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The Kings of Oak Springs - Episode 35 - A Mystery Package, a Death, and a Birthday

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.

The crate was the size of a trunk

A trunk
A trunk | Source

Karl picked up an unexpected “package” at the Freight Line office

On Thursday, May 3, Karl King drove Molly and Dolly north on Central Avenue with the carriage after dropping the children off at the school. He had received word that there was a package at the Weston-McDonald Freight Station with his name on it, sent from his brother in Jefferson City. Karl had no idea what might be in the package. As he went north past the Diamond Hotel, on his right, just north of Second Street, he noticed that there were still a lot of unoccupied town lots awaiting development. The next block on the right, was called the “Town Square,” but it was just grass, as well. The big stone bank was on the west side of the street across Central from the Town Square, and, the City Hall building was on the north side of Main Street, diagonal from the bank. They were the only two buildings to surround the square, so far. While a few new farmers had been coming into the valley this spring, there was no new current building going on, in town, as near as he could tell. The Freight office was another block north, just short of what was called Fifth Street; but, of course, there was no street, just a street sign.

Bernie Cox was the Station Manager. Karl knew he was a thirty-something bachelor, the oldest son of Joshua Cox, a member of the Town Council. He lived in the apartment in the back of the station, so that he would always be there when a freight wagon arrived in town. The freight line maintained a number of horses in the pasture and barn, behind the station, for use of changing horses on the wagons, as needed. They were Bernie’s responsibility, too, of course. Bernie greeted Karl on his arrival. Bernie was a genial person, and very professional in his approach. He needed to be able to serve anyone in the community that needed the services of the Weston-McDonald Freight Line. Finally, Karl was reminded, as he waited briefly in the Freight Station, Bernie was the local telegraph operator, as well. Whereas Oak Springs was not yet served by a railroad, it did still have a telegraph line, and the station contained the telegraph office.

Actually, the “package” for Karl was a fair-sized freight crate, about the size of a good-sized streamer trunk… nearly three foot square, and nearly five feet long. There was a letter with the shipping documents attached to the crate. Since the crate was his responsibility now, anyway, Karl decided to just load it on the carriage - it barely fit - and take it all home. He would read the letter, there.

Back at the farm, Karl first opened the letter to see what it said. It was very brief, written with no emotion whatsoever. It said the crate contained a saddle, saddlebags, and accessories that had belonged to Karl’s father and they had learned that it was supposed to have become Karl’s on the death of his father. There was no further explanation why it had taken “years” to come to this conclusion. Upon opening the crate, the contents were, indeed, as mentioned in the letter. It was still a good saddle, even though several years old. Karl did recognize it as one his father had owned. The saddle bags and accessories were mostly still usable. It was just such a strange group of materials to show up, with no warning. Karl and Katherine simply reminded each other that they had never learned to understand his brother. This just seemed to be another example. Karl needed to get back to his spring planting, and he did that.

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The owner of the tavern died

An old tavern in the winter
An old tavern in the winter | Source

Ace Donagan had died earlier in the week

On Wednesday, May 9th, while Karl was checking on the mail, he learned that Ace Donagan had died, at the age of 71. Karl knew that Donagan was treated as an early settler of Oak Springs. In the early 40s, he had opened his first Tavern, with rooms overhead, not long after the first Patton General Store had opened. The Donagan Tavern was an Oak Springs landmark. After the war, Ace had purchased the land he had previously leased from Jake Patton, and rebuilt the Tavern and rooms to rent, even a bit bigger, in the late 1860s. He had brought in R.R. and Matilda Farrell Callahan as the operating managers and her brother, J.R. Farrell as a general laborer. J.R. now served as Assistant Manager to R.R. Callahan. Matilda ran the kitchen and the housekeeping functions, as Karl understood the arrangement. Young Nancy Callahan was about a year older than Karla, likely about 7, Karl thought.

Folks were saying that Donagan had been ill for some time, and had actually arranged for R.R. Callahan to purchase the Tavern on some sort of contract. It was thought that Donavan did not have a family of his own, though there were those who were waiting to see if kin might show up, now, with his passing. With the current level of economic activity in Oak Springs, the Donagan Tavern appeared to continue to do a brisk business, in each phase of its activities.

Some had thought that will the Diamond Hotel coming to down, that the Tavern would lose business, but, it seemed they actually served different potential customers, and each had been able to adequately continue to serve their respective clienteles.

They worked in the orchard

An orchard in the spring
An orchard in the spring | Source

Karla celebrated her sixth birthday as others continued their work activities

Karla’s birthday actually fell on Friday, May 11th, so the family had her birthday cake and gave her her presents after supper Friday evening. On Saturday, Katherine had invited Mrs. Yokum and Missy to come down for the afternoon. Darrell and Junior then came down for supper, as well, when they finished their work for the day. Karla was very happy to get to play with Missy during the afternoon. The families had been so busy with spring activities there had not been a good chance for them to get together.

Karl and Kent had spent most of this day working in the orchard together. The good weather had allowed them to finish their planting late in the week. They were checking and making repairs in the fence that now totally enclosed the orchard. With that work done, they would now be able to let the young goats roam freely. All of the trees had been pruned so that the young goats could not reach any fruit-bearing limbs. The young goats would keep the entire area “mowed” of weeks over the summer, now, without needing be tied up. They had installed watering troughs that Kent could refill from the creek with relative ease.

Kate spent most of her productive day working in the garden and preparing seeds for planting later. Frost was still a potential issue, so certain seeds were not yet put in the garden. Kate was working hard at learning from her mother which seeds and plants needed to be prepared early, and which were to be planted when, for maximum benefit to the family, in the long run.

Note from the author

This is the thirty-fifth episode of this short story series, and the fifteenth 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 May 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

      This time, it is up already! Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by! ;-)

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 

      4 years ago from Hawaii

      I look forward to the next installments, Homeplace!

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What a wonderful thing to say, "grand old lady," - that certainly is the intent, to take you back to that time, and feel what it was like. Thank you, so much, for your visit, your comment, and your continued support! ;-)

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      I like the way life moves so slowly but with intent in your Homeplace Saga series. It makes me feel like I'm in another world where the pace runs in a way that it never will again. Well done.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      4 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, MsDora, for your encouragement, comment, and visit. I really "look forward" to your visits! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      "Why it had taken “years” to come to this conclusion." You do a good job of causing the reader to look forward to further events.


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