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Bevins Tales - BT4 - 1885 Was a Year of New Experiences and Learning

Updated on June 28, 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.

Myrtle and her mother considered how to deal with having chickens

Chickens in a coop
Chickens in a coop | Source

Spring 1885 brought Howard and Myrtle New Learning Experiences

In February, Ted Warden invited Howard Bevins to visit Ralph Campbell at the Oak Springs Savings Bank with him to learn how a farmer ‘on shares’ handles his annual financing with the bank. Howard was now in the second semester of his Junior year in High School, so Ted (with the prior concurrence of Howard’s parents, Lewis Truesdale, and Ralph Campbell) felt Howard could handle this one more important aspect of being a farmer. Tenant farmer arrangements were based on a March 1 start of each new year. Ralph reviewed with Ted the financial aspects of the prior year’s sales and expenses of his farm operation. They compared the expenses of putting in the new year’s crop with Ted’s bank balance. They talked through the terms of the bank loan Ted needed to get through the year until the crops from the next harvest could be sold. Next year at this time, they would go through the process again. Howard had some questions, but felt he understood the process. He thanked Ted and Ralph for letting him participate in the discussion.

Myrtle had begun to keep her own notebook this Spring as she and her mother worked on the garden and with the chickens. This year she was being especially aware of how, why and when decisions were being made with respect to when and how seeds were prepared for the garden. She also became more aware of how much planning was required for raising and caring for the chickens. They needed to plan for friers and broilers for the year, how many layers and how many setters they would need, and be aware of when the hens would lay their eggs, and when they would not. Myrtle was surprised how many different details there were to keep track of as she actually recorded them. It also made her appreciate how her mother handled it all with such apparent ease.

Sundays became even more special to Howard and Myrtle as the Spring went by. As they became more committed as a couple for the future, they and their parents got in the habit of inviting them to the others home for Sunday dinner and afternoon together time every two or three weeks. The young folks got to know their future in-laws. They got to spend time together to share their learning experiences. The parents were able to see the growth in the young couple. From time to time, all six of them would get together, as well, since there were no other younger folks to consider.

Howard and Ted learned a lot during their visit to the harness shop

Wall display in a harness shop
Wall display in a harness shop

Summer Provided More Learning Opportunities

As they were putting up hay in the barn on the farm one summer day, Ted Warden reminded Howard how important it was, as a farmer, to always be mindful of the condition on your equipment. Any downtimes should be used, among other tasks, to repair and replace pieces of equipment that were used regularly. He was reminded because a piece of harness had broken. It was a fix Ted could do himself, relatively easily. But, it might not have been. So, the next day, Ted and Howard took that harness to the Harness Shop where Hiram Parks could talk to Howard about learning when he could make repairs, like Ted had, and when he needed to get help. Hiram was very good at explaining everything about the use of harness with the horses and the mules.

Howard especially appreciated the information Hiram shared about when a break was serious enough it should be brought to the shop for repair. Hiram also gave Ted and Howard a number of pointers on fixes they could easily do themselves, showed them the materials they should have on hand to do them, and a few ‘little secrets’ that even Ted said he was not aware of. They each felt the time they spent with Hiram at the Harness Shop was very worthwhile.

While they were nearby, they also stopped to see Levi Weston and talked to him a bit about the care of horses and mules. Levi was the local farrier and always anxious to talk to local folks about the care of their large animals. Like Hiram, when asked, he was very happy to talk about when professional help should be sought and when a problem could be handled themselves. Ted was very pleased with the time Levi was willing to spend with them and could tell that Howard was taking it all in. No matter how much time they spent around their horses, it seemed, there was always more to learn. The important thing, it seemed, was to ask. They did that. And, they had gotten excellent responses from both local business men. At both stops, also, they had purchased supplies that would help them ‘help themselves,’ as well. Ted reminded himself that these men had offered much appreciated free advice, but each had also made some sales in the process. And, generated good will with these current and future customers.

Some of the graduates would continue to live in the valley

A scene of farmland in the valley
A scene of farmland in the valley

Howard and Myrtle Began Their Senior Year in the Fall of 1885

A “Welcome Seniors” event was sponsored by the Willing Workers class of the Methodist Church for all incoming Seniors at the High School on Sunday Evening, September 20, 1885, at the Community Building. The Willing Workers class was made up of young married couples, or those about to be married. They prepared an evening meal for the Seniors and then hosted a planned program to offer ‘sage advice’ and help prepare them for the ‘real world’ about to face them. There were currently six couples in the class hosting, led by William and Charlotte McDonald for this event.

The Senior Class this year consisted of 2 young men, Howard Bevins and Donald Dent, and 3 young ladies, Nettie Gifford, Mattie Reeves, and Myrtle Truesdale. Among this group, Howard Bevins and Myrtle Truesdale had already become a committed couple. Nettie Gifford and Donald Dent each planned to go off to college after graduation. Mattie Reeves was currently dating a recent graduate. This combination of interests and plans led to some very interesting discussion during the evening. Possibly the most debated topic, of special interest to Howard and Myrtle was: when to get married? Was it best to wait a few years, get married right after High School, or when? Why did folks make the decisions they made?

Each of the older couples had different set of experiences for the discussions to draw on, so the opinions offered varied, of course. Most agreed that individual circumstances seemed to vary so much that, in the end, it would always be an individual decision of the particular couple. There could be no general ‘rule.’ All of the young folks participating in the discussion agreed it was a very good evening. Each of the Seniors thanked the older couples for providing this experience.

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.”

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      12 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Bill, I know you would do fine in what ever you tried. I'd like to think I would have, as well.

      I would love to have a Cards and Mariners Series. Quite a few friends are Mariners fans, in the NW...that would be great!! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      12 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Mary, yes, I agree. Hometown values are what I grew up with in a very small rural community in Iowa. I'm sure I reflect those in my stories. So nice to read your comments!! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      12 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Miebakagh, keep those comments coming... ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey, I recognize those birds!!!!! lol Good looking chickens if you ask me.

      I often think what if...what if I had learned a trade instead of teaching? I could be happy making harnesses....good, honest work!

      Anyway, you know I love this series! Go Cards and Go Mariners! May we meet in the World Series!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      12 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      It is always interesting to hear stories of how people lived in the past, how they helped each other and how much they cared for the people in their community. The merchants are helpful and cared about their customers not just making money. Wish for these values to be strong once more.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hello, Homeplace, not at all,please.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      12 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Miebakagh, I appreciate your visit and your comments.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      12 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hello Williams, thanks for the true story. I enjoy it.


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