Building a home from the tree up
Jimmy and Janie Veach of Corning are in the process of building a home and moving back to their native Manila. Buying a lot, building a house, and moving into it would be the easy way. There is a little more to the process for the Veaches as Jimmy is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Bob Veach, and his great-grandfather, Gershom James Flagg, using timber he has cut and dried using his portable sawmill and his dry-kiln.
Veach, a retired nurse and nursing home administrator, is familiar with his family history. His great-grandfather on his grandmother's side and his grandfather on his father's side were early pioneers and settlers of the Lost Cane area. His great-grandfather cut timber for the Chicago Mill shipping it on the JLC&E railroad spur into Manila and then on to Jonesboro. As the land was cleared, they began farming. His grandfather, Bob Veach, had a sawmill in the Lost Cane area in the 1920s. His dad, Roy Veach, was also in the timber business as a young man. They worked their way into farming and sawmills played a major role in the early settlement of the area.
Veach's mother, Letha Veach, will be 102 years old on Jan. 23 and now lives in Corning with his sister, Rayo Edwards. She and her husband Roy were among the early settlers of Lost Cane. She spent many years as owner/administrator of the Manila Nursing Home, Corning Nursing Home and Keith Acres Nursing Home in Blytheville.
Jimmy purchased a portable sawmill in 2003 and has put it to very good use in the 700+ hours it has been used.
The sawmill has been to the Hardy area where he cut timber and used it building a 15x29 foot building for a shop, two sheds, a roof for the sawmill, two room addition on their mobile home in Hardy using 11 varieties of wood in the walls and trim.
"Kenny Gentry, Janie's son-in-law, is a contractor and he helped me with my framing work and it turned out nice," Jimmy said.
Veach enjoyed the building and decided to go on to a larger project -- building their home. He said he has plenty of time and has been working on getting the lumber for three years.
He bought two and a half lots in the Brewer Subdivision of Manila. They moved a travel trailer on sight moving his sawmill to Manila and going to work. They built a large garage and storage building so they would have a place to store the lumber. He build a dry-kiln, a cover for the travel trailer and is now putting up a privacy fence around the lot.
He has gotten the timber from many places. His aunt, Willa Faye Dobbs, and his cousin, Janie Veach, gave him a lot of cypress off an abandoned ditch they own jointly. The ditch was part of the original ground his grandfather owned in the Lost Cane area. Many people want to get rid of pine trees so he was offered more than he could use. He cut a lot of oak, cedar and other hard woods off his hill farm in Sharp County. He now has 510 floor joists cut and ready.
The siding for the new house will be cypress and the framing will be pine. The paneling and trim is from assorted hard woods. He also has the wood for the cabinets. The safe room, built in the garage, is made from a variety of poplar trees.
"It has been a fascinating venture," Veach said. "It has been a learning process. There may not be a lot of monetary savings in doing it ourselves but there is a sense of satisfaction for the hands-on experience."
He also said it has been a lesson in patience.
Helping him with the project is Danny Minirth. Minirth said he has enjoyed the learning process.
The privacy fence they are constructing is being made from waste utility poles cut on the portable sawmill. Across the back of lots he is using what is called the basket-weave pattern and the fencing running on each side of the property is called a shadow box fence. It looks just as nice on the inside as the outside.
He has been working three years on getting the lumber ready for the project. He has cut, sawed, dried, and stored all of the lumber for the house except the trusses.
"We are next in line," Veach said. "When Kenny finishes the project he is working on, we will be ready to start our concrete and framing work."
Veach said he has always heard a happy person is someone who has a lot to do and something to look forward to. His building project will fit both requirements.