RACINE — The second in the series of Bicentennial Markers was unveiled this week in Sutton Township.
The marker, located at Star Mill Park, commemorates the Weaver Skiff Company which was located in the village.
Members of the Bicentennial Committee, the Bicentennial Ambassadors and many community members gathers at the park for the unveiling.
Gordon Winebrenner, who owned the company at one time, spoke of the honor to carry on the tradition of making the skiff boats.
Chuck Mugrage told of working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the agency’s use of the skiffs in their daily operations.
Dale Hart explained that he has one of the skiffs from Weaver Skiff Works and that there are plans to display it in the building at Star Mill Park. Likewise, the Meigs County Historical Society has a skiff which will be displayed at it’s new Middleport location once it is open.
The event was also the first public appearance of Bicentennial Ambassadors Mattison Finlaw, Grant Adams, Cooper Schagel and Brielle Newland.
According to writings by local historian Jordan Pickens and the Pioneer History of Meigs County,
In 1869, Captain George Smith started a skiff and boat building business in Racine. He passed this skill onto his son J.Q and his grandson Wallace Weaver. While Wallace took instantly to the craftsmanship of boat building, Wallace’s father Lucius persuaded him to learn the flour milling business. Wallace went on to become part owner of the Star Mill Co. in Racine (Star Mill Park’s namesake). Wallace married Lillian Weldon, and together they had one son, James Wallace “Boone” Weaver, Jr., born in 1897. In 1900, Wallace went on start his own business, leaving milling behind for his original trade: Weaver Skiff Works was born.
The term skiff or skiff boats refers to a typically small flat-bottomed open boat with a pointed bow and a flat stern that was originally developed as an inexpensive and easy-to-build boat for use by inshore fishermen. Weaver’s skiffs and johnboats were mostly 14, 16, 18, and 20 feet in length and were used mainly as life boats on steamboats and ferry boats all across the inland waterways.
In 1941, Boone married Nora Holter. Eight years later, Boone’s father Wallace died. At the time of his death, Wallace Weaver was the director of Racine Home Bank. Wallace’s death not only left Boone the skiff business, but Boone succeeded his father as director of Racine Home Bank. In 1950, Boone decided to build his wife Nora a beauty shop next to their home. He also moved the Weaver Skiff Works business next door at the corner of 5th and Vine Streets in Racine. Boone would continue to build skiffs at this location and serve as bank director until his death in 1978. During his tenure as bank director, he oversaw the consolidation of Racine Home Bank and First National Bank of Racine to become Home National Bank of Racine.
A year after Boone’s death, Weaver Skiff Works was sold to Gordon Winebrenner who continued the business for many years. Ironically, when Gordon Winebrenner was less than two weeks old, he was transported to safety in a Weaver skiff during the great flood of 1937. Coming full circle, Gordon went on to build the same pattern boat that saved his life those many years ago. It was noted in Meigs County History: Volume II that Gordon had much respect for Boone, and he considered it an honor to carry on his traditions.
The next marker unveiling will be held on March 20 with a time and location to be announced at a later date.
Information from the writings of local historian Jordan Pickens and the Pioneer History of Meigs County, provided by the Meigs County Bicentennial Committee.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.