Jake Patton Memoirs - JP15 - Jake Foresaw Changes Ahead In 1835
There was more snow to battle in 1835 but the mules didn't care
Jake Described The Second Winter In The Oak Creek Valley
We had all been pleased when the harvest weather had been mild all the way through to the end of 1834 through the holiday season. No snow this year. The mild weather came to a screeching halt when a cold spell fell upon us in the first week of January of 1835. I thought it would never end, though it was only a couple of weeks…never went above freezing, often near zero over many nights. It was a real challenge to keep all the livestock alive. Then, the last week or so of January was mild, again. What a relief! Of course, February brought snow. A half a foot about every week, it seemed, even snow piling on more snow. The first couple of weeks of March continued that way, but not quite so cold. My mid-March, it was generally mild, and the rains began to fall. There was enough rain to make the planting late. We were lucky to have done as much fall plowing as most of us did. No cropland expansion this year, however. We actually felt lucky to finally get the spring planting done.
Hugh had wanted to begin breeding some mules of his own, but the weather put that off until the following year. I got all three of my mares bred again, after they dropped their three foals earlier, in the cold and the snow. Because of the mild fall, I had been able to build a decent barn for the horses, so that worked out well, especially for the arrival of the new ones. We ended up needing every bit of the extra feed from the crops, too. Winter and snow requires much more feed.
Last summer and fall, I had built on my gun shop space to the blacksmith shop. Over the winter, I was able, with help from Owen, to get that operation up and running. I could do gun repairs as well as beginning to create new guns out of the materials that I had slowly begun to accumulate from the freight runs. This made some of those terrible cold days go by a little more quickly.
Victor Campbell chose the west valley for his family
Jake Met A New Friend And Future Neighbor
Summer brought one especially interesting visitor to the valley. He was Victor Campbell. Victor came to scope out the valley, to see if he wanted to bring his family here to settle the following year. He came very well prepared, it seemed. He had already visited with folks in the Big Piney region about our settlement, and had even been down south to the land office to check out what was recorded there. I liked him from the start. He seemed to view the world and his place in it much like I did. He wanted to do his own thing, but was willing to cooperate with others when it was mutually beneficial. I saw that as a plus, for sure, and shared with him how we had used that approach over the past couple of years of planning and settlement.
As we talked, it seemed to me that he and his family would fit well in the western valley, where they would be somewhat on their own, but would benefit from having the rest of us nearby for support when needed. As we met with some of the others, I noticed that Hugh was especially interested to hear that the Campbell family preferred to farm with mules. They would also be bringing in some beef cattle. That was of interest to Robert. I had noticed he was riding a fine mare. He said she was one of five he kept for breeding both horses and mules. He mentioned that he had his own stallion, when he saw mine. Victor had noted that he and his wife had two young sons, teenagers, who would be active on the farm with them. Victor was pleased to hear that Henry and Harry McDonald would be continuing to carryout their regular freight runs to the Big Piney region. He said they would certainly want to participate in that activity as community members.
We rode out to the west valley on a couple of different days while he was here to look over the lay of the land together. I was pleased that I was able to accompany him on both visits. I tried very hard to be helpful and non-biased. Later he said he specifically appreciated my approach, and that it had been helpful. I was not surprised at his choice of a 160 acre plot on the Western Branch Creek to make his new home. While there, he made arrangements with Robert to do the official survey for the land purchase. I was also not surprised that he did make that positive decision to move ahead with the land purchase. In future years, of course, he quickly added land both to the east and the west of that original property. He and his family were a great addition to the valley, beginning in the spring of 1836 and continuing through my lifetime.
The Valley Settled Into A Good Routine
Jake And Kate Built Their General Store
One other major addition in that summer of 1835 was that we put up another cabin, just to the east of our cabin, that became Kate’s store. My wife had wanted to have a General Store from the time of our arrival. Her parents had run a General Store when she was growing up. I took her away from that, she had said, in jest. But, I knew it was not entirely in jest. So, that was the summer that we got the store started for her. Victoria was anxious to help out, so that worked good for them, as well.
Henry and Harry appreciated having a central location from which to operate their freight runs. Folks could bring their things to the store. They could be loaded efficiently in one place. On the return, the goods could be deposited at the store, and folks could come pick them up. Kate knew how to begin ordering so that essential items could be kept on hand at all time, at the store. The concept was relatively simple, but carrying it out effectively required good management. That is what Kate provided, and provided very well. She created an informal post office, immediately, of course, long before she obtained the official recognition a few years later.
[See JP16, to follow]
From the Author
This series of stories, JPx, is part of a first draft of what I hope and assume becomes a published novel in support of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction stories. It features the self-told story of one of the original settlers of the Oak Creek Valley, Colonel Jake Patton. Some, including him, would say he was the leader of the group. He had a very big ego, that is for sure, but he always tried to make it look like what he was doing was for the benefit of the community. And, of course, it was. But, there was always something in it for him, as well. He managed to grow the inheritance he was fortunate to receive from his father into something that left a nice trust fund for his descendants. We’ve already seen some of these stories, earlier, in the Saga tales. Come along, and let’s see how Colonel Patton tells his own story.
Note: I will publish JPx hubs, from time to time. I will write occasional notes at Patreon about Jake Patton. I may write other things elsewhere. These are each a part of the creative process to create the true first draft of a novel. You, my readers, can take part in this effort at www dot patreon dot com slash HomeplaceSagas. Join us there Today.
This is "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga, historical fiction stories
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The home blog for "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction family saga stories set in the southern Missouri Ozarks. All updates of the series are mentioned on the blog, regardless of platform.