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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 15, June became July, 1876, on the King Farm

Updated on June 16, 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.

Katherine sent a return letter to her sister, Ann

A vintage envelop for sending a letter.
A vintage envelop for sending a letter. | Source

Keith considered his options

In the first days after June Fourth Sunday, Karl, Katherine and Keith spoke several times about what they had learned and what it meant for 14-year-old Keith. Earl Rhodes would be attending the high school at Central School in the same vicinity of Jefferson City as the location where his maternal aunt, Ann, had recently moved. If Keith chose to go to school in Jefferson City, at that school, could he possibly stay with Ann and her new family. If he chose yes, they needed to find out soon if he would be able to live with Ann and her Mr. Walters. And, they needed to determine if he would qualify to attend this Cole County school.

After due consideration by each of them, Keith decided to proceed with determining if it would be possible for him to attend the school and stay with his aunt's family. To this end, Katherine composed a letter to Ann to begin to seek answers to those important questions. Keith and his parents felt good about moving ahead with this decision. Keith walked the letter into town to get it in the next postal pickup that would take it to Jefferson City. Now, only time would tell how things would work out.

In the meantime, work on the farm continued. Archie was nearing completion of the stone fireplace. The sweet corn in the garden was approaching maturity. Tomatoes were abundant. The women were kept busy with harvesting and preserving the garden goodies. The crops in the field could use some rain but were growing well with the available moisture. Overall, the orchard was looking good, in spite of the minor issues with the goats. Overall, they had been beneficial to the orchard by making it much cleaner, thereby letting the nutrients go to the fruit trees. Kent had done a fine job of trimming, and the trees were mostly growing vigorously, with some fruit beginning to show.

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They installed the fence in the orchard

Woven wire fence in a field
Woven wire fence in a field | Source

The Kings and Dents helped the Yokum family finish their cabin

Darrell and Fanny Yokum had prided themselves in getting the walls of their cabin built by themselves, but they were very willing to have help to put on the roof. Both the Dents and the Kings brought lunch along and the men had finished the heavy lifting by dinner time. They all enjoyed a meal, some rest, and some good conversation. Other than for Karl and Keith it was the first time the others had been up to the hill where the Yokum cabin was located. They really had not appreciated the view of the valley to the northeast, toward Oak Creek, that the Yokums had at their place.

Oak Springs laid out before them, in the valley, and a couple of miles beyond that, if you stood in the right place, you could barely see the falls of Oak Creek on the east side of the mill. Yet, they had a small spring and several fair-sized plots of farm land on open spaces in the surrounding forest. It seemed to be the ideal location for a subsistence farm. Darrel and Fanny certainly hoped so, of course.

During the afternoon, everyone pitched in to help do what they could to mostly finish the roof and other small projects Darrell and Fanny were willing to accept help with. They were very proud folks, and both the Dents and the Kings had quickly perceived that the Yokums would only accept a limited amount of assistance. As they finished, Neva Dent invited the two families to the Dent farm for the Sunday meal and afternoon, which would be just 2 days before the 4th of July Celebration, in town. With little hesitation, they each decided that would be a good thing to do. They had actually had very little social time so far this spring and summer. The women decided what each would bring with them, and looked forward to getting together again, for a purely leisurely afternoon.

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It rained heavily at the King's farm

It was very rainy in the fields
It was very rainy in the fields | Source

The three neighbor families gathered at the Dent Farm

In the day in between, Karl, Keith and Kent, spend most of the day, installing the fencing around a portion of the orchard that they had gotten the materials for earlier. They paid special attention to any uneven spaces under the woven wire, and placed firm wooden stakes that they hoped would prevent the goats from getting out. They recognized that it would likely be less than perfect. It would be up to Kent to check regularly, as he would anyway, of any breaches in the fence created by especially clever goats.

The King family and the Yokum family enjoyed visiting at the Dent farm. It was much more "mature," of course. They already had a barn, a fully equipped house, and several outbuilding for the livestock. It was just interesting for them to enjoy the differences. Their children were able to play in the yard, and the adults enjoyed continued conversations from their earlier gathering. Meeting again, so soon, brought them all much closer together, they realized, after they had returned home. Before departing in the late afternoon, they vowed to continue to meet on a regular basis, to supplement the Fourth Sunday gatherings in town by getting together themselves in their own "neighborhood."

Late in the afternoon, as the families were preparing to leave for home, storm clouds had moved in from the west. But, the rain did not arrive until about midnight. When it started, however, there was considerable thunder and lightening, and rain, and rain, and more rain. It rained all day on Monday and into Monday evening. They feared that it would continue into Tuesday and spoil the 4th of July Centennial Celebration in Oak Springs. Waking up early on Tuesday morning, they found the storm had moved on, and the clouds were clearing, as well. Although it seemed like a lot of rain, it had apparently mostly soaked into the ground, as there was not serious runoff, from what the Kings could tell. In addition, Karl and Katherine were pleased to note that their house had not leaked during the heavy rain. It had been the first really serious challenge they had faced since completing the first half of their house.

Karl took a little time to examine how much and where the creek had risen with the additional rain. It had generally stayed in what banks there were, except down stream, between his fields, where he could walk across. There, he could tell it had spread out and had temporarily covered some of his cropland. However, by the time he got there, the water had already receded back into the creek banks. Karl was pleased with what he saw. However, he realized that with heavier rain, or more sustained rainfall, or with already saturated soil, some of his fields were likely to suffer from flash flooding. He reminded himself to take this information into account for future planning. Also, he would want to be sure to be careful to check after each rainfall until he had a good idea what the possible flooding might be.

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Note from the author

This is the fifteenth 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.

In this particular episode, we mention an actual school in Jefferson City, used here fictitiously. The high school was first built in about 1871. In February 1876 a total of thirteen pupils were enrolled. See the link below, for additional historical information. As an author much interested in local and family history, this kind of resource, readily available, is truly wonderful.

“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

      Yokum brothers were actually the first settlers around these parts... quite a story/legend goes with them... also, many descendants. Thanks for continuing support and encouragement! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have distant relatives named Yokum. I don't think I've seen that name anywhere else but here. Anyway, keep them coming. I continue to enjoy the story my friend.


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