More than 25 years ago, during a visit with David Wilson in Scotland, he took me to see the blacksmith shop and attached house that six generations of his family had called home. Located in the sleepy little hamlet of Kilmany, the homestead is just a few kilometers from the world-famous old St. Andrews Links where golf got its start in 1552.
Wilson’s newly published 132-page Sparks from the Smiddy book tells the story of this sixth generation blacksmith who lives in nearby Balmullo. It was written with Andrew Arbuckle, the farming editor for The Scotsman newspaper.
When George Wilson moved to Kilmany in 1813, there were only two rooms in the little house. The equally cramped smiddy (blacksmith shop) only had space for a coal-fired forge, bellows and anvil. The shoeing, blacksmithing and farm equipment repair work was done outside in all kinds of weather.
Born in the cramped two-room house, Wilson is among eight family generations who have taken up the trade of blacksmithing and horseshoeing. His son David and his two grandsons Josh and Eli represent the seventh and eighth generations to practice the trade.
As he paid tribute to the previous generations of family blacksmiths, Wilson wrote, “All five previous generations of my family were blacksmiths. They had all sweated over their forges. They had hammered the white-hot metal into shape, then fitted it to horses’ hooves. Back bent with the horse’s leg held between their own legs, they nailed the shoes…