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Jake Patton Memoirs - JP8 - Jake and His Neighbors Had a Busy Summer

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.

Robert ordered key elements for his mill

Typical gears and belts needed for mill
Typical gears and belts needed for mill

Jake Was Pleased With What He Got From the Freight Run

After Big John left the valley, each family prepared a ‘wish-list’ and a ‘to-do list’ in preparation for the upcoming trip back to the Big Piney lumber camps. It was decided that Robert and David Baldridge and Henry and Harry McDonald would make the first freight run back. They would take two of the two-wheeled wagons each pulled by an ox. They didn’t have a lot to take with them to trade, but it ended up being more than I had expected. There were several deer hides, a few trinkets made from deer horns and wooden objects. Most of the women had prepared some jams and jellies from berries and such that they believed were different here in the valley from what they had at the camps. They would sell well. In working with Owen, already, we had created some knives and useful iron products that we thought would be of interest.


They returned a day later than we had expected, but, on Friday, June 21, just before noon, the little party was spotted coming off the northwest ridge and into the valley along Center Creek. Robert and David Baldridge turned off to drop off part of their load for us. As we were unloading the blacksmith supplies and other items we had asked for, Robert shared with me that he had arranged to purchase the grinding stones and some key gears and belts that he needed for the mill. Robert seemed especially pleased that he was able to make the necessary contacts to confirm the deal while on this first trip. He hoped that they could pick up those materials on another trip, perhaps in early fall.


Henry and Harry McDonald with the other wagon had continued directly to their home base at Cardinal Corner. No one was happier to see them, of course, than Laura McDonald. Talking to everyone over the next few days, it seemed that the trip had been a complete success. Each of the wives had gotten one or more small pieces of furniture that had initially been left behind. Fresh basic staples and supplies were appreciated by everyone. Henry had been able to obtain another coop of young chickens that would allow expansion of that part of their agricultural output and be useful for future breeding, as well. This coop would be kept at Cardinal Corner with some appropriate exchanges with the Baldridge flock from time to time. Young Harry would be responsible for these chickens.

The four-wheeled wagon was the next step in the freight run operation

Wheels such as Jake would have been asked to build
Wheels such as Jake would have been asked to build

Jake Got A Surprise Order from Henry

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Henry McDonald returned with four young mules that had recently been broken to pull a medium-sized four wheel wagon. On their return trip, Henry and Robert took the time to identify the locations along the trail from Big Piney that would need to be widened or ‘improved’ in order for such a wagon to make the trip. Henry said he would lead the effort to get those ‘improvements’ made during the next couple of months along with the other work planned. Of course, we didn’t have a four-wheel wagon. Henry, however, was confident that I could build one for him, he said. Whereupon, he gave me an order for a four-wheeled wagon that he was sure I could build with the parts and materials we had available. He said he would help however he could. I was flattered in his confidence, but also a little flabbergasted as well. I tried not to let it show. Hugh, Owen and I got to work right away on figuring how we were going to meet everyone’s expectations on this project.


Actually, Harry had already been very helpful toward the wagon project in that he had secured several crucial parts I really needed to create an efficient wagon. I could have tried to make them, but, having those items ready made would make the job much more achievable. He had also, of course, purchased the harnesses needed to hook up the mules to the wagon. Robert had made nice drawings of an existing wagon complete with dimensions. They had put in much more thought to the process than I would have supposed. That certainly made my job much easier.


Two other things came out of the trip to Big Piney. First, we were each pleased to find that the products we had sent over for trade and sale were well received at the camps. We could each move ahead with reproducing those products and adding to them for the next trip. Second, and perhaps most important, we each had mail waiting for us there at the post office. Hugh Truesdale had three letters from his parents who he discovered had moved to Jefferson City. Laura McDonald had a letter from an aunt and a sister back in Kentucky. Kate had a letter from her mother, now living in Louisville. Susannah Baldridge had a letter waiting for her from a sister in Illinois. Everyone was happy to get their letters. It also reminded each of us to write letters ourselves to be taken out on the next freight run.

The litters of pigs would provide food for the future

A litter of pigs for the settlers
A litter of pigs for the settlers

Sunday, June 23, 1833, was 4th Sunday

There was no lack of conversations to be had on this Sunday, of course. We were lucky that it was a fine, sunny June day. Stories related to the freight run and what was brought back still dominated most conversations, of course. However, discussions recalling the visits of the Rev. Mr. Jenkins and that of Big John, the trader, were still much on everyone’s minds. I happened to overhear a very animated discussion between young Sarah Baldridge and young Harry McDonald about how she handled her chickens and suggesting things he should do with his new charges. Owen and Anna said they were gratified at being made to feel an integral part of the community at their first 4th Sunday.


It was noted by all that most of the grown food for the meal had come from the common garden, even though it was late getting started. The meat served was wild turkey and deer supplemented by rabbit and squirrel. No hogs had yet been slaughtered for food. Two of the four sows had recently had litters of eight and ten, respectively, while the other two were due in the next couple of weeks. Assuming they were also successful, when weaning time arrived, the litters would be divided among the four families as previously agreed. The second litters in the fall would also be divided in the same manner. Likewise, the men reminded themselves that the next couple of months would be the breeding period for the four milk cows. Each seemed to be healthy and was continuing to produce well, as expected.


As the conversations turned to the future, it was decided to ‘raise the cabin’ for the McDonalds on the following Tuesday, assuming the weather cooperated. The planning ahead then was to raise the cabin for Owen and Anna later in July and the Truesdale cabin by mid-August. The men also discussed the need to harvest some of the long grasses as winter feed for the animals. They also considered constructing a simple pole barn in which to store some of the grass/hay they put up for the winter to protect it from the weather.

[See JP9, 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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