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Shingle bolt cutters in Granite Falls sue mill for back wages on September 5, 1914.
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On September 5, 1914, a group of shingle bolt cutters in Granite Falls, Snohomish County, file a lawsuit against the Chappell Shingle Company. They are seeking payment for work done splitting shingle bolts into shakes. To prevent the bolts being sold, the court puts a lien on them. The workers eventually receive their back pay.
Cutting Shingle Bolts
Logging has always been an important industry in Washington, but in the early years it was a rough and tumble business, often used as a way to clear land for settlement while making a profit. Logs were just one part of the business. Once loggers cleared land of its trees, hundreds of stumps were left behind. Cut high and marked with springboard notches, cedar trees could be cut into “bolts” from which shingles or “shakes” were made. Separate crews were hired to do the work, but sometimes those who did the work were not necessarily compensated. Often immigrants made up these crews.
Around May 13, 1914, Chappell Shingle Company of Granite Falls hired Sam Covia and five other shingle bolt cutters, Charles Aschenbrener, F. Broketta, Bert Aschenbrener, Mrs. W. H. Parker, William Pagrotti, and W. H. Parker to “cut and secure” shingle bolts. The agreed price was $1.10 per cord.
Doing the Job
For the next three months they “performed and rendered upon said shingle bolts.” They continued to work until September 2. At that time they stopped when they were not paid. They left the bolts in Canyon Creek and on property north of the little town of Granite Falls. They were marked with a piece of gas pipe (Snohomish Court Case 14430, Claim of Lien, 1914). Sam Covia was out $155.54 -- “after deducting all just credits and offsets.” All told, $1057.81 was owed the group for 1,000 bolts.
A complaint was filed on the fifth of September asking that a lien be placed on the bolts for payment. Frank Chappell, one of the owners along with his wife and other family members, was a respected medical doctor in Granite Falls. Chappell’s lawyer replied that such a lien would do harm to the shingle business, but courts agreed with the workers. A bond was set at $2200 to cover all costs.
Payments were as follows:
W. H.Parker $376.90
Mrs. W.H. Parker $127
William Pagrrotta $183.73
Bert Aschenbrener $75.31
F. Broketta $44.48
Charles Aschenbrener $126.90
Sam Corea (Covia) $155.54
On September 19, 1914, the county court made a stipulation that the Chappell Shingle Company shingle mill “shall continue to cut into shingles the bolts liened by these plaintiffs ... That during the week from September 21 to 27 the defendants will ship one car of shingles and every week thereafter two cars of shingles per week” (Snohomish Co., case file 14430, Stipulation). The money was to be deposited at the Granite Falls State Bank in Granite Falls. The County Sheriff would continue as receiver of said bolts and shingles.
Over the next few weeks, an interesting scene followed. The bolts were first pulled from Canyon Creek and cut into shingles. A permit was issued by Sheriff Donald McRae and a telegraph sent to H. F. Harvey, agent for the Northern Pacific Railroad, stating the Chappell Shingle Company was “hereby permitted to load and ship so many carloads of shingles.” When the creek was cleared, work continued on the remaining bolts left in the property north of town until all debts were paid.
Justice had prevailed.
Sam Covia, F. Broketta, Bert Aschenbrener, Chas Aschenbrener, Mrs. W.H. Parker, William Pagrotti, and W. H Parker v. Chappell Shingle Co., Snohomish County Case File No. 14430, Washington State Archives, Northwest Regional Branch, Western Washington University, Bellingham; History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties of Washington (Seattle: Interstate Publication, 1906), 366, History of Snohomish County, Washington Vol. I, ed. by William Whitfield (Chicago: Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1926), 699-702.
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