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The Kings of Oak Springs | Episode 54 | The Fall of 1882 went by quickly

Updated on October 29, 2015

Corn was among the crops they harvested

Corn in the field approaching harvest time
Corn in the field approaching harvest time

The fall harvest of 1882 was abundant across the valley

Karl King was pleased with his fall harvest even though it took longer than expected. Rain and temperatures had been optimal so crop yields were among the best since he had arrived in the Oak Creek Valley. The one damper on his enthusiasm was that he expected to sell a good deal of his excess crop and prices were very depressed, as his friend, banker Ralph Campbell had predicted they might be. The national recession of 1882, later dubbed the Panic of 1882, had arrived even in Oak Springs. Karl knew that he had still come out very well, but it didn’t actually feel as good as he had hoped it would.

Most of his neighbors planned to consume their crops, so prices on the open market didn’t affect them as much. Some that planned to feed their corn, for example, to their hogs, and make some extra money that way, now became concerned about the hog prices in the months ahead. Others, who just used their produce on the farm, made plans to store their ‘excess’ grain against ‘a rainy day’ in the future - which all farmers knew would come. Several new storage facilities, of varying sizes and configurations, had been noticed across the valley on several farms.

In the east valley, young William McDonald harvested his first crops, those that had been planted in the spring by the Gilbert Gower family. He and Charlotte enjoyed doing much of the harvesting themselves, but appreciated some assistance from two of his parent’s hired hands, Elwin Johnson and Julius Swenson, when they became available. All the grain storage buildings on the farm were full by the time they finished. As soon as the harvest was over, they got to work completing other tasks on the farm before the cold weather season set in. Old-timers were predicting an especially cold and snowy winter, following the recent more mild winters in the valley.

Frank James was put on trial

Historic Missouri photo of Frank James, about 1885
Historic Missouri photo of Frank James, about 1885

Statewide and national news appeared each week in the paper

Each Wednesday, the Oak Springs Enterprise published news from around the state and around the nation that became more and more interesting to Karl and Katherine King as the years went by, and both transportation and communications improved. For example, a state news item, from October 5, caught everyone’s eye. Frank James, the notorious outlaw brother of Jesse James, had surrendered himself to the governor of Missouri. He stood trial for robbery and murder. He was acquitted. Along with many others, Karl and Katherine were not sure how to feel about that outcome. However, they were happy to see that episode of Missouri history closed… at least, it seemed to be.

Over the weeks of the fall season, Russell Nixon reported three more births in the Enterprise for Katherine to add to her list. In August, Bryce and Cissy Taylor had a son. They named him Lucas, after Bryce’s father. He was their second child, joining sister Sallie, 2. In September, T.J. and Shirley Toll had their third child, a girl they named Lena. Happy grandparents, of course, were Ivan and Hazel Toll and Jourdan and Martha Sullivan. Lena joined older brother, Earl, 4, and sister, June, aged 2. Late in October, David Die was born to Junior and Emeline Die, becoming their third child, joining Billie Joe, 5, and Bobby Sue, 2. Grandparents Jasper and Leannah Die welcomed the new addition with open arms, of course.

Also occurring in October was the announcement, in the paper, that Grant Ward, 23-year-old son of Augustus and Clementine Ward, had married a girl named Lenore that he had known for many years in their prior hometown. It was a surprise to most folks in Oak Springs, but those closest to the Wards were heard to say the long distance romance had been going on for a number of years. Grant and Lenore had made their home at the Campbell Boarding House, where Lenore had secured a position as cook. Grant would continue to work his parent’s store.

Turkey's were available in 1882

A roasted turkey
A roasted turkey

November began the 1882 holiday season in Oak Springs

Powell Furniture had a low-key celebration of their Second Anniversary with a genuine ‘low-cost bargains’ sale. They recognized both that valley residents may not have as much ‘coin in their pockets’ this year and that they really needed to clear some inventory still on hand from their opening. They were rewarded with good traffic and happy customers. Their customers were also pleased that the Powell’s continued the long-standing practices of most stores in town of free drawings each hour during the day of the celebration for free prizes. Even a spoon or a strainer was a welcome prize in most homes around the valley.

Orchard’s Grocery heavily promoted the Thanksgiving holiday this year, which fell on November 30, the last day of the month. In addition to fresh turkey, they featured ham, goose and chicken along with a wide array of fresh vegetables and fruits. Many of the town folks appreciated the availability of this array of options. Some products only available on ice, in the store icebox, were also used to promote sale of iceboxes and ice delivery services for 1883. This promotion continued through the Christmas season. By the end of the year, subscriptions had reached the goal that Orchard and Williams had set for the promotion.

The Oak Springs Chamber of Commerce was especially active this year in encouraging each business in the community to participate in celebrating Christmas, as November became December. The Oak Springs Enterprise, which had been filled with advertisements prior to Thanksgiving was expanded even further for the extended Christmas season. Customers responded by making this the most successful Christmas season in memory for the businesses that were members of the Oak Springs Chamber of Commerce. Several merchants mentioned that they had directly benefited from the cooperative activities promoted by the chamber throughout the holiday season.

Note from the author

This is the fifty-fourth episode of this short story series, and the fourteenth 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 April of the calendar year 1882. The 20-Episode 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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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      We are going to a harvest festival tomorrow to support the community...not much different from life in 1882. The community came together for such activities....we need much more of it in this world today.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 18 months ago from Hollister, MO

      For sure, Bill. One more reason we enjoy living in a relatively small community, as well. Best wishes, enjoy the harvest festival!! ;-)

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting look into the importance of the harvest.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 17 months ago from Hollister, MO

      A challenge for farmers throughout history, I dare say... ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      Oak Springs is doing well despite the economic downturn. I'm sure it has everything to do with the community banding together to support each others' endeavors.

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 17 months ago from Hollister, MO

      This community was built on cooperative action, for sure, and continues to exist that way. Thank you for noticing, and commenting, Sha! ;-)

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