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Jake Patton Memoirs - JP5 - Jake Got Their Land Recorded and Learned More From the South

Updated on March 6, 2019
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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.

Jake approached the confluence of the Jack's Fork and the Current River

A scene on the Jack's Fork River
A scene on the Jack's Fork River

Jake Made the Trip South to Record Their Land

When Robert Baldridge had completed his official survey maps to locate the five pieces of property that the group had purchased, and made a copy for each of us, I made ready to head south to Van Buren. Van Buren was the new county seat of Ripley County, of which the Oak Creek Valley was the far northwest corner. Van Buren was a new town and also home of the Land Office. I knew that it sat on the west side of the Currrent River, so I ‘simply’ needed to follow the west side of Oak Creek to where it merged into the Current River after about ten miles. Then, I would follow the Current River south, another ten to fifteen miles, to the Jack’s Fork, where that river merged from the west. Crossing the Jack’s Fork would be a challenge, but then I would continue down the trail along the west side of the Current until I came to Van Buren, about another twenty-five miles. It would be a few days journey, on foot, but I was looking forward to it. We had all agreed that I would be making the trip alone, on this trip, as likely the quickest and most effective way to go. A man traveling alone would not raise any special interest. Also, I could relatively easily choose whether to interact, or not interact, with others I might come across along the way. There was a known trail, but it was also an animal and Indian trail, primarily, through wooded areas all the way.

I had little difficulty following the trail south for that first ten miles. I was very happy to find the location of the merger of Oak Creek with the Current River about where I had expected it to be. I did not see or encounter any other humans on this initial portion of the trip. Continuing south and east along the Current, following the existing trail, I met no one until I came upon a small settlement that turned out to be just before I came to the Jack’s Fork River. This turned out to be a new lead mining operation consisting of about five families and perhaps a dozen single men. I did interact with several of the men who were as interested in talking to me as I was to talk to them. They had come up the river from the southeast earlier in the spring so they were familiar with the territory I was about to traverse. They also let me know the easiest way to ford the Jack’s Fork as I went south. Jim Haddock was especially helpful to me. As I got to know Jim a bit, I felt comfortable sharing some information about our settlement in the Oak Creek Valley. I agreed to check in with Jim on my return trip.

South of the Jack’s Fork, I noted that the trail had been widened, presumably by the lead mining operation folks. Also, I could see signs of additional trails going off to the west, but I met no one else until about half way to Van Buren when I met a man leading three pack mules of supplies for the lead mining operation. I only spoke with him briefly, simply mentioning that I had talked with Jim Haddock there, and had seen no one since. That seemed to satisfy him, and me, and we each went on our ways, in opposite directions.

Jake bought a Bay Mare to ride back north to home

A typical Bay Mare
A typical Bay Mare

Jake in Van Buren and Returning North

I was more than a little surprised to arrive in ‘Van Buren’ and find so little there. A court house building was still under construction. There was a water powered grist mill east of ‘town’ on the river run by a man named John George, I was told, but I never met him. There was one small general merchandise store run by a man named Mr. Shaw. I did spent quite a bit time with him, because he also ran the ‘Land Office’ out of his store. Never did get him to tell me his first name. Very business-like, not real sociable. However, he was very accommodating in recording our land purchases and accepting our survey maps as valid.

Apparently we (mostly Robert, of course) had done everything right. He did examine all of our maps and letters of credit very carefully, it seemed, but in the end was very expeditious in recording our purchases and satisfying the reason for my visit to his ‘Land Office.’ I walked away with certified deeds and that was what I had come for.

When I asked if anyone in the area had horses for sale, I was pleasantly surprised to get the response that yes he did know someone. He directed me to a ranch about a mile southwest of town. It was a pleasure to meet Don Perkins on his ranch and he indeed did have horses for sale. He had several to choose from and I was very pleased to find one that met my needs, a bay mare that had already been bred to foal shortly after the first of next year. She was exactly what I had hoped to find and I left with horse, saddle, and supplies to get both of us home to the Oak Creek Valley.

Jake returned north along the Current River

A scene on the Current River
A scene on the Current River

Jake Completed His Journey South and Back North to Home

I was very happy to be headed back up the trail on the west side of the Current River toward home. Betsy, that was the name of my new horse, seemed to enjoy the ride as well. The trail didn’t actually follow the river, of course, if you are familiar with the Current River. It is serpentine to say the least. But, the trail as I mentioned before, was now well developed. The river was visible, from time to time, so it was never too far away. The ride back ‘upstream’ was generally uneventful.

I did stop briefly to check in with Jim Haddock at the lead mining operation as I said I would, of course. He seemed pleased to hear what little I had to share with him of my experiences down to Van Buren and back. Arriving back in the Oak Creek Valley was a real joy, of course. I stopped by to report in to the McDonalds and Baldridges on arrival but was not surprised to find that Hugh was over at our place. All seemed at least as pleased to see Betsy as to see me return, but I suppose that was to be expected. It had been a most successful trip.

While I was gone, work had continued on planting mostly corn, and some beans, on the ten-acre plots at each farm, including my own. Now it was ‘back to work’ on ‘our new homes.’ They were truly ours, for real.

[See JP6, 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, for example, that he doesn’t detail ‘the trek’ - he was there, but it was not a big deal to him… the planning was, but the not the trek itself.] Information on the two businesses in Van Buren and their owners comes from Wikipedia; this information is used fictitiously in this 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.

Read more about the Founding

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 months ago from Hollister, MO

      For sure, Ann. Thank you for your visit and comments. I am still fascinated by the frontier development, where ever it occurs. ;-)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      3 months ago from SW England

      Interesting historical tale. I love the way places and people develop according to landscape, need and that pioneering spirit.

      I recently spent some time in Australia and came across similar tales to do with the gold, opal and coal mines. The trails and the tales are fascinating, the perfect way to understand how lives have evolved and how occupations mould the land and the people.

      I too love history and my own family heritage is interesting. My sister and I (mostly her!) have found out much about our ancestors, their ways and their occupations; it makes me understand my own make-up. It is all, after all, part of me.


    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, again, Bill. Your support keeps me writing these stories.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I've said it before and I'll say it again: as a history buff, I love these articles.


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