When Jarrod Mills, 15, heard the historic Taylor Log House at Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park desperately needed some repair, he knew that would make the perfect Eagle Scout project.
The Yosemite High School sophomore has been involved in “Venturing” (Crew 2249), which is affiliated with Boy Scouts and open to boys and girls 14 and up, and is very close to earning the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, which requires a community service project.
Over the years, the chinking (mortar/stucco) between the logs of the historic Taylor Log House, was crumbling away little by little and desperately needed to be replaced. The spaces between the logs ranged from an inch to three inches.
Mills researched what would be needed for the job - a lot of chicken wire and about 1,600 pounds of stucco to re-chink the spaces between the logs.
First, what was left of the old chinking had to be chipped away before chicken wire could be tightly rolled and stuffed between the logs. The wire would serve as reinforcement once the stucco was applied.
It was imperative to have the work done so the Taylor Log House could look its best for this Saturday’s (Sept. 16) Heritage Day celebration.
Mills gathered his 13-member team of friends and relatives, and on Aug. 12 and 13, after more than 200 hours of work, the entire job (850 feet of chinking) was completed.
Jarrod said he wanted to thank all his friends and family that came out to help with the project.
“It will look nice when people visit Fresno Flats on Sept. 16 during Heritage Days,” Mills said proudly.
Longtime Madera County residents
Jarrod’s mother and father, Bonnie and Deron, both 1983 graduates of Yosemite High, were very supportive of their son’s selection for a community service project. Bonnie has taught school in Oakhurst for 27 years, the last 15 at OCI. Deron is the Incident Commander of the South Central Sierra Incident Management Team - most recently assigned to the Railroad Fire.
Bonnie said her husband’s family moved to the Mountain Area in 1981and his father served as a CHP officer and his mother worked as an insurance agent, recently retiring.
“Jarrod’s maternal great-grandfather, William Bossert, was constable of Raymond from 1930-1960,” Bonnie said. “Due to lung cancer, he was forced to retire. Jarrod’s great grandmother, Margerite Bossert, taught at Raymond High School from 1928-1953. Jarrod’s grandmother, Janice Bossert James, was hired as the librarian of Oakhurst Elementary in 1970 and held that position for 11 years. His grandfather, William James, taught at Sierra High from 1961-1982. He passed away in 1995.”
Bonnie said her son’s paternal grandparents, Ken and Judy Mills, both from Sonora, came to Oakhurst in 1981. Both now retired, Ken was a CHP officer, and Judy an insurance agent.
“You can see our families have been a part of the Mountain community for many years, so Jarrod’s project was a way to give back to the community,” Bonnie said.
Board member and Buildings and Grounds Director Tony King said Jarrod did a great job organizing a team to restore the building to its former condition.
“Most young men and women don’t think much about the history of the area,” King said. “Jarrod taking on this important project to help preserve a part of Oakhurst’s history has actually restored my faith in young people.”
Venturing Crew 2249 leader is John Dufresne, who has known Jarrod since he was 6 years old in Cub Scouts.
“It takes a lot of work to become an Eagle Scout,” Dufresne said. “Jarred has completed projects to earn 21 merit badges, the number required to become an Eagle Scout ... but he has gone above and beyond earning 35 merit badges.”
Dufresne said Jarrod is a pretty quiet boy, and taking the leadership role for this project pushed him out of his comfort zone.
“This was a big project and it forced Jarrod to work with businesses and the SHSA board of directors to gain their support of his project,” Dufresne said after the project was complete. “Jarrod did a great job.”
True Value Home Center donated the cement mixer used to mix the stucco, and Don Ashton, president of the Sierra Historic Sites Association, donated the chicken wire.
The Bass Lake Lions Club, sponsors of Crew 2249, donated $100 for supplies.
About the Taylor Log House
Built in 1869, the 40X20 Taylor Log House was the home of Margaret (Newton) and William Taylor, farmers who raised cattle, and hogs. The house features two rooms separated by a ‘dogtrot’ (open air poach).
One room served as the family room with fireplace cooking and the second room was the bedroom, sewing and workroom. The children slept in an unheated loft above the rooms, accessible by a pull-down ladder. Portraits of Margaret and William hang over the mantle in the bedroom.
Margaret was the sister of Mary Catherine Laramore, who lived in the Laramore House. A display of tools of the type used in the construction of the house can be found in one of the rooms.
Details: Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park, south-west corner of School Road (427) and Indian Springs Road (418). Self-guided tour brochures available on site. Sierra Historic Sites Association memberships, $25 to $1,000. (559) 683-6570. www.fresnoflatsmuseum.org.