When Carl Wickham retired, he began researching his genealogy. To his surprise, many of his relatives had been defending our country since the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War. What made the biggest impact was the fact that he had several relatives in the Civil War including his great-great-grandfather, who was killed at the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Carl traveled there in 2016 to put a flag on his grave.
Then began the research on artillery and supply wagons that were used during the Civil War. In his spare time, he began carving a rough cannon out of wood, but it just wasn’t good enough for Carl.
He found a book, “Artillery for the Land Service of the United States,” containing detailed drawings for artillery used during the Civil War and used those illustrations to produce his 1/8” scale models out of wood.
He has worked for nine years on developing his collection of models, which he often displays not only around the Ohio area but also at events in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
It’s no wonder he has great skill with woodworking as his dad was a carpenter. Carl said, “I was raised in the woodshop.” He recalls wonderful years of growing up on the farm where they had beef cattle, horses and many fruit trees. The day they got their first tractor, a ’52 Ford, was a special occasion.
Great memories of the farm surfaced easily. Butchering hogs and beef were big events for the whole family. He especially remembers the special treat of cracklins’, a small deep-fried piece of pork fat with a layer of skin attached. Eggs were delivered to M&K in Cumberland with a stop at Young’s Feed Mill to get sacks to match for his mom to make dresses.
Art and mechanical drawing at Shenandoah High School started Carl on the road to being a welder. His dad had an anvil so Carl decided to try blacksmithing. This was something he learned on his own through trial and error by reading books. Blacksmithing turned out to be his favorite hobby for most of his life.
Carl and Sandy were married in 1968 before he left to serve in the Army. There he was a radio operator and kept track of the battalion’s equipment. Upon his return home, Carl worked at Philo Electric. When it closed he got a job which was to last for thirty-five years – a mechanic for Central Ohio Coal.
For most of that time, he welded on the Big Muskie fixing parts that were broken. It took a lot of welding to fix anything due to its size. He worked on it until 1991, when the Big Muskie was dismantled. During that time, Carl worked seven days a week as was always on call for needed repairs. He continued working as a welder on Central Ohio Coal equipment until his retirement.
This man through the years has enjoyed many different activities around the farm but is perfectly content to stay home rather than travel. His many creations are shared with his family. He never sells any of his work. Everything from beautiful wooden cupboards, stands, and wooden inlaid pictures can be found around their home.
In his younger years, Carl enjoyed having a large garden and many flower beds. Sandy, his wife for fifty-one years, said, “Carl can do about anything.” Sometimes she has to reheat meals for him as he gets so wrapped up in his work that he forgets to eat.
While he has done gardening, blacksmithing, and welding in the past, today his energy is devoted to the Civil War miniatures that are amazing in their accuracy. He even carved the horses that pull the supply wagon. Their harnesses were made from an old leather coat he purchased at Goodwill.
Carl gives all the credit to “someone up above who gave me my talents.” He enjoys all of his various creative works which feel like play to him. “I am truly blessed.”
His next shows will be in 2020 on January 18-19 at Kabin Fever in Lebanon Valley Expo Center in PA. Following that on April 25-26, Carl will be at the Yack Arena in Wyandotte, MI. Carl always enjoys telling everyone about his miniatures!