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“FACES” OF THE PINEY WOODS: TRADITIONS OF TURPENTINING
** Used with permission from Treasures of the Longleaf Pine, 2nd edition, by Carroll B. Butler (Shalimar, FL: Tarkel Publishing, 1998).
Apron: a galvanized sheet iron or aluminum strip or strips placed above certain styles of cups which serves to support the cup and to guide the crude gum.
Barrel: large round container that has bulging sides (bilge type) and a flat top and bottom. Material may be metal or wood, holding from 31.50 to 55 gallons. Metal rosin drums are cylindrical and bilge type configurations.
Box: a reservoir or cavity cut into the base of a pine tree in which crude gum is collected.
Box cutting: a term used in the early days of turpentining denoting the practice of working a tree by cutting a box and cutting a face above the box.
Camp: a) side camp—temporary housing provided for woodsworkers when the turpentine camp was some distance from the timber being worked, at times occupied year round; b) turpentine camp—includes housing for woodsworkers, dwellings, turpentine still, commissary, barn, and lot. A number of camps also had a blacksmith shop or sawmill.
Catface: lower area of tree where V-shaped streaks are made.
Chipper: person who cuts the streaks of a turpentine face.
Chipping: cutting a narrow, horizontal or slanting wound or streak into the tree, beginning near the ground, each succeeding wound being made just above the last one.
Commissary: a general store found in turpentine and lumber camps where food clothing, tools, and supplies were sold. Laborers used the following to purchase items in the commissary: a) commissary check, b) token or babbit, c) company scrip, d) cash, and e) credit chit.
Cooper: one who makes or repairs barrels and casks.
Crop: 10,500 faces. A woods crop was the number of faces worked by one individual usually 6,000 to 10, 500 faces.
Crude Gum: see gum.
Cup: a receptacle attached to the tree used to accumulate gum from the working face, holding from one to two quarts. Materials include galvanized sheet iron, plastic, and clay.
Cupping: installation of tins and cups on a tree. Cupping crews consisted of several men with specific tasks and tools.
Deck hand: worker at the turpentine still who assisted the stiller.
Dip: to collect crude gum from a box or cup.
Dip barrel: a tightly coopered barrel with a detachable head in which crude gum from dip buckets is placed for transportation to the sill. Steel barrels were also used. Barrel sizes ranged from 31.50 to 55 gallons.
Dip bucket: a container with a capacity of from 4 to 8 gallons of gum, used in collecting the gum from the cups. 5 to 6 gallon sizes were most common.
Drift: an area with marked (slash on tree) or natural boundaries to divide a worker’s area to designate certain areas of work. Any convenient working unit of a crop may be used. Formerly it comprised about .20 of a crop.
Face: the wound area of a tree from which crude gum exudes.
Fire still: see still
Firing the still: feeding wood into the firebox to maintain proper temperatures for distilling the charge of gum. After the turpentine has been distilled off a charge, the fire is pulled or removed from the firebox to prevent rosin from scorching.
Gum: the resinous substance which exudes from the wounds of certain pine trees and from which turpentine and rosin are secured by distillation; also called dip, crude, crude turpentine, crude gum, gum, resin, and Oleoresin.
Gum farmer: the gum farmer owns his timber, and the number of faces he works was usually about 500 to 5000 faces. All the duties related to gum extraction may be accomplished by the farmer himself, or he may negotiate a sharecropping agreement with his farm laborers.
Gum naval stores industry: the term embraces all segments and activities related to 1) extraction of gum from the living pine, 2) processing and distillation of the gum into turpentine and rosin, and 3) marking of the gum turpentine and gum rosin.
Gutter: a flat metal strip crimped V-shaped lengthwise along the center and inserted or tacked onto the face to direct the flow of gum onto the apron, or into the cup when two gutters are used.
Hack: a hack bill with a curved or flat edge fastened to the end of a short handle, bearing on its lower end an iron weight. Tool was used to cut the bark alone or wood and bark from the tree until the face is about as high as the chipper’s shoulders.
Hanging box: small homemade box carried from tree to tree containing various length tins and nails for the tins and cup support.
Jook: shanty in quarters which served as the camp communal recreation center.
Kettle: large copper container in which crude gum is placed and processed during the distillation process.
Naval stores: a) gum naval stores—the products derived from gum obtained by chipping certain coniferous trees; b) wood naval stores—the products derived from gum obtained from steam or destructive distillation of coniferous wood including stumps; c) sulfate—the products derived from gum obtained by sulfate process in making pulp for paper. The original naval stores terminology referred to tar and pitch that were essential components of all wood ship’s stores.
Peonage: a system of forced labor in which the laborer is forced to work in payment of a debt.
Pitch: a heavy, viscous liquid or dark residue obtained by distilling tar derived from coal, wood, rosin, and petroleum oils; also tar reduced by evaporation or distilling.
Producer: any person, firm, partnership, corporation, or business enterprise engaged in the activities of extracting gum from the living pine.
Puller: a bill-shaped tool with an oval-shaped blade and unweighted handle of varying length, for a wood puller used in chipping which usually occurs during the third or fourth and following years. Longer handles were used as the face grew in height. Bark puller has a flat-shaped blade. Term was also used for the person who used a puller.
Quarters: housing area for the woodsworkers.
Rake: removal of all burnable material from around the base of the tree for a distance of about three feet.
Raising tins: process of raising aprons or gutters and cups periodically as the face moves up the tree.
Resin: see gum.
Rosin: three kinds of rosin: 1) gum rosin, or rosin remaining after the distillation of gum collected from living pine trees; 2) wood rosin, or rosin recovered after distillation of volatile oils form the gum obtained from dead pine wood such as stumps or knots, and 3) tall oil rosin, or rosin remaining after the removal of fatty acids from tall oil by fractional distillation.
Sap: the watery solution that circulates through the tissues of a plant; the water solution inside the living cell of a plant.
Scrape: crude gum from which certain volatile oils have evaporated. It accumulates on the face that is being bled for crude gum and is removed in the fall at the end of the season’s operation, or, to collect scrape from face of tree which is being bled for crude gum.
Season: working season—March through November, depending on weather conditions.
Share cropping agreement: normally an oral agreement between gum farmer and laborers for establishment of wage earnings in gum production. Usual agreement has gum farmer furnishing timber, cups, tins, nails, barrels, and rolling equipment needed. Laborers furnish their own chipping, treating, and dipping tools, and perform all the woodwork. Laborers received 50% of the market value of the gum sold.
Side camp: see camp.
Spirits of turpentine: a light, volatile oil consisting chiefly of terpene hydrocarbons, produced by distilling Oleoresin, includes gum spirits of turpentine and wood turpentine. Spirits of turpentine grades include the following four classes: a) water white, b) standard, c) one shade off, and d) two shades off.
Still: a) fire still—wood fired distillery based on the distillation technology developed from the Scotch whiskey industry; b) central—gum cleaning and steam distillation used. One large still for the entire output of a large producer or for the output of all producers for miles around.
Stiller: worker in charge of turpentine still operations and responsible for processing crude gum in the distillation process. Supervised deck hands and cooper.
Streak: the wound made when a tree is chipped. A narrow, horizontal or oblique would cut at the top of the face. Approximately 32 steaks normally applied during the season with wood chipping.
Tallyman: worker who recorded work done on piecework basis.
Tar: pine tar is a thick, brown to black, viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from the distillation of wood. The wood source was primarily lightwood. Tar made from abandoned faces was known as green tar, because it had been made from a living tree.
Tins: any type apron or gutter used to conduct hum from the face into a cup.
Tokens: metallic coins issued by the operator for use at the company commissary. These stamped pieces of metal are issued as a medium of exchange.
Virgin: a term applied to a box or cup during the first season the tree was worked.
Woodsrider: one who has charge of the operation of the whole or part of a turpentine orchard. Woods supervisor, usually on horseback.
Woodswork: those processes carried out in the pine forests.
Working: descriptive of a tree in the process of being wounded for gum.
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Last modified: 03/17/05