Weston Wagons West | Episode H2 | Hank Weston faces changes

Iowa was being settled west to the Des Moines River

The Des Moines River (from Wikipedia)
The Des Moines River (from Wikipedia)

With Hank Weston in Oberlin, changes came to Joe and Jake families

By 1845 when Hank went off to college, Joe and Mary’s daughter, Sarah, was a five-year-old, and her sister, Cathy, was a one-year-old. These were Mary’s only other children to survive, besides Hank, and it seemed she continued to hold her breath. But, both girls were healthy and hearty… and very active. They were the apples of Joe’s eye, to say the least. After a courtship of nearly a year, Jake and Hannah were married in June of 1847. Jake and Joe had a sister and two brothers, born between them, who were active on Ferrell’s expanded farm operations. Though all were generally doing well, both Joe and Jake talked frequently about neighbors who had sold out, some to Ferrell, and moved to new farms to the west. Specifically, several moved to Iowa in 1846, the year Iowa became a state. They had settled a few miles east of Des Moines, which was located on the Des Moines River, that divided the state east and west. The eastern part of the state was being settled steadily; there were still some Indian tribes roaming the western part of the state.

Mary and Hannah did not appreciate hearing the talk about possibly moving, but they also knew that when the men-folks made up their minds to do something, it usually happened, one way or another. This had been the situation in the summer of 1847 when Hank had come to visit for a few weeks from his college up in Oberlin. Mary noticed that Hank seemed to be very happy at college, even had found a girl that interested him, and she really didn’t want him to be distracted by talk of a move. She did her best to keep that talk in the background while he was there. That had seemed to work, as Hank returned to college with positive anticipation of continuing his new career.

Meanwhile, at Oberlin, Hank and Melinda immersed themselves in their fall classes. They had both a history class and a literature class, together, so that gave them much material to discuss in addition to their mutual interest in each other. Their other classes also kept them well occupied as their third year passed. They each wrote letters home each week, and received similar letters in return. Neither went home for the year-end holidays, so they enjoyed sharing the holiday experience in Oberlin, together. The winter and spring of 1848 was especially cold with lots of snow in northern Ohio. Just surviving felt like a major accomplishment for both Hank and Melinda. They each approached the summer break with some trepidation.

They called the boy Josh

A baby boy
A baby boy

Hank learned about Josh, his youngest brother, before summer break

In late April, Hank learned by way of a letter from his father, Joe, that Mary had borne another son. They had named him Joshua, but they all called him Josh. Despite Mary’s concerns for the health of the boy, young Josh seemed to be doing fine. His two sisters at home, Sarah, now 8, and Cathy, now 4, found having a younger brother to be a wonderful experience, Joe related. Hank knew that his mother, Mary, was now 40 years old, herself, but was pleased for both his parents that they were able to have one more child, even though there had been a 22 year spread between himself and the new young one. Perhaps miracles really do happen, he and Melinda mused, as he shared the information with her. She seemed to believe that it was just the way of life. You should just accept what happens, she added, and make the most of each opportunity.

Hank and Melinda thought of themselves as engaged to be married, by this time, though no formal announcement had been made. They were each committed to completing their college degrees before marriage, but had still not made firm plans beyond that. For these reasons, they decided it was important that each meet the others’ parents, and make the ‘announcement’ during those family gatherings. Melinda would accompany Hank to Marietta following the end of the term. About a week later, Hank would then accompany Melinda on south to her parents’ plantation in north Georgia, where he would meet her family for the first time, as well.

Each home visit went very well, and in the process, Hank and Melinda decided that their wedding would be held in Georgia, at her parents’ plantation, in late June of 1849, following their graduation from Oberlin College.

They were married in Georgia

A southern plantation house
A southern plantation house

The next year flashed by quickly

If planning a wedding and making career decisions were not complicated enough for Hank and Melinda, as the early months of 1849 passed by, a visit from Joe Weston on May 1st added to it. Hank’s father said the news was too important for a letter. The Iowa opportunity that he and Jake had been waiting, and hoping, for had actually arrived and it was almost too good to be true, from his point of view. They had received word that a former neighbor, a man they knew well, had died on his farm in Iowa, in their third year there, and the widow wanted to return to her family in Ohio. Talking to other knowledgeable friends, Joe and Jake realized it was a large, productive farm and had decided this was the move they wanted to make. Crops were in the field, and they would be moving in July to be ready for the fall harvest.

Joe and Jake were offering Hank a full partnership in the new Iowa farm if he and Melinda were interested in and willing to make the move, as well. Joe added that the trip would take about 5 to 6 weeks, by wagon; driving the animals they wanted to take with them. They hoped to leave early in July. They would therefore not be able to be at the wedding in Georgia, as they had planned, but hoped that Hank and Melinda would join them in the move a couple of weeks later. Hank and Melinda asked lots of question and took several hours to mull over their concerns. They entertained Joe in the evening and slept on the decision overnight. By noon the next day, they had reached the decision to accept the offer and make the move to Iowa with the Weston families, shortly after their wedding. It was an adventure that they simply could not let pass by.

Note by the author

The Fx and Hx series of historical fiction family saga stories consist of characters that are fictional or real persons used here fictitiously. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. The Jacob and Levi Weston characters were first created as a part of “The Homeplace Saga” stories. The first 20+ episodes of this Lx series filled in the early years of the lives of Levi, Jacob and their family, also descendents of Thomas and Fred Weston

These first 20 episodes of the Levi Weston story have been compiled into an ebook: “Weston Wagons West: Levi Weston, L1-20 (1823-1874).” Thank you for your support.

“Weston Wagons West” and “The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”

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Comments 4 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

Moving to Iowa....say howdy to my relatives while you are there. :)

Giving birth and wishing for a healthy baby....a serious and very real concern for those back then. That's what I love about this series...you have a firm grasp of small details like that, sprinkled throughout each episode. Well done, my friend.


DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 11 months ago from Hollister, MO Author

Thank you, so much. Each relationship in families is so precious. Even with our wonderful, three grown, professional daughters; we lost a baby born three days before Christmas, and died Christmas morning. The third living daughter, who had our only grandchildren, was only born because we lost that one, most likely. We mourn the loss, but we live with what is. Each relationship is so precious. ;-)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 11 months ago from The Caribbean

Feels like we're hearing news about people we know--the marriages, the births, the businesses. The mention of the letters take me back to when life was simple and gadgets were not the nuisance they are now.


DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 11 months ago from Hollister, MO Author

Thank you, Dora. I tend to agree with that last statement... ;-)

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