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Cedar Mill News

Volume 2, Issue 5


May 2004

Social Life in Early Cedar Mill

by Nancy Olson, co-author, Cedar Mill History

Long time residents of Cedar Mill recall a childhood of toil, eking out a self-sustaining existence while going to school, with little time for anything else. Yet social interactions and outlets were available.


Berry pickers circa 1930

Farm and household chores often became a form of social activity. Gertrude Walters Pearson recalled...”When it was time for haying, one field at a time would be mowed, after which the men worked together to shock it, with their pitchforks into mounds. Later it was loaded onto wagons to be hauled by horses to the barns. As children, we were allowed to ride on the wagons loaded with hay. The men worked together standing bundles of grain into shocks and later threshing it. Women would gather to prepare harvest meals with each family trying to outdo the previous one. The quantities of food were great...”

The earliest recorded social group was the Amateur Musical and Literary Society of Cedar Mill, founded in 1888. Articles of Incorporation stated: “The object of this society shall be to develop the moral, intellectual and musical capacity of all to whom it’s influence may extend; and to purchase and control an Organ ...” They met at the Union School House, rented out the organ for profit along with any entertainment and exercises, and put the money back into the community.

For years, the Martin C. Larsen family of Bethany provided musical entertainment to Cedar Mill. They toured around the entire county, first by horse and springwagon and later by car. The parents were joined by six of their seven children, each instructed by Martin on a variety of instruments. On one occasion during WWI they appeared in a four-act play at Leedy Grange titled, “Her Friend the Enemy” with proceeds going to the Red Cross. They played square dance numbers in local barns; and jazz, waltzes and popular tunes at the Grange, but slowly began dissolving in 1922 when some of the older Larsen children left the household.

Klondike Kate

The Community Club of Cedar Mill began in 1940 and ended around 1955. Monthly meetings were held at Leedy Grange and at Cedar Mill School. Members supported the formation of Wolf Creek Water District that brought Bull Run water to Cedar Mill and assisted the volunteer Cedar Mill Fire Patrol. During WWII members sold war bonds and raised money for the Red Cross. Community entertainment included operettas, strawberry festivals and plays.

One memorable night, the group offered, “Night in the Klondike,” featuring legendary Kate Rockwell Matson, “Klondike Kate”, the colorful queen of the Yukon dance halls. People dressed in parkas and snowshoes and ate a hearty meal while Kate danced and sang and discussed her golden days in Alaska. She was living in Oregon at that time and died in Sweet Home in 1957 at the age of 76.

Schools, churches, and the Cedar Mill General Store were other outlets for social interaction. All of this provided surprisingly rich and varied social activities for the early community.



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The Cedar Mill News
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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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