Claudie Royal ~ 1920s Skidderman at Ray City, GA

James Claudie Royal (1893 – 1972)

Claudie Royal was born May 7, 1893, at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He was a son of William Frank Royal and Mary Jones.  His mother died when Claudie was about one year old.  When Claudie was about 4 years old, his father married Arletta Ganos and moved the family to Clinch County.

In 1920,  Claudie Royal and his wife, Thelma, were living in Ray City, GA in the home of his father-in-law, Bill Cole.  They all lived in a house on Jones Street.  The Cole  household at that time  included  William M. “Bill” Cole, his wife  Hattie, and minor children, Clarence, Leroy, Clyde, and Irene.

Claudie Royal and Bill Cole were  sawmill employees. There were several smaller sawmill operators in the area but from about 1909 to 1923 the big sawmill at Ray City, operated under a succession of owners, was the largest employer in the area. In 1920 it was the Clements Lumber Company.

Claudie worked as a “skidderman,”  while Bill Cole was a wheelwright.

As a wheelwright,  Bill Cole worked to build and repair the wheels used on horse- or mule-drawn wagons and carts used in the sawmill operation. The wheel hubs, spokes, and rims were all constructed out of carefully crafted wooden pieces.  The wheel assembly was banded with an iron “tire” that was custom made by a blacksmith.

Working as a skidderman, Claudie Royal drove a team of horses or mules, using a skidder to transport logs.  The skidder dragged logs from where they were cut  the short distance to the tracks of the railway tram, where they were loaded and hauled to the sawmill.   According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1918 publications, in Georgia a skidderman worked a 60 hour workweek, for a wage of 22.5 cents an hour, or $13.50 per week. The workweek was six 10-hour days.

Skiddermen used two wheel carts, like the Perry Cart, to drag felled logs to the tracks of a railroad tram for loading and hauling to the sawmill. This cart has wooden wheels with steel "tires" 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet in diameter. Construction and maintenance of wheels such as these would have been the work of a wheelwright.

Skiddermen used two wheel carts, like the Perry Cart, to drag felled logs to the tracks of a railroad tram for loading and hauling to the sawmill. This cart has wooden wheels with steel “tires” 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet in diameter. Construction and maintenance of wheels such as these would have been the work of a wheelwright.

Log Carts. — In all types of carts the logs are swung beneath the wheels with the rear ends dragging on the ground. The height of wheels ranges from 5 to 10 feet with a corresponding variation in gauge.

A cart used in the Coastal Plain region has an arched axle and wheels 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 feet high. The hounds of the cart are fastened on either side of the tongue by a heavy bolt. A bunk rests on the top of the axel and carries two upright guides between which the tongue fits. The latter is held in place by a spring latch. When the cart is to be loaded it is driven up to one end of a log, then backed until the axle is directly over that part of the log to which the chains or grapples are to be attached. The latch on the guides is then released, the team is backed for a step or two and the hounds are forced into a position nearly vertical, which turns the bunk through a quarter circle and brings it near enough to the ground to permit the grapples or chains to be attached. The elevation of the log is accomplished by driving the team forward, which brings the hounds and tongue to a horizontal position.

– Bryant, R. C. (1923). Logging: The principles & general methods of operation in the United States. S.l.: s.n..

Sliptongue skidder working in the south Georgia pine forest.

Sliptongue skidder working in the south Georgia pine forest.

Hauling logs by mules. Ocilla, GA.

Hauling logs by mules. Ocilla, GA.

James Claudie Royal died  in February, 1972.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of James Claudie Royal and Thelma Cole Royal, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of James Claudie Royal and Thelma Cole Royal, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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