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McDonald Tales | MT4 | Daniel and Jane hired men to help
They got the cow-calf cattle operation restarted
Baldridge cattle return to the east valley
By late spring of 1866, Daniel and Jane had met several times with both David Baldridge and Harry and Sarah (Baldridge) McDonald about bringing the Baldridge cattle back into the east valley to the Baldridge pastureland on the ridge above the mill. They also continued discussions about responsibilities for farming the McDonald land. With specific agreements in place, which put Jane and Daniel clearly in hands-on control of both the land and the animals on it, they implemented a plan to prepare the land and begin bringing animals back to the valley in the spring of 1867. The agreement also specified shared rewards and penalties based on measured outcomes.
In the discussions with Harry and Sarah, Jane and Daniel learned of two hired men that would be available to assist in the expansion program. These men were Orville Anderson and Julius Swenson. A room was added to the cabin in which Henry and Alex lived to accommodate the two men. They fit in well, and during the summer and fall, worked on fencing for the pastures as well as harvesting crops. With the extra help, more cropland was added as well as completion of the pasture fencing to meet their needs for the spring. Henry and Alex, as well as Daniel, enjoyed having the extra hard-working bodies available to share the workload.
Throughout 1867 and 1868 all efforts successfully got the cattle in place and back moving toward a successful cow-calf operation. The usable croplands were expanded and Jane and Daniel felt they had the farm moving in the right direction. William continued to grow, with this fifth birthday in January of 1869. Jane continued to read books to William, both from her own accumulated books and from those of his grandfather, Henry. Soon, he was beginning to pick up the words and wanting to read for himself.
In the spring of 1869, Elwin Johnson, a young cousin of Orville Anderson, was added as a third hired man. Although he had a lot to learn, he fit in well, worked as hard as the others, and seemed to be willing to learn all he needed to. It turned out to have been a very good addition.
Alex was injured during harvest season
Inevitable changes came to the McDonald family
During the fall harvest in 1869, Alex McDonald injured his back and could no longer do manual labor. He was taken in to Oak Springs and placed under the care of Dr. J.D. Potts. While there, he stayed with in the Jerry and Polly Potts home. Alex was not able to return to the farm and decided to stay with the Potts family where some new opportunities had arisen.
During the summer, Daniel and Jane had begun construction on their new house. They decided to build it in the center of the original McDonald section, with a half-mile lane running south to the Houston Road. The prior year, their new neighbor, Thomas Crane, had demonstrated that he could locate and dig a working well most anywhere in the area. So, Jane and Daniel had him do just that at their new house site. They became good friends, as well. Crane’s daughter, Charlotte, was the same age as William. Grace, Charlotte’s mother, and Jane soon found they had a lot in common, as well.
Daniel and Jane included bedrooms in their house plans for Alex and Henry as well as William. By the time they were ready to move in, in the fall, Alex had already been taken to town, and never actually lived there. His room became a guest room that actually was used often, as it turned out.
Henry was beginning to find that he could no longer physically do all the things his mind expected him to do. Jane and Daniel did their best to help him understand that he had made his contributions to the family and deserved to take it a little easier. They found things around the new house for him to work on, using his skills (like few others), and that seemed to both please and satisfy him. They appreciated having handcrafted items to use in their new home. One of their favorites was the set of bookcases he built. They were used to store the books Henry had preserved through the years as well as the new ones that were being added for William, one day.
During the Christmas season, with a sixth birthday approaching for her son, William, Jane found her thoughts taking on new directions and even more passion for her long-term goals for her family.
Levi build special carriages for the school
A school became available for William in the valley
Jane and Daniel had supported Lewis and Caroline in wanting to start a school. When Jerry Potts joined the effort with articles in the weekly newspaper, subscriptions seemed to take off. Once enough people subscribed, the school could begin in the fall of 1870, when William would qualify for first grate. Getting him to school, in Oak Springs, every school day would be a challenge, of course. All the rural parents shared the concern. The answer came when Lewis contracted with Levi Weston to build two special carriages for the new subscription school. Each day, one carriage would pick students from the east valley, and the other would pick up students in the west valley. Lewis would supply the horses and drivers through his livery stable. The plan worked surprisingly well.
Jane’s younger sister, Nellie, had attended the Davis Academy for Girls, as well, and in addition, had taken what was coming to be called ‘normal training’ to qualify to teach school. She became the first teacher at the Patton School, as the subscription school was called. There were twenty-one students that first year. The 6-year-olds, the first grade, were Charlotte Crane, Vic Campbell and William McDonald. Vic Campbell was the son of Ralph and Sally (Rhodes) Campbell; his grandfather, Victor Campbell, was President of the Oak Springs Savings Bank, and an early pioneer in the west valley of Oak Creek Township. All parents were kept closely involved in helping make the school a success.
Jane was pleasantly surprised at how much she came to enjoy working with some of the other women in the valley through the school. She found that some of them were more kindred spirits, in private discussions, than she would have expected for the ‘ordinary’ roles they played in their families and in the community. She soon realized, of course, that she did the same things. Her private thoughts and desires for her son’s future were not obvious in the everyday affairs of fixing meals for the men on the farm and assuring that the cattle were fed and bred properly. But, while she was doing those outward duties and tasks, she was still thinking about the place of women in the community, getting their right to vote and hold office, being in control of how many children they had, and being on an equal footing with the men-folk.
Note from Author
Much of this McDonald Tale (MT4) 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 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 tells 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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