he did so one of his suspended buttons in front pulled off. Looking back, he saw the dangling suspender, thought it was the snake, and he ran and ran and every time he looked back he saw what was apparently the snake. Finally almost out of breath, he decided to make a fight and discovered the ruse.

On another occasion, a man was hacking his boxes. Much shrubbery with full leafage had grown around the pine. As he stooped over to chip the bos, the experienced something cold touching his nose. He looked and saw a snake on a limb so close that its tongue was producing the cool sensation.

One summer afternoon, an old box puller was streaking his pines when a thunder cloud came over. To partly shield himself from the drizzling rain, he leaned beside of a tree. Observing another tree a little way off providing better protection, he proceeded to the other tree. Upon reaching the second tree, lightning struck the tree he had just left. Still a third tree was decided up providing still better protection from the rain. When he reached the third tree, lightning struck the second tree, that he had left. Becoming frightened, he decided to go home, and when just a little way distant, lightning struck the third tree which he had just abandoned.

These are some of the stories that the turpentine workers would chew their tobacco and relate while in and around the commissary on Saturday afternoons. I was a small boy in my early teens and even before, but I recall very vividly the stories just mentioned.

The spirits was and is still used in the preparation of medicines and paints, while the rosin was used largely as pitch in the early shipbuilding industry. Turpentine and rosin are produced today in a limited way by the distillation of wood products.

At the market place I might add, the tenant or sharecropper usually had already consumed his share of provisions advanced by the landlord and only received credit to his account for his part. He was always on the debit side of the ledger.

In Horry county the turpentine industry long since is a thing of the past, although as I understand, further south it is still practiced to a limited extent, and some of the old tools are still in use. However patent boxes have replaced the old method of notching the pine with the ax. Synthetics have largely replaced the byproducts of the turpentine industry and the progressive use of timber in the lumbering industry, being more profitable, replaced the turpentine worker for the logger.

Naval Stores by Percival Perry

(from the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture)

The naval stores industry, whose principal products were tar, pitch, and turpentine, derives its name from the use of these products for waterproofing the rigging and hulls of early wooden sailing vessels. The industry was based on the exploitation of the pine woods for resinous juices and is one of the oldest industries in the South. It was developed at Jamestown in 1608, but is associated especially with North Carolina because of the highly resinous long-leaf pine (Pinus palustris), whose natural habitat is the approximately 100-mile-wide Coastal Plain from Virginia to Texas.

Tar was produced by a process of dry distillation in an earthen kiln of pieces of dead long-leaf pine. Lengths of dead wood, called lightwood, omnipresent in the forest, were gathered, split into short pieces, placed in a kiln, covered with earth, and subjected to a slow fire that forced out the resinous matter. The tar was dipped from a pit outside of the kiln and poured into barrels. Pitch was obtained by boiling tar to a thicker consistency.

After 1820 production of tar declined, and by 1835 the production of turpentine and its derivatives, spirits of turpentine and rosin, became the main focus of the industry. This developed from improved processes of distilling and from new uses for spirits of turpentine and rosin. Spirits of turpentine was used as a paint thinner and preserver of wood, but after 1835 it was used also as a solvent in the burgeoning rubber industry, particularly as an illuminant. Camphene lamps were the chief form of light in homes and businesses after the decline of whale oil and prior to the development of kerosene. Camphene (spirits of turpentine mixed with alcohol) provided a bright light, was relatively inexpensive, but was highly inflammable. Rosin, a residue from distilling, found new uses in the manufacture of soap, lamp black, ink, and in sizing paper for printing.

With the development of the second phase of the industry, planters entered the business on a large scale, employing slave labor. Once trained in turpentine operations, blacks preferred turpentining to other forms of slave labor because it was based on the task system and they were somewhat more independent in their work. One man could attend a “crop” of 10,000 boxes spread over 50 to 100 acres of land. The industry required a number of specialized workers: “boxers” cut holes in the base of the tree as a container for the resin; “chippers” periodically reopened the wound in the tree above the box to increase the flow of resin; “dippers” removed the resin from the boxes every 10 days; distillers refined the product at a nearby distillery into spirits of turpentine and rosin; and coopers made barrels for the products.

A turpentine orchard was exhausted in 5 to 10 years of cultivation, and the industry was necessarily migratory. In the post-Civil War period it spread rapidly southward into South Carolina and the Gulf states. The exploitation of the long-leaf pine forest of the Deep South between 1870 and 1920 was one means by which southerners recouped their capital after the war. Factors in Savannah, Jacksonville, Pensacola, and Mobile obtained control of large tracts of pine land and controlled the trade. They leased timber to operators, advanced the capital in the form of goods and tools, and subsequently marketed the products. Savannah became the leading naval-stores port from 1880 to 1920 and continued to set the world price of naval stores until 1950.

In the surge southward North Carolina procedures were followed, and skilled turpentine workers were sought from the Carolinas. Sometimes entire communities of people, plus their household goods, cattle, cats, dogs, chickens, and other property, were transported by train to Georgia, Alabama, or Mississippi. A new community was born in the piney woods of the Deep South, complete with dwellings, distillery, commissary, and a combination church-school. The overseer was operations supervisor, enforcer of law and order, director of the commissary and distillery, and physician. It was a primitive, isolated, lonely, destructive, and unique way of life. In approximately two generations, from 1870 to 1930, most of the original stands of long-leaf pine, covering 130,000,000 acres, were consumed.

Men who had made their living in the pine woods followed the industry. The beginning of commercial production here brought a great many North Carolina men and their families to the county. Later, when naval stores played out in Horry, many moved on to Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and points west to work in the turpentine woods. They knew no other way of making a living. Many of these men did not own land, but hired themselves out to large landholders to do the actual work of turpentine production.

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