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Bevins Tales - BT7 - 1888 Saw Howard and Myrtle Marry and Begin Farm Life

Updated on July 16, 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.

They prepared to make their home on the farm in the east valley

A farm in the valley
A farm in the valley

Their Wedding Date Approached

Howard’s Dad, Edwin, was very helpful assisting Howard and Myrtle to make some adjustments on the farmstead that they hoped to get done during January and February. They were not major, but just took some time. They took out a fence here, they put a fence over there. They cleaned out the chicken house and made it the way Myrtle needed it for her plans, smaller and more convenient to look after. They made some improvements in the barn so as to accommodate fewer animals, for now. The house needed refreshed, and, Howard and Myrtle did not have five children like the Wardens had, so that took some adjustment. Caroline helped Myrtle some, when asked. As their wedding date approached, they felt ready to make a home.

The weather was seasonably comfortable for a Sunday afternoon, February 26, 1888, wedding in the Southern Missouri Ozarks. The Methodist Church was just the right size for the crowd of people that wanted to witness and participate in this wedding. The reception following was modest, but a great time was had by all to celebrate with the happy couple. They were very pleased to be able to ride in their Shay out to the farm for their wedding night. The charivari (pronounced ‘chivaree’) practice was followed. After dark, a group of their closest friends showed up banging pans and asking to be treated. Howard and Myrtle were ready for them, with food, drink, and party favors and games. This lasted into the night, and their friends finally left, to let them get on with their lives.

The following Sunday William and Charlotte McDonald, their neighbors a half mile to the south, had invited Howard and Myrtle to their place for dinner following church services. It was the beginning, or continuation, really, of a long lasting relationship. By this time, Charlotte’s pregnancy was no longer a secret. She had carried this baby longer her earlier attempts, and they were cautiously optimistic this one was for real. They talked about young married life, farm life, and children, of course. Although only a few years different in actual ages, it seemed to work really well for William and Charlotte to mentor their young neighbors and relatives. The assistance was appreciated and well used.

Joe was born in June

A baby boy
A baby boy

Joe Arrived on Schedule in late June

Joseph Palmer McDonald was born on June 26th, 1888, to William and Charlotte (Crane) McDonald (MT21). He was a healthy son, though a small child. With both grandparents living nearby, he got all the love and attention he could handle, and he seemed to soak it all in to no end. Myrtle stopped by from time to time, but mostly stayed away in those early days when there was almost more attention than mother and baby could handle. She understood there would be times when she could really be useful and helpful. She made sure Charlotte knew that to be the case. And, it did work out that way.

As Howard had anticipated, the weather for the spring planting season was unusual. This year it was wetter than usual, and he had to use all of his patience to work when he could and keep productively occupied around the farmstead when he couldn’t be in his fields. He had learned well from Ted, and really appreciated those ‘lessons’ as hard as they were to accept. Already, now, he was learning to take them in stride as a ‘seasoned’ farmer.

Summer, of course, then turned out to be near drought conditions. Their well held up, but it seemed touch and go to Howard. It was the worst he had seen, and hoped it was the worst he would see. He had gotten in one good hay crop, that would be sufficient for this year. The second crop was hardly worth the effort, but he knew he had to do what he could so the field was ready for the following year. He talked to William, and Lewis, and Ted, when he could, to try to keep his spirits up, but it was hard. Ted reminded him of how lucky he was not to be ‘on shares’ like Ted had been. That was a bit of a relief, but it was still hard, for a first year.

In spite of the unusual weather, they had a good harvest

They raised corn on their farm
They raised corn on their farm

The Fall Harvest was Decent for Howard As It Turned Out

Howard and Myrtle were much relieved when the harvest came in fairly normally, after the wet spring and hot, dry summer. What rain there had been came at the right time for the crops, not at the wrong times which is so often the case. It was a cash positive year, not by much, but they were able to keep their calf crop, not need to sell them. Myrtle had a good year with her chickens with not particular problems. They were able to pick enough produce off the orchard and out of the garden to set aside plenty of food for their own use for the winter. They even had some surplus that they could sell in town or share with friends and neighbors.

Although they barely knew him, personally, Howard and Myrtle were saddened to learn of the death of Owen Olson, one of the pioneers of the valley. He was the “Village Blacksmith” in the years after the war. He had also been very helpful to valley residents returning to help them find and salvage metal parts and foundations of prior homes, saving time and money. Many folks shared their stories at his funeral and in the days before and for many days after. Lewis and Caroline, as well as Ted and Ellen, did say the house Howard and Myrtle were now living in was built on the remains of the foundation from before the war of the Truesdale family farm house, where Lewis was born and grew up.

One Sunday afternoon, Lewis and Caroline and Howard and Myrtle had ridden up to the very northeast corner of the farm, to talk about and visit the site of the original Truesdale log cabin. It was close to Oak Creek, and no signs of it remained anymore, for quite a few years. Jane Truesdale had been born while they still lived in the log cabin. They had then built the farmhouse further south before Lewis was born. The north-south road that ran along the east side of the property now jogged to the left to proceed north so as to miss the Mill and Pond. This left the triangle corner of the property, near the Creek, in brush and undergrowth. It was too small to worry about, as far as farming it. It was now essentially a wildlife refuge, before folks knew about such things.

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.

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

      Yes, Bill. That is the history. I grew up with it. I've read much about it. I try hard to reflect aspects of how it actually was. Many had it much harder than the people I portray, however. My characters are among the lucky ones, I would suggest. Your comments are special to me. Thank you!! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You know, I've done just enough farming to say, without hesitation, that it may be one of the hardest ways to make a living that there is...your stories always show respect to farmers, but you also manage to underscore how terribly difficult it was back in the 1800's, trying to carve out a living from the Land.


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