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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 20, Karl was shocked by the news he read in the Oak Springs Enterprise

Updated on December 23, 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.

The Oak Springs Enterprise was a one-page broadside newspaper

A typical nineteenth century one-page broadside
A typical nineteenth century one-page broadside | Source

Karl now had a new daily routine that included the Post Office and newspaper on Wednesday

Driving the children to school each day in his carriage, and wanting to quickly receive any letters from Jefferson City, caused Karl King to adopt a quite different daily routine. The daily plan was to have the children at the school house before 8:15 each day, well in advance of the 8:30 starting bell. Junior Yokum walked down the hill to the King farm early each morning. He, Karl and the King children got into the carriage, went by the Dent farm to pick up Donald, and headed straight for the school house. After dropping the children off at the school, Karl then went directly to the General Merchandise Store where the Post Office was located, to see if any mail had come in since his last visit. Normally he then went straight home.

On Wednesdays, the Oak Springs Enterprise was published and available at the Post Office. It was a one page broadside crammed with local, as well as highlights of state and national news. Jerry Potts was the Editor and Publisher, ably assisted by Alex McDonald, as reporter and assistant everything else. On Wednesday, September 20, Karl was shocked to pick up a copy of the paper and read that David Baldridge had been found dead at his mill, apparently of a self-inflicted wound on Monday. Karl had gotten to know David well from his many trips to the mill to pick up lumber and grain for the livestock. David Baldridge had been only 51 years old, appeared to be in health, and was a key member of the community in many ways.

David was an original settler of the valley, arriving with his parents, who had each died in 1862, as an 8-year-old child along with this older sister, Sarah, 11 years old at the time. Sarah, now married to Harry McDonald, was now the sole survivor of that pioneer family. The news story reported that Harry and Sarah had continued to live in Jefferson City, since to late war began, with their two younger daughters. Their oldest daughter, Caroline, lived in Oak Springs with her husband, Lewis Truesdale. Their middle son, Alex, David's nephew, had written the story in the Enterprise. The story also mentioned that Harry and Sarah's two other middle boys had been lost in the late war. Thomas had died as a Union soldier at Shiloh. His younger brother, Patrick, had joined the rebel army and never heard from again.

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Darrell waited out the war deep in the forest

Deep in an old forest
Deep in an old forest | Source

Karl received more reactions to the lead story in the newspaper

Everyone Karl talked with was speaking of David Baldridge's death in one way or another it seemed. Usually Karl didn't stay around long after checking the mail, especially when he had gotten any like today. Other people had lingered, today, as well. There was a line to pick up mail, so people were talking there. Russell Nixon, from north of town, was chatting about David being a bachelor. He had lived with Liam Olson since they were among the first to return from the war to rebuild the mill, and Liam helped him by setting up his blacksmith shop out there at the mill. Russell's neighbor, J.P. Polk, mentioned that David Baldridge was now on the Bank Board. He asked what affect, if any, that would have in the community? Old Ace Donagan, the owner of the Tavern, said he had heard that the "self-inflicted" wound was actually a case where he had slit his own throat with a butcher knife. No one could confirm that, and most wanted to move on to other topics.

Most conversation was about the effect on the remaining family. Would Sarah consider moving back, or would this make her want to stay away more? How would her children take the news of their uncle's unexpected demise? Who would look after the Mill, and all that land out there, and all those cattle they had? Before long, the talking got so repetitive that Karl left, taking a couple of extra copies of the paper with him for the Dent and Yokum families. He wanted to assure they would not be caught unawares when they next came into town. He decided to take a copy out to the Yokum place, before he even went home.

Karl gave Darrell a copy of the paper, and let him read the lead story before he said anything else. After he had read, a minute, Darrell cocked his head strangely, then read on. When he finally looked up at Karl, he said, "I'm so sorry to hear about David, of course. So sad, and tragic; so young. But, something else caught my eye. It says here a nephew of his was "Patrick McDonald" who "joined the rebels and was never heard from again." He continued, "I'm pretty sure I knew him!" Karl was quite surprised, and asked, "How did you know him?"

Darrell explained that early in the war, he was drafted into the rebel army along with his brother. In an early action, further south, and some miles to the west, but still here in Missouri, Darrell said he was badly wounded and his brother was killed. Darrell said he was taken in my some folks deep in the woods near where the fighting occurred, after the combatants had cleared the area, leaving him for dead. It was a long recovery for him, and he simply never emerged from those woods until the war was over. In the same conflict, one of his fellow rebels was Patrick McDonald. He added that he couldn't be sure, but he was fairly certain Patrick had been killed, about the same time and place as his brother. He had no way of knowing, of course, but he was confident it was the same person.

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The Cemetery was on a green knoll in the east valley

A green hillock like where the cemetery existed
A green hillock like where the cemetery existed | Source

Fourth Sunday on September 25th was a somber occasion including an unexpected funeral memorial

Normally the September Fourth Sunday would have been poorly attended with most of the farmers staying home to work on their harvest if the weather held. This year, however, with the word out that there would be a memorial service for David Baldridge it seemed that every able-bodied person in the valley attended the service. Harry and Sarah had taken a special coach to Oak Springs to be part of the arrangements for her brother, David, and attend the memorial service. Their youngest daughters did not make the trip.

Gideon Inman led the memorial service and said all the right words. He began his remarks in the appropriately serious tones, of course. Near the end of his remarks, however, he stressed that the family wished the rest of the day to be one of celebration for the life of David. David had always enjoyed the Fourth Sunday tradition, they had told him, especially since he did not have a family of his own. It was announced that David had been buried in a private ceremony in the McDonald/Oak Creek Township Cemetery in the eastern valley.

A conspicuous absence from the memorial service, for anyone noticing, was David's close friend, and housemate, Liam Olson. Some said they understood he was terribly grieve-stricken by the loss, of course, and was at his parent's home to grieve in private. His family asked that no one attempt to approach him.

The King family attended the service to pay their respects. They also stayed for the community meal, but left an hour or so later.

End of Volume One - See you next season… to be continued… after a bit of a hiatus.

Note from the author

This is the twentieth episode of this short story series, and the last of what is now Volume One. The stories are 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.

Update: The first 20 episodes of this series have been compiled into an eBook, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs: The Arrival Months in 1876 Vol 1" - Watch for it at your favorite eBook retailer. It is available now 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.”

The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of stories

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you! ;-)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      All summed up so interestingly and with such great talent.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, MsDora. I enjoyed reading your profile, by the way!! ;-)

      More stories are coming, shortly. Also see the Weston Wagons West series... Episode 20 of the Levi Weston series, will publish on Monday. I'm using these stories to tell of the people and town of Oak Springs from different perspectives. Fun. I love living in this little world I have created! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Dr. Bill, imagine entering Oaks Springs, to be greeted with the news of David Baldridge's death. During your hiatus, I may have time to learn about some other residents and what they're doing. Thanks for sharing your story-telling talent.


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