By Norris Chambers

            Our discovery was probably not as important as the discovery of America but it was something we had not seen before and didn’t know what it was. The thing was obviously a farm machine of some sort. Brush had grown over it and almost hidden it from view. But Clifton and I discovered it and tried to decide what it might have been used for. We had seen syrup mills that were used to squeeze the juice out of cane for syrup making and this thing reminded us of a syrup mill because there was part of a pole at the top to which a horse cold be hitched to turn it around and around. But this contrivance only had one big steel roller and a squeezing mill had two through which the cane was fed. The one roller had several turns of large cable wrapped around it and a heavy rusted chain attached to a large steel loop about the middle of the steel frame that held the roller and the pole at the top. There were some large, heavy gears between the top pole and the steel drum.

            “There’s one thing we know for sure.” Clifton commented, “It hasn’t been used in a long time.” I agreed with him. After inspecting it for a few more minutes we left the scene after agreeing to ask an old timer who might know more about it.

            We didn’t have to hunt for an old timer. When we told my dad about it he told us that he knew it was there and that it was a stump puller. It had probably been used for the last time when the land was cleared for cultivation just west of it and that it had been dragged out of the field when the job was finished. During the fifty years that the field had been in use brush had grown around it and almost hidden it from view.

            An old stump puller is a rather odd thing for a couple of inquiring kids to get excited about, but any kind of machinery always fascinated Clifton and me. We immediately began to think about what we could do with it. The first plan was to move it to the barnyard area and let it mingle with the old buggies, hacks, feed mills, Model T’s and other interesting but unnecessary relics. The stump puller was over a half mile from our relic graveyard and was a very heavy piece of machinery. After a few unofficial meetings we decided to move it out of the brush and into the cleared edge of the sandy field, a distance of not more than one or two hundred yards.

This plan would require some brush removal and plenty of ingenuity but would be much easier than moving it to the relic area.

            In a few work sessions we removed the brush and left a sandy trail leading to the edge of the field. Our next task was the actual moving of the heavy machine. We didn’t believe it would be practical to try to load it on anything with wheels because the wheels would quickly bury themselves in the sand and old Jack, our trusted mule, wouldn’t be able to pull it.

            We eventually decided to replace the pole that old Jack could pull around and around and attach the cable on the drum to an anchor in the direction of the field. As Jack turned the geared drum and the cable was wound around it the machine would move slowly forward. This action would be an exact opposite to that for which the machine was designed. We thought that it would work. It took several hours to replace the pole and clean and grease the gears. It was hard and tedious work unwinding the cable from the large drum. Eventually we got the stump puller ready to go and began looking for something to tie the end of the cable to. There was about a hundred and fifty feet of large steel cable on the drum and we were lucky enough to find a hefty post oak tree near the end. We circled the tree with the cable end and installed a convenient cable clamp. We were ready for the big stump puller move!

            Old Jack obediently let me lead him around the puller as Clifton stood by to see that all was going well. The big machine moved a few inches as Jack completed his first circle. Apparently the pole was not hard to move because our trusty mule didn’t complain. After pulling the pole around many times we arrived at the anchor tree. We were lucky enough to find another tree for the second part of the journey. For the final move we had to dig a “dead man anchor” in the field. We were good diggers and we soon had the big stump puller in plain view. We talked about scraping and painting it but we became involved in some other project before we did that.

            Was the stump puller project a fun thing? We thought it was. The funniest part might have been when Clifton dropped a heavy pipe wrench on his toe. It could have been even funnier when I laughed and when he was chasing me I fell on top of a “devil’s pin cushion”. Clifton had the last laugh that time!