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McDonald Tales - MT21 - 1888 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.

A young farm couple got their first farm

Corn fields in the valley
Corn fields in the valley

The first quarter of 1888 brought changes to the neighborhood

With the beginning of the new year, Lewis Truesdale, William’s uncle, carried out the next step of his plan (that he had shared with his sister, Jane, a few years earlier) by naming Ted Warden as Manager of the Oak Valley Livestock Breeding Company (as his mule and horse breeding business was now called). Along with the Livery Stable and the Sales Barn businesses, Lewis had now managed to provide the three separate, thriving businesses that he owned with a strong manager in charge of each. The Wardens, with their 4 children still at home, moved from the Truesdale-owned farm they had been renting to one of the Cox-Wingfield rental homes on the north side of Oak Springs, with an option to buy it in the future.

Howard Bevins had proposed marriage to Mrytle Truesdale over the holidays, and they planned their wedding for Sunday afternoon, February 26. By that time, they would have prepared the farmhouse on the former Warden place as their new home. Howard had demonstrated that he had learned how to be a farmer and was ready to take on that responsibility. He would now devote his full-time effort to the farm. Mrytle was to inherit that quarter section as a part of her future inheritance, anyway, so the family moved ahead with making that official beginning on March 1, 1888. This was half of the original half-section that her grandfather, Hugh Truesdale had purchased and settled on in 1833 as one of the four original settlers of the valley and contained the site of her grandparent’s very first cabin there.

Shortly after Howard and Mrytle moved into their new farm home, they were invited to a Sunday dinner with William and Charlotte McDonald, at their home, immediately after church. The McDonald farm was directly south of the Bevins farm, on the same section, of course. They talked about young married life, farm life, and children, of course. Charlotte’s pregnancy was no longer a secret, and seemed to be progressing normally. William and Howard agreed on some things that they might do, cooperatively, to their mutual benefit. Myrtle was William’s niece, of course, by way of his mother. That made Howard a nephew by marriage. They were family.

They called him Joe

It was a boy
It was a boy

It was a boy; they named him Joseph, but called him Joe

Charlotte (Crane) McDonald gave birth to a healthy son, Joseph Palmer McDonald, on 26 June 1888 (Author’s Note: Historically, the same day my maternal grandmother was born over in Denmark; in her 60s, she learned from Danish records she was actually born in 1887… Palmer was my maternal great-grandfather’s middle name… fun to do that!). Joe was a small baby, and small child, but all the parts were there, in the right places. He was loved unconditionally by his entire extended family. Joe seemed to take after his paternal grandfather, Daniel McDonald, and perhaps the Crane side, more than his father, William, who was a large baby and a big-boned boy, and man. The women in the family, especially, found this discussion especially compelling as the baby began to grow, healthy, and steadily.

The birth of their first child, of course, was a great relief to William, Charlotte, and their parents. After their earlier difficult experiences, they had been anxious throughout the spring as to the possible outcome. To their great relief, everything had gone routinely. As the summer passed, and the baby grew, one could almost see them all breathing normally, again.

Both grandmothers, Jane McDonald and Grace Crane, lived nearby, of course, and doted on their grandson ceaselessly. Each was available to assist William and Charlotte in any way they could without being a nuisance (they hoped). The help was appreciated and taken advantage of with love. Charlotte was able to recover from the birth rapidly. Within a week, she was happy to be able to work in her garden, again, without wobbling. She was careful to spend much time with her baby. Breast-feeding provided some time, of course, but she was careful to cuddle him on as many occasions as possible. The grandmothers weren’t there all the time, of course, they had their own responsibilities. Each of the grandfathers, Daniel McDonald and Thomas Crane, appreciated their grandson, as well. They just showed it in different ways from the women.

They came down to dinner together

The road between the farms
The road between the farms

The celebration of birth is often accompanied by the death of an elder


In mid-November, as the harvest was being completed in the valley, the death of valley pioneer blacksmith Owen Olson, at age 76, was mourned by all residents. Owen, and his wife, Anna, newly married in the Piney Woods lumber settlements to the west, had arrived in the valley, on foot, from the west, just a few months after the founding settlement party. The founders had taken them in and welcomed them. Jake Patton, in particular, had taken them under his wing, taught Owen the blacksmithing trade, and helped the couple get started in life. The Olson family had been community stalwarts throughout the history of the valley. Their son, Liam, a war veteran, now ran the blacksmith shop and was a metal sculptor, living now with his mother. Their daughter, Allison, had married Jacobi Inman, the former bank cashier and now operator of the Inman Real Estate and Insurance business, following the retirement of his father, Gideon. Aden and Angeline Inman, children of Jacobi and Allison, now in grade school, were the two grandchildren of Owen.

Following the war, Owen found a special place in the community by assisting each new family either returning or newly arriving in the Oak Creek valley to make the best use of material goods on each homestead that was being resettled. He had a knack of making useful old metal objects used on the farms across the valley. For many years, his blacksmith shop was a focal point for community discussion and related activities. Along with his wife, Anna, and daughter, Allison, Owen was also largely responsible for the re-establishment of the first general merchandise store, founded by the Patton’s, after the war. They also had operated the local post office for many years.

Note from Author

This episode begins Volume 2 of McDonald Tales (Ep21-40); it begins with the birth of Joseph. 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.”

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for your visit and comment, Larry. Always nice to see that you stopped by! ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Another great installment.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Yes, Sha, life has it's many quirks... some we can understand, some we just accept, and move on. I always appreciate your insights, as willingness to share them here. Have a great weekend! ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm so glad the baby went full term and is now officially a resident of Oak Springs.

      Howard and Myrtle tied the knot rather quickly after the proposal, but with land already in place for them, I guess there was no reason to wait.

      It's nice to see the young people of Oak Springs growing their families and building the community.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      So nice to see your face on a comment again. It is really appreciated! ;-)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A great story! You shared interesting and meaningful values.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Genna. Comments like these keep the stories coming... ;-)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I have to agree with Alicia. The wonderful sense of family values helps to make this story sing.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Linda. The stories reflect my values; I'm very happy that you enjoy them! ;-)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I love the sense of family values that pervades this story. I'm enjoying reading the tale.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Bill. Your loyalty is appreciated. The 'real' job comes first, you have made that commitment! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My outside "real" job is making it harder and harder to keep up with my reading....but I'll be here for you as much and as long as possible.

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