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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 11, A Visit to the Sale Barn and a Visit from the Teacher

Updated on June 11, 2014
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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.

Been to an auction, lately?

An auctioneer at his trade
An auctioneer at his trade | Source

Karl King visited the Oak Springs Sale Barn for the big sale

On Friday, June 16, 1876, Karl King hitched up Molly and Dolly to the wagon, and along with his 14-year-old son, Keith, went into nearby Oak Springs to visit the Sale Barn. Karl had read the broadside at the Baldridge Lumber and Grain Store that advertised a large auction sale on this Friday with a selection of the kinds of horses and cows in which he was interested in considering, along with a number of miscellaneous items that he might find of interest. It had been quite some time since Karl had been to an auction sale of any kind, and he recognized a stir of excitement within himself as they approached the area of the Sale Barn and the many other men, women and children, horses and wagons that were there.

Karl found an appropriate hitching rail to tie up the team. He and Keith then walked over to where the livestock was available to examine prior to the beginning of the sale. They approached the milk cows first. Karl had decided he wanted to consider a cow with a female calf, if the right ones were available at a reasonable price. There were only four such pairs available, today, so he and Keith considered each pair very carefully. They also talked to the owner of each, and also talked, carefully, to some of the others also examining them. Each pair appeared to be of mixed breed. Karl confirmed that as best he could during their discussions. All appeared to be in good health, so it appeared the final decision would hinge on the bidding in the auction, and how that went.

They next went to look at the horses. Karl had specific attributes he sought in a horse before he would even consider buying one. It did not take him long to determine that none of the horses in this auction were what he was looking for, today. In the back of his mind, he had already mostly decided he would have better luck working with Levi Watson to get exactly what he wanted. Levi had said he had additional horse stock in Jefferson City, in addition to those he kept here in Oak Springs. Levi was confident they could find the right horse, or horses, to meet Karl's needs. They did talk to Levi as they were circulating around the horses, but only spoke briefly, in passing. Levi seemed to be especially busy, but did not have any of his horses in the auction.

After making the rounds of other items that might be of interest, and before the auction got underway, Karl and Keith stopped by the Ladies Livestock Auxiliary table and purchased a lemonade each. Soon, the auction began. The Auctioneer was from out-of-town, but Karl recognized that Jacobi Inman was the Cashier for the Sale. The sale started off with the sheep and goats, so Karl, and Keith, got an opportunity to learn the cadence of the call and the speed of the bidding without being involved. It was always a fascinating experience. This auctioneer was not quite as fast as Karl had heard, in the past, and he was grateful for that. They enjoyed getting "into the spirit" of the auction.

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Karl bought a milk cow with calf

A young cow and young calf - at lunchtime
A young cow and young calf - at lunchtime | Source

Karl made his auction buying decisions

The auction moved to the cattle category next, so Karl had to immerse himself into the action. There were lots of calves as well as a few bulls in the auction before they got to the cows that Karl was considering. The tension mounted as the first cow and calf were brought into the ring. Two bidders immediately kept the auctioneer going back and forth between them. The winning bid went much higher than Karl expected, dashing his hopes for an easy buy. But, when the next cow and calf were brought out, the bidding was slower, and there were several bidding. Karl made a bid or two before dropping out, but felt better about his prospects. He was reminded that each potential buyer had his own priorities that would differ greatly among them.

Karl was the winning bidder on the third cow and calf brought out. He paid a bit more than he had wanted to, but he knew that if he was to get anything, today, he had to win the bid, which he did. He felt even better with his decision when the fourth cow and calf ended in a bidding war among three bidders and sold much higher than what Karl had paid. He and Keith relaxed a bit as the other items were auctioned off. Karl ended up with two rolls of woven wire and some small household items he was interested in that he got at very low prices, he felt.

On the way home, they went very slowly with the cow and her calf tied by their ropes to the back of the wagon. Keith walked along with them, trailing the wagon, to be sure everything went well. They arrived home at the farm, in good shape, and now had a second milk cow with a third waiting to grow up. They could now proceed to breed their first cow without concerns of being caught "in between" with no milk.

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Katherine gathered her teaching materials

A stack of well used old books
A stack of well used old books | Source

Nellie Truesdale visited the King Farm to talk to Katherine about the school and other matters

When Nellie Truesdale rode from the road up to the house, she was greeted by Katherine, Kate, Kent and Karla in the front yard. Karl and Keith were already out working in the fields. Katherine had instructed Kent to take care of Nellie's saddle horse, which he was pleased to do. He was then to busy himself with outdoor tasks to be done. After greetings, Kate was to take Karla and keep her involved in their planned activities so that Katherine and Nellie could have a quiet, private conversation in the house. The weather had cooperated, with typical June heat and sunshine the order of the day.

Katherine had gathered together the books and other school materials that she had been using to teach 12-year-old Kate, 10 year-old Kent, and even to get 5-year-old Karla working on her alphabet and numbers. She wanted Nellie to see the progress point of each of her children Katherine was anxious to see how their progress compared with Nellie's expectations for each of them in the fall. Nellie was favorably impressed with what she saw. It was not long before they were trading memories of their own educational experiences. Each of them discovered they had both attended secondary school, which was still uncommon for women of the time. Nellie had attended the Davis Academy for Girls in Jefferson City, and took additional instruction to prepare for teaching at the school. Katherine had also attended an academy for girls in the St. Louis area. She mentioned that Karl had also graduated from a secondary school there.

Nellie felt that Kate and Kent appeared to be well prepared for the grade level expectations she had. She was also pleased that it appeared Karla would be ready the following year, as well. Having the older siblings always made it easier, in her experience, she told Katherine. Before she left, Nellie talked a bit with Katherine about the Book Club groups that were active in Oak Springs. There were several people who had been active for a number of years, and were anxious to share their books and enjoyed discussions of the books as they read them. She invited Karl and Katherine, each or both, to join a Book Club if they were interested. These were very informal groups, she said, and mostly were to encourage reading as well as providing social occasions that were generally few and far between. She offered to get Katherine additional information on who was doing what, currently, if they were interested. The Fourth Sunday gatherings were often used as a time to plan future meetings, she added.

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Note from the author

This is the eleventh episode of this 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” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below.

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


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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      They will be coming, the rate is the question. Where are my priorities? With three or four projects going at once... sound familiar? ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The story continues to flow well and hold my interest. Keep them coming my friend.


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