Mabel Life & Times

Chapter Three
"Hurrah for the Fourth"

      After Clara their mother passed away, Mollie, who was one of the older girls took Mabel to live with her and her husband [John & Maud Johnson]. He was working at a mill for Clark & Lennon at Old Sedro, before the towns consolidated. Giant timber stood all over that part of the country then, and every three or four miles there would be a little shingle mill of some kind either sawmill or shingle mill.
      Thousands of millions of feet of timber was wasted at that time, for land must be cleared and no way of handling the timber if it wasn't near a mill, for even six yoke of Oxen could not handle some of the biggest logs, so they were used for fencing, splitting shakes, puncheons to cross bogs, and houses and even the roads were paved with it.
      Some of those rail fences can be seen today as we drive along the road. People must clear land for gardens regardless of what they did with the timbers, so it was usually burned. Split timbers could be seen in the making of every building on the farm and in every road was paved with it. They called it Puncheon Road then and teams and wagons would have been deeply mired in the mud without it. It would be worth millions today.
"There are a number of large lumber and shingle mills in and near the city, [Sedro-Woolley] among them being the Heininger's with a capacity of 150,000 shingles per day; Burn's Shingle Company's, 90,000 per day; Green Shingle Company's two mills, 300,000; Clark & Lennon's, 150,000; D.J. Cain & Company's, 80,000; J.M. Hoyt's, 80,000; Sterling Mill Company's, 150,000; Sedro Shingle Company's, 100,000; Grand Rapids Shingle Company's, 150,000 , and the Childs Lumber Company's. There are also a number of logging camps in the vicinity of the town."
1906 Illustrated History Interstate Publishing Co.

      After Alex moved his family to Mount Vernon and his term as Clerk of Skagit County ran out, he put the children all out in families to work for their keep. The three youngest ones were too young. These were Mabel, age 5 years, John aged 2-1/2 years, and Nellie the baby, who was 18 months old. He either wanted to get out from under, thinking that he could never raise the children without their mother, or else couldn't find work to do around Mount Vernon, and left them to be raised by strangers.
      After Mabel went to stay with her sister Mollie who had changed her name to Maud, (this seemed to be a Boyd trait somehow and we will call her Maud from here on) she was never with her family again, except for brief visits before Alex broke the home up. However there were neighborhood children to play with, and the children seem to forget quickly, but she never forgot them.

J.M. Hoyt Shingle 1899 taken by Darius Kinsey

      In 1898 her sister and husband moved to a little sawmill village called "Prairie", which was about seven miles north of Sedro-Woolley, where their sister Annie and Joe Hoyt lived. Joe owned and operated a combination Sawmill and Shingle mill. [The J.M. Hoyt Shingle Mill in 1899 taken by Darius Kinsey. If you click the photo it will take you to another photo from the same day with the names of the participants. Mabels two brothers Norman and Tom Boyd are in the photo as is her uncle Joe Hoyt and cousin Earl. Photos courtesy of Ed Hoyt]
      This was a pleasant place for children to be, for there was a creek that ran past the place and all summer long Mabel and Earl Hoyt (her sister Annies son who was a little young than Mabel) played all day during the summer. They were busy making boats to float down stream, catching minnows, building dams, and using periwinkles for baiting our pin hooks. We often caught a few fish, which was later fired for us. There are all sorts of things to do when there is a creek to play in.
      One day in the spring Mabel thought what she decided was the nicest idea and a musical one too, so she went out back and brought a load of tin cans in the yard that she found at the dump back in the woods and put them on the ground under the eaves where the rain water dripped from the roof. There was large cans, medium cans and small cans, each giving off a different tone when it rained, some having a deep rich tone, and some a fine bell like tone.
      As it happened the rain had let up before bedtime, so no sound was heard from them but about an hour or more after they had been asleep there was the sound of all sorts of bells ringing. Maud poked Johnny in the ribs saying, "Johnny, Johnny, wake up, the yard must be full of cows," so Johnny pulled on his shoes and put on a coat and hat and started out with the kerosene lantern to chase the cows out, but the rain ceased, and not a sound was heard, then as he got nicely warm and was going to sleep in bed again, it started in all over again, and it kept up all night. The first thing Johnny did, when he got up was to go out and try to solve the mystery. Mabel had slept through all of this music, so awoke very innocent. Johnny wasn't long in finding the cause of the music for it was raining again by this time. He made Mabel get out there and tote all of those tin cans back where she got them. Of course she did it very reluctantly and thinking that grown ups never could see any fun in what children did anyway.
      When the Fourth of July rolled around, there was usually plenty of excitement with all sorts of fireworks in the evenings and picnics during the day, if the weather would permit. However, the Hoyts and the Johnsons planned to drive one of Joe's teams to Fairhaven or Whatcom. It is all Bellingham now. They were to get up early the morning of the third, to start out, for this was a long trip for a team and wagon. The day of the second, everyone was busy getting ready, while the children were out playing and out of the way. Mabel and Earl her sister's boy was playing in the wagon, and Mabel was standing on the seat jumping up and down yelling "Hurrah For the Fourth." It had been raining and the wagon seat was slippery and Mabel's feet flew out from beneath her, and down she went down hitting the bridge of her nose on the iron strap of the dashboard of the wagon. The blood spurted from her nose which frightened her all the more, and she howled to the top of her voice, and to make a bad matter worse, Earl began to say, "Goodie, Goodie, now you can't go with us tomorrow. You'll have to stay home." It was a hard fall, and made her whole heat hurt.
      Maud heard her screaming and ran to the rescue. After stopping the blood she put cold packs on her head which helped. She went with the rest but went with a court plaster across her nose. She carried that scar all of her life.
      They spent the night of the 3rd at Fairhaven and went on to Whatcom next morning, where there were all sorts of things of interest for children. The music of the merry-go-round, the Ferris Wheels, Races, and all sorts of mechanical things they hadn't even heard of until now.
      A man was running some sort of a music box, which he called a Tubaphone. It resembled one of those old time Phonographs, except that instead of having a horn, it had a couple of tubes that looked like a doctors Stethograph, one tube starting from the record then branching to fit both ears. It played two songs for a dime. One song was "My Boyhood Happy Days Down On The Farm." The other song was "Sweet Bunch of Daisies." Both the hit songs of he day. This was such a novelty and some women said "Tish," Tish what will they get up next." There were people waiting to hear this music box for nearly a block away. Only the ones who had these tubes in their ears could hear the song.
      The morning of the 5th, everyone was preparing for the long ride home. Johnny had just drove the team up tot he Hotel to load the wagon up. It was drizzling rain, and although the women had umbrellas, the drip from hem made things wetter than ever. Most of it went on the men and Children, and they son looked like drowned rats. The kids were tired and soon began to quarrel and fought, making it more unpleasant for the older ones. Sometimes they played together but not always and would fight over nothing.

Fairhaven 4th of July from Prairie by wagon in 1897

By Mabel Boyd Royal Steen, Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, March 9, 1939
Fairhaven Hotel

"The Fairhaven Hotel, built in 1890, was the scene of many festive occasions..."
Looking Back The Collector's Edition, Grandpa's Attic 2004.

      I remember in 1897 when we lived at Prairie, Joe Hoyt had a shingle mill there and I lived with my sister [Annie Boyd Hoyt] and brother-in-law, who worked for Joe at the time. I was a young child then but I can plainly remember our trip to Fairhaven. Some neighbors and my folks planned to go to Fairhaven and spend the Fourth of July. What a wonderful day that was then. The joy it brought to us children! The thought is simply thrilling yet.
      We made our preparations two days ahead of time and were ready for an early start on July 3, for it was considered a long trip with a team and wagon. The wagon was brought close to the house to be handy and that afternoon some other children and myself were playing in it. Of course, I had to get up in the spring seat and jump up and down. As it had been raining, the seat was slippery and all at once my feet flew out and down I went, head first, hitting the bridge of my nose on the dashboard. Considerable wailing and much bloodshed ensured for I received quite a gash, but worst of all, the children told me they bet I wouldn't be able to go. However, I said I was all right and next morning we were all ready bright and early for our big trip. Bird and Nell were hitched to the wagon and we piled in. Some sat on the spring seat, some sat on a seat made by putting a 12-inch board across the wagon bed. We surely had fun and not a thing along the road escaped our eyes.
      The road was extremely rough and muddy and the heavy wagon jolted from one side to the other. It rained quite a bit, too, but the older folks had umbrellas, and we children didn't mind a bit, eve though we did get most of the drip from their umbrellas. At last we arrived at Fairhaven and I didn't think a town could be so big. Mount Vernon being the largest I'd ever seen at that time. It rained the morning of the 4th, but after a while it cleared up and we went to the place where they were celebrating. If I live forever, I shall never see anything quite so wonderful as that celebration.
      There was a big Ferris wheel all decorated with flags and bunting and people going around and around in the air; a merry-go-round with beautiful horses, with bright eyes and flowing manes. We had candy, paper fans that folded and all sorts of treats. There was a man with a music box that stood on legs. He called it a tubaphone. It was similar to an old Edison phonograph but instead of a horn it had a hollow rubber tube that branched off like the handle of a sling shot, and the large part was fastened on the reproducer. The branched part, with little buttons at the end, he put in his ears. Then he would start it going and it sounded through the tube like phonograph without a horn, no volume at all. Everyone thought that was a wonderful invention and wondered what they'd get up next. He charged ten cents for each person and he played two songs. I remember one song he played was "My Boyhood Happy Days Down On the Farm."
      Well, we had better weather on the way home and I think both old and young enjoyed that Fourth. I know I did, even though I had to go with a court plaster on my nose and still carry the scar from that fall in the wagon.

      "Mabel Boyd is one of the most important historians who has ever lived on the Skagit river. She was born on the south side of the Skagit river at Birdsview, the twelfth child of Lewis A. and Olive Clarissa (Torrey) Boyd. The family had originally arrived here in October 1882 when there were just nine children. Although she had only a rudimentary education, Mabel has left her family six volumes of diaries and notes. In the late 1930s and '40s, Mabel was a correspondent for the Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times".
Noel V. Bourasaw Skagit River Journal
To be continued...

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