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Episode OS1 - Aug 1877 - Life in Oak Springs and More

Updated on November 17, 2017
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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.

Russell took notes as he listened

A note pad for taking notes
A note pad for taking notes | Source

Russell Nixon began providing the newspaper with stories about the community

Russell Nixon, a young farmer north of Oak Springs, with his wife, Norma, and young children, Elmira, 4, and Randall, born in January of the current year, began this summer to contribute a Locals column to the Oak Springs Enterprise. Nixon said he discovered he liked to get around and talk to people when he was working on the Sunday School organizing committee earlier in the year. He went around and talked to some of the folks in the valley about their interest. He soon realized he was keeping notes, so he would remember the conversations. After he got back home and re-read them, he also realized that others in the community would likely find the background information on some the people as interesting as he did. He then went back to some of the folks he had talked with and got their permission to share some of the information he had collected. Jerry Potts, Editor and Publisher, liked what he saw that Nixon had written, as well, and began to include Nixon’s Locals column in the paper each week. It has become a quite popular addition to the already greatly appreciated weekly newspaper. Potts commented to someone that he and Alex McDonald are kept busy getting the paper composed, printed and distributed each week, and was pleased that Nixon was willing to participate with his Locals column. It was a nice addition to the hard news they normally relied on to fill the columns each week.

A recent Locals story included the following: “Keith King, son of Karl and Katherine King, who live on their farm west of Oak Springs, recently returned to Jefferson City, where he will again attend Central High School in the fall. For the balance of the summer, he is employed as a clerk with the Walters Mercantile firm full-time, and will continue part-time during the school year. Karl added that based on Keith’s accomplishment in his first year of high school, there, last year, Keith would be undertaking college preparatory course work in the fall and moving forward. He also mentioned that Keith was staying with the Walters family. Mrs. Walters, Ann, was a sister of Katherine. They were very pleased that the Walters family was so supportive of Keith’s time with them there and his educational pursuits.”

In another Locals story by Nixon, published by Potts, Nixon had talked with Sunday School Superintendent Silas Adams about his family’s arrival in the Oak Springs area earlier in the year: “Silas Adams, his wife, Rhoda, and oldest son, 17-year-old Israel, moved to their farm west of Oak Springs in April. Silas said he was especially appreciative to Abner Winfield, and his crew of workers, for having their house ready for them when they arrived. He also noted they had a younger son, 15-year-old Benjamin. Benjamin had remained living with family in the St. Louis area to attend high school, preparing for a Christian ministry. Silas reported that he and Israel were able to get a good crop planted after their arrival and looked forward to the fall harvest. They were also very pleased with the reception the community had shown to the Sunday School. Silas said being Superintendent of a working Sunday School was a great joy to him, and he thanked all those in the community who were sharing the experience.”

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The harness shop had many accessories

Russell Nixon wrote about the available harnesses
Russell Nixon wrote about the available harnesses | Source

Russell Nixon learned more about new town businesses

Oak Springs welcomed new business, and this summer it included both a new harness shop and a wagon works operation. Not coincidentally, they were both located near the farrier and blacksmith shop of Levi Weston. Hiram Parks, the proprietor of the new harness shop, is a first cousin of Levi Weston. Hiram’s father and Levi’s mother were brother and sister. Keeping it in the family, Trey, actually Hiram Parks III, is the son of Hiram. Hiram has a fine selection of harness products and does much of his harness work by hand, and a skilled hand it is. Located between the harness shop and Levi’s existing business and home, the wagon works will continue to be a work-in-progress for some time, according to Trey. Trey thanked both Levi and his father for supporting his efforts to get the wagon works started. He thanked his first customers for those first orders, on which he is already at work, while they continue construction and setup on the first building and related business equipment needed for the business. Trey added that he was first setting up to build farm wagons, and will add other types as he gets the equipment into place to do more specialized products.

Jerry Potts had leased his barber shop to Shorty Cox, who was a younger brother of City Councilman, Joseph Cox, who recently moved to Oak Springs from Cape Girardeau. He is the first full-time barber in town, and hopes community members will stop by to check out his services.

Ralph Cornelius, and his wife, Inez, had taken over the management of the restaurant at the corner of Second and Central, across the street south of the Diamond Hotel. Inez is a sister of Ivan Toll, owner of both the Diamond Hotel and the recently renamed Diamond Restaurant. Rebecca Cornelius, daughter of Ralph and Inez, will also be working full-time in the restaurant. They invite you to stop in to see the new menu and décor this week.

Farmers worked together to create their roads

A road created alongside a farm
A road created alongside a farm | Source

Western roads and bridges activity reported

Western Trustee Ralph Campbell reported that preliminary work had been completed on the north to south road, on the surveyed half-mile line along the east side of the Die, Kendrick, and Medley farms. The volunteer crew of the neighborhood farmers also extended the work for a half-mile south of the Houston Road, he added, as had been discussed at the July meeting of the group. This would eventually connect with the western extension of the Patton Road, when the County Commissioners agree to assist with a possible bridge across Center Creek, a mile east of the road end point. It was also learned that the Commissioners had put this bridge proposal on an upcoming agenda for discussion. The bridge would allow the extension of Patton Road that final mile to the west (that would then connect back to the Houston Road to the north.

Roads were needed across the valley

The other road
The other road | Source

Note from the author

This is the first episode of a new short story (OSx) series, Life in Oak Springs. The stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. This episode is for August of the calendar year 1877, following the 40 episodes of “The Kings of Oak Springs” stories. That series had followed the time period of the “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below. These OSx episodes move the story forward for the entire "Saga" series.

The first 20 episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into an eBook, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs: The Arrival Months in 1876 Vol 1." The second 20 episodes will become Vol 2. Available at

“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 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, very much! ;-)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      Great first episode, Homeplace!

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Indeed, they are approached a time that many looked back on, fondly...but, not everyone was benefiting. It will be interesting to see how this little valley develops... to be the town we see 120 years later, or so! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for another wonderful look at our history. The country is are taking root....expansion is was a great opportunity for those willing to take a chance.


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