Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hard Work Defined the Life of This Unique Man

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hard Work Defined the Life of This Unique Man

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Jo McTammany

Throughout the generations in Clay County, there have been unique men -- not many but a few. They lived simple lives in dangerous and complicated times and were like beacons of rightness to those around them. For the most part, recorded history has overlooked them.

By an accumulation of uncountable, hard and valiant choices they clearly envisioned the path to walk. They knew what was right, not necessarily easy or convenient, but right.

These men were defined not by the work they did but the way they did it.

They worked hard, with pride and gratitude to be blessed with the ability and the opportunity. No job was too nasty, too small, too mean, or too insignificant to be done haphazardly.

One of those men was Ed Burroughs from the Hilltop community in Middleburg. He was black and mainly supported his family working turpentine for the Howard brothers and the Budington family. Ed was a chipper, the most skilled and critical member of any crew. The job of cutting a strip, called a cat face, through the outer bark of a virgin longleaf pine so that sap ran freely and the tree lived and continued to produce for several years required strength, care and finesse.

For Ed, the last cat face at the end of a 12-hour day was as careful and perfect as the first and all those between. He took pride in his work but kept it in his pocket, never thought of bragging because the work spoke for itself.

When he plowed his land, the row was always straight because he made it a point to know his tools, the land and the animal. From the subtle shading of the soil, the bunching muscles in the hindquarters of the mule and the feel of the plow in his hands, he figured what lay ahead and adjusted with grace to keep the plowed line true. He never had to look back.

As the other men like him, both black and white, Ed was as knowledgeable of the ways of people around him as of the land and natural forces. He read people like he read the clouds in the sky and he didn't confuse words with actions. …

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