Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stanley No. 3 Cherrywood Level


Stanley No. 3 Cherrywood, Brass-bound Level, pat’d 5/3/06 and 11/3/08

This level belonged to Ulysses S. Fleming, a member of the once well-known blue-collar Fleming family of the oil boom-town of Volcano, West Virginia. “Lyss,” as he was known to his family and friends, spent his entire life in Volcano, and the surrounding area, working on various wells and for different companies. He may also have had some interest in a few wells himself at one point. During his early years, the oil derricks were made of wood, and he had a sizeable collection of needed tools for woodworking and carpentry. Even in later years, when derricks were made of pipe and angle iron, levels were still needed on the well-sites. This level was found wrapped in an old rag which was still slightly moist with crude oil.

As you might guess, good tools had a way of “walking off” if left unattended for a while, so Lyss stamped his initials on them to help prove ownership. Somewhere along the line, his “F” stamp became lost, or unusable, and he began substituting the “E” stamp in its place, often trying to tilt the stamp so it hit hardest on the top left corner, in hopes that the bottom bar of the “E” wouldn’t show. It wasn’t an entirely successful plan. He appears to have not even bothered with trying to do so with this level.

Lyss never married and lived his entire life in the small family home at Volcano with his unmarried siblings Frank, Ella and Mary. He died sometime in the 1970’s at the age of 97. Lyss is buried in the cemetery at Petroleum, West Virginia. © 2014

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