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Bevins Tales - BT18 - 1897 Howard and Myrtle Saw Electricity Come to Oak Springs - Ora B. to First Grade

Updated on September 27, 2018
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Oak Springs got an Electric Generator from a Neighboring Community

An Electric Generator of the 1890s
An Electric Generator of the 1890s

The Town Council Finally Decided to Bring Electricity to Oak Springs

In February, the Oak Springs Town Council finally acted on an offer they received from the town of Rolla to purchase their used electrical generation equipment. Rolla had upgraded to a larger system sooner than they had expected to and had this surplus equipment still in excellent condition for use by a smaller community. The bonus issue that likely closed the deal was that it included the Electrical Engineer who had been operating the equipment for the prior two years. 29-year-old Oscar Humphrey had expressed his interest in “going with his generator” rather than staying in Rolla and learning the new system.


To take charge of the overall implementation of installing electricity in Oak Springs, the Town Council hired an experienced manager out of Springfield as Utility Manager. His name was Arthur Loyd. He was married, his wife, Lana, and they had two children, a son, Seth, 15, and a daughter, Eva, 10. The Town Council decided to dedicate Lots 1 and 3 on Block II, newly acquired city land from the southern portion of Levi Weston’s pasture, to the new Electric Power Plant. This bordered on the north side of Patton Street (Road) and 2nd Avenue E, across the street from the Bricker property. A stone building construction began immediately with operations expected to be underway by summer. Humphrey would initially reside at the Duncan Boarding House, just two blocks to the west. Arthur Loyd purchased Lot 1 of Block KK, the former Olson Land, to build their residence, just a block from the Plant. They resided at the Duncan Boarding House pending their house being finished.


The Town Council formed a working committee to include Street Superintendent Rufus King, Utility Manager Arthur Loyd, Dwight Nagle of the telephone company and Ivan Toll from the Council to coordinate installing utility poles through the city as well as allocate costs and ownership. The telephone company had already installed a couple dozen poles and wires, but it was done in coordination with Rufus King, so disruption would be minimal.

Harold Whiting arrived from Joplin with the announcement that he was opening a Hardware Store on Centennial Square. Lot 4 of Block CC was the last property facing on the Square. It would be a stone two story building, with an apartment overlooking the square where he would live. He was a widower with two grown children living elsewhere. Whiting said he would stock the latest compatible equipment for both telephone and electric service along with a full line of accessories. He also would carry a full line of tools for farm, home and business. He expected to open for business in the fall.

He would be selling telephone service, equipment, and accessories

The Inventor of the Telephone
The Inventor of the Telephone

Changes Continued Around the Valley

Summer time in the west valley brought another decision to ‘retire’ and move to town. Lawrence Johnson and his wife, Lucinda, purchased Lot 2, of new Block KK, just east of Arthur Loyd, for their retirement home. With this move, Peter Reeves and Malinda Johnson married and took up residence in the original Lawrence Johnson home. They would continue to farm with her parents, Campbell and Lizzie Johnson, as the third generation on their farm.


Ferrett Nixon, one of the seven high school graduates in the Class of 1897, was recognized as very outgoing and a natural salesman. Everyone sort of assumed he would continue to work with his father at the newspaper and printshop. However, by the end of June, he had decided to accept an offer from Dwight Nagle to become a salesman with the Nagle Telephone Company to solicit subscriptions for telephone service from residents and businesses. Later in July, Ferrett and Angeline Inman, a classmate, announced their engagement and pending marriage in September. They planned to live with her parents, Jacobi and Allison.


We saw the positive influence of Dr. Ollie Seaman on his two stepsons. His step-daughter, Arminta Reeves, recently graduated from high school as well, also was inspired by her stepfather. She announced that she was going off to college to become a dentist. Just like him. Some laughed, some took her seriously. Only time would tell which would be right, of course.

Ora B. had arrived home from school on the school carriage

A rural landscape
A rural landscape

Ora B. Bevins Entered First Grade in the Fall of 1897

Howard and Myrtle were very anxious to talk to their son, Ora B., after his first day of school, in first grade. They had done all they could to prepare him for this new activity, even adventure, if you will. They had talked to Nellie Truesdale, the former teacher of these youngsters, about what they, as parents, should do to prepare their son for school. He seemed to enjoy learning and seeking new information.


“What did you learn at school today, Ora B.?” Myrtle got right to the point.


“The teacher said we should each be kind to one another. Be friends with the other students in our class,” Ora B. said this with pride and understanding.


“And how did that work out for you?” his mother asked.


“I have a new friend.”


“Well, that worked out well then?” Myrtle was careful not to press the issue too much, but she really wanted to know more. “Does your new friend have a name?”


“Yes, Sarah. Her name is Sarah Jane Waters.”


“Wow, you must be really good friends to be able to remember her whole name like that.”


“Yes. She came right up to me and said she wanted to be my friend. I did like the teacher said, and was kind to her. She lives on a farm, too, and likes to help her mother in her garden, just like I help you. We talked about a lot of things.”


Myrtle could hardly contain herself. “That is very nice, that you have a new friend. Did you meet any other new friends, today?”


“Not really. Sarah and I rode on the carriage home together. There was not a lot of time to meet many of the other students. We just kept talking together all the time.”


Howard had been listening. “Did you talk to any of the other boys?”


“Not really. I was talking to Sarah Jane, and they didn’t seem interested in bothering us. They were all involved with each other. Making jokes, that kind of thing. I just left them alone. Maybe tomorrow will be different.”


Myrtle said, “Yes, each day will be different. I’ll bet you meet some new friends tomorrow, and the next day.”


“I suppose,” Ora B. hesitated. “But I did like talking to Sarah Jane. We like the same things. She even likes hoeing the weeds in the garden like I do. I hope I see her on the carriage again tomorrow.” He seemed to lose interest in talking at that point.


Howard and Myrtle kind of looked at each other and smiled. They realized their little boy was growing up right before their eyes. What would tomorrow bring, for sure. More surprises, most likely. Hopefully, pleasant ones, not the other kind.

Note by the author

This set of stories picked up in Oak Springs in 1882 when the Bevins family arrived in Oak Springs including young Howard Bevins, the 14-year-old about to become a High School Freshman. He was in the same class as Myrtle Truesdale. This is their story. After they married, they became a part of the larger community, of course.


The stories of the "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories lay the background for the stories of Oak Springs and the Oak Creek Valley. They

have also been published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog (thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com).


“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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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      9 months ago from Hollister, MO

      For sure, for sure!! So happy you came along... ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And fifty years later I was born, and more changes exploded on the scene and across the county, and people were amazed, and are amazed today, and it is all so very cool!

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