Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wartime Wednesday: Lumberjills of New Hampshire

Wartime Wednesday: Lumberjills of New Hampshire

The hurricane of 1938 was devastating. In September of that year, the storm was forecasted to turn out to sea, but instead moved directly north into New England. The storm surge that occurred ahead of the storm caused south facing bays such as Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island to experience overwhelming flooding and loss of life. In New Hampshire, Maine, and Nova Scotia high winds (with gusts above 180 mph) flattened entire forests. Electricity was out for days, homes were destroyed, and 2.6 million board feet of timber had been blown down—enough to frame more than 170,000 homes.

More logs ended up in Concord, NH’s Turkey Pond (12 million board feet) than anywhere else after the U.S. Forest Service harvested the tangled mess of trees and brought them to sawmills in the North East. The wood was processed, but by 1942 most of the lumbermen were gone overseas into combat and the mills couldn’t keep up with the work.

As with other industries, the women stepped up to fill the jobs vacated by the men, and Turkey Pond became the first sawmill to be operated by women. And by all accounts, including a November 19, 1942 U.S. Forest Service newsletter that reported, “the experiment being conducted in Concord was going along nicely.”

The publication went on to say, “It is most surprising and gratifying to see the way those gals take hold of the job. In addition to the jobs we anticipated women could handle, we have found them capable of rolling logs on the deck, running the edge, and for ‘show purposes’ even running the head saw. May it will be possible to actually man a mill 100 percent with women sometime in the future.”
Recruiters initially contacting local farming families to find people who were “rugged and reliable.” However, other women who worked as waitresses, seamstresses, and housekeepers left their jobs to earn the same $4.50 per day as the men (double their normal pay). The oldest woman at Turkey Pond was in her 50s and went by the nickname of “Gram.” The youngest was 18.

David Story remembers his mom coming home at the end of each day at the mill to cook a full meal for her family. Says David, “I know she was always really proud that she did that {work at the mill}. They always talked about that and how they always tried to beat the mean—because there was a man’s sawmill across the lake—and the big deal was to see if they could out-saw them, which they did, a lot.”

Logs were dumped into ponds throughout New England to protect them from insects and decay. In New Hampshire the federal government used 128 lakes and 110 fields to collect and store logs from the surrounding woodlands. Operating from 1939 through the end of 1943, an estimated 600 million board feet of timber was salvaged in New Hampshire—an amount equivalent to 60,000 tractor-trailer loads of lumber.

Will you ever look at a tree the same way again?


With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.

Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.

Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?

Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war.

Purchase Link:

No comments:

Post a Comment