McDonald Tales | MT16 | 1882 - William ‘grew up fast’ as this year passed
William began to keep a hand-written journal
July 1, 1882 began a new life for William McDonald
With the decision to purchase the “Gower Place,” eighteen-year-old William McDonald realized that a significant event in his life had occurred. Whereas up to that moment much planning and preparation had been done with his parents laying the foundation for his future life, those future plans were without dates or urgency; now, the future had arrived with stark dates and no room for error. Very specific responsibilities were now his, with well-defined dates and duties that each farmer faced every year. He was well aware of them, but now they would define him and he could not afford to be anything short of precise in his execution of these duties and responsibilities.
One of his first acts of responsibility was that William began keeping a daily journal on July 1 of 1882. He realized he would have been well served by doing this earlier, but now was the time to do it. He would record the daily temperatures and weather conditions as well as each crucial act he performed as a farmer that would be useful to him in the future. He knew his father had tried to do this, but he also knew that it was not one of Daniel’s better accomplishments. He had access to his father’s notes, but he knew he had to do it better. He also vowed to include noteworthy family activities. This would be difficult to achieve, but he was determined to do this.
This act also, in a very concrete way, sealed the commitment to each other that William McDonald and Charlotte Crane each felt was their future - but now it was. There was certainly nothing negative about this except possibly that any ambiguity had been removed. With their respective parents, they had made a commitment to each other that was probably stronger even then the wedding vows they expected to make after the first of the new year. This was a personal commitment to join their lives, for all future time. No preacher needed to be involved, as far as this personal commitment was concerned. That decision had now been made.
Both the orchard and the gardens needed work
There was summer work to be done
Whereas in prior years, summer was a generally slow time for work on the farm, even some ‘down time’ to take in some leisure activities, perhaps. Summer of 1882 was not like that. Taking on the ‘Gower farm’ commitment meant that every day was now filled with something that needed to be done. William was pleased to work with his parents, as well as with Charlotte, and her family, in assuring that their new place, the old ‘Gower farm,’ would be ready for a new farm year in 1883 as well as ready for the 1882 harvest season. There was much that needed to be done. Everyone seemed to be involved in checking out the garden and the orchard. The women, especially, seemed to think this garden needed attention everyday. He found this mildly surprising, but it was something he needed to know, and do his part. First, of course, was to learn, to determine, what ‘his part’ actually was.
It turned out, after all, that he, personally, didn’t need to be in the garden every day. He just needed to listen, be interested, and be ready to provide any assistance the women in his life now needed from him. He also found that he, and his father, would be primarily responsible for the orchard. He was happy to do that, and interested to learn what those responsibilities actually were. Just living and working on the farm turned out to be much different than being ‘responsible for the farm.’ William realized he learning something new, each and every day.
Much effort, this summer, was also needed in and around the building on the new farm. The Gower’s interests and efforts on the farm had been somewhat different from those of the McDonalds (and the Cranes, for that matter). William and Charlotte would not be raising either chickens or pigs, whereas the Gower family had. Cleaning out, and converting, the buildings and grounds for those purposes could be accomplished during the summer prior to harvest. It turned out that this project was where William would be spending most of his time this summer.
William also knew that there were things to be done with the house, itself, to meet their new needs there. He and Charlotte, with their parents’ suggestions, worked out a plan to achieve these changes, over coming months. These were not urgent, but needed to be completed before the arrival of the winter season. William and Charlotte enjoyed working on the house, and each learned a lot about the house they would be living in, in the future, in the process.
They brought in the harvest together, by hand
Harvest time became a time of togetherness as well
William had often heard it said, by his elders, that to really get to know a person well, work side-by-side with them in a hard, physical labor project. Harvest time certainly qualified. Picking corn, loading and unloading the wagons, preparing storage, all required much physical labor. Charlotte and William each worked alongside other family members, and the hired men, in getting the harvest work accomplished, at the right time, and in the best right fields, for a successful harvest. It was an exhilarating experience this year.
William also realized, perhaps for the first time, the real meaning of celebrating the harvest at Thanksgiving and other year-end celebration times. The positive sense of accomplishment, and having overcome the obstacles always faced during the harvest season, was another new experience for William, and for Charlotte, even though they had each ‘participated’ in the harvest work with their families for a number of years previously. As the new year approached, they each looked forward to their new life together, with a calm sense of confidence and accomplishments already underway.
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Note from Author
With MT16 we focus on William McDonald, personally and individually. Some details of McDonald Tales episodes 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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