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The Kings of Oak Springs - Episode 56 - Early 1883 in the Oak Creek Valley

Updated on November 17, 2017
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

They marked his gravestone with a cross

Victor Campbell, Valley Pioneer, died of winter illness

Victor Campbell, the first local pioneer to settle in the west valley, passed away quietly at his home in Oak Springs following a brief illness. January seemed to have claimed another esteemed citizen of the community. Victor had been the picture of health, though he was in his 79th year, the oldest surviving member of the community. However, he had gotten a chill during the snowstorm the first week of January, and his health was said to have steadily gone downhill until his death on Wednesday, the 17th. The funeral was held on Sunday afternoon the 21st. Later that week, on Friday, the 26th, his wife, Camilla, they were the same age, died as well.

A large portion of the community attended the Sunday funeral. All of the immediate family was there, of course, except for grandson Vic Campbell, at school in St. Louis, though he had visited over the recent holiday season. Oldest son, Ralph, and his wife, Sally (Rhodes) Campbell, parents of Vic, were there of course. Also in attendance were second son, Delbert, and his wife, Delia (Rhodes) Campbell, who lived on the farm home Campbell place in the west valley (they had no children). The daughter, Lillian, with her husband, Theodosius Rhodes, was there with their extended family, including Lillie and Stephen, still at home. Vance Rhodes, and his wife, Alice, was there with the only great grandchild of the elder Campbell couple, young Charlotte Rhodes, not yet a year old. Earl Rhodes, and his wife, Naomi, also attended.

Mr. Campbell was mainly remembered in recent years for his role in maintaining and growing the bank assets during the late war as well as assistance in re-building Oak Springs, of course. In the early years of the community, he was remembered as a fine stockman, raising quality cattle and especially mules. Along with Jake Patton and Gideon Inman, he was also instrumental for the trust that retained local interest in the land of the township through and after the instability of wartime and the subsequent reconstruction period. The three Campbell children, in addition, continued as adults to lead exemplary lives and contribute to the community in many ways. Victor and Camilla would have said they were most proud of their children as their contribution to society.

The annual business banquet was held in January

Celebrate Oak Springs held on January 27th, 1883

For a third year, the Oak Springs Chamber of Commerce held their annual meeting, Celebrate Oak Springs, on the 4th Saturday of January the 27th. Simeon Bishop served as master of ceremonies for the event that recognized the accomplishments of businesses in the community during calendar year 1882 and looked forward to the year 1883. In his opening remarks, Simeon noted that it had not been an outstanding year, for most businesses in the community, but each were doing what they could to show progress in the coming year. A moment of silence recognized the memory of Victor Campbell, who had been an important figure in the lives of most of the persons affiliated with the Oak Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Karl and Katherine King enjoyed being invited to this event each year because Karl continued to serve on the Oak Springs Board of Education. As such, he had a number of direct relationships with many of the businesses in the community, in addition to his own farm activities. It was the one day of the year when, normally, each business in the community was represented by the owner or proprietor of each of the businesses in one place. It was noted that no new businesses had started up during the year, but none had closed, either, which they deemed as a positive.

Informal discussion at most of the banquet tables centered on concerns about the business climate in the coming months, and years. Already the national news was speaking of the “Panic of 1882” which was ‘certain’ to have a negative impact on business in the future. Would it actually have an effect in a remote community like Oak Springs? Was it already having an impact? What would the future really look like?

They had a nice cake at the wedding reception

William McDonald married Charlotte Crane on February 25th, 1883

They were married at the Methodist Church on Sunday afternoon with the Reverend Arthur Boyd officiating. Each was a very popular young person in the community and there was a large attendance for the ceremony. Everyone stayed at the church after the wedding to congratulate the young couple before they departed to spend their first night together in their refurbished farm home in the east valley. It was a very festive occasion.

Kate King attended the wedding of her classmates and good friends, but with a touch of loneliness because Vic Campbell was not able to be there to celebrate the occasion with her. She watched the event and activities closely, of course, hoping to have a wedding of her own the following year, perhaps. She and Vic had yet to set a specific date, but she was confident it would happen sometime in 1884. In the meantime, Kate was using each opportunity to prepare herself for that eventual day that is so important to each young woman.

Sitting at the wedding, Kate could only think about the ten more months ahead before Vic graduated from his bank administration program in St. Louis and would return to Oak Springs at the end of this current year. It seemed like forever. They continued to write letters, each week, and she would certainly have much to write about this week. Kate reminded, herself, however, how important it was not to put pressure on Vic as he worked through the most critical months of his study program. Their personal lives and the issues involved would be considered in due time. She would simply share with him this happy occasion for their classmates and good friends. That would be the thing to do.

Note from the author

This is the fifty-sixth episode of this short story series, and the sixteenth 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 early in the calendar year 1883. 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

Video Book Trailer


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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Sha. What a wonderful, insightful review!! It is especially meaningful to me during this year-end, holiday, period of self-reflection, that we all need. My best to you, and yours, during this time! ;-)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      So sad to hear about Vic and Camilla. I was so wrapped up in the growth of Oak Springs, that it never dawned on me that death would be a part of it. I strongly suspect Camilla willed herself to eternal sleep in order to join her beloved Vic.

      The McDonald wedding was timely. One marriage ended and another one begins. Hopefully, they'll live a long happy life together as did the Campbells.

      Kate reminding herself to be patient and not put pressure on her intended added a glimpse into her anticipation. Keeping herself in check in order for Vic to get through his finals - and deal with the death of his parents - is admirable, although I'm sure in light of recent events she'd rather get married as soon as possible. I can almost feel her angst.

      This was a wonderful chapter, Bill. Your time with your family seems to be spilling over into the angle you're taking with this saga.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      In the northern part of the USA, many elderly became ill and died in the heart of winter, from various causes. It still persists, in some quarters, where they are exposed to the weather excessively.... Thank you for your visit and comment, as always!! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      The phrase "winter illness" took me back also. I guess many diseases we now label specifically were generalized in those days. Anyway, on the heel of two funerals comes a wedding. Oak Springs is here to stay.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      The 'humming' comes a few years later, as I read my history. The mid-1880s were a retrenchment period... probably not too negative in the Ozarks rural areas, though. Have a few local newspapers to check out, from time to time, to pick up little details... ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A nice touch of historical accuracy...died of winter illness. Very authentic, Bill.

      I wonder if those living in 1883 had the feeling of tremendous growth and possibilities. I would think the country was humming, that people sensed great things about to happen....just wondering. Anyway, you know I love this historical fiction and you do it so well.


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