Montbrook - 1903

A Thriving Town Where Timber and Turpentine are of Prime Importance and Other Interests are not Neglected


    The editor of the Star had heard so much about the hustling business activities of Montbrook and Morriston, near the western borders of Marion, but in Levy county and on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, that a desire long cherished to inspect them was realized Friday and Saturday.
    The traveler is impressed, as he alights from the car at Montbrook, to note the clouds of smoke as they float into the sky and hear the rush of steam as it escapes from the big broilers that furnish the motive power for the large sawmill and planing mill of the place. The sawmill is owned and operated by the Wade & McCarthy Co., and cuts 30,000 feet a day and employs some eighty hands. Their tram roads run west into the pine timber for logs, a distance of five miles and as the timber disappears before the woodman’s axe the line is extended. W. D. McArthur is the efficient manager and everything around the mill moves like clockwork.
    Adjoining this sawmill is what is known as the H. M. Tyler Lumber Co., owned by New York parties and presided over by Mr. A. W. Reed. This company takes all the board lumber made by the neighboring sawmill, as well as the same product from the mills at Morriston and Williston, which is dressed and converted into flooring, siding, ceiling and moldings. The capacity of this planning machinery is 32,000 feet a day, running ten hours. Attached is an electric light plant, that supplies the illumination in the early morning and late in the afternoon, both in the planning department and the sheds where the finished product is stored, which are immense structures several hundred feet long, about fifty wide and twenty-five feet high, through the centers of which tracks are laid into which to run cars for loading.
    This institution employs fifty hands. Its machinery is up to date and its work of the first order. We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. I. M. Riles, who has charge of the machinery and is manager of the operating department. He is devoted to his calling  and has shown rare mechanical ingenuity in devising a transfer team, by which the boards after being surfaced and sized, are conveyed to the machinery to produce the exact material desired without putting a hand to a board. His invention is on the same principal that is used in sawmills in removing the waste of the log to the firepit, with an endless chain.
     Mr. Riles has also invented and patented a fine arch for furnace doors to mill boilers, through which water is continually passing, making it impossible for the heat to consume the iron arch over the furnace door of the boiler, as was formerly the case and the cause of much trouble and waste under the old system  of an iron bar support over the furnace door arch, which was continually being burnt out.
    One of the things of interest to the writer was the automatic saw filer of the mills, which does the work of a 58-inch saw in from one half to an hour, while by hand it would take the time of a man for a day. Those saws need filing three times a day.
     The pay for ordinary labor in these mills is from 95 cents to $1 a day. The same pay is given the men in the turpentine works of the place, who employ about 100 men and whose output last year was 2000 barrels of spirits of turpentine and its concomitant of resin. Mr. D. M. Flynn is manager of the turpentine plant.
    With these facts before the reader, he can easily see why the village of Montbrook is a place for considerable commercial importance, for, added to the 250 or 300 men constantly employed in the milling and turpentine interests, are the solid agricultural classes, including stock raising, for which this section is noted and the volume of trade can be easily devised. To meet the demand there are three good stores, well stocked, conducted respectively by F. E. Crawford, C . C. Rawls & Co., and Thomas & Davis.
    Mr. Crawford is a young business man, who has been eminently  successful and has a bright future before him. His sales exceed $3000 a month.
    The active man of the firm of C. C. Rawls & Co., is Mr. Tom Limbeaugh, a Marion County boy, a genial, enterprising business man who is very popular with the public. The business of this firm exceeds $50,000 a year.
    Messrs. Thomas and Davis are, comparatively speaking, a new firm, but are growing and will make their mark as successful merchants. Mr. J. R. Thomas is a son of Marion’s popular citizen, Mr. Charles Thomas, of Pine.
    Montbrook has a population of about 300 people outside of the mill laborers.
The Baptists have a very creditable church building and services are held regularly. A good school building is one of the possessions of the village, with 80 odd pupils on the roll and over which Professor Fender presides most acceptably, assisted by Miss Ross who has charge of the primary department. Mrs. J. R. Davis ministers to the wants of the wayfarer at “Cherry Cottage,” where clean and soft beds with good meals comfort the homeless.
    Mr. Sim Blitch, son of Hon. Newton Blitch, is the popular railroad and express agent of the place, which position of trust he has kept ever since the Amber log road from Archer struck the Montbrook section, which was then known as Phoenix. He is the joint agent of the A. C. L. and Seaboard Air Line Railways, both of which corporations use the track from Archer to Morriston and divide the freight of the town and her productive interests. Montbrook is incorporated and Mr. Simion Blitch is the head of the municipal government.
    This article would be incomplete without referring to the fact that Montbrook is the home of State Senator Newton Blitch, who by his fidelity and pure conscience, carried out in his public acts, to his neighbors and the state at large, occupies a large piece of their confidence and affection. Senator Blitch is largely interested in stock growing.
    The people of Montbrook are very kindly disposed towards Ocala and Ocala merchants and the latter receive considerable trade from that section when business calls them to town. All the merchants of Montbrook do all their banking in Ocala.
    While at Montbrook we ran across Carlos Sistrunk, who was in the village on legal business. Carlos is very popular with the people of that section. It is the place of his birth and his honored parents reside in the town. 

Source: Ocala Evening Star: 1-28-1903

Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers


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