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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 1
Cottonwood Trees in the Spring
The King Family arrives at the old “Hamby Place”
Ma and Pa King and their four kids, 14, 12, 8, and 5 moved onto a farm a mile outside Oak Springs, Missouri, which was still being rebuilt after being totally devastated and returned to nature during the Civil War. Returning residents were trying to rebuild and had encouraged new folks, like the King family, to become part of their small town in this valley of the three branches of the Oak Creek with good farm land along the streams as well as forests and rocky hills in between.
By this year of 1876, a dozen businesses made up the town and a few dozen families populated the valley that had numbered a few hundred before the war.
Both born in 1840, Karl and Katherine King had married just before the war broke out. They initially lived on a horse ranch owned by Karl’s father south east of Jefferson City. Karl had joined Colonel Patton’s cavalry regiment for his Civil War service. Being an excellent horsemen, he quickly became a leader and made Sergeant early on.
Their first son, Keith, was born in 1862 not long after Karl had joined the cavalry. Kate followed in 1864, since Karl was able to get home on furloughs from time to time. Katherine had stayed on the ranch, with his parents, but relations were strained with the effects of the ongoing war. When Karl returned to the ranch, his older brother was in charge and often did things that Karl felt were improper. After the war, Karl and Katherine tried hard to make a go of it... but, always felt they were under the thumb. Second son, Kent, had arrived in 1866 and Karla followed in 1871.
Seeking a fresh start, Karl had heard of the Oak Creek valley from some of his comrades from the cavalry. He ended up corresponding with Gideon Inman, in the Land Office in Oak Springs. When they became aware that the old “Hamby place” - just a mile west of the center of Oak Springs was available, with a small creek running through it, he decided it was time to make the move.
The family arrived in the valley with their “covered wagon” pulled by two Morgan horses and two mules. They also brought a milk cow, a coop of chickens, a dog and a very pregnant sow pig. The family, of course, had tenting materials, both for the trip down into the Ozarks mountains and for their early stay as there was not a house on the property they had purchased.
Home site of "The Homeplace Saga" series of stories
- "The Homeplace Saga" Blog
The blog is currently featuring weekly, on Fridays, stories from the forthcoming collection, "The Founding of the Homeplace (1833-1875)." The "Today's Thoughts on..." posts provide occasional updates on the several story lines of the Saga.
The First Novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of stories; in ebook or print
A Blacksmith at his Work
Karl meets the Blacksmith, Owen Olson
As Karl approached the blacksmith shop on foot, from Central Avenue, in Oak Springs, he could see the blacksmith, with his powerful biceps, working a piece of iron on the anvil. With the full white beard, and salt-and-pepper hair showing around a kerchief on his head, Karl recognized that this was Owen Olson, himself, and not his son, Liam, who was closer to Karl’s age. Gideon Inman, at the Land Office, had recommended that Karl initiate a conversation with Owen Olson as one of his first visits in town.
Karl looked around the shop as he waited for Owen to finish his task and be able to speak to him. He noticed that although all the tools showed age, everything was well organized and appeared to be in good, workable order.
“I’m Owen, how can I help you?” Owen said as he laid down his finished product and turned to Karl.
“My name is Karl King. Gideon Inman suggested I come speak to you. My family and I just moved onto the old Hamby place, just west of town.”
Extending his hand, Owen said, “Pleased to meet you, Karl. Gideon did mention you would be stopping by. How are things going so far, out there?”
“Well, since you ask, we found the Hamby’s spring house on the creek, yesterday, in pretty good shape. I guess that is the highlight, so far.” Karl replied with a grin. “That is probably not what you meant, but I suppose I wanted to tell someone.”
“With all you do have to do out there, finding something you don’t have to do much with is a pretty big thing, it seems to me,” Owen returned the grin, as well. “Have you identified the home site, yet?”
“I know where it was,” Karl said, “But I’ve not explored it in any detail yet. I’ve identified the nearest crop areas that were worked up, and we’ve fashioned a canvas tent to live in for awhile. Those have been our priorities, so far.”
“Good places to start, for sure. Do you have a plow?”
“No, I was hoping to borrow one, or buy a used one, if possible. I have the mules and harness, but no plow.”
Owen smiled. “I have a suggestion that might work well for both of us.”
“I’m all ears,” Karl said, very anxious to hear what Owen would be suggesting.
“I’ve become pretty good at finding salvable goods on these farms that have been “back to nature” around here. I’ve got an old, usable plow I’ll fix up this afternoon, and bring it out to your place, tomorrow, if I can have ‘first option’ on things I find around the place. We still do a lot of things by barter around here, these days. I’ll bring the plow ‘on account’ and apply what I find, that you agree to trade, to the account. There will be a lot of things we can do for each other, over the weeks and months, and even years, ahead if we each work together. What do you say?” Owen stuck out his hand.
Karl shook his hand, happily, and wondered what else there might be they might do together. “Sounds fine to me. I’ll be curious what you find. I haven’t really looked yet, but it is time we did that. Thanks for the offer.”
Owen replied, “I’ll bring my wagon with the plow, and maybe a few other items you could use. I’ll plan to stay and explore all day, if that’s all right with you.”
“Katherine will want you to have the mid-day meal with us, of course. She and the kids will be happy to have you as our first visitor.” Karl could see that Owen was already planning his trip, so he took his leave, thanking Owen for his consideration.
They found the Springhouse on the property
The Blacksmith, Owen Olson, visits the King farm and family west of Oak Springs
The next morning, everyone in the family had breakfast early, as usual, and they were each already about their morning tasks when they saw and heard the approach of Owen Olson with a wagon pulled by two horses. Each of the children left their tasks, as soon as they could, and lined up by their Ma and Pa in front of the tent house as Mr. Olson pulled up. Karl heard five year old Karla quietly ask her mother, “Is he Santa Claus?” as Owen stopped the team and got down off the wagon to meet them all.
“Children, this is Mr. Olson, the town blacksmith. Owen, this is Katherine, my wife, of course,” pausing briefly, “and Keith, Kate, Kent and Karla.”
Owen said, “Pleased to meet you,” to each child as he shook each little hand, starting with the youngest, and working his way up the ladder. “Ma’am” he added, with a nod, as he shook the hand of Mrs. King.
Katherine spoke to the children, “Back to your tasks, now. Mr. Olson will be here for dinner. You can talk to him more, and ask your questions, while we eat. OK?” She spoke to Owen as well as the children with that final question. He nodded in response, and turned to Karl.
After Karl and Owen had taken care of the horses, they began their adventure of “search and rescue” about the homestead - a true scavenger hunt.
The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series; in ebook or print
Introductory note from the author
This is the first episode of a new short story series set in the Ozarks Mountain setting of “The Homeplace Saga” family saga of historical fiction. This story begins in 1876, following the time period (1833-1875) of the forthcoming “Founding of the Homeplace” collections of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, above, following the first text module.
“The Homeplace Saga” is the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”
Also enjoy the "Weston Wagons West" series of historical fiction by the same author
- DrBill-WmL-Smith on HubPages
Dr. Bill is a retired university professor who loves to "read and write" especially historical fiction based on the social and family history of... The Weston Wagons West series combines these interests! Check them out, today!