Bevins Tales - BT2 - 1883 Was a Year of Maturation and Change
There was a big snowstorm in January 1883
1883 Began With a Heavy Snowstorm That Changed the Valley
In January, Victor Campbell, the oldest surviving member of the community, died shortly after the snowstorm and became the first person buried in the Oak Springs Cemetery. He was the first settler of the west valley so it was appropriate that he be the first buried in this new cemetery that served the west valley as well as the town. The Town Council had decided the previous fall to formally recognize the new Cemetery in the southwest corner of town, west of the Patton School. It occupied Lot 1 and 2 of Block WW along the south side of Patton Road between 3rd and 4th Avenue West. The south half of the block was retained by the Town for possible future cemetery extension or other town use. Previously, burials in the valley were in the Oak Creek Township Cemetery in the east valley.
On February 25th, Myrtle attended the marriage of William McDonald, her first cousin, to Charlotte Crane, along with her parents, Lewis and Caroline (McDonald) Truesdale. Even though not yet 15 years-of-age, Myrtle gave more than a passing thought, as she watched the ceremony, as to what it would feel like to be the bride. She kept it to herself, of course, but she suddenly realized that the groom she saw in her imagination was Howard Bevins. He was just a new friend, but, was it possible the future held more than just friendship for them?
April 11th was an especially hard experience for Myrtle’s family. It was the first anniversary of the death of Myrtle’s older brother, Jimmie. He had accidentally died in the flooded creek while at Kent King’s 17th birthday party at the King farm west of town. Lewis had taken it especially hard as he had recently made such an effort to get closer to his son, in spite of his frequent absences. He felt he had been making progress, then lost it all. Caroline had lost her first child and only son. How devastating. Myrtle had lost her only sibling, her older brother, so suddenly. They each dealt with the loss differently, of course. Lewis seemed to become even more withdrawn for several months, but, recently, seemed to be paying more attention to his remaining daughter, now his only child. Caroline had become more protective of Myrtle, keeping her close at all times, it seemed. Myrtle just tried to cope by keeping about her life, the new high school experience, new and old friends, along with attending to the needs of her father and mother.
Memorial Day and the 4th of July were big holidays in 1883
Summer of 1883 was filled with family and community activities
In the spring, Caroline had announced that she would not seek re-election to the School Board. She felt she had done her duty assisting with getting their private subscription school converted to a Public School under new Missouri law that Lewis had helped shape. That was going well. She also wanted to spend time with Myrtle and the things they liked to do together, like the garden, the chickens and the summer fair preparations and activities.
Myrtle was happy to work with her mother on these projects, taking an even more active interest in learning all the details. She realized that in only a few years she would possibly be ready to form a home of her own. She realized she was maturing, both physically and socially, as her Freshman Year in High School came to an end, and she looked forward to her Sophomore Year, after the summer.
Myrtle now recognized that summer began in Oak Springs with the Memorial Day commemoration on the last Monday of May, and was highlighted by the 4th of July Celebration and the Fifth Annual Oak Creek Valley the first weekend in August before it was time get ready for the new school year. Since her father was a leader of the Patton Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) he was annually very involved in both the Memorial Day and the 4th of July celebrations. The prior year, in his grief, he had struggled to meet his minimal duty requirements. This year, she noticed, he flung himself into every detail and seemed to take new pride in those responsibilities and obligations. Those around him seemed to perk up their attention to the details as well. Each of the celebrations was carried out with great pride and success.
They examined her chicken exhibit at the fair
The Fifth Annual Oak Creek Valley Fair was the first weekend of August
Caroline was known at the fair for her raspberry jams and jellies. Myrtle was anxious this year to help and learn. Caroline was more than happy to have the assistance and do the teaching to assure that their products were top notch, award winning again this year. This year, in addition to this fixed display, they also decided to try something new. Lewis had brought back from one of his visits to Jefferson City as State Legislator the prior year six new Barred Plymouth Rock chickens as a gift to his wife and daughter. There were five hens and a rooster. They had been caring for them and keeping them healthy. They were quite attractive birds, and the ladies decided they would enter three of them in the livestock exhibits at the fair this summer. They really were not sure what to expect, but they were anxious to give it a try, together.
At the fair, Caroline helped Myrtle set up the chicken coop display in the Livestock Exhibits in the Pole Barn, then returned to the Community Building to look after her raspberry jams and jellies display. As the livestock exhibits were opened to the general public shortly after judging was finished, one of the first visitors was Howard Bevins. Myrtle was very happy to see him. She had only seen him a couple of times since school had let out. He said he was anxious to see all of the farm product displays, but was especially anxious to see her chickens. They talked about chickens and other farming related matters for quite a while. Myrtle noticed that he didn’t seem in any hurry to visit the other displays, but then, she didn’t really want him to leave, either.
After a bit, Lewis came by to see his daughter and her chickens. He was pleased to see and talk to Howard, as well. He asked Howard how he was enjoying working out on the Warden farm. Howard said he had really learned a lot both last fall during the harvest and then again this spring with the planting. He expressed his appreciation to Mr. Mason for giving him the time off from his work at the stable to also work on the farm. Lewis said he knew that both men were very pleased with how hard Howard worked and how much he wanted to learn. He said that an ambitious hard-working young man was a valuable asset to both the stable and the farm. Lewis didn’t mention, of course, that both those men actually worked for him, and that he had taken a special interest in seeing that Howard was getting the full measure of opportunity to show that ambition.
Note by the author
This set of stories picks 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.
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.”