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Meet the Folks - Ep. FO17 - Late 1880s Changes in the Valley

Updated on August 13, 2018
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Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

New families settled in the east valley portion of Oak Creek Township

The east valley was a great place for a farm
The east valley was a great place for a farm

New Farmers Arrived in the East Valley and More

In 1888-89, four families bought farms and settled in the southeast corner of the Oak Creek Valley. They included Jonas and Mary Singer and their 14 year old twins, Jack and Jill. Next were Jeremiah and Martha Keith, with their three children. They added a fourth in 1890. Alexander and Delia Hay had three children aged 5, 10 and 12 in 1890. Finally, Charles Jackson and his wife, Olive, also arrived with three children, aged 5, 12, and 15. They also added a fourth in 1890.


In FS14, recently we discussed the many changes that occurred in the valley and in Oak Springs as we moved our stories along into the 1890s. Some of those changes will be shared here, beginning with the new farm families. All across the valley, there were young adults being attracted to one another through school and other social activities. These resulted in a number of marriages, creating new families. A few of these have been previously reported. A few more of those will be recorded here. Let’s start off with that new attorney in town, remember Arvin Edmond, who joined the Mason’s with William McDonald? Within a few years, he met Nettie Gifford of the east valley farm family. They were married in early1889 and their first daughter, Alice, was born in March 1890. Cora Crane, daughter of Thomas and Grace Crane, sister of Charlotte (Crane) (Mrs. William) McDonald went off to college directly after high school graduation. She will return to Oak Springs in the summer of 1891 to replace Nellie Truesdale as a teacher in the local public schools. Nellie, of course, resigned to take a position as business manager to Alex McDonald, World Traveler Enterprise.


George and Marcia King, originally of the west valley, who moved into Oak Springs to retire, each died during this period, George in the spring of 1889, Marcia in the spring of 1890. James Carver, son of a west valley farm family, bought and moved into the King home in north Oak Springs during the summer of 1890. After having worked with Bernie Cox at the Freight Station in north Oak Springs for a few years, he had been promoted to Assistant Station Manager. Also working at the Freight Station, now trained as Telegrapher, was Carol Cunningham, also of that west valley farm family. She and James were in the same class in High School. They were married in another big Carver-Cunningham wedding late summer of 1890.

Some folks were moving within the town of Oak Springs

They lived in a valley much like this one
They lived in a valley much like this one

Some Folks Moved Around in Oak Springs

Grant and Lenore Ward had moved out of the Campbell Boarding house into their own home a block west of Centennial Square and by 1890 had a 6 year old son and 1 year old daughter. Anna Olson died a year after her husband, Owen. That was in the spring of 1889. Their son, Liam, continued to live in their family home, where he had been, and continued in the Owen Blacksmith Shop with Bryce Taylor now a full-fledged Blacksmith at the Shop as well. Louisa Inman died in the spring of 1889. Her husband, Gideon, retired in the summer of 1889 as they had planned. Now, at 78, he would have to decide if he wanted to travel, alone, as they had planned to do, together. Seaboard Carr, Cashier at the Bank, who had been living at the Duncan Boarding House for a few years, was no longer a bachelor. His bride, from out of town, his home town, had been teaching for a number of years. He built a new home west of Centennial Square, at Main and 1st Ave. W. They had their third child, a girl, in the spring of 1890, joining a girl, 4, and a son, 2.


Marian Stark, daughter of Theodore and Ida Stark of the east valley, had gone off to college and studied Accounting. In June 1890, she returned to Oak Springs and married David Wingfield. She established her Accounting Office in their new home in north Oak Springs, across the street from his father’s residence which was home to the Wingfield Construction Company. The Construction Company along with the Wingfield/Cox Rental Properties business became her first clients. Other local businesses soon also contracted for her services as the state continued to pass laws making doing business more complex.


In the west valley, Rachel Dent had gone off to college following high school graduation, as had her neighbor, Judy Carver, a year later. Also in the west valley, Carl Die married neighbor Beulah Cunningham in early spring 1890. With the support of his father, Jasper, they purchased the 160 acre farm directly east of the Die home farm, that they had been farming, rented from the Land Trust. They built a new house on the east side of the road, west of the river, and that became the new home farm for Carl and Beulah.

Would they retire from their farm in the west valley?

Clouds above the corn field in the valley
Clouds above the corn field in the valley

Retirements, Deaths and Marriages Are With Us Always

Nathan and Sharon Bishop first settled their farm in the far west valley in 1849. They had returned after the war with their large family, of course. Their son, Joey and his wife, Margaret, now did the farming. Their son, Simeon, manager of the lumber and seed store in Oak Springs, lived there with his family. Their daughter, Martha, continued to live with Nathan and Sharon after she graduated from high school. The parents’ health made that a blessing. With the fortieth anniversary of their first arrival in the valley, they began to consider whether to stay out on their farm or to move into Oak Springs. It was a hard decision, and one they hadn’t made yet as this report was made.


Lawrence and Lucinda Johnson also faced the retirement question, of course, on their nearby farm. Their son, Campbell, and his family now primarily operated the farm, but Lawrence felt he still made a strong contribution. Was he ready to leave that behind, or would he and Lucinda just stay where they were, for a while longer? Jordan and Martha Sullivan were about the same age, but they planned to stay on the farm as long as their health allowed. Silas and Rhoda Adams, though a few years younger, were seriously thinking of moving to town. They son, Israel, and his family were now well established with their farming operation. Only time would tell.

Note from the author

This is the seventeenth episode of the short story (FOx) series, Meet the Folks | … of Oak

Springs. This story fills in some details we were not able to include in recent stories in the series but want to ‘get on record’ for possible future reference. These stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com). This episode provides background information on folks in the valley a bit more than 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, above. 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

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