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Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Wood in Woodstock

A magnificent specimen saved by builders at the John Wieland Development on South Main Street, formerly a horse farm.
There's nothing like a little snow to highlight the beauty of God's sculptures--the trees in our city. And we have ample. Leaves are glorious, but we often disregard those behemoth trunks and mighty wooden arms when thousands of waving, green flags compete for our attention. Last week, however, we couldn't miss those natural frameworks standing resplendent in the snowfall, gifting us with their striking beauty without our having to do the least little thing to promote it. Naturally, this started me thinking about our trees and, more specifically, the role they have played in area history.

Woodstock, Our Name

No one knows for sure how the city came to have its moniker. Some have speculated the name comes from the Sir Walter Scott novel written in 1826 and very popular at the time. Contradicting that supposition is the historical information in Georgia's Woodstock: A Centennial Tribute. It mentions a postcard sent to a Dr. Samuel Glenn in Woodstock, Georgia, postmarked 1809. This implies there was a settlement, even then, although probably tiny. So that knocks out the novel theory. Others suggest the wood-burning locomotives gave the city its name. But the railroad did not come through until 1879, and an official post office existed in 1833. Here is my guess: the plenitude of trees promised an endless supply for the pioneering people who, so inspired, easily came up with the perfect theme for this place.

Wood, The Town Resource

In the beginning days, the land was thickly covered with trees and crisscrossed by Indian footpaths. This necessitated clearing trees to make roads and fields for planting. The resulting wood surplus came in handy for building log structures and keeping those simple homes warm. Along Little River, mills sprang up, and certainly a saw mill took a prime spot. A century later, wood was still in great demand. A building on Mill Street housed a planing mill run by a steam engine in 1928. Lewis Poor contributed this memory for the Centennial Tribute book: "My brothers and I always dreaded days that we had to 'offbear.' There was no vacuum system and shavings flew like a snow storm. The tin roofing over the planer was well dented due to pine knots being thrown out as the lumber came through. By the time we finished planning a load, we would be standing on four feet of shavings."

Trees make Woodstock a special place, a sheltered place, a strong place. I could not live anywhere else. By the way, I think it's no accident that trees point upward, lifting our heads from our concerns and raising our eyes to the sky.

Patti Brady is a member of Preservation Woodstock, Inc.
She is author of the Woodstock novels: The Heart of a Child and The Power of Her Smile