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McDonald Tales - MT1 - Daniel was the youngest

Updated on November 23, 2017
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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.

Daniel grew up in the Oak Creek valley

The valley on a sunny day
The valley on a sunny day

Laura believed she descended from William Wallace

Sir William Wallace
Sir William Wallace | Source

How Daniel came to be

Daniel McDonald was born to Laura (Wallace) McDonald and her husband, Henry, in July of 1838, in their little log cabin in the east valley of what came to be known as the Oak Creek valley, in the Southern Missouri Ozarks near Oak Creek. The live birth had followed another difficult pregnancy that itself had followed several successive miscarriages. Daniel was born sixteen years, to the month, after his older brother, Harry.

Laura, whose family claimed direct descent from Sir William Wallace, of the famed War of Scottish Independence, was a strong-willed woman. Belief in her perceived ancestry kept her going, through her many trials and tribulations as a frontier wife and mother. This was just one more of the challenges she faced. She was determined that Daniel would take his place beside his pioneer father, Henry, and his older brother, Harry. Laura gave the baby, and soon, young boy, everything she had in the way of love and nurturing to assure his survival and growth in this lonesome valley. The books in their home were treasures that she read to him and he soon was reading them himself.

Henry and Laura had been one of the three first families to travel on foot and with two-wheeled ox carts from the Big Piney River lumber camps to this virgin valley in 1833. Young Hugh Truesdale had come with them, as well, and he had soon married Victoria Patton, daughter of Jake and Kate Patton. Jake was the blacksmith, and he chose to set up his blacksmith shop a few miles to the west, in the central valley, on a stream there. Robert and Susannah Baldridge were the third family. They came to build a mill at the fall of Oak Creek, about a mile to the west and north, with their children, Sarah and David. Hugh Truesdale had built his cabin, for he and Victoria, about a quarter mile up Oak Creek, west of the McDonalds.

Harry McDonald and Sarah Baldridge, about the same age, each born in 1822, were married in 1842. A bedroom was added onto the McDonald cabin, and Henry, Laura, Harry, Sarah, and Daniel, now a four-year-old; all lived and worked together on their farm. Henry and Harry had also begun regular freight wagon runs back to the Big Piney area, for their own extra income and as a service to their growing community. Cooperation among all residents had been a hallmark of the settlement from the beginning, and continued under the leadership of Jake Patton, and buy-in by all the other settlers. There were now also settlers in the west valley as well as more in the central valley. A village, later named Oak Springs, was growing up around the blacksmith shop and general store, opened by the Patton’s.

The Truesdales were the nearest neighbors to the McDonalds. Victoria had given birth to a daughter, Jane, in 1837. Their son, Lewis, was born in June of 1843. The McDonalds soon added another bedroom on their cabin, as Caroline was born to Harry and Sarah in 1843, followed by Thomas in 1845 and Patrick in 1847.

One May morning, in 1848, Laura did not wake up. She had died in her sleep in her 47th year. Laura was the first adult death in the valley. [The spot where they buried her, on a knoll just south of Cardinal Corner, along Oak Creek, on the east end of the McDonald land, eventually became the Oak Creek Township Cemetery].

They lived in the river valley

Trees in the valley
Trees in the valley | Source

Daniel and Jane

Sarah (Baldridge) McDonald became the ‘mother-figure’ in the McDonald household following Laura’s passing, of course. She had her own three children and soon added a fourth, another son, Alex, in 1849. Daniel McDonald, now 11, appreciated Sarah’s efforts but he got nowhere near the attention he had continued to get from his own mother. Before long, another relationship developed. Jane Truesdale was just a year older, but, with girls maturing faster than boys, she soon became close friends with Daniel. She lived just down the road, and the families had always been close. They had one other thing in common that drew them together, to talk about their situations. With the arrival of Lewis, Jane’s younger brother, her parent’s attention had shifted away from her to him, at least in her perception.

Jane already realized, even at 12 or 13 years-of-age, that she was smart and strong, and strong-willed. She also realized quickly, however, that as the first child in the family, any negative reference about her younger brother to her parents got her in trouble, not him. Daniel, 16 years younger than his brother, essentially a first or only child, also, for practical purposes, after talking about it with Jane, realized he faced a similar situation with his little cousins in their household, even though they were not his siblings. Jane and Daniel, then, formed a bond at that early age that lasted them a lifetime.

Over the following eight or nine years, Jane and Daniel each carried out their family duties in fine style, each in their own way so as to earn approval of the adults in the families. However, they also continued to get together and talk, and share their experiences, so that they each grew, internally, more then those around them likely realized. No one was surprised, when they got married that June of 1859. The surprise, to outsiders, was why did they wait so long? Between the two of them, however, the maturity they gained by waiting just came natural within the long-term relationship they had established.

Life around them had not stood still, either, during those years. Harry and Sarah had added two daughters, Mahala in 1852, and Rebecca, in 1855. They had built a new home, in the center of the original McDonald 640 acre farm, with a lane leading a half-mile out to the Houston Road, the main east-west road across the valley.

Jane had a younger sister, Nellie, born in 1950. The Truesdales had remodeled their family home with her arrival. From the fall of 1851 through May of 1854, Jane Truesdale attended the Davis Academy for Girls in Jefferson City. This experience both confirmed Jane’s sense of self worth and added to her sense of worldliness. In spite of the odds against it, this experience strengthened her relationship with Daniel rather than having it draw them apart. She shared much of her experiences with him in nearly daily letters, while she was gone as well as on her return. His return letters were strongly supportive and kept her in touch with activities in the valley and with their families.

Hugh and Lewis Truesdale, in addition to their farming activities, had become quite involved in breeding and raising mules. During the 1850s, this business moved the center of their activities into the town of Oak Springs. When Jane and Daniel began discussing the date for their wedding, her father suggested it was time for he, Victoria and Nellie, along with Lewis, to be living in town. Jane and Daniel could live in Truesdale farm home, if they cared to. They concurred. The Truesdale’s built a new home in the new southeast residential neighborhood of Oak Springs, and Jane and Daniel moved into the farmhouse in the east valley as their first home.

Lincoln was elected President of the U.S.A.

1863 image of Abraham Lincoln
1863 image of Abraham Lincoln | Source

Their world got turned upside down

Henry, Harry, Daniel, and Thomas worked the land and ran freight runs to the west. Harry had been working cooperatively with the Weston Freight Lines in Jefferson City, and they now were going up to Salem to connect with Weston, there, as well. Thomas was a good worker on the farm, and young Alex, about 10, wanted to be. Brother Patrick, however, preferred to go hunting and fishing with his friends, in the woods, to the south, down Oak Creek a few miles. This irked his father and grandfather, but he was persistent, and they really had no control over him.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States and took office in March of 1861. This meant war between North and South, and the Oak Creek valley sat right on the dividing line. Immediately on secession of the southern states, Patrick went with his friends to the south, became a Rebel, and was never heard from again. Thomas took off for Houston, on foot, to join the Union forces. Jake Patton was commissioned a Colonel by the Union to form a Cavalry Regiment. His grandson, Lewis, joined him and became a recruiter. Daniel McDonald, his brother-in-law, was his first recruit. It was unsafe to stay in the valley, so Jane joined a party led by Harry and Sarah and moved to Jefferson City for the duration of the war.

Note from Author

Much of this McDonald Tale (MT1) has been told in the short story collection, “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” but here we are seeing the activity through the eyes of Jane and Daniel McDonald, along with some new material and insights. Daniel was always seen as the younger brother of Harry and not of much significance expect as eventually becoming William’s father. This Tale starts to tell a much different story that will be continued in coming Tales. These Tales are a part of “The Homeplace Saga” series of stories.

“The Homeplace Saga” family saga, historical fiction stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Linda. To get an even broader view, you might check out the Creating a Family Saga series, here, as well! ;-)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm glad I've read the first edition of the story. It's very nice to see how it all began!

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Yes, Sha, for sure. It is especially a challenge for writing a historical family saga, because most couple did have 8-10 in the mid-19th Century. Even in the first half of the 20th Century, I was oldest of 5, my wife was middle of 6. Fortunately, that has largely changed. However, in the Ozarks, 4-5, quickly, is still common... Thanks for a very meaningful comment. What fun! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Happy Easter, to you and yours, as well, Bill. Thanks for the visit! ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      4 years ago from Central Florida

      Interesting, Bill. Boy, people sure did have lots of young 'uns back in those days, huh? My mom was born in Kennett, MO. She's the 9th of 10 kids. Grandmama had 7 still-borns (or miscarriages) in between the 10. I can't imagine having that many kids, let alone working a farm, cooking, cleaning, etc.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Short on time today, but I wanted to stop by and wish you and yours a very Happy Easter.


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