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Jake Patton Memoirs - JP6 - Jake and Kate Got the First Cabin Built in the Valley

Updated on March 6, 2019
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.

They 'raised a cabin' with the entire community participating

A modern log cabin under construction
A modern log cabin under construction

Jake Shared Fourth Sunday Plans and Priorities

Shortly before I went to Van Buren to record our land purchases, we in the valley had held our first “Fourth Sunday” gathering here in the Oak Creek Valley in May (1833). This gathering, held at Cardinal Corner, consisted of a one-day community-wide noontime meal with an afternoon of social time including relaxed discussion and even some games for young and old alike. It was a tradition we participated in at the Big Piney lumber camps and we felt it was a great tradition to adopt as we planned our settlement here in the Valley. I do not know the actual origins of the tradition, but I’ve heard that it relates back to relief organization activities in England. This may or may not be true, but it has been very successful for us here, for sure.

These gatherings provided the opportunity to review the activities of the prior month and as a chance to coordinate and prioritize the upcoming activities in the valley. They were an integral part of our ongoing planning activities. At this first meeting, three or four activities were prioritized. Completing the planting was assumed and expected in be finished in the coming weeks. I was authorized and asked to take the trip to Van Buren as soon as the materials were ready. I did do that, of course. We began to prepare for the first trip back to the Big Piney lumbers camps following completion of the plantings. And, we decided to proceed with building the cabins as time was available. We had earlier decided that our cabin would be built first. Hugh and I had been cutting trees nearby in preparation for that time.

We had identified the location for our cabin just north and east of the small spring where I was locating my blacksmith shop. It was a flat spot of high ground that we had cleared and prepared for the construction. Each of the planned cabins were to follow the same pattern so construction would be relatively straight-forward and improve in efficiency with each one built. Two small bedrooms would be included at the opposite end of the fireplace in each cabin. The interior could then be finished by each family to meet their needs. Stones for the fireplaces were gathered from the plowing and each family was preparing to use them in the best way for their needs. Raising the cabin was a one day activity utilizing everyone in the valley. Each person had their set of responsibilities and it was carried out effectively with efficiency. The adults had each participated in such cabin raising activities earlier in their lives, so it was very satisfying when this first one was completed as scheduled.

He rode in on a large black Jack Donkey from the northwest

A modern day Jack Donkey ready to ride
A modern day Jack Donkey ready to ride

Jake Recalled the First Visitor to the Valley

It turned out we were able to raise the Baldridge cabin only about a week after ours. When the time was right, it was right. They located their cabin about fifty yards west of the base of the falls, where they planned to build the mill. As they were looking over this site and the surroundings, Robert and David discovered a small cave entrance just about ten feet behind where they had about decided they wanted to locate the cabin. That certainly solidified that decision. By digging out the entrance, just a bit, they were able to construct a door on it. This provided them with a naturally cool-temperature storage facility for their family. Very useful.

Just a few days after we had raised the Baldridge cabin, on June 12, 1833, as I recall, the first visitor from outside arrived in our valley since we had all arrived. He was the Reverend Mr. Jules Jenkins, a Methodist circuit-riding preacher out of St. Louis. He wore a long black cloak and was riding a big black Jack donkey he called Thunder. He was also leading a pack mule. Coming in from the northwest, he arrived at our cabin first. We were very pleased to see him, of course, and invited him to stay with us for a couple of days. While there, we arranged for him to come back through later in the summer to marry young Hugh Truesdale and our daughter, Victoria, on or shortly after September 1, when she would turn 16. He agree to do his best to get back here about that time.

The preacher conducted an evening service at the Cardinal Corner arbor, with all of the valley residents present. The weather held and this was still the central meeting place even with the two cabins already built elsewhere. The McDonald family and Hugh Truesdale served as hosts, since the meeting was held in their residential area. The Rev. Mr. Jenkins managed to take at least one meal with each family during his stay. He spoke to the children about God as well as to the adults about their important responsibilities in God’s kingdom. He reminded us all to read our bibles every day, and that he’d be back in a couple of months to see how we had progressed in our understanding of God’s will in our lives. Having come from the northwest, he left to the southeast, following Oak Creek. He said he knew there were some people in a lead mining settlement in that direction that needed his attention.

They went hunting for deer in the woods on the ridge above their camp

A deer in the woods
A deer in the woods

Jake Recognized People Were Settling Into Their Roles in the Valley

I noticed that Robert was now beginning to focus on how he would build his mill, even as he worked with Susannah and the children on their cabin. Eleven year old Sarah had done such a conscientious job with the chickens that it was agreed that the chicken coops would be moved to the Baldridge place. They would continue to be her responsibility. She continued to gather the eggs and share them around the community.

Preparations were underway to build the McDonald cabin but actual construction had not yet begun. Most of the logs were cut and shaped, but the actual ‘raising’ had not been scheduled. Henry and Harry regularly went into the woods on the ridge to hunt for deer. They had been very successful. The hunter who bagged the game shared the meat with the community. However, the one who bagged the game, also had the option to keep the hide and other peripherals for their own use. Harry, in particular, was proud to have bagged three deer so far and was now learning to process and cure the hides. One of the hides, when properly finished, was destined to become new deerskin leggings for him. His mother, Laura, had promised to make them. At the same time, she was working together with him to teach him the process to make that happen.

[See JP7, 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.


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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      My research in community building during this period demonstrates how shared responsibility was very important. Yes, Mary, I agree that these values do still exist in communities that learn how to sustain themselves. ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      5 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Absolutely, Bill. I get tired just thinking about it. However, our ancestors living these lives took it in stride as you take feeding your chickens. One reason for these new stories is to take the time to retell some of these extraordinary things they did to build this new community. ;-)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a great idea to look back at life in the early communities. Everything is shared. We hope that these values still reign in our communities today.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Just the act of building a cabin is monumental. Cutting trees, stripping the bark, wrestling them into position....a mammoth undertaking for them all.


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