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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 2, Heather at Uncle Bart’s Place

Updated on March 27, 2018
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Bart was designated to lead The Bevins Trust agricultural activities

This barn image is a symbol of "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga, historical fiction stories
This barn image is a symbol of "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga, historical fiction stories

Introduction 2 of 5

In 1987, Bart Bevins was the only one of the four siblings mentioned in their mother’s unusual video will that was living locally in the Oak Creek valley. Bart had left his real estate work in 1978 on the death of his father to take over the farming operation with and for his mother. Bart, and his wife, Diane, the local high school English teacher at the time, had assumed they would have continued to farm the Bevins land on behalf of the family in the event of the death of his mother. The will provisions were a shock to them, as well. They were initially very skeptical of the provisions of the will which brought in the other three siblings as significant players in the control of the farm land. Coming into 1987, Bart and Diane were the parents of a son, Donnie, 19, and a daughter, Jennifer, 16. During the spring and summer of 1987, a series of events including Donnie, Jennifer, Christopher and Melanie Ogden, Peter Bevins and Sheila Gates (detailed only in the text of the novel “Back to the Homeplace”) resulted in the death of Donnie Bevins. In addition, an unrelated auto accident and subsequent hospitalization revealed that Bart Bevins was the biological father of Christopher Ogden via a one-night liaison at an out-of-town real estate convention with his mother, Linda, the wife of lawyer Carter Ogden. No one had been aware of this paternity prior to this revelation, though Linda had said to check Bart’s blood when Christopher did not match his ‘father,’ Carter. She remembered, of course, but never spoke a word about it until this situation arose.


After the will provisions were disclosed in the February 1987 meeting, Bart and Diane were pleasantly surprised at the cooperation received from his older sister, Karen, and her husband, Jason Winslow, Paul Gates and Bart’s younger brother, Peter. They were also not surprised that sister Beverly ‘through a fit’ on hearing the will provisions. With lawyer Carter Ogden and Jason Winslow acting as mediators, with the assistance of Paul Gates, they were, over time, all able to arrive at an amiable agreement among themselves and with the Trustees of The Bevins Trust. Bart was asked and encouraged to take the lead in all agriculture related activities of The Bevins Trust. Jason Winslow, a successful financial planner by profession, was able to serve the entire operation with his counselor and financial acumen along with the lawyer and the banker. They made a fine team. Jason added the ‘numbers’ perspective to the operation where Bart was deficient. The three outside trustees, experienced in local business and close friends of Frank and Mildred (McDonald) Bevins, also provided a steadying influence to the process.


Among other things, between 1987 and 1996, two other important events occurred worthy of note, here. Jason Winslow and Bart Bevins continued to be especially helpful to one another. Jason wanted to learn the agricultural side of the business and Bart was in need of and appreciated the financial and process side of running what was becoming a sizable operation under The Bevins Trust. Among other things, a few years in, Jason assisted Diane in establishing the Bevins Stable and Trail Rides business along side the growing cow and calf operation that Bart had started modestly. Both operations soon prospered. Sadly, in 1993, Jason died in a car accident on a business trip. By that time, using many of the techniques and strategies that Jason had instilled, The Bevins Trust continued to grow.

Oak Springs sat in the Oak Creek Valley

Typical of an Ozarks valley
Typical of an Ozarks valley

Teenagers in 1987 had returned as Professionals by the summer of 1996

By the summer of 1994, Christopher Ogden had graduated from the University of Missouri School of Law and joined his father’s law firm in Oak Springs. Although being accepted by both men as a son, Christopher had continued to pursue the career of his lifelong father as he had learned to accept the biological fact of his birth and grew closer to Bart. Strangely enough, Bart and Christopher were already well acquainted because before the revelation of 1987, Christopher and Jennifer, daughter of Bart and Diane, had been seriously dating. Since that time, of course, they had come to learn how to be half-siblings. Jennifer, two years behind Christopher in high school, two years younger, had gone on to the University of Missouri and their Veterinary Medicine program and returned in the summer of 1996 as a Veterinarian. The Bevins Trust built her large animal veterinary clinic next to the Bevins Stable & Trail Ride facility so as to share facilities for efficiency. The local veterinary, Doc Evans, was nearing retirement, and was anxious to give up the large animal practice, which was Jennifer’s specialty and interest area. Doc Evans planned to continue his small animal practice for a few years into the future.


Heather Gates, in the summer of 1995, as she approached her freshman year of high school had accepted the invitation of Diane, with the concurrence of her father, Paul Gates, to work at the Stable and Trail Ride operation for the summer. This experience cemented Heather’s love of horses that had been growing as she grew up. She found she enjoyed arriving very early at the stable facility to participate in caring for the horses, cleaning their stalls, and helping prepare them for any of the trail ride or other activities planned for the day. As the stables were only about a mile, cross-country through Bevins farmland, from the Mill and the Carsten Cottage, Paul and Diane had arranged for Heather to have a 4-wheel ATV with wagon box available for her to drive back and forth as well as to use in her work at the stable (or around the mill), from time to time. She went through a training course on driving the ATV and was allowed to drive it on the farmland, but not on the county roads or the nearby state highways. When the 1995-96 school year got under way, Heather continued to go to the stables early in the morning, showered and changed clothes at the stable facilities, and caught the bus to school there each day. In the afternoons, she would take the bus to the stables, and either work there or go back up to the mill to work in the late afternoon, or occasional evenings.

The Summer of 1996 saw the addition of the Vet Clinic to the Stable complex

Heather Gates looked forward to the summer to arrive with the end of her freshman school year. During the spring, Diane had involved Heather in some of the planning for the 1996 season at the stable and with the Trail Rides activities. Heather had frequently watched, and even helped out, in the training activities of the horses. After a year of close association with the training of horses, Heather was seriously thinking of it as something she might want to pursue, herself, one day. She kept this to herself, so far, but it was never far from the top of her thinking as she carried out her diverse duties working with the various horses around the facility.


Additionally, however, she was enjoying watching the construction of the veterinary clinic and looked forward to the arrival of Dr. Jennifer Bevins, DVM, on a full time basis. As first cousins, of course, Heather and Jennifer had been around each other for over nine years now, and they were already great friends. Heather also looked to Jennifer as a mentor and role model. Heather soon learned that the second floor of the clinic building was being built as an apartment, a residence, for Jennifer. This meant, of course, that Jennifer would be on site much of the time. This made Heather happy. She looked forward to working closely with Jennifer, as well as with Diane.

(continued in Episode 3)

Heather could ride the ATV on the farmland, but not on the roadways

Farmland like that in the Oak Creek valley
Farmland like that in the Oak Creek valley

Author’s Note

This series of stories in the life of Heather Gates, a fictional character in The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com), is being created as a way to use a minor character in the early writings to expand those stories and share details omitted in those earlier writings within the original overarching themes. These newly included details may have been left out of the earlier stories through editing or they may seemed unrelated to central themes at the time. With the expansion of the entire Saga, over the years, it has become obvious that filling in some of the gaps in the story for overall better understanding of the individuals, their families, and their interactions would be useful to The Homeplace Saga body of work in total.

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Eric. You are too generous. I appreciate your visit and comment more than you know! ;-)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very well done and a great education.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Dora. Your words are so meaningful to me. They keep me going.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Bill, Thank you. It is the love of the story that makes the details important. I believe you have mentioned that, from time to time, to your writer readers.

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 months ago from The Caribbean

      You are an excellent historian. You keep up so easily with names of people and places, births and deaths. What skill!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I've read quite a few of your chapters/stories, and I still marvel at your attention to detail and your historical accuracy. Bravo!

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