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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 16, Centennial 4th of July 1876 Celebration in Oak Springs

Updated on June 17, 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.

Centennial 4th of July Celebrations were everywhere

The Glorious Day We Celebrate
The Glorious Day We Celebrate | Source

The 4th of July Program featured local politicians to the surprise of no one

Jacobi Inman, Lewis Truesdale and Alex McDonald, as the planning committee, presented a fine patriotic program for those in attendance, which appeared to include nearly everyone in the valley. At the community building a simple stage had been constructed on the south side of the building that was decked out in red, white, and blue bunting and a number of American flags prominently displayed, appropriate to the occasion. Alex McDonald opened the program with a prayer for the country on this centennial day and introduced each speaker, including County Commissioner Gideon Inman. He began by noting that the committee was well aware that some in the community were still suffering from the national economic conditions now being called the Panic of 1873, but they didn't want to cut back too much on this celebration as this was a very important day in American history. Jacobi Inman led the singing of patriotic songs between speakers.

Lewis Truesdale, currently serving as State Representative to the Missouri Legislature, gave a short speech harking back to his patriotic feelings during the late war as a Cavalry leader. He then introduced the principal speaker of the day, Hugh Truesdale, currently serving the community as their State Senator. He was also the father of Lewis, Nellie, and Jane (Truesdale) McDonald, of course, as well as the last remaining adult of the original settlers in the community, now in his sixty-fourth year. As he spoke, he reminded everyone he had come into the valley in 1833 as a 21-year-old young man wanting to make his mark in the world as a farmer. That, he said, he had accomplished, and more, with the help and support of so many others in the valley. He made special note, of course, to his debt to his deceased father-in-law, Jake Patton, who had been so inspirational to so many in the valley over the years. He also called out the memory of Kate Patton, Henry and Laura McDonald, and Robert and Susannah Baldridge, the other adults among those first settlers arriving in 1833. In closing, he called on each person in the valley to do all they could, individually and collectively, in the spirit of this great country, on this very important day, to pledge themselves to the continued growth and prosperity of this very special valley.

Alex McDonald announced that following the community meal to follow the program, and a reasonable rest period, a Tug-of-War had been organized, for about 2 p.m. Ten young men from the Eastern Valley would be competing with ten young men from the Western Valley for a special Red, White and Blue commemorative ribbon that some of the women had created especially for the occasion. Each member of the winning team would receive a ribbon to take home with them. Owen Olson would serve as judge for the event, and Senator Truesdale would present the ribbons, on the stage, following the contest.

The first novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stories

They held a 4th of July Tug-of-War

Tug of War, 4th of July Celebration
Tug of War, 4th of July Celebration | Source

The Tug-of-War drew people together in some ways and tore them apart in others

The committee had chosen among the young men who had volunteered so that each team appeared to have an equal chance in the contest. The teams were announced at the end of the program, before the meal time began. So, everyone knew well in advance which team they would be rooting for, and, not surprisingly, more than a few "friendly" wagers were made by the time the competition got under way.

It soon became clear that the sides had been well-chosen, because neither side was able to gain a clear advantage. Before too long, however, the West team seemed to show more stamina and began to slowly gain an advantage. Even then, the flag at the center of the rope moved back and forth a number of times before the West team finally prevailed. The audience, men, women, and children, had cheered wildly throughout the match, but gave an even bigger roar when the winners were declared by Owen Olson.

Following the presentation of the ribbons on the stage, some people chose to leave and get on with their other business. Quite a good number, however, stayed around, chatted with friends, participated in a number of other activities available and generally continued in a festive holiday mood. Karl and Katherine King were part of the second group. Their children enjoyed every opportunity to meet with the others their own ages from across the valley. Karl and Katherine each took the opportunity to meet and talk with a number of others, as well, including other members of their respective book clubs.

The novella in "The Homeplace Saga" stories

They added shrubs around the house

A broom shrub in flower
A broom shrub in flower | Source

Work on finishing the KIng house progressed as the summer set in for real

At the 4th of July celebration, Karl had conferred with both Archie Archer and Abner Wingfield concerning the timing of finished the exterior of their house as the stone fireplace work neared completion. On the agreed date, Thurkill Dent and Darrell Yokum joined the rest of the crew to raise the walls and roof of the rest of the house on the King farm. Despite the hard work in the hot sun, there was a great sense of relief and accomplishment felt by all involved when this part of the work was completed.

Much work remained, of course, and the weather continued hot and dry as the workers each went about their individual tasks over the coming days to seal and complete the exterior of the new home. Karl and Abner had decided to put a new "front door" in the long side of the house facing the road. Now, persons arriving and entering here would enter the "central room" with the fireplace. When the new portion was completely enclosed, doors on each side of the stairway to the loft were created to open the lower floor to flow throughout the house. Similarly, walls and doors were opened in the loft to create the parent's bedroom nearest the fireplace as well as providing access to the stairway from each of the rooms. With the new staircase in place, the original loft floor opening was filled in. A new wall was installed in this old loft to separate what were now to be the boy's bedroom and girl's bedroom.

Interior work on the house would continue. Karl, with the assistance from other family members, felt comfortable in doing the interior work. Each family member took a strong sense of pride in their new home, and their individual contributions. Overtime, Karl and Katherine worked together on making the front entrance to house more enticing and welcoming, adding scrubs, flower beds, a stone walk and a strong set of steps up into the house. Along with these improvements, they were also able to improve the rest of the "lawn" around the house.

The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" of historical fiction

Note from the author

This is the sixteenth 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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