McDonald Tales | MT12 | Winter 1881 Jane talks with Lewis
It was holiday season of 1881
Jane (Truesdale) McDonald talked with her brother Lewis Truesdale
When the Truesdales got together for their late 1881 holiday gathering, at the home of Victoria and Nellie, Jane found some time to have a private, lengthy discussion with her brother, Lewis.
Jane: Are you ready for the upcoming legislative session this year?
Lewis: Yes, actually, thank you for asking. You’ll be happy to know that I took that talk we had this summer very seriously. I’ve spent more time with Jimmy this fall. We went on a couple of hunting days, together, on Saturdays when he was out of school. I made sure I was here. He isn’t as much of an outdoorsman as I expected, but we got along fine. He seemed to enjoy the attention. I know I really felt good about the experience. I had not been spending enough time with him.
Jane: Good for you. I hope you’ll keep it up.
Lewis: I plan to. I hope we can do some different things that he would like to do. As he gets a little older, it is a bit easier to find things that interest each of us.
Jane: That sounds great. (A pause.) And you’ve paid more attention to Caroline and Myrtle, too, I hope.
Lewis: Yes, I have. This fall I was more careful how I scheduled my out-of-town time. That is one thing my seniority in the House does provide. I have a little more say on scheduling. Not a lot, but more than in the early years.
Jane: Before, you also mentioned your managers. Who do you have doing what now? It has been a while since we talked about them, really.
Lewis: Well, J.W. Norton is the Sale Barn Manager, and also helps in the breeding program. G.W. Mason is the Livery Stable Manager, and is also involved in the breeding program. That way, I’m still mostly involved with the horse and mule breeding program, that Dad and I started, those many years ago. Both J.W. and G.W. do very well with their primary responsibilities. They’ve grown with their businesses. The breeding program feeds into each of the other businesses, so that is where their contributions come in. I oversee the whole program; they carry out their parts. It seems to work well. They have people working for them, mostly short-term workers, of course. They are good judges of their workers, so I let them handle that.
Lewis had a livery stable
Their discussion continued
Jane: You still look after your tenant farmers out by us, I suppose?
Lewis: Yes. I’ve actually been a bit surprised how easy that has been. They each seem to have settled into those roles, and aren’t looking at changes, it seems. You recall each of them was in my company in the cavalry. They still seemed to be pleased that I invited them to the valley. Have you had any issues with any of them?
Jane: No. Daniel and I have had good relations with all our neighbors, not that we really have reason to interact with them. I think they do work together, some. We take care of our own, and they do the same.
Lewis: You still have those same three fellows working for you?
Jane: Yes, Orville, Julius and Elwin are a special breed. They are just like part of the land, it seems. They do what needs to be done, whether related to the crops, or related to the beef herd, or general upkeep and maintenance of fences. We watch them closely, but stay out of their way. They seem to continue to enjoy that old cabin with all of its modifications and updates. Much like your tenants, I suppose. They see it as better than any alternatives they do, or do not, have.
Lewis: Yes, I think that is it. Do you have any expansion plans in mind, with William being done with school next summer?
Jane: Nothing immediate. We’re still working at being more effective and efficient in the operations we have now. Daniel has become quite a stockman. I still like working with the crops and the land. William is learning the whole operation, but that will be a long-term project. He enjoys it all, it seems. We are very lucky there.
Lewis: I’m not sure luck plays much of a role. You and Daniel have worked hard to get to where you are.
Jane: Thank you. That is true. But, with farming, the ‘luck-factor’ is always a part of it.
Daniel enjoyed becoming a stockman
Lewis asked Jane an interesting question
Lewis: Looking off into the future, would you take on more land, if it became available?
Jane: I’m sure we would consider the possibility. Do you ask that for a reason?
Lewis: As I said, I’m very happy with my four tenant families, especially with having to do so little to manage them. If any of them were ever to leave, for any reason, however, I don’t know that I’d want to seek another tenant. Should that ever happen, would you consider taking on that land?
Jane: Oh, my. I’d never thought of such a thing. To rent, or buy?
Lewis: Your option, most likely. We could work something out. You would be interested then?
Jane: Of course we would. As I said, I don’t see that happening, but we are certainly nearby if such an occasion arose. We’d be much more interested in nearby land than land further away from us. Your land is the closest, of course.
Lewis: Good. That is settled then. I’ll come to you first, if anything should happen.
Jane: Well, okay. That would be fine. I certainly don’t expect it, but we would appreciate first option, if anything does.
Lewis: We should probably re-join the others. They will likely think we are lost somewhere.
Jane: Or, maybe they’d just as soon we were lost somewhere.
Lewis: Hope not… let’s go see what they’ve all been up to.
Jane: I think that is a good idea. You lead the way… in case they have a surprise for us on our return.
Lewis: What a thoughtful sister, I have. Here I go. Charge!
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Note from Author
With MT12 we look in on a later conversation between Jane and her brother, Lewis. Some details of this McDonald Tale (MT11) have been told in other short story collection such as, “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” but here we are seeing the activity through the eyes of Jane, Daniel, and William McDonald, along with new material and insights. The “Kings of Oak Springs” and Life in Oak Springs and more” series have made reference to some of the material here from a different point of view. Here we learn new behind-the-scene insights about this family. These Tales are a part of “The Homeplace Saga” series of stories.
The earlier episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into two eBooks, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs,” Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (20 episodes each). See the link, below, to get yours.
“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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