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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 18, Kate visited her friend Charlotte; Keith left for Jefferson City

Updated on June 19, 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.

They rode in a buckboard

Man driving a buckboard
Man driving a buckboard | Source

Kate King got to visit a few days with her friend, Charlotte Crane, in the east valley

At the July Fourth Sunday gathering, Katherine spent some time with Grace Crane, mother of Kate's young friend, Charlotte, both 12-years-old. The two girls looked forward to being in class together in the fall. As far as they knew, they would be the only girls in the class. Previously, Charlotte's only classmates were William McDonald, who lived down the road from the Cranes, and Vic Campbell, in town, son of Ralph and Sally Campbell. The Cranes also had a younger daughter, 9-year-old Cora. As the two mothers talked, they decided it would be a good experience for all three girls for Kate to go visit the Crane family for three days and nights.

Once they had decided, they told the girls, who were already playing together, out in the park. The girls were very excited to do this. When the day came, the Cranes had invited the whole King family to accompany Kate and stay for dinner, before returning home. It was the first chance the whole King family had to journey into the east valley since their arrival in the spring. 5-year-old Karla enjoyed following the older girls around, as Charlotte gave the others a tour of her room and the nearby farm yard, before and after dinner. She was deemed by her mother, of course, to be too young yet, to stay when Kate did. Keith and Kent followed the men around the farm homestead outdoors, while the women spent their time in the house talking.

Thomas Crane was especially anxious to show Karl his well. Thomas had one of the first independently dug wells in the valley, providing their water supply. Their farm did not include a river or creek, so the well was essential. Karl was very interested in learning more about the well. Before they left, Thomas had agreed to come visit Karl's farm to see if a well might be feasible there, as well. Thomas had supervised the digging of several wells in the valley, since they arrived, a few years earlier. After talking with the mothers, Thomas offered to return Kate home on the agreed morning. They would bring his buckboard, with the some of his tools, to consider a well on the King farm.

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Thomas found the spot to dig the well

Man using a diving rod
Man using a diving rod | Source

Kate and Charlotte did what farm girls do

Charlotte's mother, Grace, made sure that the girls had plenty of play time. But this was not to interfere with Charlotte and Cora each doing their regular chores. It was interesting for Kate to see the chores that these girls did where there were no brothers. Charlotte was responsible for feeding the chickens and the pigs. Cora now did the gathering of eggs, and helped feed the chickens. Both girls helped their mother weed the garden and pick the crop that was currently maturing. They also assisted Charlotte preserving the fruits and vegetables. While Kate was there, they were canning cherries into cherry sauce. They did 24 quarts, over the three days.

Grace was careful to keep Cora occupied some of the time so that Charlotte and Kate had girl time to spend together, in private. Grace recognized very well how important that was for all of them. Once, when Charlotte and Kate were deep in talks about their futures, Charlotte said to Kate: "You know, I am going to marry William McDonald, and we will live on their farm over there, across that field." Kate, of course, responded, "Well, in that case, I will marry Vic Campbell. His grandpa is the President of the Bank, so that should work out just fine." They giggled, and said they would keep it as their secret, but they each were very serious.

Kate hated to leave when it was time for her to get in the buckboard and go home. But, she was also anxious to get back to her family and tell her mother about all the things she got to do during her visit with the Crane family. Mr. Crane was very nice, and talked to her some on their way to the King farm. But, he also left some quite times, when she could enjoy the scenery along the way, and reflect on her visit.

At the farm, after Karl told him about moving the pigs to the other side of the barn, and a few other adjustments he had in mind, Thomas Crane 'did his thing" including use of a Y-shaped instrument he called a "divining rod" and pointed to the spot where he recommended the well be dug, This spot was near the southwest corner of house, not far from (what was now) the back door.

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They used the mules on the wagon

Mule in harness
Mule in harness | Source

Keith King prepared for his journey to Jefferson City to live with his Aunt's family

Keith was scheduled to leave Oak Springs on the final stage coach of the week prior to Fourth Sunday on the 27th of August. All the normal work of the farm had to continue as the preparations for his departure moved ahead. Keith had been reading books and working on math exercises as his Aunt Ann had recommended. He felt he was ready for that challenge. The challenge of going to live with another family, whom he had not yet met, was another thing altogether.

Two days before Keith's scheduled departure, Molly, the Morgan horse mare Karl wanted to breed this summer "came into her time." Therefore, in the midst of all else going on, Karl rode Dolly into town, leading Molly. He would leave Molly with Levi Weston to be bred by his designated Morgan stallion. She would stay there about a week or so. While he was there, he talked to Levi about the carriage he was building for Karl and his family. Levi suggested it would probably be done about the time that Molly was ready to return home. Therefore, Karl decided he would just ride Dolly back in, take off the saddle, and hitch both horses to the carriage to take it home. Levi said that would be a great approach. Levi offered to send someone out to the King farm to let them know when to come pick up the carriage.

Keith got ready and left on schedule. For this trip, as well as taking the family to Fourth Sunday, they used the mules, Cuffy and Max, on the wagon. There were a few tears shed as Keith got on the stage and left town. There were also strong feelings of pride in both Karl and Katherine as their oldest son set out on the adventure that would be the rest of his life. The two trips to town were a little lonesome, with just Kate, Kent and Karla riding along with Karl and Katherine. However, it only took a few days to fall into the new routines, especially with school attendance of their own facing Kate and Kent.

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1938 image of Paternal Grandfather - "the well man"

Last photo taken of grandfather
Last photo taken of grandfather | Source

Note from the author

This is the eighteenth episode of this short story series set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga 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 episode, we include a story about water wells on the farms. The author's paternal grandfather was known far and wide as "the well man" - he seemed to know where to dig for water in the area around his farm, in west-central Iowa, in the very early twentieth century. The author was always fascinated by the stories about "the well man" in his youth. The grandfather had died three months after the author was born.

“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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