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Bevins Tales - BT8 - 1889 Howard and Myrtle Mourned Her Grandmother’s Passing

Updated on July 20, 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 were all surprised by a late spring snowstorm

A snowstorm on the farm in the valley
A snowstorm on the farm in the valley

Victoria (Patton) Truesdale Died Unexpectedly

March brought a surprise with a late spring snowstorm. The trees were starting to flower and the crocus and daffodils had already made their appearance. The extreme cold that went with the storm only lasted a few days, but a number of Oak Valley residents came down with colds and a few even turned to pneumonia. One of those was Myrtle’s Grandma Victoria. Normally a strong and healthy person, she was the victim of an especially strong attack she could not fight off. In her sixty-ninth year, she died on March 28th (MT22).

Victoria had been one of the original eleven members of the founding pioneers of the valley in 1833 as just a fifteen-year-old. Her parents had insisted she wait until her sixteenth birthday on September 1 before she would marry Hugh Truesdale. They had a wonderful life together, blessed by three children, Jane, Lewis, and Nellie. She had seen the valley grow and the town of Oak Springs emerge, collapse during the war, and return to prosper again. She had been one of the last to abandon the town during the war, and among the first to return after. Her life reflected the existence of Oak Springs.

An overflow crowd of admirers attended her funeral at the Methodist Church. She was buried beside her husband, Hugh, in the Oak Creek Township Cemetery, in the east valley. Howard and Myrtle grieved and celebrated her life along with the extended family and many, many friends and neighbors. She had managed the General Store and served many years as Postmaster of Oak Springs. She had touched many lives. Her youngest daughter, Nellie, had been living with her at the ‘home in town’ that she and Hugh had built, since his passing. Nellie would now be living in that house alone.

They had two heifers that would be bred in the fall

A yearling heifer in the pasture
A yearling heifer in the pasture

Life on the Farm Moved Forward

Howard and Myrtle were proud to have had three calves born the prior year that were now yearlings on the farm to add to their small herd. The Holstein milk cow, Irma, had given birth to a fine young bull calf that they now planned to maintain as breeding stock. Though not purebred, he had a solid Holstein background that would make him of value in the valley in the future. Likewise, the stock cows had born two fine heifer calves that would be kept for breeding stock for their expected modest cow-calf herd. So, they would have two more calves from the cows this spring, but then could plan on four calves the following spring with the heifers bred later this year. Each year they would then evaluate the calves and sell or keep, depending on gender and quality. That was how to build up a cow-calf herd, and Howard planned to do so, on a modest basis. He had been watching the McDonald herd grow and many calves sold each spring.

The late snow of 1889 was not a great hinderance to getting in the normal crops for the spring. Howard did not plan to add any more land into cultivation right away, but used his normal rotation plan, that had been underway on the land with Ted. Howard focused on proper care of the land and crops he had, not on expansion. Similarly with the garden and orchard. Both Howard and Myrtle sought to improve the quality of their output, not so much the quantity. For now, the quantity was adequate and somewhat improved by focusing on quality. The northwest corner of the farm was still in ‘forest’ trees. Over time, Howard worked at clearing the underbrush, using the wood as he could and needed. Eventually, this would be cut back to expand the farmable land, but that would only be done over the years. Now, maintaining some control over this land and vegetation was the primary goal.

With the enlarged cattle herd, and the horses and mules, assuring that the fences were in good order and constantly maintained was a requirement for Howard. As the young bull matured, he would need his own secure fenced-in feeding area of the pasture, separated from the other cattle by the horse and mule pasture, of course. On the farm, there were always details recognized to keep attention on important things to be done when not tending to the crops. Fencing was among the top of those priorities.

Howard and Rueben joined the local Masonic Lodge

Men in a Masonic Lodge of the period
Men in a Masonic Lodge of the period

Howard Joined the Masons along with Rueben Starr

Rueben Starr and Mattie Reeves (classmate of Howard and Myrtle) had married the late fall prior to Howard and Myrtle. The two couples were close friends. They had settled in a small cottage on the Starr family farm near the crossroads of the Houston Road and the Salem-Eminence road. That was diagonally southeast of William and Charlotte McDonald’s farm and just west of the Crane place. William had encouraged them to join the Masonic Lodge together, much as he and Arvin Edmond had done (MT19) a couple of years earlier. Howard and Rueben studied and practiced together. By late summer, they were each admitted into membership in the local Lodge. It was very nice for the young couple and their friends to have another social organization to host gathering opportunities.

Howard and Myrtle had continued their participation in the Willing Workers Class at the Methodist Church, of course. In June they had participated in welcoming the new minister and his wife, the Rev. Millard and Frances Long. They had hated to see Rev. Arthur and Claudia Boyd move on to Joplin, but had wished them well. That was the way of the Methodist Church discipline. The Longs were fitting into the community very well as fall approached.

Alex McDonald had stepped down as Editor of the Oak Springs Enterprise and planned a tour of the world. Howard and Myrtle enjoyed talking with him about his plans at a dinner in his honor at the home of Lewis and Caroline McDonald. Alex was Caroline’s younger brother, of course. Continuing to work with Russell Nixon at the paper, Alex planned to now write a regular travel column for the local paper as he visited these foreign lands. Russell had already begun to line up a syndicate to other local papers around the region to publish the articles in their papers following local publication. Eventually, on his return, Alex expected to compile the columns into a book. He had been a close follower of ‘Mark Twain’ and others who had done this successfully. That was his plan. His inheritances plus accumulated savings allowed him to do it, so now he planned to do just that.

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

      Me, Pick??? It was the snowstorm... avoid getting ill from a snowstorm, and you'll be fine, Bill. P.S. My next one is 80, so you are still a youngster, no matter what!! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      12 months ago from Olympia, WA

      You had to pick her sixty-ninth year for her passing???? Let's hope I make it to seventy and get that monkey off my back. :)


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