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The Kings of Oak Springs | Episode 42 | Kent King on Farm and in School

Updated on August 3, 2015

Kent had to be out early to break the ice

Barn in the early winter morning light...
Barn in the early winter morning light... | Source

Kent King had responsibilities on the farm

Fifteen-year-old Kent King was a sophomore at Oak Springs High School in January of 1882 but also had early morning responsibilities on the farm before he could go into town to attend school. It had been an extremely cold overnight and Kent knew the animal’s water troughs would all be frozen over. It was his responsibility to be up before daylight to go out and break the ice and be sure there was sufficient water for the pigs, cattle, horses and mules. His father, Karl, would be out in the yard and barns, as well, but he would be looking after the other needs of the animals, including feeding them and getting clean bedding. Kent would help his father with the feeding, if there were time before he needed to get ready for the school coach to come to take Kent and his sisters to school.

Kent knew from the day before that the pig troughs would be the biggest challenge. He had an iron bar ready, as he had needed the previous day, to break the hardest chunks of ice. When they were sufficiently broken, he then needed to carry over two full buckets of fresh water. Although still iced over, the troughs in the barn were not as much of a challenge. The cattle, horses and mules still had some water, but he added what he needed to what was there. With the watering done, Kent helped his father finish up the feeding before they went back to the house to clean up for breakfast.

Katherine had breakfast on the table waiting for them. Today it was flapjacks, eggs and bacon with maple syrup. This was Kent’s favorite breakfast, so he was off to a good start for the day, even with the early start, which he was, by now, totally used to. He was determined to follow his father as a successful farmer, so he knew there were things that had to be done when they needed done, no matter what else was going on. The family all knew the routine, so each of the young folks were ready to hop on when the school coach arrived, on time, in spite of the intense cold of the day. Junior and Missy Yokum had come down the hill from their house to board the coach, as well, as they continued to do every year. With the new bridge over the creek, after picking up the Dent’s, the coach went on west along its pickup route.

They rode the school coach to school

The road on a wintry morn...
The road on a wintry morn... | Source

Off to school

Classmates Kent and Junior always sat beside each other on the school coach. Similarly, across the road, they picked up Rachel Dent, who sat beside classmates Karla and Missy. Senior Kate was busy thinking about Vic and other of her future thoughts and plans, not really interested in talking to anyone on the way to school. She just wanted to get there. Kent and Junior chatted about their morning chores and what the day ahead likely held for them. Rachel, Karla and Missy were still exchanging ideas about the gifts they had gotten for Christmas a couple of weeks earlier, as ten-year-olds were prone to do.

Each morning as the High School students gathered, they met with their classmates and their sponsoring teacher: Seniors, Chambers; Juniors, Ring; Sophomores, Gilmore; and, Freshmen, Fields. Mr. Andrew Gilmore was well liked by his seven sophomore students. They were the largest of the four high school classes in the 1881-82 school year. In addition to Kent and Junior they included three more male students: David Wingfield, Jimmie Truesdale, and Carl Die. There were just two female students in the class: Rachel Stark and Janice Carver. In contrast, the junior class only had four students, three females and only one male: Clarence Gower, along with Stefanie Street, Carol Cunningham, and Martha Bishop. Carol, Martha, and Janice were from the west valley as were Kent and Junior, so they knew them best from riding in the school coach together. To date, there were no closer relationships developed, that anyone talked about, anyway. The five freshmen were split two guys: Alfred Garrett and Reuben Starr, along with three young ladies: Cora Crane, Amenah Williams, and Lillie Rhodes. Everyone knew that four of the five seniors were already paired, for quite a few years, actually. William McDonald and Charlotte Crane as well as Vic Campbell and Kate King were tight as couples and as a foursome. John Carver was the fifth, and he liked it that way. He worked hard to outshine his ‘more famous’ classmates in academics, and they feared that he just might do it. The five were fiercely competitive, and had been since eighth grade, when he joined them.

Kent and Junior expected to be farmers, so they were good students, but not overly ambitious at schoolwork. They each expected to find a wife, and have children, but that was still in their distant future, if you listened in on their conversations. Only time would tell if their female friends, and fellow students, felt the same way about them.

Along the way to school

They traveled the rural school route...
They traveled the rural school route... | Source

Karla, Rachel and Missy were in the 5th grade this year

Karla King, Rachel Dent and Missy Yokum were three of the four girls in the 5th grade, along with Hannah Mason. Silas Gower and Stephen Rhodes were the boys in the 5th grade. From time to time, others would be in their classes, as families moved in and out of town, but these were the permanent residents, that they got to know, as the years went by.

This group had Miss Nellie Truesdale as their teacher from the day they started with her teaching all eight grades. Now, Miss Truesdale just had the 4th, 5th and 6th grade. They each got more time with her now, than they had earlier. They liked that. At least the girls did. They didn’t spend much time talking to the boys.

Note from the author

This is the forty-second episode of this short story series, and the second of what will be Volume Three. The stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. This Episode is set in January of the calendar year 1882. The Series OSx, “Life in Oak Springs and more” fills in the gap of time between Episodes 40 and 41 in this series. These episodes move the story forward for the entire "Saga" series.

The earlier episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into two eBooks, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs,” Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (20 episodes each). 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.”

Video Book Trailer

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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 20 months ago from Central Florida

      If only today's classes could be so small, the students would receive individual attention from the teacher.

      Children learned responsibility at such a young age back then. Getting up before the crack of dawn to complete chores before going to school and having breakfast together as a family. When did times change?

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Sorry I'm so late, Bill. I'm having trouble keeping up on my reading and commenting. As a former teacher, I can only dream of the old days when classes were small and students received valuable one-on-one instruction....the good old days in many ways.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 20 months ago from Hollister, MO

      It seems to me, Sha, that the changes are constant, is so many different little ways. Perhaps adaptability is our greatest asset. I think I benefited from small class size, but, I also missed out on some things.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 20 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Still amazed, Bill, at how you keep up, at all! Thanks for the visit and comment! ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

      Life and survival was a lot more physically demanding back then.

      Always interesting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 20 months ago from The Caribbean

      Can relate to the early morning farm chores before school and the comraderie between students traveling and studying together. Feel like I know the group.

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 20 months ago from Hollister, MO

      For sure, Larry. It is really hard for us now to really appreciate the physical demands they had, even in these later years (1880s). Appreciate the reminder!! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile image
      Author

      William Leverne Smith 20 months ago from Hollister, MO

      That is wonderful to hear, Dora. You make me so happy to have written this one... ;-)

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