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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L11 - Levi Weston assisted the McDonald family to move

Updated on February 27, 2015
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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.

They planned to live in the caves on the ridge

The opening into a large cave
The opening into a large cave | Source

By mid-August moving out of Oak Creek Township had become an imperative

By the first of August of 1861, raiders had burned and destroyed several homesteads in the valley. Many among the original settlers really wanted to hang on and stay put, especially the McDonalds. Robert and Susannah Baldridge had already left with the cattle, as had Hugh Truesdale with the horses and mules. Jake Patton had gone to recruit and organize his cavalry regiment. His wife Kate and daughter Victoria were sticking with the General Merchandise Store and Post Office, as long as they could while there were still people in the valley. Lewis Truesdale had left with his father and the horses and mules and gone on to work with Colonel Patton on recruiting, since he knew many of the young men in the Jefferson City area from attending secondary school there.

Henry and young Alex McDonald had decided to stay in the valley and live in the caves on the ridge, if necessary. They had already moved many of their belongings to what they considered to be safe areas there. They had enhanced the camouflage of the cave openings, and were preparing for a long stay, out of sight. Levi was working closely with Harry to keep a few freight wagons moving, to meet the contracts McDonald Freight Lines had that could be maintained. The women were preparing for a departure that they hoped would not be too late to spare their lives.

Daniel McDonald had already left to join his brother-in-law Lewis Truesdale as a member of the Patton Cavalry Regiment. Harry and Sarah's older sons, in the spring, had gone their separate ways. Thomas, the older, had walked to Houston to join the Union army. Patrick had run off to the south to join his rebel friends. They had not heard yet where he ended up. Caroline, Jane, Mahala and Rebecca were ready to go when the men decided it was time to leave. They helped out in any way they could.

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Levi took his buckboard

A contemporary buckboard
A contemporary buckboard | Source

Levi Weston and the McDonald extended family prepared to depart for Jefferson City

Levi agreed to make the trip north in company with the McDonald family. Both he and Harry knew the road well, where they could move quickly, and where they needed to be especially cautious. It was all Union controlled territory, but raiding gangs were known to pop up in the most unexpected places. Levi decided to drive his buckboard, loaded with his personal items and tools. He would trail a saddled horse and one fully-packed mule behind the buckboard as the trailer in the caravan.

Harry and Sarah, with one of the younger daughters, would lead in a freight wagon full of their belongings they felt they most needed as well as supplies for the trip. Jane and Caroline would be in the second freight wagon with the other younger sister. Each wagon would trail two animals they had kept: two milk cows, a spare horse and a mule. There were two rifles in each wagon and Levi had his, of course. They hoped they wouldn't need the weapons, of course. But, they also planned to as fully prepared, as possible, for any eventuality.

They camped south of Rolla on the second evening, and Harry and Levi rode into town to assess the situation. They visited with the station master who served both the Weston Freight Line and the McDonald Freight Line. He was happy to see them, and updated them on activity in the town and surrounding area. All was relatively quiet, so they decided to head out early the next morning to get through town and on their way north without further delay.

The arrival plan for Jefferson City was for Jane and Caroline to go to the Eli Truesdale home, where Jane would be staying, and check on information available there about Hugh, Lewis and Daniel, if any. Harry and Sarah, along with Levi, would go directly to the Weston place, where they had been invited to stay until they made other arrangements. Fortunately, nothing prevented them from following through with the plan.

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Harry bought a home with an acreage

Land with room for horses to roam
Land with room for horses to roam | Source

The travelers settled into their new situations

Shortly after they arrived, Jacob made Harry McDonald aware of a home with an acreage available about two miles down the road. It did not take Harry and Sarah long to decide the place would work very well for their needs, especially when they learned it was available immediately. They appreciated the hospitality of Jacob and Dinah Weston, but were anxious to settle into their own place. Displacement was always unsettling but especially in these uncertain times. Jane Truesdale planned to stay with her grandparents, but Caroline settled at the McDonald's place as they got moved in.

Levi Weston found that his most useful role was to assist to increase the number of new wagons being built. New contracts were continuously available, it seemed, and the Freight Lines were still expanding as war efforts grew. Being around his extended family again was now new to Levi, but he fell into the local social aspects in short order. Being around a youngster on a regular basis, Alfred was now a four-year-old, also added a new dimension to Levi's life.

Within a couple of months of his arrival in Jefferson City, Harry had entered into an agreement with Jacob Weston to formally merge their two businesses into a new Weston-McDonald Freight Line with outstanding growth potential, if the war activities did not move in such a way as to totally disrupt their various operations. The combination increased their likelihood of obtaining even further new contracts. Among other reasons for his decision, the strong commitment and dedication Harry saw in young Hiram for the business was very gratifying. Harry knew his younger brother, Daniel, would continue to contribute to their business, after the war ended, but he also knew Daniel had no interest in being responsible for the business. Harry felt that this new arrangement provided apparent security for his family and a good future for himself. Jacob and Harry worked well together, and would now be able to demonstrate that well into the future, hopefully, all else being equal.

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Historical note by the author

As noted in Episode L1 of this series of historical fiction family saga stories, all of the characters in this episode are fictional. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. The Jacob and Levi Weston characters, as well as the McDonalds, were first created as a part of The Homeplace Saga stories collectively identified as The Founding in Missouri. This current Lx series fills in the early years of the lives of Levi, Jacob and their family.

Some of the stories of the forthcoming "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories are being published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog, found at the link, below, including those introducing Levi and Jacob Weston. In the links below, I've included one to the more detailed story of Oak Springs during the Civil War.

“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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