Friday, January 23, 2015

The Beginning - Big Cow Creek, April, 1947

[Note: Following are the edited minutes of the first meeting of what became the International Wood Collectors Society. Most of the original typing has been retained as closely as possible, including punctuation. Obviously misspelled words have been corrected. We owe a debt of thanks to a Mrs. Maud McDonald of the Texas State Employment Service in Port Arthur, Texas, who took the notes and apparently typed up the minutes of this historic meeting, so many years ago. Suffice to say that neither she, nor the attendees of the meeting that weekend, likely ever imagined that their activities would be read by folks around the world some sixty-seven years and more into the future...cdr]

Proceeding of Meeting


Harold Nogle Camp on Big Cow Creek

Newton County, Texas, April 4, 5, and 6, 1947

The meeting of Silviculturists, Wood Collectors, Wood Technologists, Naturalists, Botanists, and others, enjoyed a meeting on the porch of the camp house at 9:00 A.M., with Mr. Harold Nogle acting as temporary chairman and calling the meeting to order. The following were present:

Mr. Arthur Koehler, Chief
Division of Silvicultural Relations
Forest Products Laboratory
Madison, 5, Wisconsin.

Mr. Irwin Fishbein, Technologist
Division of Forest Prod. Research
Texas Forest Service
Lufkin, Texas.

Mr. H. B. Parks, Curator
Museum, A. & M. College
College Station, Texas.

Mr. W. F. Opdyke, Collector
14668 Superior Road.,
Cleveland Heights, 18, Ohio.

Dr. Vernon A. Young, Director
Range and Forest Management,
A. & M. College,
College Station, Texas.

Dr. B.C. Tharp, Director,
Botany and Bacteriology,
Texas University,
Austin, Texas.

Mr. and Mrs. Victor L. Cory
Field Botanist,
Texas State Research Foundation
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, Texas.

Dr. S. R. Warner, Director,
Department of Biology
Sam Houston State Teachers College,
Huntsville, Texas.

Col. T. A. Adcock, Collector
Military Department,
A. & M. College,
College Station, Texas.

Mr. C. D. Gilbert, Collector,
Consulting Structural Engineer,
2412 South Boulevard,
Houston, Texas.

Mrs. Bruce Reid, Naturalist,
P.O. Box 1855
Port Arthur, Texas.

Mr. Bruce Reid, Visitor
P.O. Box 1855
Port Arthur, Texas.

Dr. J. F. Bronckle, Collector
Mellette, South Dakota.

Mrs. J.F. Brenkle, Visitor
Mellette, South Dakota.

Mr. C. L. York, Student
University of Texas
Austin, Texas.

Mr. Chester, M. Rowell, Jr. Student,
University of Texas.
Austin, Texas.

Mr. Paul Winkler, Nurseryman,
Winkler Nursery,
Beaumont, Texas.

Mr. Ralph Griffing, Nurseryman,
Griffing Nurseries,
Beaumont, Texas.

Mr. Daniel W. Lay, Visitor
Texas Fish, Game, and Oyster Comm.
Silsbee, Texas.

Miss Sherry Griffing, Visitor,
Griffing Nurseries,
Beaumont, Texas.

Mr. Harold Nogle, Collector,
P.O. Box 2
Port Arthur, Texas.

Mr. P. J. McDonald, Visitor,
4948 Procter St.,
Port Arthur, Texas.

Mr. Fred Miller, Visitor,
Millers Sporting Goods,
Port Arthur, Texas.

Mrs. Maud M. McDonald, Technician,
Texas State Employment Service,
4948 Procter St.,
Port Arthur, Texas.

Mr. Nogle explained that the gavel and block, opening the meeting were the same as the one he had made for speaker [Sam] Rayburn. It was made of 29 hardwoods of different kinds from Texas.

Mr. Nogle said that he had an idea of getting the wood collectors and Botanists together to do something about an organization whereby they could meet and discuss problems pertaining to the two. Mr. Parks talked it over with Mr. Young. It looked at first as if the wood collectors would be in the majority, however it has turned out that the Botanists are in the majority.

Mr. Nogle stated that he had a number of letters from different parties that he had written, extending an invitation to the meeting, and had received answers from them as to why they could not come, and if the meeting desired, he would read excerpts from as many of them as they wanted to hear.

[Those present indicated their desire to hear the letters, so Mr. Nogle proceeded to read letters from twenty people who had responded: L. H. Bailey of Cornell University, New York; Erwin W. Carls, Nature's Treasure Chest, Wrightwood, California; Dr. Rogers McVaughn; Mr. H.J. Dentzman, General Freight Agent, C&EI RR, Wood Collector, St. Louis, Mo.; W.A. Dayton, State Forest Service; Prof. Emanuel Fritz, Department of Forestry, University of California, Berkeley, California; Norman H. Honderich, Collector, Milverton, Ontario; Robert W. Hess, Associate Professor of Forest Products, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; F. M. Kannestine, Kannestine Laboratories, Houston, Texas; John Kelly, Wood Collector, Meridian, Mississippi; George N. Lamb, Secretary, Mahogany Association, Inc., Chicago, Illinois; Dr. C. L. Lundell, Director, Texas State Research Foundation, Dallas, Texas; Dr. E. Munson, Wood Fancier, Phoenix, Arizona; Claude R. Mowry, Collector, Crescent City, California; George Miller, To Awamutu, New Zealand; Wm. F. Pond, Virginia Smelting Company, Portsmouth, Va.; George A. Peacock, Whalley Range, Manchester, England;
Milton Scott, Miami, Florida; and Howard Whipple, Berkeley, California. Nearly all indicated their desire to participate but regretted not being able to attend. Mr. Peacock of England perhaps summarized the feeling of those not attending when he wrote, "...after reading all the information relating to preparations for the meeting if fairly makes me 'champ at the bit.' I only wish I could see half a chance for I can assure you I would take it. The priorities as yet from England, make it impossible for me to attend."]

Mr. Nogle stated he thought that Dr. Parks or Dr. Young should tell the group what this meeting was for, especially as to how to ship specimens and the size. Also how the botanists and collectors could be of mutual benefit to each other and how museums would benefit from the efforts of both.

Dr. Parks: I just want to say that this meeting is a fulfillment of a wish I had about five years ago when I met this man. Ever since I was a little bitty youngster I started picking up little pieces of wood and I have a great interest in plants and I think it came to me most through the little pieces of wood I picked up. I had never run into a wood collector until I met Harold and I stated that here was where we were going to try to do something about getting those interested in this same thing together.  There are a lot of you who do this and make friends not only in the U.S. but all the other countries. All of the elements are here but they need something to bind them together. The specimens of wood are better known to those who collect them, they could start this thing and the others could join in. The botanical organizations and others, we could get them behind it. We could get them to see that this is just a community store. I notice today that in schools that cater to women in their academic work, they have to learn certain woods so that they will be able to know to tell woods when they see them in furniture stores. A knowledge of woods could be brought into high schools and universities and it would be of benefit to those who take the course. I think it is time that something be done to tie this together. Men are working independently where they could all work together and make more progress. I received a letter from our chairman and the letter was put into a folder in my file case. A few days later I heard some snickering coming out of my office and the girls had found this letter and had made fifty copies of it and distributed it without my knowledge or was a copy of our program, mostly the remarks.

It is up to you who are interested in this to get together and form some sort of organization whereby others could join into it and go out and study those things where wood is the basis of it.

Mr. Nogle asked that Dr. Young talk to the meeting.

Dr. Young -- This was a surprise to me as I didn't expect to make a speech. I am delighted to be here and I am sure that it will be equally successful and useful a project as Dr. Parks stated some time ago, at the Texas Academy of Science, which is one of the outstanding organizations in the state. I can not understand how you could keep from forming such an organization of wood collectors in the State. I have seen some pretty collections of wood in my time and I believe the most spectacular thing I have seen was a table [made] from a man from Meliraka. The most beautiful designs were in it and each design was made of some particular wood from some part of the world.

It takes money to start any type of organization. Some one must give some money and some one must do a lot of work, but if we have two or three men who will say it will go through, they will receive a great joy in it. First you must have a headquarters and you must have a depository. I think the time is long past when we should have an organization of this kind. I assure you that Dr. Parks will do all he can, and I will do all that I can to help this become a national organization.

Mr. Nogle stated that he thought it was time to elect a chairman fut first we would like to hear from Mr. Koehler.

Mr. Koehler -- I have been working with wood for a long time, in fact I started in 1911. When they were casting around for a civil service title for my job, which was to make sections of wood to be studied, I was given the title of Xylotomitist. I am mighty glad to think that some one had the idea of starting an organization of wood collectors. I am interested personally in getting a collection of woods. When you can feature that some people collect, it is surprising that we have not had an association of wood cutters some time ago. I do not expect to be a Xylotomitist for a great many more years, however, I would be willing to help it along as much as possible. Another thing which I think we should have is a wood working organization, but they should not be combined. Having organizations of this kind gets other people interested and gets people interested in the outdoors, and I hope this gets off on a good foot.

Mr. Nogle asked Mr. Opdyke, of Cleveland, Ohio, to say a few words.

Mr. Opdyke: About all I can start off with is tell my early experience with Harold. I first started making table tops and I couldn't remember the different kinds I had made so I made a sample of each and when I got through I had over one hundred. Since woods have to be identified, we could all work together and I am vitally interested in some sort of organization.

Mr. Nogle asked Col. Adcock to talk on the subject.

Col. Adcock -- I had a rather same experience while I was in Hawaii. I had a group of men working and a piece of wood they were  working on gave out an odor that attracted me. I started making a pair of book ends out of each kind of different wood that I could find. When I came back I started collecting by the common name and was set straight by Dr. Mallard. My collection is the smallest here and I am quite an amateur. As far as an association, I think there is a definite need for it as we are working just among ourselves and no one outside and I think there should be something definite.

[...A few comments about standardization of specimen sizes...]

We have heard from all the wood collectors but we need to hear from some of the Botanists.

Mr. Nogle called upon Dr. Tharp.

Dr. Tharp: I came out here to be seen and to try to keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut, partly because I hardly knew what to say and partly because it isn't so very easy to say what you want to. Historically the first collection of woods, on any large scale of Texas wood, of which I have any knowledge, was a display at the St. Louis World Fair in 1903. That was sponsored through the efforts of W. I. Bray who was at the time at the University of Texas, by Wm. Cameron and Co. and had the cooperation of all the big sawmill people throughout the State. It was designed and set up in considerable volume and had a false stairway with its bannister treads, etc. Each rung in the bannister being made of a different wood turned out and it was pretty. They also had a lot of paneling, different types of paneling you would see in walls, panels eight or ten inches wide and two and one-half or three feet long, these of different woods. They went into the woods and where the tree size would permit it, cut blocks about four feet long and worked these up so they had the complete bevel. Split through the center and the other one, some four inches away, gave a massive block. They kiln-dry the blocks and finished off with a clear varnish, the lower part was left in its natural state. They had then set up about 300 ft. around the wall. After the exposition was finished, that whole collection was given to the University by reason of the efforts the Dr. Bray had put forth in seeing that it was assembled. At that time the department in the University was housed on the third floor of what is known as the old Main Building. The display was finally put on the fourth floor. When the old Main Building was torn down some years ago, it became necessary to do something with that huge display of wood and there didn't seem to be any place to put it. It has been dismantled and scattered. Some of the blocks have been cut up and scattered. A part of the collection is now in the Museum building. The rest of it is just packed away. I think it was rather an inclusive set of Texas woods. In more recent times, some ten years ago, when Dr. Brown, of the state School of Forestry conceived the idea of getting a collection of all the woods of the United States, the University of Texas was invited to participate in that and so have sent Dr. Brown a good many woods. We still have a lot that have not been sent. The State Forestry of Texas is cooperating with this also. The reason Dr. Brown wants large specimens, since he wants logs, is, I take it, they work it up and he sends back specimens that are a little better than one-half inch in thickness, where his material permits.  Along with the other samples they collect material for a herbarium, generally showing it wither in fruit or flower and foliage and the type of twigs. I think in connection with the Botany of this business I can certainly appreciate the point of view some of you gentlemen have since common names do not mean anything to a botanist. The value of having your herbarium specimen along with your wood is to give the botanist something on which to make a determination. I would certainly hate to try to identify any wood without the flower and fruit and the original source. We can always identify it botanically and frequently it will have a common name and a botanical name.  If we can get the men interested in wood they will learn some botany and whether the botanist learns wood or not they will have it for future reference, by generations of students who are interested in it.  It seems to me that one of the greatest contributions that any of us could make to this old world is to get every person interested in a hobby, something to do with his time besides going to a show or playing bridge. Mr. Nogle gets much education and pleasure from his hobby.

[...A few comments were made by various attendees about botanical names, identification, and sample specifications...]

Mr. Nogle asked Dr. Warner to say a few words.

Dr. Warner -- I certainly appreciate being in on this. I think my introduction to wood collecting came in 1934. A fellow townsman had the duty of gathering the material for a wood collection for the Texas Centennial.  He gave me the job of getting the leaves and fruit and flowers to go with the collection. What I would say about this organization and encourage it is the implication that there is not any telling what it can lead to. It may lead to something that industry would need. There are perhaps a lot of fundamental things that make the different classes and patterns in woods. What are the factors that make for quality in wood. Perhaps we would pay more attention to the quality then. I think it is good for a wood collector to know the different families their woods belong to. There are often correlations and implications in the different woods. I think that out of this organization that some infiltration of these botanists and perhaps the wood collectors would gain something from the botanists.

Mr. Opdyke -- There is a question of family differences that has not been taken too seriously by us. I have been working some on it and I finally have my woods classified according to family. Eventually we will all come to that.

Mr. Nogle -- I don't want to keep you so long that the seats will get too uncomfortable. I thought of a convention of wood collectors, but when you think of conventions you think of hotels and when you think of hotels you think of rooms, you think of cocktail parties, etc. When you get out in a place like this, botanists like to come and wood cutters like to come as they might find something to cut down.

I would like to make a few announcements at this time. At 6:00 pm we will have a supper given by the Port Arthur News and prepared by an East Texan who has a reputation of being a good cook. It will be "mulligan". It will be cooked out in the open so if anyone wants to know how to make it they can watch him. Before then you will probably be hungry for lunch. At 7:30 we will all go up to the first house and in the front yard a screen and projector will be set up and Dr. Koehler will give us a talk on wood.

On Sunday at 7:00 am a minister from Newton will come out and give us a fifteen minute service on the bank of the creek. It will be our sunrise service for Easter. Lunch will be served Sunday also. Anyone who wishes to do so may stay over Monday and feel free to do so.

Getting back to the organization, I don't know just how to start it. Whether the wood collectors should start it and include the botanists or whether the botanists should start it and include the wood collectors. Possible we should select two or three and have them draw up some definite organization plans and make it available to all of us and then we can call a meeting and form the organization.  I would like to suggest that Mr. Opdyke be the man selected and he could select his men to work with him since he is retired and will have more time to do it. This was made in the form of a motion and seconded by Dr. Tharp and several others. It was carried unanimously.

Dr. Tharp -- I would like to offer this thought. The the primary objective in view for the call of this meeting was an association for the mutual benefit of the wood collectors and it would seem to me that the organization should be set up on the basis with the assurance on the part of the botanists here, and I think that I could speak for any of them, that any botanical assistance that can be rendered will gladly be rendered if I have anything on which to make it.

Dr. Warner -- I think this should be too, by you wood collectors using the botanist.

Mr. Cory -- I might say that I have had considerable experience in trying to tell the various people some fragmentary specimen. We always do the best we can. If we can give any information that is helpful we can try to do this. It would be rather simple if you would send material that there could be no guess on. Our plan is to build up one of the best herbariums at Southern Methodist University in the South. So that we can help identify any plant that might come to us. With the fruit, flowers, and leaves of the wood we can satisfactorily place the material. We would all be glad to help the wood collectors in definite plant determinations.

Mr. Nogle -- Sometimes a wood collector will do some good and don't know it. If you want a pretty piece of wood to make something out of and you can't but it. If you can make something that no one else has it puts a value on it. Dr. Parks and I have wood that no one else has. When someone else sees it they want it and if he has something you don't have he will gladly trade. You will be surprised the interest of the public in wood when it is called to their attention. I received lots of compliments on a display I had in one of the stores. The interest people show in wood; ask a person if they have ever seen okra wood or cape jasmine or nandina -- all these things create interest. I would like to have someone else say something. We have our organization under way. I wonder if Mr. Fischbein will say something? He is with the Texas Forest Service.

Mr. Fischbeing -- I feel very honored to be here. I am not a wood collector in the sense that you are. I am a trained wood technologist. I believe that a wood technologist would fit into this organization somewhere. We would like to know just what wood is. There are relatively few wood technologists in the field as yet but the wood collector and botanist have paved the way and it is up to them to go a little further and get to the bottom of what wood is. The wood technologist will be glad to help both the botanist and the wood collectors. We can identify woods in their various groups. The point is the field is new and new tools are becoming available to us every day. I am using a new tool that has not been perfected as yet, to measure the depth of wood.  It is possible that if these tools are perfected that we can identify woods without the leaves and fruits and flowers. I am very encouraged to see the wood collectors organize themselves together as they are the ones the technologists will rely on to get the rare species that they do not want to send to all parts of the world to get. I have a collection that will show some of the use to which wood is being put if any of your are interested.

Mr. Nogle -- A start has been made on the organization and we will probably have to do a lot of the rest of it by mail.

Mr. Koehler -- I was just wondering if this organization would have a little paper or something like that. It would be a good place to bring out points such as seasoning, etc.

Mr. Nogle -- We will probably have something of that kind.

Mr. Dan Lay, a member of the Texas Fish, Game, and Oyster Commission was introduced. Also Mr. Ralph Griffing.

[ A few closing comments and discussions were recorded.]

There being no other business to come before the meeting it stood adjourned.

Photographs were taken of the gathering and its attendants. A complete set of prints, size 4 x 5 may be had for $1.25 post paid. Individual prints can be ordered from the set -- size 4 x 5  will be 15 cents each: size 8 x 10 will be 75 cents each. Write Moon Photographic Service, 514 Proctor Street, Port Arthur, Texas. There are 12 pictures in the set.

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