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Background Story to How Wood With A Past was Founded

Background Story to How Wood With A Past was Founded

Posted by Allen Miller on


Stacks of hay, swings dangling from giant beams, piles of golden straw, dusty smells of grain wafting in the air, sounds of animal tails swishing away pesky flies, and the ping of milk hitting the bottom of a stainless steel pail are all vivid memories I have of my childhood and spending countless hours in our big barn on the home farm.

Growing up Amish and having a large barn to explore was the norm in our neighborhood. Almost everyone I knew had a barn to explore and play in. As my brothers and I grew up we quit playing so much and started to learn skills from our father. Many of the skills we learned we have been able to use now that we are off the farm and working other jobs besides farming. So much of what I learned as a child I took for granted but hold dear to my heart today.

The weight of responsibility, work ethic and frugal living are characteristics valued by this culture of people I come from. I could probably come up with a hundred ways my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents set examples for us to live life by.

When I was nineteen years old I purchased an older brother’s construction business. He was ready to join the Amish church and get married, and I was a young whippersnapper who was ready to face the world and see if I could make a go of something other than farming.

I have four brothers and each of them ended up coming to work with me at my construction company. It was an interesting dynamic, me being one of the younger brothers, employing each of my older brothers. It worked out well though. Because of our closeness we were able to be open and honest with each other and when issues arose we were able to talk things out and those kinds of experiences taught us to appreciate each other’s strengths and talents.

My brothers and I worked hard and grew the business; we erected pole buildings and garages and eventually branched off and built custom homes. Inside those custom homes we had to add “trim work.” Kind of the jewelry of the home, if you will. As I worked that side of the business I fell in love with working with wood in a new way. I was able to visualize how things could be done and how a home could be enhanced to a certain beauty rather than just be pretty.

The construction company lasted for thirteen years and then I was ready to move on and so were my brothers. I dissolved the company in 2006 to go into a different line of work. My wife, children and I did some traveling and had numerous adventures I will be sure to tell you about in later posts.

Looking back I can see that different interests and experiences all led me up to founding my new business, Wood with a Past. My wife and I care about the environment and leaving a sustainable lifestyle for generations to come. We’ve been in the habit of recycling for years now and it seems reclaiming wood fits right in with what we believe in.


I started noticing old barns and thinking to myself how sad once they are torn down to be hauled off to landfills if there was nobody around who wanted to reclaim the wood. My creative juices started to flow and in my mind’s eye I began to see pieces of furniture, doors, mantels and floors being created out of the old wood.

There are so many talented artisans right here in Amish Country, Ohio and knowing most Amish furniture makers don’t have internet access I began to see how I could connect the dots; building relationships with the reclaimed wood, the furniture maker and the buyers.

I could see it now, pieces of properly harvested wood, dried, sanded down and fashioned into one-of-a-kind pieces. Conversation pieces adorning someone’s house. That became my new goal.

It has been my dream to connect the dots even further and add the story behind the pieces of furniture. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the buyer might know the story behind their piece of furniture? How cool would it be if a family from say southern California would purchase a farmhouse table and know their table once was a part of some old barn’s milking parlor? Wouldn’t that spark conversation around the dinner table?

As I continue to add posts to my blog I want to take you, the reader, along with me on this journey of connecting the dots. I hope you will come along with me weekly as I tell you of the things I’ve learned, the tidbits of history and the stories and images I dig up about a family who has worked and played in the barns. This is an adventure for me and I hope to share as much of my adventure with you as I possibly can.

As you were reading this post you might consider stopping over on my shopping tab and check out the beautiful products the Amish artisans have been fashioning out of the reclaimed wood and once you do so you might want to leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the products. 

Wood With A Past Website

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