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Meet the Folks - Ep. FO16 - The King Family on 4th of July 1890

Updated on July 3, 2017

Decorated for the Holiday

The Fourth of July fell on Friday in 1890

The Fourth of July weekend of 1890 would be more meaningful than a simple patriotic celebration this year for the Karl and Katherine King family near Oak Springs. With both Keith and Karla away living in Jefferson City, it would be the first time in nearly a year that the whole family would be together in one place, at one time. In addition, the family would celebrate three special events. Karl would turn 50 years old on the first of July. Katherine would also turn 50 years old on the third of August. Last, but far from least, Kay King, the newest member of the family, first grandchild, the daughter of Kent and Janice (Carver) King, was born on the tenth of June, and, of course, neither Keith nor Karla had yet seen her. She would be baptized at the Methodist Church on Sunday, the 6th of July. They also agreed that they would celebrate Keith’s birthday, even though it had already recently occurred on the fifteenth of June. He was now 28 years old.

As information was exchanged in preparation for the family gathering, it was also learned the Keith would be bringing home with him, to meet his parents, a girl he had been courting for the past year or so. Sister Karla, now 19, a student at the University of Missouri, would be accompanying them as chaperone, they said. Keith had been working as a Civil Engineer with the Missouri Transportation Department for several years following his graduation from the state university. That achievement was noteworthy in the small southern Missouri Ozarks town of Oak Springs. Karla had just completed her second year in the university Education Department preparing to be a teacher. There were still very few female students working to earn a four-year degree in education, but she was succeeding very well.

Karla was staying in Jefferson City between her second and third year to tutor a number of first year students. She had worked with some of them as a volunteer during the school year for the education department. For the summer, they had agreed to hire her to continue their efforts during the summer under her guidance.

Kerry was a cake decorator

The ‘Out-of-town Guests’ arrived on Thursday afternoon

The three travelers from Jefferson City took the train from Jefferson City south to Rolla, then the stagecoach from Rolla into Oak Springs. Keith was pleased to introduce his parents to Kerry O’Donnell. Kerry was introduced as a third-generation American Irish girl, who was proud of her heritage. She said her grand father had come to America during the 1840s from the Potato Famine while her father was a ‘wee lad.’ Keith added that Kerry’s father was now a successful Baker near the university in Jefferson City and his daughter Kerry was a professional cake decorator. She and her father’s cakes were sought for many weddings, graduation parties and other special occasions. They had actually met at a mutual friend’s wedding. Kerry came across to the King family as pretty and bubbly; and they loved her slight Irish brogue. Karla simply smiled at the welcome her family had given Kerry, as did Keith.

Katherine welcomed their guests to her home, where she maintained all four upstairs bedrooms for just such an occasion as this. They had each set empty since Karla went off to college, of course. Shortly after their arrival at the farmstead, Kent, Janice, and baby Kay arrived from their cottage to the east to greet the new arrivals, and introduce their bundle of joy. Many ooh, ahs, and smiles ensued. Kate and Vic arrived shortly thereafter to reunite the entire King extended family. They enjoyed a family meal all together.

Kent, now 24, continued to share farming responsibilities on the family farm west of Oak Springs. Kent had assumed increasing responsibility for the growing apple orchard east of the homestead that now included the two farmhouses. The original apple orchard had expanded in size as well as in variety of apples, based on studies Kent had conducted with fellow apple growers in the region. Karl and Kent had also expanded the cattle herd they grazed on the land they had added to the west of their original farm. Katherine and Janice, aided by their husbands, also maintained sizable gardens, often including prize-winning produce at the annual valley fair.

The stage still ran through Oak Springs

A busy weekend followed

On Friday, with the exception of Janice and baby Kay who stayed at home, the entire family spent their typical Fourth of July in Oak Springs taking part in the variety of activities available in the progressive small town, from the morning parade and the patriotic speeches to the evening fire works display. On Saturday, along with walking around the farm, especially the apple orchard, Keith and Kerry took a carriage ride around the valley so that Keith could share with her his childhood experiences. The evening family meal was a celebration of the birthdays of Karl and Katherine, as well as Keith. They enjoyed fine summer weather for their entire visit.

On Sunday, the focus of the family activities was the baptism of baby Kay at the Methodist Church, in Oak Springs, with Rev. Millard Long officiating. Along with the King extended family, Hiram and Millie Carver, the other grandparents, and their even larger extended family, were all present to celebrate the occasion. In common small town fashion, the Kings and Carvers hosted a covered dish community meal, at the church, following the morning service. With the weather holding, this event spread from the church to blankets and table on the church lawn and into the shade of nearby trees.

Keith and Kerry took advantage of the family and community gathering to announce their engagement and planned wedding, in Jefferson City, for mid-August. Kerry said her extended Irish family there would welcome all those from Oak Springs who would be able to attend. She thanked everyone she had met for a wonderful visit and all the friendship she had received during her visit. On Wednesday, Keith, Kerry and Karla boarded the northbound stage ride to Rolla, where they would catch the train back to Jefferson City.

Note from the author

This is the sixteenth episode of the short story (FOx) series, Meet the Folks | … of Oak Springs. This is in 1890, five years after the last episode. We revisit the King family as those five years have passed by. These stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. This episode is 10 years following the 80 episodes of “The Kings of Oak Springs” stories. That series had followed the time period of the “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below. These FOx episodes provide depth and background stories for the entire "Saga" series.

The 80 episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into eBooks, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs" Vol. 1, 2, 3, and 4. See the link, below, to get yours.

“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer


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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Dora. 4th of July and family. Hard to get much better!! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, welcoming the family back on July 4 makes the day special. Not at all surprised that there are new additions. I love the themes of family and celebrations.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Bill. My muse offered up a story! Thanks for stopping by, old friend that you are. Neat!! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well welcome back to the King family. It's like old friends have been missing but finally shuffled up the driveway and shouted out "hello!" I've missed them!


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