Blacksmith’s Bottom Swage
The item pictured is a blacksmithing tool called a hardy bottom swage. The bottom swage fits in the square hole in an anvil known as the hardy hole. The hardy hole allowed for the anvil to be more versatile so you can add attachments. There are numerous types of hardy tools including bottom swages, hot cuts, hardy mandrels, and hardy scroll. Each one of these tools allow the blacksmith to perform a different task.
It is often said that the blacksmithing trade was the backbone of all other trades. Most of the tools necessary for other tradesmen to complete their work were made by a blacksmith. A cabinet maker needed chisels – they were made by a blacksmith. A tinsmith needed sheers – they were made by a blacksmith. A collier needed and ax – it was made a blacksmith. The list goes on and on. Where would all the other trades be without a blacksmith?
The bottom swage pictured here belonged to a blacksmith from Eighty Four by the name of Hazen Sumney. Known as “Doc,” Hazen was born in 1896 and was a resident of Eighty Four from 1919 until his death in 1985. He attended the Union Independent Grade School and Graduated from Linden High School in 1913. After graduating he began work as a blacksmith, but put that on hold as he enlisted in the Navy during World War I. He continued his blacksmithing trade upon his return from the war. On May 27, 1918, Hazen married Jean Rennie, and they would have four children together – Harold, James, Dora Jean, and Janyce. In 1972, he was honored as “Man of the Year” by the North Strabane/Eighty Four Chamber of Commerce. He practiced his trade as a blacksmith until he was almost 82 years old, but he said he still “liked to tinker even after he retired.”
Clay Kilgore is executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.