Bevins Tales - BT21 - 1900 Howard, Myrtle and Ora B. Welcomed the New Century
Ora B. was surprised with a pony for his birthday
Ora B. Celebrated His Ninth Birthday
Ora B. enjoyed celebrating his birthday each year, as does every young person. The one thing that frustrated him this year was that both he and his father had to take a few hours out of doing farm work to celebrate. It was planting season, after all. But, this year was a wet year. And although they were a bit behind in the field work, it did rain on the Sunday afternoon of his birthday, so they couldn’t be in the field anyway. Ora B. said he wanted to be a farmer, just like his dad.
This was an especially good year because Howard had decided to get Ora B. a pony for his birthday. A pony was a real luxury on the farm, but the parents had decided the son was showing such dedication at such a young age, that a pony was justified. They knew he would take the responsibility seriously. He hadn’t been asking for one, but that made it an even better idea, in the eyes of his parents. When they told him, he could hardly believe his ears. They would have to go in town to pick up the pony and bring it home, but he could show a lot of patience, if it was really going to happen. He said it was the best birthday ever.
They worked hard through the rest of the spring planting season to get the crops in around the rain showers. The last week of May, as the crops were in the ground, the raining stopped. There was not a drop of rain in the month of June. They were invited to a wedding of neighbors, Lawrence Miller married Narcissa Polk. They would live on the Miller farm where he would continue to farm with his father. There were three other June weddings in Oak Springs, but the Bevins family did not attend those. The Presbyterian Minister, Rev. Wilson Maxwell, married Martha Bishop (her parents had died the prior winter). David Powell, of the Furniture Store, married Elmira Nixon, the Town Clerk. And, Earl Toll, now Assistant Manager at the Diamond Hotel, married Bobby Sue Die. Earl’s father, T.J., had recently completed an heir/purchase agreement with the grandfather to take over management and ownership of the Hotel. Earl hoped he would be in a position to do similarly in coming years.
After a month of drought, it rained for several days in the Oak Creek valley
Rains Were Unusually Heavy in July
Following a dry June, clouds appeared on the 4th of July, but the rain held off until after the fireworks that night. Then, it rained for three days running. This was the Ozarks, after all. During this rain, Howard and Myrtle realized their roof was leaking. He assumed with the long dry spell, the flashings around the chimney may have loosened up allowing the rain to come in. The wind had blown along with the rain, so that also may have contributed to the problem. The day after the rain stopped, Howard was determined to get up on the roof to identify and solve the problem.
In June, during the dry spell, Howard and Myrtle were very proud of some fresh landscaping they had done around the front of the house. They had brought in some stones as edges for some nice flower plantings along the front of the house. They congratulated each other on the nice job they had done as they got the ladder out for him to climb up on the roof to examine the problem. At the age of 32, Howard was still comfortable climbing up on the roof and walking around to find the answer to their problem. However, he wasn’t counting on some of the shingles still being slippery. At he took a step toward the chimney, his foot slipped, and he slid down the roof, landing on his back in the front yard. Myrtle was holding the ladder, saw him slide, but could do nothing to stop his slide and fall. He would have simply been badly injured from the fall, but, the back of his head fell sharply on one the rocks they had earlier installed as decorative edging and he was killed instantly.
The following hours, days, even weeks were a blur to Myrtle, Ora B., and even Caroline. There was a funeral and burial, of course, but what did the future hold? Myrtle had lost a father and a husband in a matter of months. Why had this happened? What did it mean for their lives? Ora B. had lost not only his father, and grandfather, but his guiding spirit in his father. From a happy nine-year-old he became a sad and depressed nine-year-old. His mother had difficulty comforting him because of her own strong sense of grief and loss. Caroline invited them to come stay with her, in town, of course, which they did. However, she was not fully recovered from her own grieving, she had to admit. Rev. Alexander, and his wife, Jennifer, were most helpful and supportive, but they had difficulty making very much of a real contribution. They were still new people to the family. William and Charolette McDonald, along with Jane and Daniel McDonald, seemed to provide the level and clear minded heads that Charlotte, Myrtle and Ora B. needed most right now. They were patient, supportive, and there when they were needed and not when they were not.
Life in the Oak Creek Valley continued in spite of another tragedy
Life Went On Around the Oak Creek Valley
As harvest time, approached, Myrtle had decided she wanted William to take care of the harvest at her farm. He had been looking after the animals, and had done a second cutting of hay, without even being asked. They just had agreed it needed to be done. Myrtle didn’t even want to go back out to the farm, at all. They had brought things to her that she needed from the house. Even Ora B.’s pony was brought in to stay in Caroline’s barn. She had plenty of room now, both in the barn and in the carriage house. So slowly, Myrtle’s things were added as well so that she had horses and a carriage for her own use.
By mid-fall, Myrtle knew that this arrangement would become permanent. Caroline needed her, it appeared, as much as Myrtle needed Caroline. Ora B. fell into the new routine of walking to school less than a block away from home. He had his pony to ride, that gave him great comfort.
By the end of harvest, Myrtle and William had agreed that he would purchase her farm, to take that burden off of her. He first offered to rent it, as long as she wished, but she realized she no longer wanted anything to do with it. She could now live on the annual payments of the purchase. Giving her plenty of time to be very sure, William and Charlotte agreed to the purchase and over the winter completed the necessary transactions. Myrtle sold most of the animals and farm equipment, as well, of course. She was now back to being a ‘town girl,’ no longer a ‘farmer’s wife.’ She could live with that, now that it was the reality at the end of the year 1900.
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 was their story. After they married, they became a part of the larger community, of course. Now, in this new century, the focus will be on Ora B. and his environment.
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.”