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McDonald Tales - MT19 - 1886 Life With William and Charlotte

Updated on November 17, 2017
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 sold their property in the valley

Farmland in the valley
Farmland in the valley

Update on Harry and Sarah (Baldridge) McDonald, uncle of William

Early in 1886, Harry McDonald had suffered a stroke but had survived with some left side paralysis. Reminded of his mortality, as his recovery progressed, Harry, along with his wife, Sarah, moved to set up a trust for their descendants as they liquidated their various properties in both the Oak Creek valley and in Jefferson City, where they still lived. In the Oak Creek valley, this meant finalizing the sale of their remaining interest in property to Daniel and Jane McDonald, that they had been managing, and arranging the final payments to the trust. Beneficiaries of the trust in the valley, of course, were Caroline (McDonald) Truesdale and her younger brother, Alex McDonald, now Editor of the local newspaper, the Oak Springs Enterprise. Their two younger sisters and their families, living in the Jefferson City area, were the other remainder beneficiaries of the trust. First priority, of course, was that Harry and Sarah would be comfortable for the remainder of their lives.

In Jefferson City, their residence since the beginning of the war, Harry and Sarah not only owned their home and their stock in the Weston Transportation Company but quite a number of other properties they had acquired over the years. They now decided it was time to liquidate all their property and build the trust for the future benefit of their family.

For William and Charlotte, of course, the information about Harry and Sarah that they heard from his parents, Daniel and Jane, was a part of their learning experience. It reminded them of the family responsibilities that would be theirs one day. They were also reminded of the importance of keeping their own affairs on a solid foundation and of their responsibility to be good community citizens. Of course, it also reminded them that they had yet to produce an heir of their own.

William talked to lodge leaders

They formed a Masonic Lodge in Oak Springs
They formed a Masonic Lodge in Oak Springs

William and Charlotte sought other community involvement opportunities

Charlotte had joined the local women’s Garden Club shortly after they had married. They were very active, as a couple, in the social aspects of their Sunday School Class. William, however, was still looking for an opportunity to become more involved in community affairs. Living in the country, the Chamber of Commerce was not an option. If only there were something else like that in which he could participate. An article in the Oak Springs Enterprise caught his eye that might offer such an opportunity. A new ‘fraternal organization,’ the Masonic Lodge, was opening a local lodge in Oak Springs in June. He decided to check into this new organization.

Organized under the Grand Lodge of Missouri, the Masonic Lodge was said to provide a setting and context in which men could seek “spiritual development, personal growth, self-control, and self-discovery.” They were said to teach basic lessons of “human duty and responsibility, duty to one’s faith, country, community, family and oneself.” The local leaders had been Masons in other communities, such as Salem and Rolla, before moving to Oak Springs. They felt it was time to have a local lodge, and had received both permission and encouragement to do so. William decided he wanted to talk to these local Masons, and with Charlotte’s encouragement, he did that.

Fred Powell told William he liked the Masons because they always had a charity they supported in addition to personal development and community improvement projects. Clyde Orchard added that he liked that it was a ‘men’s organization’ but that they encouraged family activities outside the ‘business meetings.’ Darrell Nagle said that he liked being able to interact with local men of all ages; he felt he learned a lot from that aspect of the group. Joel Gray said that he liked that even younger members could learn leadership roles as each member went through the several stages of membership that were an integral part of the organization. Rev. Boyd pointed out that some of his church colleagues viewed the Masons as a cult. However, he saw personal growth in his parishioners who were active members, adding that George Washington and other Founding Fathers had been Masons. William decided to join.

William became a Freemason

The Masonic Lodge logo
The Masonic Lodge logo

William McDonald became a Mason

William was accepted into membership in the Oak Springs Masonic Lodge as a Charter Member after working his way through the rituals and learning required to achieve the stages of membership mentioned by Joel and others. William was pleased that the local lodge was considering both a Library and Educational Scholarships as their possible charity activities. The opportunity to meet new people in a nurturing environment was something William hoped to find and he was not disappointed. By the end of the year, he had met several folks across the valley that he had yet to meet in person.

In addition, a new young lawyer had come to Oak Springs about the same time that the Lodge was being organized. His name was Arvin Edmond. He lived at the Campbell Boarding House. Arvin and William went through the membership learning process together, and became close friends. They found that while they each came from very different backgrounds, William a country boy, and Arvin growing up in St. Louis, their interests had more in common than their differences. They each enjoyed reading and learning. They each sought out the best in folks they met. They each had a positive outlook.

William and Charlotte invited Arvin out to their farm on a weekend, in August, and helped him learn about life on the farm. Arvin was also impressed with the small personal library William and Charlotte already had. That got them to talking about the influence they each felt from their parents. Again, they were surprised how similar these relationships were, regardless of occupation and physical location differences. Arvin said he was pleased that he had made the decision to come to a small town to open his law practice.

Arvin enjoyed his visit to the farm

A rural landscape
A rural landscape

Note from Author

In MT19 we focus on William McDonald and Charlotte Crane, personally and individually, along with their families. Some aspects 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, William and Charlotte 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. In this series of stories 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.”

Video Book Trailer


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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Sha. Each community has it's own dynamic, and it is fun to recreate this one in these stories. ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      The town is certainly expanding and becoming more sophisticated. It's nice to see newcomers welcomed with open arms and new ideas embraced as well.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Linda. I hope you will do that. It has been a pleasure to share these stories with my readers... ;-)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an enjoyable look at the past. I'll have to read the parts of the story that I've missed. The characters and their values are interesting.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, so much, Bill, for your comment. I think stage of life has a lot to do with how we see opportunities before us. What do you think about that?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm slow getting here, but I finally made it.

      There were so many opportunities in 1886...such an exciting time to live in. I wonder if people today feel the same sense of excitement? the same sense of opportunity? I don't believe they do....anyway, I enjoyed this, as always.


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