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The Kings of Oak Springs - Episode 34 - The Kings Received a Letter From Ann About Keith

Updated on November 25, 2017
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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.

Would Keith return to the farm for good?

Rural landscape
Rural landscape

One mid-April day letters were received from both Ann and Keith, on the same day

Karl and Katherine King were always happy to see one or more letters in the mail, on any day, from their son, Keith, away at high school in Jefferson City, or from Ann, Katherine's sister, with whom Keith was staying there. On this particular day in April, there was one of each. Karl took them home, unopened, and he and Katherine each read one of the letters, then exchanged them, each reading the other, before either said anything about the contents of either letter. Katherine read the letter from Ann first. Karl read the letter from Keith first. They looked at each other, expressionless, and exchanged letters. They each read the second letter intently.

Looking up at each other on finishing each letter, Karl said, "Well!" Katherine replied, "Well, indeed! What do you make of that?" Ann's letter related how she had met with Keith's teachers just before writing her letter. Ann was excited to share that Keith's teachers were very impressed with his progress, and encouraged her to pass on to his parents, Karl and Katherine, that they felt Keith had been demonstrating all of the capabilities and characteristics of students that they would normally recommend prepare for going on to college level studies. He was doing well in each of his courses, and even taking on limited special projects to keep him challenged.

In Keith's letter, all he talked about was getting back to the farm and helping out over the summer. He mentioned nothing at all about school work, special projects, or his work with Mr. Walters in his business, which he most often did. This time, he spoke only of finishing up the term and returning to the farm. Karl said, "Do we have a potential conflict going on here, or is the big difference in the two letters just coincident, that they were each thinking about totally different things when they wrote?" Katherine sighed, and added, "I think we need to be very careful about responding to the subject of either letter. Keith will be home in six weeks or so. We have time to talk it through, much like we did last spring in deciding to send him to Jefferson City in the first place. Give him time to think about everything, when he has had some time back on the farm. A college decision is still, really, a long way off. It is wonderful to hear that he is doing well in his studies. Let's be happy with that, and take it from there. What do you think?"

"I agree exactly," Karl replied. "I could not have said it better, myself. I'm very proud of what he has accomplished, but I do want to hear him talk about his experiences, before we make any decisions for the future. Thank Ann for her comments, but just begin to talk about summer, without any commitment either way, right?" "Yes, I will do that." Katherine smiled as she got out a piece of paper to write her reply to Ann.

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Beans would soon be planted in the spring

Beans sprouting in the field
Beans sprouting in the field | Source

Fourth Sunday fell on the 22nd in April in 1877

Sunday School went normally on April 22nd. Everyone looked forward to Fourth Sunday activities as others began to arrive for the noon-time meal at the close of Sunday School activities at the Community Building. Not surprisingly, Gideon started off the announcements with three new babies attending for the first time. Pearl Warden was introduced as the 4th child of Theodore and Ellen Warden. Malinda Johnson was introduced as the first child for Campbell and Lizzie King Johnson. Grandparents also in attendance were Lawrence and Lucinda Johnson along with George and Marcia King. George and Marcia King were also the grandparents of Bonnie King. Bonnie was also introduced as the first child of Rufus and Daisy Die King. Her other grandparents, Jasper and Leannah Die, in attendance, also became grandparents for the second time this spring. "Our community continues to grow!" Gideon exclaimed.

He went on to introduce three new families attending Fourth Sunday for the first time since moving into the valley from elsewhere. He first introduced Hiram and Milly Carver. Gideon took some pride in announcing that they had purchased both of the last two unoccupied pieces of land that had been settled before the war. There new farm was on the north side of the Houston Road, west of Center Creek, just to the west of Lawrence Johnson and the Peter Rileys, who were introduced last month. The Carvers had six children ranging in age from 6 to 20, he said, but only the two oldest boys were here. The others were in school in their prior location, and would join their family when their school term was out. The young men were introduced as Joseph Carver, 20, and Jacob Carver, 18.

Purchasing the two plots of land directly to the west of the Carvers were two young couples. "No children yet, they tell me," Gideon added. Henry and Isabella Medley purchased the land on the Houston Road, just west of the Carvers. Judah and Victoria Kendrick purchased the piece of land to the north of them. Gideon added that each of them would be building their home on the "half-mile road" going north to Jasper Die's place. He added that the Township Trustees would be working on improving that road, now that three families would be using it.

The pig litters each demanded attention

A piglet looking for the rest of his litter
A piglet looking for the rest of his litter | Source

Spring planting season continued in full swing, around the weather

With only one rainy spell of three or four day, Karl and his hired neighbors had made excellent progress on his fields, to date. With the generally good weather, the neighbors had been able to keep up with theirs, as well, which kept everyone happy. The arrangements with Darrell and Thurkill had gone unusually smoothly, so far, and Karl certainly hoped that it continued. He was taking a bit more risk with this aggressive move to more land than he usefully attempted, but it just felt right this year. Nearly all the corn was in, and the bean land was nearly ready to plant. He had two plots of oats this year. Karl was pleased with his plan to continue to work in ten acre plots, each separated by a "drive space." Eventually, he would want to use that ground for crops, perhaps, but for now. This way, it made getting in and out of each plot, and just keeping them straight, much easier to work with. They seemed to work well with Darrell and Thurkill, as well. Each knew which plots for which they were responsible for doing which activities.

Karl and Kent had also spent some time being sure everything in the orchard was done up as well as they could be for a fine crop of fruit again this year. They were both very proud of their work on the orchard. They had been able to made it look fine, as well as produce fine, they felt. Also, the garden area had been expanded at bit, and cleaned up around the edges, as well. Kent continued to assist his mother and his sisters, as he could, in the garden, along with his responsibilities with the increased number of farm animals they now maintained. Karl had completed the transaction with Levi Weston, so they now had a third mare full-rime. It turned out her name was Daisy, of all things. Dolly, Molly, and now Daisy. Very rhythmic names for their horses.

They were now nearing capacity in their hog pens, as well. So, as each new litter was born, getting them weaned and sorted into proper groupings was becoming critically important. Some they would keep, the rest they would sell at the sale barn, at regular intervals. Kent spent some of what little spare time that he found keeping track of the pigs and keeping them in the correct pens and fed properly. Fortunately, Karl reminded himself regularly, Kent really seemed to enjoying all the "chores" he was assigned. Katherine noticed that Kate was taking particular interest this year in how the garden was prepared, as well as the dates that were important and what was planted when. Those were important responsibilities for a young farm woman to know. Katherine was happy to share all she knew with Kate as they went through the spring plantings.

Note from the author

This is the thirty-fourth episode of this short story series, and the fourteenth 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 is in April of the calendar year 1877, following the time period (1833-1875) of the recently released “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. These episodes move the story forward for the entire "Saga" series.

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 imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you for your regular visits - 6 more to go in this present series! ;-)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      Another wonderful installment, Homeplace!

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, so much. The story of Keith going off to school is especially interesting, to me. What do you think he will do? I let my characters tell their own stories, so I am very interested to learn what comes next, as well! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      You made the receipt of the letters very interesting. Got me wondering about Keith. Of course new Sunday school and farm activities keep the excitement going.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Yes, it was an interesting time, for sure. Thanks for the visit and the comment! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Big changes spreading across the country like wildfire at this time in our history....the heyday of farms....the Industrial Revolution about to change life as we knew it....The U.S. about to become a world power...and normal families just trying to make a living. Thanks for the history lesson my friend.


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