Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Workday Wednesday : Blacksmith *

Photo taken by unknown photographer to accompany an article in the Calhoun (GA) Times, Feb 4, 1970.

Years ago almost every small town had its village blacksmith. Sugar Valley, Georgia was no exception. Jud Nelson, pictured above, was a blacksmith who plied his trade and practiced his craft for many years in Gordon County, Georgia. The photo above is one of many taken through the years picturing my father-in-law at his forge.

Judge Russell Nelson, better known as Jud, was a fifth-generation blacksmith, learning the craft from his father and adding his own unique touch to things. Jud was "discovered" in January of 1970 when he was interviewed by the late Charles Kuralt at the first meeting of the Artists-Blacksmiths of North America (ABANA). His folksy humor, ready wit, and skills made him an interesting person to be around.  For many years, Jud was a featured presenter at area fairs and craft shows in Georgia.  In 1981, he was a featured part of the Smithsonian Institute's Festival of American Folklife.

Jud's blacksmithing took many forms. He made tools, kept them sharpened, and fabricated parts for wagons.  In a more artistic vein, he designed decorative handles, holders, and fireplace tools as well as fashioning repairs for the vandalized statue of Chief Sequoyah. Then, as now, there are few limits as to what a skilled blacksmith can create.

* This is one in a series of old photos showing our family's ancestors and relatives at work.

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