Friday, October 18, 2013

At The Age of Thirteen ~ James Monsen ~ Farming, Hauling Winter Wood and Making Adobes

James Monsen

At the age of thirteen, I began doing the varied jobs on the farm and about the home.  In those days the sowing of the grain was all done by broadcasting.  Father being very particular about sowing, was very reluctant to turn the job over to someone else when rheumatism in his right arm disabled him.  Joe, who was my senior by four years, was not at home, so it fell to my lot to do the broadcasting.  With a little coaching by father, we managed to do the job.  I was very concerned about it, and eagerly watched the sprouts come through the ground to see how evenly it was sown.  From then on, when not being convenient for father to do the sowing, though Joe being older, it fell to my lot to do the job.

After the farm work was all done, the big job yet to do was hauling our winter's wood.  Not until I was nearly grown did we have coal.  In company with Orin Clark, I hauled the first load of coal to our home.  I think about a ton was divided between the two families.  Much wood was required and many days were required in which to haul it.  For several falls, Henry Trauntvine assisted me in hauling wood.  He got every third load.  We drove an ox team, always  leaving home before sunrise, and never home before sundown.  Sometimes we did not arrive home until eleven o'clock at night.  Practically all the trees were pulled down by the oxen and dragged to the wagon with the limbs on.

By the time wood hauling was finished, the wood piles were so large there was scarcely room in the yards for them. So for convenience, wood was often piled on the streets nearest the house.

Dr. Allen, or at that time, Sam, joined Joe and I on our way to the cedar hills after wood.  Sam drove a pair of mules and we had oxen.  Joe got in Sam's wagon, leaving me to prod the oxen along.  On the way an arrangement was agreed upon by Sam and Joe that we assist each other in getting our loads. The wood was pulled down by the oxen, and Sam's wagon was loaded first.  He didn't wait to help us get our load; instead he hitched his mules to his wagon, leaving us to get our load as best we could. An unfortunate thing happened after Sam left.  The first tree we pulled, it was necessary for me to climb the tree to fasten the chain as near the top as possible.  The chain was fastened, but the oxen didn't  wait for me to climb down.  I was unaware that my one finger was fastened between the chain and the tree,  but as the oxen started down came the tree.  Jim and all, tearing the nail and part of the flesh from the finger.  So Joe was left to get his load of wood alone.  What he called Sam  Allen wouldn't look nice in print.  That's one night we were late in getting home, and the folks were concerned to the extent that father and someone else were already to go and look for us.  That finished my part of the wood hauling for the season.

The following summer father made preparations to build a house on the lower lot, by making the adobes and hauling rock for the foundation.  I assisted him in making adobes.  The dirt was loosened in the ground and water poured on it. By turning it with a spade and tramping it with my bare feet, it was ready for the mold, but too heavy for me to place on the table.  So father did that, as well as carry the mold.  We ran out three to five hundred ten-inch adobes each day.


By Vmenkov (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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