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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 22, Harvest continued in the Oak Springs area in 1876

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.

They prepared to pick the apples directly from the trees

Apples on the tree ready to be picked
Apples on the tree ready to be picked | Source

Karl King invited the Dent family and the Yokum family to come pick some apples from the orchard

{Karl and Katherine (Pa and Ma) King were 36 in 1876, newly arrived earlier in the year in the Oak Creek valley of the southern Missouri Ozarks. Son, Keith, 14, was off to the high school in Jefferson City with his Aunt Ann and her family. Kate is 12 and Kent is 10, attended the subscription school in Oak Springs. Karla, 5, is at home on the farm, just west of Oak Springs, with her Ma and Pa.}

Karl King and his 10-year-old son, Kent, had worked off and on all year on properly cultivating the extensive orchard that had been planted by the Hamby family before the war; it had then been abandoned for many years. The father and son had pruned and trimmed, they had selected volunteer trees to keep and those to abandon. They had brought in two goats, staked them out with chains, in various parts of the orchard to help clean out underbrush and keep the grass and weeds under control. They had pruned lower branches so the goats would not be able to reach the fruit.

Their work had been well rewarded. They had many, many apples that now needed picked. They had worked two weekends, when Kent was not in school, to harvest some of their favorites for their family to have. But, there were many more available. Their neighbor, Thurkill Dent, further up the road, to the west, had mentioned they had picked the "wild apples" from the abandoned orchard in the prior falls that they had lived there when they walked or rode by regularly. Karl had invited the Dent family to come over, now, and pick what they wanted and could use. He had also invited Darrell Yokum and his family, from on the hillside to the south, who were new residents this year, to pick some as well. Karl was confident there were plenty of apples for all three families, and there would be some left over to sell in town.

All three families gathered on a Sunday morning that fall to pick apples and enjoy another social day together. They had done it before, earlier in the year, and really had a good time. The Yokum children, Junior and Missy, were the same ages as Kent and Karla King. Donald Dent, was a 7-year-old. right in between. Rachel Dent was 3 and young Peter was still less than a year old. With the six adults, it made quite a party, whether working or playing, or just enjoying time with neighbors. Darrell had brought a mule with a pack saddle so it could help carry back a few sacks of apples. They didn't have any fruit trees yet on their hillside property, but he had chosen a place where some trees would grow in the future. He appreciated the generosity of the King family. They had been working together on projects all year long. The Dents likewise brought their wagon for this Sunday gathering. They lived just down the road, whereas the Yokums walked the half-mile or so down the hillside and across the creek to get to the King homestead, as they had done many times in recent months. Each family brought contributions to the mid-day meal fixings, that would be shared by all. The weather held, and it was a pleasant day for them all.

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They could see the oak, pine and hickory trees ahead

Oak trees in the meadow
Oak trees in the meadow | Source

Karl King explored the land to the west of his current farm

During the afternoon, after the families had done all their apple picking and enjoyed a good meal together, it was social time. The children were playing, the women watching the young ones and talking about household challenges. The men were talking about the fall crops and the prospects for the future. They had each helped each other, from time to time, during the year when there were needs for more hands than existed in each family. The harvest was about two-thirds in, and there would be more helping opportunities, so there were really no secrets among the three men about their farms. As they talked, Karl decided to mention to both Thurkill and Darrell that he was beginning to think about purchasing the unoccupied piece of ground directly to the west of his current farm. It would be the land diagonal to the southwest, across the creek, from the Dent place.

As they talked, he invited the other two men to go walk that land, to get their impressions. Karl had determined from their conversations that neither of his neighbors had interests in this land. So, he decided it was a good chance to get some outside thoughts to confirm his own, or bring up issues he may not have thought of. Besides, they liked to walk their land and they liked to talk about the land. They let the ladies know their plans, and headed west, across the creek, to do their exploring. The creek entered the King place near the northwest corner, and ran diagonally, approximately, through the northern half of the property. Therefore, Karl had farmland he was cultivating on the west side of the creek that they walked through to get to the unoccupied land.

The southwest corner of the square piece of land they were looking at was probably at about the same altitude, on the same ridge, as the Yokum place, south of the Kings. It sloped toward the creek, to the northeast, wooded over perhaps the southwest third of the property. The rest, toward and above the creek, Karl felt, could all be developed as farm land and/or pasture land. They looked at the soil, the rocks, the vegetation and overgrowth as they walked, to help determine the mix of usable topsoil, trees and rocks that would need to be removed, and where the slope of the ridge, mostly rocky, really ended and where farming land began. Karl was also interested in having access to that corner of forest land, that already adjoined his, both for personal family use and as possible trees to sell to the lumber mill.

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With the leaves gone, the hickory branches looked very bare

Branches of the hickory trees in the fall
Branches of the hickory trees in the fall | Source

Karl learned more about the property to the west

As they walked and talked, Karl became more positive about the land. He could see, even from a distance, that the forested area consisted of a mix of pine, oak and hickory which was common across the valley. Each of the trees had uses for the farmers. The one surprise they found was a small rivulet running down the hillside to the creek. It was not large, but appeared to be spring fed from up on the ridge. Karl had learned this was not unusual, around the valley, but had not expected to find one here. It meant that livestock could more easily be grazed her, if he so chose.

Suddenly, Karl realized he was thinking as if he had already made a decision. Perhaps he had, he said to himself. Karl knew that between his small inheritance and their own savings, they could afford to buy the place on reasonable terms. The questions really were, is this the right time, and what other commitments needed to be made, in order to make this a successful investment. As they returned to the house, he thanked Thurkill and Darrell for their help in examining the property. They also began to talk about a continued role of the two of them in helping with the labor Karl would require to make a go of this added land. They each talked about their personal goals a bit. Neither of them wanted to expand beyond making their current holdings work well for their families. They also said, however, that each realized that having the opportunity to earn a little extra, or share in some crops, would be beneficial to each of their families. An informal working partnership was reached, assuming Karl would be able to actually purchase the land.

After talking it through with Katherine, in a few days, Karl visited with Gideon at the Land Office. He learned that the piece of land of his interest had never been owned as residential property but had been picked up from the government by a Land Trust, after the war, controlled by Jake Patton, Gideon Inman and Victor Campbell, at very low rates. The intent of the Land Trust was to have some control over the future use of the land. Hugh Truesdale had taken the place of Jake Patton as Trustee, on his passing, of course. Gideon said that Karl was exactly the kind of person to whom they wanted to sell the land. He noted that they expected it to be purchased with the Hamby place, on the east (that would be Karl) or by the owner of the land to the north (west of the Dent place). The Land Office currently owned that piece of land, that faced on the Patton Road going out toward the Big Spring and Lake on the ridge over on the county line. Working with the Trust and the Bank, Karl King owned the land by the end of the year.

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Note from the author

This is the twenty-second episode of this short story series, and the first of what is now Volume Two. 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.

The first 20 episodes of this series have now been compiled into an eBook, titled:

"The Kings of Oak Springs: The Arrival Months in 1876 Vol 1." See the link, below, to get yours.

“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 image
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      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, for stopping by to read it. Most gratifying. You help keep me "keeping on." ;-)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Another great episode. Thanks for sharing.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for the visit. The adventures continue. ;-)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      A wonderful adventure indeed. Enjoyed this.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I appreciate your thoughts. ...adventure... something different... wonderful moment. This writer loves hearing those words. Have a great day, my friend, in Croatia! ;-)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A great experience it must have been indeed. I like the adventure and to be part of something different is a wonderful moment.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Bill. Have a great one! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've been trying all day to get to this and I finally made it. I'm just about to call it quits for the weekend, and this is the perfect hub to wrap it all up with. Have a great weekend, Bill.