W.V. Davidson, president of DH&G Co. had, for a long period of time, been buying tracts of virgin timber lands in the Cumberland Mountain area south and east of Cowan. Most of these timber-land purchases were made through his locale agent, W. E. Hodges, with Jim Skidmore as surveyor. By 1916 the total acreage purchased had reached more then 52,000 acres and the company's lumber operations in Fentress and Overton Counties, Tennessee, were reaching the cut-out period. In 1917 the Cowan lumber operation was started with about 20 employee families, more than 100 mules, three sawmills and logging and railroad equipment being transferred to Franklin County from Frentress and Overton Counties. Three mills and lumber yard were located near where the cement plant now stands.
Click here for full size photo of the mill
The employees of the DH&G Co. transferred from Overton and Fentress Counties to Franklin County are listed below:
|Hayes Austin||Machine Shop||Evans Betty||RR Brakeman||Everett Brock||Locomotive Engineer|
|G.A. Brock||Grading Foreman||George Brock||Shop mechanic||Irvin Brock||Locomotive Engineer|
|Roy Brock||Commissary||R.F. Caraway||Timber Cruiser||Balam Cole||Mule Foreman|
|Doc Cole||Locomotive Fireman||Smith Cole||Skidder Crew||James Copeland||Master Mechanic|
|Steve Dillon||Lumber Inspector||Joe Foxall||Lumber Inspector||Ed Gammons||Skidder Crew|
|Herbert Gammons||Skidder Crew||P.V. Gammons||RR Track Foreman||J. Ross Greene||Vice-President|
|Lee Hargis||Logging Foreman||Charlie Hill||RR Track Crew||Elmore Holeman||RR Track Crew|
|Joe Holt||Blacksmith||J.W.R.B. Smith||Log Loader||Floyd Ledbetter||Timber Foreman|
|Hubert Ledbetter||Skidder Operator||Tom Ledbetter||Locomotive Fireman||Hayes McDonald||Logging Sup|
|Leslie McDonald||Team Foreman||Sol Milligan||Sup Hickory Mill||Ollie Montgomery||Lumber Inspector|
|John Moore||Band Sawyer||Paul Nelson||RR Track Crew||Avery Nichols||RR Brakeman|
|M. Esco Nichols||Logging Train Conductor||S. T. Nichols||Water Boy||Alvie "Peg" Norris||Water Pump Foreman|
|Frank Pearson, Sr||Manager||Bob Phillips||Saw Mill||Blue Potter||Livestock Foreman|
|RE (Bob) Potter||Team Foreman||Proctor O. Pyle||Surveyor||J.B. Randolph||Sanitary Cleanup|
|Bill Ray||Locomotive Fireman||Charlie Ray||Skidder Crew||Hassel Ray||Teamster|
|Lannie Ray||Skidder Operator||John Ray||Skidder Crew||Arch C. Smith||RR Crew Foreman|
|Ferrell Smith||RR Track Crew||Ike Smith||Band Sawyer||Lester W. Smith||Band Saw Filer|
|Leo Smith||Locomotive Fireman||Ross C. Smith||Logger||J.E. Snoddy||Sup Band Mill 1|
|Lee Solomon||Teamster||Will Vaughn||Logging Train Conductor||J. T. Wallace||Sup B and Mill 2|
|Earl Waters||Log Loading Crew||Nick Waters||Log Loading Crew||Elmore Williams||RR Track Crew|
|Robert Williams||Lumber Yard|
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Three women were semi-employed by the lumber company. Mrs. Flora Phillips operated the company boarding house in Cowan, Mrs. Esco Nichols operated one at Cold Springs, and Mrs. Sarah Cole operated the thirst at Lakeview. The boarding houses were owned by the company and no rent was charged to the operators.
Ellis Forgy, George Forgy, and J.N,. Forgy, though not employees, came to Cowan in the early 1920s at the request of DH&G and opened a general mercantile business, thus eliminating the necessity of a company owned commissary.
|The main line of the standard gauge logging railroad was extended from the Cowan mills to the top of the mountain, six miles in distance and 1,000 feet in elevation rise, with 4 1/2 and 5 percent grades requiring the use of gear-driven locomotives. From the top of the mountain the railroad extended in a southeasterly direction on the main Cumberland Mountain top ridge into Jackson County, Alabama - a distance of 21 1/2 miles from the Cowan mills. The approximately 8,000 acres of Alabama land yielded some excellent timber from the Bear Den Cove and "Walls of Jericho" areas. In addition to the 21 1/2 miles of main line, at least 25 miles of spur tracks were laid out the branch ridges to many cableway log skidder sets and to seven inclines that brought logs up from the coves. The Davidson, Hicks & Greene sawmill operation was ended in 1928 after having logged, sawed and shipped more than 225,000,000 board feet of southern hardwoods, including 60,000 club-turned hickory spokes for Ford "tin lizzies," before the advent of wire and steel flange wheels for automobiles.||
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In 1925, with the end of the sawmill operations insight, officials of the DH&G Company employed the Pittsburgh Testing Laboratories to drill and analyze the limestone and clay deposits in the sawmill area and to report as to their quantity and suitability for cement manufacture. Following the PTL's testes of many limestone and clay drill holes throughout the property, the report of findings was most favorable, both as to quality and quality. The mountain of limestone was almost pure calcium carbonate and the clay samples were in correct proportion in silica, alumina, and iron for high grade Portland cement manufacturing.
Davidson, Hicks and Greene were part of the Davidson Community and the Wilder Community in Fentress, County, Tennessee.
Logging and lumbering history in Appalachia