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The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 9, May 28 Fourth Sunday focused on House Construction

Updated on June 16, 2014
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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.

Carpentry at work

Karl and Keith built the flooring for the house themselves.
Karl and Keith built the flooring for the house themselves. | Source

Karl and Keith King worked hard to get most of their crops in before May Fourth Sunday

Work on the farm was a continual balancing act for the King family during the month of May, 1876. It was critical to get the crop fields planted when weather permitted. Livestock required some attention every day, of course. The whole family sacrificed by not having a house built yet. How many fields of crops, and which crops, should be prepared and planted this first year, as the end of the planting season approached? The initial plots of corn, oats and beans that Karl felt were essential were in the ground. Two additional plots could be worked up and planted, but how was the time it would take be best utilized? What was the economic impact likely to be? These were all questions facing the farmer and his family.

When they were not in the fields, Karl and Keith had managed to fetch more wood and other materials from the mill and store in town. They had made the few repairs needed on the old foundation and had built the first half of the base flooring for the house on the foundation as they had planned. From discussions with Simeon Bishop at the Lumber Store, and supported by other discussions with people he met at the mill and the blacksmith shop, Karl had determined that spending some time with Abner Wingfield, from north of town, would be useful before he continued with the work on the house.

Abner seemed to have a fine reputation in the community as a carpenter and builder in addition to his farm work. He had helped several others with their reconstructed homes, it seemed, much as Owen Olson had helped out with machinery and equipment. Karl had learned that Abner would be at the May Fourth Sunday gathering on the 28th, and would be looking for Karl, in the afternoon. With that knowledge in hand, Karl and Keith put their efforts into planting one more patch of corn before Sunday.They accomplished that goal.

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The Kings enjoyed the Pot Luck Dinner

A typical pot luck dinner for a gathering
A typical pot luck dinner for a gathering | Source

May 28, the Fourth Sunday of May in 1876, arrived along with the first heat wave of the year

Friday and Saturday had been hot and windy, warmer each day, and with no clouds in the sky whatsoever, Sunday appeared to be ready to top the prior two days as the family finished their chores and prepared the wagon for the trip into Oak Spring pulled by Molly and Dolly. Each family member prepared for this month's gathering with a little more anticipation as they recalled their enjoyment of the gathering the month prior and the people they had met. What new experiences would be awaiting each of them this month?

This month, upon arrival, each member of the family knew their role. Karl and Keith unhitched the team south of the community building and took the horses, to be tethered there, over near Patton Run, to the west, so they could graze and drink, as needed. They talked so some of the other men, while there, before drifting back over to the main gathering in the park. Katherine and Karla chose a place for their food contributions. Katherine entered into conversation with the ladies gathered there, and Karla soon joined in play with the other children her age. Missy Dent was one of them.

After helping out carrying a few things for their mother, Kate and Kent also went off to spend time with the other young folks that they knew and met some new ones they hadn't met the prior month. Kent was especially pleased that Junior Yokum and his family were there, today. They soon found Jimmy Truesdale, and got up a game of kick ball. Kate was soon spending time with William McDonald, Charlotte Crane, and Vic Campbell. Today, they were talking about the books they were each reading at the time. A little later, Keith had left his Pa with the other men and the horses and found Earl Rhodes. Earl was talking with Lula Die and Samuel Gower, who had been in his class at school, as well. They talked about their summer activities and what came next for each of them. Lula said she was staying on the farm. She hoped, perhaps, she could find some work in town, when she was old enough. Samuel said his family expected him to stay on the farm for the next year, but he would probably go off to secondary school the following year, after his older brother had returned from finishing his schooling over near St. Louis.

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Karl and Abner talked about the house

A typical wooden house construction
A typical wooden house construction | Source

After the lunch and the general meeting, Karl and Abner Wingfield met to talk

The King family treated the meal as a pot luck this month, combining what they had brought to eat with what others had brought on the community table. Katherine helped Karla get her food, but the other family members scattered to eat with their friends, this time. Most ate at blankets in the shade of trees in the park, as the temperature continued to rise as the day progressed. Nellie Truesdale came over and sat a bit with Katherine. Nellie accepted Katherine's invitation to come out to the farm where they would have more time to discuss the school program, so that the King children would be better prepared for the fall.

The general meeting, after lunch, had little information this month of use to the Kings, except for announcing the next gatherings. The next Fourth Sunday, would be on the 25th of June, of course. For the 4th of July, there would a community gathering, with a Celebration Program beginning at 11 a.m. A committee of Jacobi Inman, Lewis Truesdale, and Alex McDonald was announced to make the necessary arrangements for an unforgettable day, on this, the Centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence for the United States of America.

When Karl and Abner Wingfield were able to get together, they spent some time getting to know one another. Abner was in his late 40s and told Karl about their arrival in the valley in the spring of 1857. Abner was aware that Karl had already spent some time with Levi Weston, and that they had a mutual interest in raising Morgan horses. Abner shared his experiences during that same first summer and fall of 1857 when Levi had arrived, helping him get his shop and home built. Karl talked about his plans for the house, and as he spoke, Abner shared other experiences of his with other folks coming into the valley after the war, as well. They mentioned Owen Olson's involvement with some of those same people, as they got settled, or resettled, in their homes.

It did not take Karl long to realize he would benefit from using Abner's experience in finishing his own home. They agreed to go get Molly and Dolly, and the saddles Karl had brought in his wagon, and to ride out to the farm for a time, and look at the site more closely. They let their wives know where they were going, and spent a couple of hours surveying the site and planning. Abner agreed that he would come back to the King farm the first of the following week, and help them get the first part of the house raised. Karl was confident that both neighbors, Thurkill Dent and Darrell Yokum, would be available to help, when they needed them.

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Note from the author

This is the ninth episode of this short story series set in the Ozarks Mountain setting of “The Homeplace Saga” family saga of historical fiction. This story begins in 1876, following the time period (1833-1875) of the forthcoming “Founding of the Homeplace” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below.

“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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