Relic Home and Blacksmith Shop

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Working for Peter Y. Jensen in Cedar Creek Canyon Making Shingles

~~~~taken from "Highlights in the Life of James Monsen~~~


James Monsen

With the advent of each year, responsibilities followed.  Aside from assisting father on the farm, other things required around the home, no opportunity was overlooked to earn something on the side.

At the age of 14 in the fall of the year, after our farm work was done, the first time from home, I hired out to Peter Y. Jensen, who at that time was opening a shingle mill in Cedar Creek Canyon.  My job was to catch the shingles as they come from the cutter and lay aside to the buncher, also firing  the steam boiler, for which I was to have seventy-five cents a day, the amount the boy preceding me was paid; but, to my surprise, in the settlement pete allowed me a dollar a day, and the entire amount was forty dollars.

I had my choice to take shingles or tore pay in Soren Nielsen's store, which was then carried on in the house were Roy Christensen now lives. fourth south and first west.  (Grant Brotherson recently bought the place). The store pay was preferable, so I supplied myself with necessary wearing apparel.

The circumstances surrounding the conditions which I was thus engaged is worthy of mention, andif I were a writer, a picture could be portrayed that would be thrilling.

In summertime, or while the ground was bare, a sufficient amount of logs was placed on the mill yard to last into winter, and as long as there were logs in the yard, the desire was to make more shingles; but the operation was not without difficulties.  The logs became frozen through and through, making them difficult to handle.  The water supply was rather limited, and in extreme cold weather, such as we have occasionally, a small culvert through which it flowed, froze  tight, but with an effort it was opened.  Pete was quite easily discouraged.  When the water ceased to flow, or the boiler injector failed to function, invariably he would slam down his shingle block and say, "It's no use, we better shut down and go home."  Without exception, while Pete was in the cabin advising with his good wife, I had the water flowing and the injector taking in water.  Well the fact was, a continuation of cutting shingles.  Mode of procedure was as follows:  We arose at six in the morning.  The first thing to do was light a fire in the boiler.  When sufficient steam was on, it was turned into the steam box, where the shingle block was ricked for steaming.  All blocks must be thoroughly steamed before they can be cut into shingles.   Since the logs were frozen through, much more extra steaming was required.  Thus the steam went into the box until 8 o'clock when Pete came out.  The program was then changed to the sawing of the blocks.  A log was placed in a bracket and sawed into blocks about a foot in length.  As each block was sawed, with a hand lever the log was driven in position for the next block, and so on until the log was cut into blocks.  Three logs was the usual amount cut for a day's work.

Nine-thirty or ten o'clock we had breakfast. After that, we made shingles until three, then dinner.  After dinner, the blocks sawed from the logs were split into such sizes as most convenient for the cutting of shingles, but mainly into four blocks.  Five to six thousand shingles was our day's work.  While Pete was splitting the blocks, it was my job to place them in the steam box.  This did not finish the day's work.  From then until nine at night, I fired the boiler and steamed blocks.  At eight we ate supper. 

Aside from cooking and caring for two babies, namely, Emma and Bell, Sena, Pete's good wife, bunched all the shingles.

While we were there, the snow became so deep that we could no longer be reached by team.  Peter's oldest son did come twice on a horse before Thanksgiving. We had been there about thirty days.


The day before Thanksgiving, Mart Brotherson came to the forks of the canyon with a team and bob sleighs.  From there he rode a horse to the mill.  We were glad to go home. Mart took the babies  on the horse.  Sena, Pete and I walked behind through snow waist deep in places.  Not a murmur from Sena, and to add to the would-be pleasure, it snowed the entire day.  While at home a few days, the weather cleared nicely.

There still being logs on the mill yard, it was decided that we go back to make more shingles.  Sena being more determined than Pete.  As for me, I wanted to earn more store pay.  Mart Brotherson took us in a bob sleigh, leading a jinnie  behind, to the place where he was when we came home.  A saddle was placed on the mule, and Sena with Emma in her arms  and Bell on the jackass.  We were still about three miles from camp.  The snow was so deep that of necessity, I walked and broke the trail all the way to the mill. Pete following behind, prodding the mule and smoking a pipe.  At dusk we arrived at camp.  Before we could enter the cabin, a lot of snow  shoveling was required.   The mule was unpacked, given a swift kick, and told to get for home.  Well, in ten days' time we finished the logs and went home in about the same manner as at Thanksgiving time.

Peter Y. Jensen and wife, Jensine



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