Not your average wood lot
Plenty of history in this wood lot
One day a few weeks ago, I was heading over to the Norwich transfer (Dump) station to take care of my recycling and trash. It was a nice sunny day and I had my driver side window down and was looking off to the left as I past the corner of Turnpike and Moore Lane. There is a wood lot there just beyond the corner house which used to be owned by Dan Fraser (senior).
I noticed Matt Fraser was working on a wood pile and thought it would be nice to have a little chat with him. I always wondered how he managed to keep it so neat and well stacked. I asked him if he would allow me to do a story on the wood lot, and he stated " Sure as long as I am not in the picture" I asked him to step aside while I take a bunch of photo's and he said OK. I finished taking the photo's and started asking him some questions. (This was not an interview but rather just a conversation)
It appears that Matt has been doing this for 30 years, His father George Fraser took care of the lot before him, and Matt's grandfather, Dan Fraser started it. The main picture in this story is a wood shed with a roof that came from the back section of Dan and Whit's General Store (History lesson # 1). It was moved to the wood pile to keep it local and real. Matt explained that the wood is harvested locally with a large amount being supplied by neighbor Thad Goodwin who is in the Tree business. The wood is cut and stacked neatly in the shed's until needed.
The wood is primarily used to heat Dan and Whit's General store (History lesson # 2 are the boilers in the basement). The piles of wood are also used for the immediate family and some extra may be sold. I asked Dan if he enjoyed doing this and he stated "when I am not in the store , I am here" and he likes it very much. One of the smaller shed's was built by Jack Fraser while in High School.
The little shed's next to the road were originally chicken coops that came from 32 Elm Street.
(History Lesson # 3). They were moved sometime in the 1970's but no-one remembers how. This could be a homework assignment for someone to find out.
Wilbur O. Johnson known as W.O. Johnson had raised chickens on his farm. He died in 1963. His son was Cutting Johnson and he was married to Hattie Johnson. In trying to find out more about W.O. Johnson, I reached out to Nancy Osgood, who was very helpful. She and I did a walk about to the presumed location. She also told me she thought it might be W.O Johnson. She went up in to the archives and provided me with some photo's at the time that the chicken coops were there. The year was 1952. This would have been the time that Dan Fraser senior worked the wood piles. (see below archived photos)
I next reached out to George Fraser to confirm the above and he told me that he worked once or twice a week for W.O. Johnson . His duties included haying,bringing the cattle to pasture, filling and unloading a covered trailer with hay. He also would feed the chickens, gather the eggs, grade the eggs by weight and prepare them for sale to Dan and Whit's. The chicken houses were four feet off the ground and he had to climb stairs to tend to them. George also told me that Paula Harris would sometimes help out on the farm. I am glad that I took the time to pull in and talk to Matt as I never would have known about the historic events that helped me write this story. Special thanks to Nancy Osgood and the Norwich Historical society.
Photos taken by Demo Sofronas and Post card credit belongs to Rosamond Orford from her collection of 2004.
Photo is courtesy of Up Country Cards (Rosamond Orford 2004 collection)
This shed's roof was the roof at the back of Dan and Whit's store
Hold on Matt, You missed one (you will have it full in no time)
Neat storage unit with a roof that was once the roof of the back end of Dan and Whit's store
Every shed is used to the maximum
Hardwood and softwood ready to be cut and stacked
Wood cut and ready to be split and stacked
One of many piles
This shed was one of a group of chicken coups on 32 Elm Street
32 Elm Street (original site of chicken coops) Last white building on the right 1952 photo
Chicken coops sheds on the right belonged to W.O. Johnson Photo taken in 1952
Another view of chicken coops and W.O. Johnson's residence 1952 photo