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Episode OS5 - 2nd Qtr 1878 - Life in Oak Springs and More
Levi saddled up and headed north immediately
Life ended; and there were new beginnings
Levi Weston received a telegram on April 2 informing him that his mother, Dinah, age 78, was near death - he should go to Jefferson City immediately. The message was from his brother, Ezra. Dinah had been ill, off and on, all winter long. Levi had visited twice, but immediately saddled up, with his travel bag, and rode to Jefferson City. As the oldest of her three sons, Levi knew he needed to be there, no matter the outcome of this episode. When he got there on the fourth day, he was able to speak to his weakened, extremely ill mother, very briefly. He was with her when she passed away during the following evening.
All of the immediate family was able to attend the funeral: Levi’s older sister, both of his brothers, their spouses and children. There were also assorted aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and other family and friends, of course. Dinah and Jacob were well known and respected in their community both for the family business, Weston-McDonald Freight Lines, and for their many community activities. Jacob was holding up physically, but Levi could see the heavy emotional burden his father felt for the love of his long life, now gone on, to her next life.
During the celebration of life family activities, following the mourning period, Ezra pulled Levi aside to speak with him about his two sons, Alfred and Otis. He said that Otis had just had his 16th birthday, and Alfred would be 21 in June. They were good boys, he added, and each had successfully completed both their farrier and blacksmith apprenticeships, as was their family tradition. They had each seemed to appreciate the Morgan Horses they had received, but neither seemed excited about them, Ezra added. The boys each worked with him in his shop, and were competent, but Ezra felt they lacked any burning desire to succeed at a chosen occupation, which was normally the result of this family training regimen. Levi expressed both interest and concern. They talked some about each of the boys. Levi learned that neither Alfred nor Otis had shown interest in the Freight Line work either, as their Uncle, Levi’s younger brother, Hiram had. Hiram was now firmly in a management track, even at 29, following his father, Jacob, and Jacob’s partner in the business, Harry McDonald, originally from Oak Springs.
Levi suggested that perhaps his two nephews could benefit from a change of scene. He had described the variety of things going on in Oak Springs, even just in the vicinity his shop: his farrier work caring for horses, his own horse breeding business, his cabinetry business, the Wagon Works now next door and the Harness Shop just beyond that. Each of these areas was continuing to grow, and could use assistance. Perhaps the boys would like to come down and try out these different activities, in a different environment. They would even get to see a little more of the world, or at least of the state, in the process. Ezra appreciated the offer and before long they presented the prospect to Alfred and Otis directly. They each jumped at the idea and in a couple of days the three were on horseback, headed south to Oak Springs. They each rode one of their own horses and trailed another, carrying some of their personal tools and equipment as well as extra clothing items. It was agreed they would work in Oak Springs for a few months, and see if that experience helped either or both of them find some direction to their lives. Their mother hated to see them go, but she was in complete agreement that they needed something new in their lives. Perhaps Oak Springs would hold the answers.
Cunningham purchased nearly a square mile under the ridge
More new neighbors arrived in the Oak Creek valley
Three new families had purchased farms in the east valley and one new family had purchased a farm in the west valley, it was announced by Gideon Inman at Fourth Sunday in April. There were also several folks who had come to town seeking work. Some were renting houses and others were keeping the boarding houses and tavern rooms nearly full. Only time would tell how many of them would become permanent residents of the valley, he had added. In the west, Jedadiah Cunningham, he said please call me “Jed,” had purchased nearly a full square mile of untapped land just north of the Houston Road, below the ridge running north. He and his wife and five children were hard at work getting some of the land cleared for a crop this year.
The north-south road in the east valley, now being called the Salem-Eminence Road, passing the west side of the Oak Creek Mill and going straight south, had become popular this year for settlement. Between the Crane and Pruitt farms, Jesse Starr and his wife, Dora, settled with their 11-year-old son, Reuben, and his five-year-old sister, Ada. Just to the south of their place were Calvin and Ellen Williams, with their children, 15-year-old Edwin, 11-year-old Amanda, and 8-year-old Wesley. Across the road west of them were Willis and Manita Lynch, with their 15-year-old daughter, Rachael, and 8-year-old son, Harper.
In May, Dr. Jasper Wood and his wife, Florence, moved to town having purchased the former home of the late-Jake and Kate Patton, on the corner of First Street, South, and Central Avenue. He had also purchased the lot directly west, across Central Avenue from the Diamond Hotel, with the intention of building a stone Doctor’s Office, with space for two doctors and the latest available equipment. Dr. and Mrs. Wood, in their mid-forties, had no children. She would serve as his nurse and assistant in the office. They hoped to recruit a second, young doctor, to join them in Oak Springs. At May Fourth Sunday, State Senator Hugh Truesdale, when they were introduced, said he knew Dr. Wood in Jefferson City, urged him to come to Oak Springs, and arranged their purchase of his former father-in-laws home, next door to Hugh and his wife, Victoria.
Lumber, materials and stone, as well as labor, were donated for the high school
Work on creating a High School in the valley moved forward this quarter
By the end of May, the foundation for the new high school, on Patton Road, was in place and stone was arriving at the site from the quarry. Many people across the valley participated in bringing supplies, materials and workers to the work site under the plan developed by the Building Subcommittee and their consultants. Donations of lumber were made by the Mill and persons across the valley based on a requisition list made available by the Building Subcommittee. Volunteer work and donations were still needed, but it was now certain the school building would be built, and ready for the fall term.
Meanwhile, the Recruiting Subcommittee had received a good number of applications for Headmaster and teaching positions for the high school. They were evaluating persons for the positions needed to get the fall term started. It was hoped and believed that selections would be completed shortly after the first of July.
Note from the author
This is the fifth 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 the Second Quarter of the calendar year 1878, 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. See the link, below, to get yours.
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”