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Heart Throbs of the West
By Kate B. Carter

Excerpts from the lives of Peter Madsen Sr and Peter Madsen Jr
By their granddaughter and daughter, Clara Madsen Taylor

Vol. 4, p, 167
One of my earliest and most cherished memories is of riding down to the mouth of Provo River with my father. There in a rowboat sat two old gentlemen fishing. One was a short, rather small man with thick, show-white hair; he had a large white silk muffler tied about his neck. He appeared to be enjoying the afternoon just sitting there in the pleasant sunshine fishing, while the boat drifted slowly into the deep water. The other man was rather large, and had a long, white beard. He, my grandfather, Peter Madsen Sr., a veteran fisher man of Utah, was enjoying the afternoon with his distinguished guest, Wilford Woodruff, President of the (Mormon) Church at the time.

Vol. 4, p. 168 When asked about the first boat he could remember, my father, Peter Madsen Jr., now 83 years of age, said. "The first boat I can remember is one made from the trunk of a large tree. It was made in two pieces, which had been hewn out and fastened together without the use of nails. There were small grooves cut in both pieces and fitted back together so neatly that the boat was perfectly water-tight. It was about 14 feet long and 3 feet in the center to two feet on the ends. There were small holes bored in the top of the sides so that rushes could be placed in the holes to hide the man and his gun who was hunting ducks and geese on the lake. The boat was owned by Orson Pratt, who used to come down to the old Madsen home often and go hunting and fishing. The old boat lay around the shore of the river for many years after it was discarded by its owner, Orson Pratt."

Another boat he remembers when he was very young was a large pleasure boat that Peter Madsen Sr., my grandfather, built. This boat would accommodate about 100 people. It was a sailboat and large crowds of people would come from miles away to have picnic parties on the old pleasure boat. They would sometimes bring their musical instruments and have music while in the boat out on the lake. Lars Jacobson, another early settler, was the sailor of the boar, he having been a sailor before he came to Utah. They used the boat to sail across the lake to get lime and bring it back to Provo for many uses. One day, while on a return trip, a storm arose and the water was thrown into the lime, causing it to slack . Imagine the commotion - a large load of lime starting to slack in the middle of the lake and only a few hands to pitch it overboard into the water, but that is what they were obliged to do. The men also hauled cottonwood trees from across the lake in the old boat.

Grandfather and his sons, as well as others, used to catch fish from the lake and river for the market in Salt Lake. All of the men, and occasionally some of the women, were needed to clean the fish after they were caught, and to help put them in the wagon box. The long, tedious journey was begun as soon as the fish were ready. They would travel all night in order to be at the market early in the morning. The fish were caught mostly with seines . Father says the largest catch he can remember was 3,000 pounds of trout. The average catch was between 800 and 1,000 pounds. Father said he listened in while they were counting the money for one load, and it was about $100, but that didn't mean a thing to him because he got a new hat that cost him 75 cents. Bishop Madsen gave more fish away than he sold - he gave tons of fish to the Indians. They camped in great numbers near his home for weeks, at a time, to dry fish for winter use. He had many Indian friends.

When the Indians went on the warpath, all the families who lived out on the lake bottoms moved down around the home of Peter Madsen. A fort was built from sod and the people moved inside the fort until the Indian scare was over. Then again the boats were put to good use, to catch fish for the additional people. Once Peter Madsen Jr., and his brothers, John, James and Andrew, went on a goose hunt; towed their boat out into the big channel. It was stormy so they made a sail out of a wagon cover. A sudden windstorm arose; their boat was loaded with geese. The gale was so strong that the men, geese and guns were all tipped out into the cold water. Although the men were saved, the loss of guns and the needed food was keenly felt by the colony.

One other experience was a trip to Mud Hen Gap. A terrible storm arose and became so bad that as night came on, they decided to get the boat ashore; by this time the boat was frozen full of ice, and they had to walk home with their clothes frozen to their bodies. - Clara Madsen Taylor.

 



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