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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 24, Late fall 1876 activities on the King farm and across the valley

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 built a dirt road to the farm

Dirt road on the hillside
Dirt road on the hillside | Source

Karl and Darrell created a usable road from the Yokum place to the King fields

With harvest winding down in the fall of 1876, Karl King began to think and seriously plan the work that could yet be done in preparation for the spring 1877 planting season. The purchase of the additional land to the west side of the creek was nearly completed so Karl moved ahead with the assumption that this land would be available in spring. With this in mind, one of the first activities was to complete a task Darrell Yokum and Karl had discussed for some time. They really needed a road from the Yokum place down to the King farm capable of carrying a wagon pulled by two horses. It didn't need to be too finished, but it needed to be usable with out danger to the surrounding land or the horses, vehicles and people.

A number of scrub trees needed to be moved, then a number of rocks needed to be pried loose and moved. The road consisted of a couple of simple switchbacks to be most useful but, overall, the challenge was not insurmountable. They used periods of rain and clear weather to do the work. Kent and Junior were able to provide some assistance to their fathers from time to time. While Karl had the drag out to "smooth out" their road a little, he also did some work on the favored "fording" spot on the creek just to the south of their farm buildings. At this wide spot in the creek, by building up and maintaining a smooth gravel base, fording the stream became quite easy. In the spring, heavy rains would damage it regularly, but having a good base to start made "repairs" that much easier.

With the road from the Yokum place workable, Darrell could bring his team and his plow in the wagon to do plowing on the King farm land per their work agreement. This was very encouraging to Karl. By having Darrell plow the existing fields, Karl could concentrate his efforts on breaking the virgin soil of the new land he had purchased. This, of course, was after he did the work he could to mark off and clear the fields he wanted to do up first, in the spring. Thurkill Dent had come over and helped with clearing the land marked for plowing, as well. He also brought over three goats, while they were working elsewhere, nearby, who chewed off many of the weeds grown up to save having to scythe them or attempt to plow them under. This actually worked better than either of them had expected. And, it kept the goats well fed.

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

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They preserved produce for the winter months

Pumpkins were among the produce they gathered
Pumpkins were among the produce they gathered | Source

Household work and chores continued on, week after week

Katherine (Ma), Kate and Karla had worked all fall at continuing to lay up food from the garden and orchard for the winter and spring months until the next years crops were ready for consumption. They canned and made preserves. They extracted and dried seeds. They built addition shelving in both the house and the spring house for their produce. The increased amounts of eggs and milk each needed to be stored and the excess taken to town each week to sell. Selected amounts of other preserved goods were also taken to town to sell as well.

This work, of course, was in addition to the normal daily and weekly tasks that each was assigned to keep the family fed, the children in school, the farm chores performed, and all of the unexpected tasks that came up on a regular basis. Ma still was working at making their house a home. Now that she knew what she had to work with, there were both utilitarian and decorative touches to be added, to fit her tastes and her perceived needs for her family. The girls were always helpful, but Katherine wanted to do much of this work, herself, so that it was "done right." Karl and Kent also helped out where and when Katherine needed their assistance.

Katherine knew that Fourth Sunday in November would be a special occasion as it would be dedicated to celebrating the harvest for the year throughout the valley. Each of the women wanted to do something special to help celebrate the hard work all of the men did throughout the fall season. Perhaps it wasn't necessary, but it was something that gave each one an especially nice, large "pat on the back" for work well done, heading into the winter. In the Ozarks region, they never knew what winter would bring. It could be a mild winter, with only a few light snowfalls. It could be a hard winter, with a half dozen or more heavy snowfalls. It was usually something in between, but, no one, of course, would know, until it was over.

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Autumn trees surrounded the Community Building

Most of the leaves had turned in the park
Most of the leaves had turned in the park | Source

Harvest was celebrated on Fourth Sunday, the 26th day of November, 1876

Fourth Sunday this month was a reminder of what was ahead. It was cold and windy. Although it never did actually rain, the storm clouds overhead, all day, suggested that it might rain at any moment. No one would have been surprised to see a cold deluge arrive when it was least expected. Surely it was raining somewhere nearby, most people felt in their bones.

The community building was packed with people. No doubt some folks from the outlying areas had stayed home, but they were not missed. Those who were present, however, were in a festive mood. Musical instruments were pulled out early in one corner, and there was great merriment. The food was laid out on tables along each of the longer walls for maximum efficiency for the mid-day meal. The men who wanted to talk about their harvests and their plans for the following year tended to get together in the opposite corner from the music, so they at least had a chance to hear what they each had to say.

Gideon Inman again presided over the community announcement, which were brief. Among them was noted those who had volunteered to make up the Sunday School Steering Committee at the prior month's meeting. They would be gathering for a very brief meeting after the dinner was completed. Several persons made short speeches regarding the successful harvest season. Then, it was time to eat, and the designated persons got in line to start doing that.

It turned out the Sunday School Steering Committee, at that time, was made up of Ralph Campbell, Karl King, Samuel Street, Willis Garrett, Jasper Die and Russell Nixon. Each was there except Samuel Street, from the far east valley. Since it wasn't raining they stepped outside to talk, where they could hear a little better than over the din of the crowd. They each spent a few minutes sharing why they had volunteered and what their particular interests and backgrounds included that applied. Karl felt they were, indeed, a very pleasant group, with a good range of ages and experiences. They agreed to meet again at December Fourth Sunday, if they could, whether or not they had heard more from Silas Adams in the meantime.

Note from the author

This is the twenty-fourth episode of this short story series, and the fourth 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.”

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

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Very nice. Thank you! ;-)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. I'm enjoying these.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Much appreciated, vkwok. Thanks for continuing to read them! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, FlourishAnyway, some semblance is intentional. Laura's stories have always been an inspiration. Thank you for mentioning it.

      If only I could achieve that level of authenticity!! ;-)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for another great episode!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      This feels similar to Little House on the Prairie that I enjoyed so much growing up.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Please do, Audrey, nothing would please me more! Thanks for the visit! ;-)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      Oh my, I have to go back to episode #1!!

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for your visit, MsDora. It was a fine day. Now, back to work! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Enjoyed working with the men and their ladies on their different projects. And of course, the harvest gathering seemed to have good food and fellowship.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thanks for stopping by. Breaks are good. Best wishes as you move ahead with your project! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Bill, for the excuse to take a break from my carpentry project.


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