Looking Over My Shoulder

Martha and Lambert Misselbrook
(Martha and Lambert are shown in this 1904 wedding day photo.) My Grandfather, Lambert Misselbrook was born at the Oakdale farm of his parents Samuel and Rachel. However, if you believe the story handed down from previous generations, you might be inclined to think that Lambert was born in the Yukon, during his parents gold mining days, and that he would at 6 months become the first white baby to cross the Dawson Trail, eastward in a covered wagon. While we have not been able to disprove this tale, we are more inclinded to believe, that Lambert was born in Lambton County at his parents Oakdale home. We have not been able to establish if Lambert had a middle name, what we do know is that he was one of nine brothers and sisters, and the fourth oldest. His family members included oldest brother William born 1865, Henry III born 1868, George born 1877, and Lambert born 1873, followed by Wilbert in 1875, the first of three girls, Lottie was born in 1878, followed by Edith in 1880 and then Annie in 1883. The ninth Misselbrook born to Samuel and Rachel was Roy in 1886. Lambert, as a young man would meet, romance and wed Martha Higgins, who was 10 years younger than Lambert. Lambert was introduced to Martha Higgins by his older brother George Misselbrook who was married to Sarah, sister to Martha. Three children were born to Martha and Lambert the first being Howard born in 1904, followed by sister Elsie in 1908 and my father Dalton Carmen Misselbrook in 1912. It is understood that Lambert was mechanically inclined, and was comfortable, confident and skilled around all types of engines and equipment. In the late 1800's oxen and horses were the principal sources of power for agricultural operations, but by the early 1900's the process of breaking, ploughing and threshing were more mechanised. Steam driven threshing machines first appeared on the prairies in the 1880's. They were very expensive machines, and few farmers could afford to own their own units, relying instead on travelling threshing crews. Although the exact date is unknown, it is thought that Lambert was able to raise the funding and in the early 1900's purchsed a steam powered threshing machine and built a successful business serving area farmers at harvest time. Many steam engines made use of straw for fuel, although most burned wood or coal. Generally they were equipped with driving wheels so that they could move under their own power, and they would also be equipped with a large flywheel. This flywheel turned independently of the drive wheels, and by means of wide belts, a stationary tractor could also be used to drive a threshing machine. Steam engines and threshing machines were fragile, complicated machines and they required knowledgeable people to operate them. The success of custom threshing machine operation rested on the engineer and the separator man. Their job was to constantly monitor the machines, oiling the bearings, lacing and setting the belts and adjusting the engine and sieves to accommodate changes in the crop being fed. These individuals were supported by a cast of less skilled workers. A fireman was responsible to keep the engine fed with wood, so that the pressure in the engine remained constant. Teams of tankerman hauled water to the engine to keep the water level high enough for steady pressure. Finally, there were the bundlemen, teamsters with wagons who collected the stooked grain and brought it to the threshing site. An efficient operation could keep as many as six teams of bundlemen at work in the fields scrambling to feed the hungry machine. The biggest drawback of steam, however was the need to build and let down steam. This process could take an hour or more, consumed vast quantities of wood and limited the number of hours in a day that crew could operate. Lambert and his crew, which would later include his sons Howard and Dalton, had a well earned reputation for reliability, good equipment and quality work, that would later follow him when he established L. Misselbrook and Son, Saw Mill. When Lambert and Martha were married (wedding photo shown above), Lambert was 32 years old and Martha 22 years of age. From YouTube a brief video of a typical steam powered sawmill operation at the turn of 20th century. http://youtu.be/l8nyrP8bclI In 1906 Lambert with his steam powered engine, started his sawmill in Dresden. Years later his oldest son Howard would join his father, and together they would develop a thriving business, that operated under the Misselbrook banner until Howard Misselbrook's untimely death in 1960 at age 56. His son Kenneth, attempted to continue the business, but in 1961 the family made the decision to sell the company to one of their employees, Vern Pumfrey. Pumfrey and his son Stewart continued the company , operating as Dresden Sawmill Limited. The business today operates as LumberJack Building Centres with Stewart Pumfrey as president of the company with locations in Dresden and Petrolia. Lambert operated L.Misselbrook and Son, SawMill until his death in 1944. He was 71 years of age. His wife Martha died just a few months later, and it is said, that her death was from a "broken heart". "She missed him so much, that she just didn't want to go on without her beloved Lambert" recalled my late father Dalton. Martha was known for her gentle and kind ways, notes her grand daughter Velda Clark,"she was always so thoughtful and generous and I loved spending time with her". Lambert and Martha lived for a time on the homestead farm near Oakdale, moving in after the death of his father Samuel,to provide care for Lambert's ageing mother Rachel. Some time in the 30's Lambert and Martha bought land on Walnut and Davis Streets, in Dresden. Walnut Street became the location for L. Misselbrook and Son Saw Mill and also the home for son Howard and Hazel Misselbrook and their family. Dalton Misselbrook and his wife Winnifred also built a new home on land gifted to them by Lambert. The lumber for the Misselbrook brothers homes was also supplied by the family owned sawmill. Both Lambert and Martha are rested at the Dresden Cemetery.