Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Great Shingle Caper - 1914

Paul O. Dolstad, motorcycle patrolman
Photograph and letter used with permission from a private collection.
Inspector Paul O. Dolstad was responsible for the discovery and seizure of about 200 cords of shingle bolts that were being floated down Bertram Creek (near Lynden) to a mill owned by an American. without being reported to U.S. Customs. 

This letter was written from the owner of a mill who floated 200-350 cords of shingle bolts, from Canada, down Bertram Cree, near Lynden without reporting them to U.S. Customs, dated November 12, 1914.

Extract from the letter:

"Dear Mr. Dam & Mr. Dahlstead. Sumas, WA

Dears Sirs, pondering, on my way home, over our conversation yesterday there was one pre imminent thought in my mind and that was this - It seems certain that you do not understand me and I am positive that I do not understand you."

From Burl Beane's history of the Sumas U.S. Custom's office:

"Paul Dolstad's patrol activities had resulted in the discovery of several hundreds cords of shingle bolts which were being floated down a creek, from Canada, to a mill in the U.S. The owner of the mill had previously been admonished to make entry on all material which he imported in this manner, however,  he failed to attend to this detail.  This incident resulted in a fine which very likely sufficient to secure future compliance to the law. 

In January 1917, The motorcycle which had pursued too many border runners and negotiated to many mud road had been sold.  Deputy collector Dam wrote Collector Roscoe Drumheller as follows: In view of the fact that since the sale of the motorcycle that this port has no government means of conveyance I desire at this time to respectfully recommend that day inspector, Paul O. Dolstad, at present receiving $3. per day, be promoted to mounted inspector at $4. conditioned upon his providing himself with suitable conveyance for patrolling the border....This recommendation was accepted by the collect and Paul purchased a Ford automobile.  His very successful patrol activities continued."

There is also reference to this incident in the following book :  One Foot on the Border, the history of Sumas Prairie and area, by the Sumas Prairie and Area Historical Society, page 368:

    "The second excerpts refers to a lengthy smuggling case against  an American shingle mill owner.  The first entry was in 1906 and the matter was not concluded until 1914, at which  it seems that officials had enough and decided to seize 200 cords of shingle bolts. "

 The United State Customs seized about $600.00 worth of  shingle bolts  October 14, 1914.  A considerable sum at that time.


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