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Episode OS20 - Overview of Series - Life in Oak Springs

Updated on November 19, 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.

Cottonwood in the Ozarks

A cottonwood in the valley
A cottonwood in the valley | Source

It is time to take a deep breath, at the end of 1881

For this 102nd hub in the Homeplace Series stories, I have decided to step back, with Episode OS20, at the end of 1881, before we move on to 1882, to talk about this suite of stories in “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction stories.

The whole point of all of these stories is to provide the background for the McDonald family Century Farm that was the primary focus of “Back to the Homeplace,” the first novel in what became “The Homeplace Saga.” This background story, starting with “The Founding,” has sort of taken on a life of its own, of course. Now, we are looking at these stories to better understand the place and the people, from multiple perspectives. I’m going to review this process with you, in this episode, to hopefully allow everyone to see what we are doing with these stories.

The works that have now been published in the short story collection, “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876),” collect the Founding stories in one place. These include the early founding short shorts, published in a regional anthology three years in a row, the Civil War stories that are central pieces, and then narratives of the early recovery years and the rebuilding of Oak Springs and the Oak Creek Township rural community. These actually end in about 1874-75.

Over in my “Weston Wagons West” series of stories there is an Lx series, featuring Levi Weston, who moved to Oak Springs from Jefferson City prior to the Civil War and returns afterward, as well. This series of stories chronicles the activities of many persons from the Oak Creek valley, the Homeplace characters, in the Jefferson City area during the Civil War, as well as before and after, through the eyes of Levi. This series of 20 episodes was also recently compiled into an eBook, for ease of reading in one place. Levi first met and heard about folks from Oak Springs in Episode L3:

Now available at Amazon

Cover of Volume Two
Cover of Volume Two | Source

“The Kings of Oak Springs” and “Life in Oak Springs and more”

In the spring of 1876, Karl and Catherine (Pa and Ma) King moved to Oak Springs with their four children, two boys and two girls. Some readers have said these stories remind them of the Little House stories. That is flattering, but I think they do stand on their own, as well. We get to know them and also see how they interact with the growing community of Oak Springs, through July of 1877, in the 40 episodes of this series. The first 20 episodes were compiled as Volume 1 as an eBook, and now the second 20 episodes have been compiled into Volume 2 as an eBook as well. Episode 41 of that series will now pickup and continue the story line in 1882, as well, next week.

To provide a change of pace, we picked up the chronology of the growth of Oak Springs and the surrounding Oak Creek valley, including the McDonald and the King families, and many more, in the “Life in Oak Springs and more” (OSx) stories, running through 1881, of which this is the last, of course. This turned into more of a narrative series, reading like excerpts from the newspaper - many paragraphs, of course, were just that!

These 20 episodes will be compiled into an eBook, as well, and will be available later in July, or August for sure. I stopped at the end of 1881 with some purpose in mind. A townsperson noted that “I can now get everything I need right here in town” or something to that effect with the opening of the Powell Furniture store. Most of the downtown lots were occupied. It is time to get back to telling stories about the individuals and families and how they lived their lives during this period. I think I can do that best by going back to Karl King and his family. They regularly interact with everyone, so those stories can be incorporated along with the King family, from their perspective. I hope you enjoy that approach.

Available at Amazon and elsewhere

Cover of first novel in the series
Cover of first novel in the series | Source

“Meet the Folks” and “McDonald Tales” stories

These two perspectives will continue with their distinctive approaches. The “Meet the Folks” stories take a peek inside people’s daily activities in ways what would not fit into narrative chronology stories very well. We started in the Boarding House and also visited the Barber Shop, for example. These will continue, especially when we want to hear from folks when they are not interacting with the Kings or the McDonald family members.

“McDonald Tales” is a special series intended to follow William McDonald, and his mother, Jane Truesdale McDonald, specifically to continue to see the inner workings of this relationship that will inform our fuller understanding of the origins of the Century Farm that inspired Mildred McDonald Bevins, in 1986, to prepare the unusual “video will” she made to encourage her children to come “Back to the Homeplace.” William is Mildred’s grandfather. We need to fill that gap. This series is intended to move us along to meet that need.

This is truly a family saga, set in the southern Missouri Ozarks, in a rural community much like many of us grew up in, in the 20th Century. Many of the people and the activities are patterned after my life experiences and those I have discovered in my in-depth family history research of mine and closely related families. I hope and assume you will see similarities to your own family experiences, yourself. One distinctive characteristic is that the community is fairly isolated, with only three roads, in and out of the valley.

I now have a newsletter (twice a month) intended to provide a mechanism where we can share these common experiences on a more personal level. If you have not yet signed up for it, I hope you will do so, below. I just ask for your email address and your first and last name. I’ll send you a free PDF of one of my writings as a thank you, first thing. Let’s communicate!


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    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      The Stories will continue... Just a different title... for now... ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Sad to see this series end.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I'll keep working on my craft, Bill. Thanks for your support!! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I appreciate the visit and comment, Sha. More to come. ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are now the master of the family saga genre in my humble opinion.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanks for the explanation, Bill. I look forward to the next series.