My last two columns have been about World War I in 1917, as I had misplaced my notes about 1912 to 1917 in our hurry to move to the Highland Home,in December. Now, these notes have been recovered, and it might give you a chuckle how I found them.
I will start with this past Friday morning, when Clem Koehnemann of the Highland Historical Society brought me a letter from Alex Buchmiller of California. Alex wanted some information on the Dr. Moses Tibbetts home at 9th and Walnut. (Today, it’s The Chocolate Affair candy shop and bed and breakfast.) His parents were Wilbert “Jinx” and Bernadine Buchmiller, and they lived in Dr. Moses Tibbetts’ house from about 1955-1960. (They were our backyard neighbors, as we lived at 806 8th St. at that time, and we knew the family well.)
A relative of Alex’s, Dennis Buchmiller, formerly of Freight Salvage of Highland but now of Chesterfield, Mo., had written about his great-great-grandfather, German Buchmiller of Pierron, where he owned the Buchmiller Hardware & Implements Store. German also owned more than 1,000 acres in the area. (Dennis’ article was in the Highland News Leader on Jan. 7, 2016.) “At the time of German Buchmiller’s death in 1912, he had requested that his ashes be thrown in the Atlantic Ocean, as he had made many trips from Europe to America and back to Europe, on the Atlantic Ocean.”
Denny is a genealogist and found out that German’s ashes were still being held at Valhalla Crematory in St. Louis. After much of a struggle, Dennis was able to retrieve German’s ashes, which were in a rusty metal box. Dennis and his son, Dane Buchmiller, were able to spread German’s ashes out in the Atlantic Ocean on March 12, 2015, over a century later.
Never miss a local story.
This could have been the end of the story, but it is still unraveling with how my notes with information about 1912 to 1917 vanished. Well, they were in the Buchmiller file, just behind Dennis’ 2016 story in the News Leader, which I had cut out, and put in German’s file. I’m probably the areas worst filer — a hateful job — and I’m sure I picked up both pieces of Dennis’ story, with my notes of 1912 to 1917, as they were just behind one another, and I filed it that way.
Since the 1912 to 1917 information was found, I will use this information for these next columns, then we will go back to World War I in a few weeks.
I want to thank Alex Buchmiller, a former Highland resident, who sent the information about the Buchmiller, causing me to pull my Buchmiller file and find the missing page with 1912-1917 information. If I hadn’t received this letter from Clem Koehnemann, I would not have found the information that I needed on time. Thanks again, Alex Buchmiller and Clem Koehnemann.
“Also in 1912, the Thick and Thin Lumber Mill was founded by Joseph Potthast, also in Pierron. (Page 50, Sesquicentennial Book and J.R. Potthast.) This lumber mill was powered by a big steam engine, which pulled Joseph Potthast’s portable saw mill from farm to farm to cut their cured trees into lumber, or Joe would saw his lumber on the Potthast farm southeast of Pierron. Many Potthast boys helped with the saw mill, with Clarence Potthast finely purchasing the mill in 1953.
“Clarence specialized in 27 species of furniture-grade hardwoods. The mill also wholesaled farm lumber, pallets, fireplace mantels, fencing, decking and more. Customer services included sawing, planing and edging”.
“The Joseph Potthast old sawmill was in southeast Pierron. A new and larger mill was built east of Pierron, on Route 143 and Sawmill Road, in 1958 by Clarence Potthast and remains at that location, even though the main sawmill building burned down on Dec. 6, 2006. The old sawmill was a circular saw, while the new saw is a band sawmill and is again portable, although not pulled by a steam engine, but a heavy duty pick-up. The 1958 building was not rebuilt after the fire, as they now saw outside and have several large buildings for storage of lumber.
“Clarence’s son, J.R. Potthast, started working in the mill when he was 10, driving the saw dust wagon to the farm for bedding for their dairy cattle at the farm. They also sold sawdust to other dairy farmers. When J.R. was in high school at St. Paul, he began sawing wood, and in 1977, started running the mill.”
He is still the operator and now owner. Today, they sell natural wood locally and most of their large sales are on Facebook. You can reach him on Facebook at “JR Potthast” or call 654-3615. (Thanks, J.R.)