The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 27 - A Heavy Snowfall Welcomed the Kings to the New Year of 1877
The first snow came on January 1
More than a foot of snow greeted the King family on January 1, 1877
"It had felt like snow for a week," Pa King mused to himself, " and now here it is," as he awoke at the crack of dawn of the new year and looked outside. It was actually picture perfect. No wind, just all white as far as the eye could see. Within minutes, everyone was up and dressed, as usual. Pa provided additional instructions and duties for everyone as they prepared to enter the winter wonderland to do the chores and be sure all the animals had access to the food and water they needed. Ma assured the fire had adequate logs, and that the pot of oatmeal was properly prepared for breakfast before she went outside to help, as well. Pa (Karl) was pleased that Keith was still home to both help with, and to experience, this first significant snow of the season. There had been flurries, off and on, during late November and early December, but this was the first real snowfall, and it was a good one.
Ma (Katherine), along with Kate and Karla, went first to the chicken house. They had gotten it all enclosed late in the fall, and this was the reason why. Although the chickens, of various sizes, were protected from the snow, the waterers were each frozen and needed to have the ice broken so the chickens could drink. They each had a stout stick with which to do the job. They then did their normal distribution of feed and gathered the eggs, as usual. Fortunately, today, it appeared to Katherine, that all the chickens had survived. She knew that would not always be the case.
Kent was directed to first look in on the horses, mules and cattle in the barn while Karl and Keith went to check on the pigs. Both the barn and the hog house had been built/enclosed during the fall as well, in anticipation of the cold weather and snow. Again, the ice on the surface needed to be broken up, but otherwise, for the time being, feeding and watering could be done in the normal manner. The bedding would need to be changed at some point, but that could be done later. Kent had found the same situation with the cattle, horses and mules. He had most of the initial work done when Pa and Keith joined him. Karl wanted to check on the pregnant mare, Molly, to be sure her bedding was adequate and that she was handling the stress well. She seemed to be. Because it was somewhat easier to do, in the barn, they went ahead and changed out the straw bedding that needed to be done, before they went in to breakfast. While Karl and Keith did that, Kent finished the milking.
The men had work to do in the barn
Keith had planned to leave on the stage for Jefferson City on January 3rd.
Keith and the family continued to work at getting Keith ready to go back to Jefferson City on schedule. They assumed that even if the stage ran late, it would most likely be running. Others were depending on it, as well. In the meantime, between the extra chores that needed to be done with the snowfall, each of the family members spent some extra time with Keith, to let him know how much they thought about him. And, they wanted him to know, that they enjoyed the short time he had been able to visit.
The stage was about two hours late on Wednesday, the 3rd, but it did arrive, and Keith went on it, when it departed. Since the wind had not blown the snow into drifts, even the foot or so of soft snow was not an impediment to the horses and carriage. The trip to town and back ended up being fairly routine, aside from the delay in his departure. They waited in the hotel lobby with others hoping to leave, as well. Everyone exchanged their individual snow related stories, so the time passed by quickly.
Back at the farm, the family members each had the feeling that they had somehow "shrunk" in size. They each noticed something missing as they went about their daily tasks, even though it was really no different than it had been all fall. They missed Keith, but, they did know it was very important that he get his education. No one mentioned that a high school might be started in Oak Springs in the future, or what a difference that might make for each of them, including possibly Keith. Those were thoughts for another day.
The guests admired the King stone fireplace
The Book Club met at the King's farmhouse on Saturday, January 6, 1877
Karl and Katherine King had invited the other members of their book club, Ralph and Sally Campbell and Jerry and Polly Potts, to meet at their farm house on Saturday afternoon. Young Vic Campbell was invited to come along and spend time with the King children as they had done earlier at the school house, in December. Jerry and Sally Potts did not have any children, of course. The King family each had assigned duties during the morning for final preparations for their visitors. The Potts couple was coming with the Campbell family in their carriage, so Karl was careful to have arrangements in the yard for parking the carriage and taking care of the horses. The recent snowfall provided some additional challenges. Karl hoped it would not snow more on Saturday.
After their dinner, the children were to busy themselves in the loft during the afternoon. They had done well at the school, during the earlier meeting, so Katherine expected them to get along well, again. She fixed a fresh pot of coffee and had prepared some of her special pastries for an afternoon snack. Kate showed Vic the way upstairs when the guests arrived, to where the children were playing and reading. This was the first visit by either couple to the farm house, so Karl and Katherine were each just a little nervous at having the company, but confident that they finally had a fine home.
Jerry Potts was the first one to comment on the fine stone fireplace. Polly concurred. She said she was very envious of the fine work. Turning to Jerry, she said: "Wouldn't a fine stone fireplace like this look great in our house?" Jerry just shook his head, smiled, and said, "We'll get one when we build our new home, but don't hold your breath." They all had a good chuckle at his intended humor.
Sally Campbell was drawn to the fine oak table and sideboard, showing obvious surprise at the fine pieces of furniture in the farm house. Katherine replied, "Levi Weston made the sideboard for us when we first moved in. We liked it so well, we asked him to do the table, as well. We just got it in time for Christmas." Ralph added, "I've seen some of his other work. This is some of his finest. You did well to have this made." Karl simply smiled, and said, "Thank you!" They gathered around the table, which sat six, and opened their discussion of the first half of Mark Twain's "The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrim's Progress." (See more details on the book in Episode 25.)
Direct link to next and prior episodes of this series of stories
- The Kings of Oak Springs | Episode 28 | The Kings learned the Adams family would become neighbors
In this episode we see the Kings at another Book Club meeting, this time at the Campbell house. Silas and Rhoda Adams visit, and the Kings realize they will be neighbors. Sunday School plans are made.
- The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 26, December Fourth Sunday 1876 fell on Christmas Eve
The Fourth Sunday social event was a long standing tradition in the Oak Creek valley, now Oak Creek Township, dating back to the first arrival of the founding families in 1833. Since the war, it seemed to have taken on renewed meaning for the...
The sun shone on the new fallen snow in the forest
Note from the author
This is the twenty-seventh episode of this short story series, and the seventh 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 Episode opens the calendar year 1877, following the time period (1833-1875) of the forthcoming “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” 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.”