Saturday, January 30, 2010

B is for

"If a home in Marietta, Georgia has a rocker where sweaters were knitted, stories were told, and babies were swayed to sleep, it is probably a Brumby." Southern Living magazine, Nov. 1980

In 1864 Union general William T. Sherman burned John Brumby's tannery to the ground during the Atlanta campaign and nineteen-year-old Jim Brumby returned home to a devastated landscape. After trying and failing with another tannery business, Jim Brumby enlisted the help of a former slave named Washington and started building barrels by hand to supply nearby flour mills. In 1867 he founded the Marietta Barrel Factory. When flour companies began to use sacks instead of barrels, Jim Brumby bought a hand lathe for $25 at a courthouse auction and experimented with making chairs. (1)

In the early 1900s the company was one of Marietta's largest employers and one of the Southeast's largest chair factories. The handmade Appalachian red oak rockers with cane seats became standards for two popular southern activities: porch sitting and baby rocking.

Here is the building today.

I work there two days a month doing accounting for Wharton Management who now owns the building and leases office space within.

(1) New Georgia Encyclopedia


Mary said...

A Brumby Rocker, a porch and some sweet tea sounds like a Southern afternoon to me!

minipurl said...

I can't believe I almost missed your "B".
What a strange coincidence that I watched the History station's program last night on Sherman's march. How interesting, then, to read your account of Jim Brumby and the Brumby Chair Company.
Thank you for telling his story.

Sheri said...

Yes, great story of the Brumbly Rocker, which I've never heard of but sure enjoy an afternoon spent on the front porch, watching the world go buy while rocking. I have the dang Lowe's white rocker which turns black from the heat and humidity down here. I have 4. What are you supposed to do with 4 black rockers?

You do tell an interesting bit of history on your blog. I love reading it.


Annie said...

This was interesting! I love these stories about the history of places and the meaning they have for the people I 'meet' through the Internet. Thanks!

Paula said...

Thank you for a lovely 'B'. It's so nice to learn something new about my Southern roots.

RedScot said...

Nice interesting post! I like the sound of the Brumby Rocker!