The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967 Page: 248
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
individuals.3 Journalist Winston Bode tells of Uncle Buck May-
nard, one of "that proud, independent, robust tribe of trans-
planted Southerners who, hied to the hills of Texas in the last
century," to burn charcoal, flat-cut cedar, and play breakdown
fiddle.4 Fritz Toepperwein describes in more detail Charcoal City
in the Guadalupe River Valley where from 1 88o to 1919 a group
of people made their living principally by burning charcoal.5
The preferred wood was mountain cedar, light, brown in color,
and close grained.6 It was burned green to keep it from being
reduced to a fine powdery ash rather than char. Two. or three
cords of wood were arranged in a pyramid in a kiln or pit, then
covered with dirt to shut out the air when the fire was started. It
was then watched for two or three days until the "coal" was ready.
J. Frank Dobie recalled:
When I came to Austin in 1914, the hills were populated by
cedar choppers, and they hauled charcoal to town in wagons. I've
heard them call out "Char-r-coal." Most of the ironing was
done by flatirons heated over charcoal burners. I remember on
one occasion hearing John Lomax give Carl Sandburg some of the
charcoal calls. I don't know if Sandburg ever printed them or not.
I don't recall seeing them in print. ....
Charcoal burners apparently became cedar choppers for sev-
eral reasons. They were already accustomed to cutting cedar.
Both groups were "drifters" who came from "Tennessee, Indiana,
Georgia, New York, England and Ireland" into the Guadalupe
8Elmer Bagby Atwood, The Regional Vocabulary of Texas (Austin, 1962), 74.
Atwood found reference to, these terms only in Travis County whereas I found
them used, particularly "cedar chopper" and variations of the term, throughout
a thirty-county area of central Texas.
4Winston Bode, "The Last of the Charcoal Burners," Texas Observer (Austin),
August 14, 1959.
5Fritz A. Toepperwein, Charcoal and Charcoal Burners (Boerne, 1950).
'J. Frank Dobie to W. J. C., June 24, 1963 (MS. in possession of the writer).
"Toepperwein, Charcoal and Charcoal Burners, 5, identifies the mountain cedar
as Juniperus Mexicana Spreng. The people who are familiar with the varieties of
cedar in the "cedar country" distinguish this from the red cedar of the Colorado
River Valley below Austin. Overlapping these types in territorial coverage is the
blue-fruited cedar identified by Bob Bennett, Kerr County, Texas, z856-x956 (San
Antonio, 1956), 131, as Sabina Sabinacides. It is likely that even these three types
are not a complete listing of those found in the section.
'Toepperwein, Charcoal and Charcoal Burners, 7.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967, periodical, 1967; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/m1/266/: accessed January 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.