McDonald Tales | MT8 | Jane and Daniel with family
The cemetery overlooked Oak Creek
Jane and Daniel interactions with McDonald family members
[Reminder for readers: Daniel and Jane (Truesdale) McDonald are the great-grandparents of Mildred (McDonald) Bevins by way of their son, William, and his son, Joseph, who was Mildred’s father. It was Mildred’s unusual video-will, in 1986-87, to preserve her “Century Farm,” that began “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction stories, with the novel, “Back to the Homeplace.” We went back to first settlement on the land of the Oak Creek valley in 1833, with these stories, and are now in the 1870s, viewing the stories from the McDonald point of view.]
March 1872 was a time of both sadness and change for the McDonald families. Henry McDonald, an original pioneer of the Oak Creek valley passed away after a series of winter illnesses, at age 71. His oldest son, Harry, and his wife, Sarah, happened to be visiting when Henry breathed his last. Sarah had lost both her parents ten years before, now Harry had lost his last parent. His mother, Laura, had died much earlier, in 1848, when Harry and Sarah had only been married for six years, and Harry’s brother, Daniel, was only ten years old. Henry was buried next to his wife, a half-mile to the east, in what was now known as the McDonald Oak Creek Township Cemetery on a knoll overlooking Oak Creek.
Jane and Daniel had welcomed Harry and Sarah to their new home several times in recent years, but now it was different. Their remaining son, Alex, had already moved into Oak Springs, where their oldest daughter, Caroline, also lived, with her husband, Lewis and their children. Jane and Daniel could see in their demeanor that Harry and Sarah no longer had any attachment to this east valley location. It was never said, out loud, but it seemed clear. Indeed, on the few occasions over the coming years that Harry and Sarah visited the valley, they always stayed in Oak Springs, not with Jane and Daniel, as much as they communicated by letter about business affairs. Harry and Sarah’s two younger daughters, Mahala and Rebecca, never returned to the valley. Their lives were many miles to the north.
Alex McDonald was a regular visitor to the home of Jane, Daniel and William. He came out to family dinners; he was a regular in the Book Club circles, often hosted by Jane and Daniel. Alex seemed to especially enjoy spending time with his young nephew, William.
Times had changed
Jane and Daniel interactions with the Truesdale family members
The relationships among Jane and Daniel, and Lewis and Caroline, had always been somewhat unusual. Jane, in the fall of 1872, was 35 and the oldest of the group. Her intellectual maturity became more obvious as the years passed by. Daniel was 34, but he had been slower too mature. He went into the war with Lewis, Jane’s younger brother by 6 years, under the command of Lewis, even though Lewis was 5 years younger. Lewis, however, as a Lieutenant, made Daniel his Sergeant, and Daniel had grown quickly into the role. Daniel became a strong leader in that role, which many would not have expected, though Jane had seen those qualities in him. Daniel was Caroline’s uncle, but they had grown up under the same roof, prior to his marriage to Jane, more like siblings.
Returning to the valley after the war, it might have been expected that the two couples, each with a young son, might have been close. They were on very friendly, family-based terms, but viewed their future roles quite differently. Lewis perceived himself to be the community leader, essentially a surrogate for his father, Hugh Truesdale, who continued to spend much of his time and energy as a State Legislator in Jefferson City, although he was a full partner in their Oak Creek valley businesses and retained a home in Oak Springs. Lewis and Caroline took their residence on the west side of the rebuilding Oak Springs rather than on the east valley ‘home-farm’ like Jane and Daniel had done. Lewis focused on building Oak Springs, his horse and mule breeding business, and a growing livery stable business, as well as a sale barn. Two Cavalry colleagues bought homes in Oak Springs and worked with Lewis in his businesses. He arranged for four other of his Cavalry friends to come to the valley and leased a quarter of the Truesdale farmlands in the east valley to each of them on shares. These were immediately to the west and south of the McDonald and Baldridge farms that Jane and Daniel operated. The Garrett, Warden, Reeves and Gower families were near neighbors to Jane and Daniel, not Lewis and Caroline. Also, Lewis and Caroline had a daughter, Myrtle, born two years after their son, Jimmy. Caroline was devoted to Myrtle.
Although 13 years older than her younger sister, Nellie, Jane felt a close kinship with her. They shared having spent years at the Davis Academy for Girls, during which they wrote letters to each other regularly. They came to view their world differently than many of their contemporaries, and willingly shared those differences between themselves, when they had the opportunity. This seemed to strengthen each of them in their daily lives. Nellie believed that Jane might like to have been a teacher, but that opportunity was never available to her. Jane appreciated the independent approach that Nellie was taking with her life. Jane also appreciated that Nellie stayed close to, and strongly supported, their mother, Victoria, in her marriage to their father, Hugh, which became more and more difficult as the years passed by.
The erected a stone monument at the burial site near Patton Springs
Early 1874 brought further sorry and change
In January of 1874, Jane’s maternal grandfather, the inimitable pioneer Colonel Jake Patton, died quietly at his home in Jefferson City. Everyone just assumed that he would ‘live forever.’ Even sadder, perhaps, his wife, Kate, followed him in death, less than two months later, in March. She simply did not want to live without him. He was 74, she 72, when they died.
They were each brought back to Oak Springs for burial. The Town Council passed a special resolution to allow them to be buried on a grassy knoll near Patton Spring, just to the northwest of the site of his original gun shop. The Council also commissioned a stone monument to mark the burial site, and a walkway from the nearby Town Park to be maintained by the Town.
As their only heir, their daughter, Victoria, and her husband, Hugh Truesdale, inherited the remaining Patton properties, which were still extensive and varied. This event also had an effect on the relationships of the Truesdale siblings, which only played out over the coming years.
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Note from Author
With MT8 we continue our journey through the early 1870s with Jane and Daniel McDonald - this time, their relationships with close family members. Some details of this McDonald Tale (MT8) have 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. Some details in this story were also introduced in the Levi Weston series (Lx) of the Weston Wagons West series of stories. See Related Stories in the sidebar. Here we learn new behind-the-scene insights about this family. These Tales are an integral 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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