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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L16 - Fall 1865 Became 1866 and 1867 for Levi Weston

Updated on March 23, 2019
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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.

The "Olson party" departed for "home"

Team of horses in harness to pull wagon "home."
Team of horses in harness to pull wagon "home." | Source

The Owen Olson party prepared for departure

Daniel McDonald and Lewis Truesdale made the trip north to Jefferson City, again, in early September 1865, from Oak Creek Township, with both good and bad news. The bad news was that a second "raid" had occurred in mid-August. This time, shots were fired. Because they were still prepared, the local men in the valley repelled the raiders, believing they actually injured several riders before they escaped on their horses back to the south. None of the defenders received any injuries. Lewis felt secure that this defense of their territory would likely put an end to any future raids, but they would remain vigilant.

The good news was that the roads and bridges were now in good enough condition to get into and through the valley with reasonable care and prudence. They both agreed to stay and accompany the "Olson party" back to Oak Springs. The mid-September planned departure date held. Owen, Anna and Allison planned to take one wagon. A second wagon would carry Lewis' wife, Caroline, who was pregnant, and Lewis' 15-year-old sister, Nellie Truesdale along with needed supplies. Between the two wagons, they would also take two coops of chickens, two pregnant pig sows and the boar that had bred them for future breeding. Additional horses and mules with packs would also be taken, along with two more milk cows. They were reminded in their travel preparations that virtually everything they needed to have when they arrived would need to be taken in with them.

Lewis and Daniel also brought news, of course, that the Truesdale and Olson cabins were built and habitable for the return of the families. The men in the valley had first worked on crops, then on building the necessary first cabins for the returning families according to the agreed schedules. With expected delays, all of this work had proceeded very much on schedule. As soon as all preparations were completed, the entire "Olson party" departed toward the south, on schedule.

Jake took Jane and William McDonald in his carriage

A carriage headed down the road
A carriage headed down the road | Source

Each month brought new activities related to Oak Springs residents returning "home"

Levi learned from Harry and Hiram that the first freight line runs through Oak Creek Township were completed in late September and by October regular bi-weekly runs were accomplished. In early November, the first freight runs southeast to Eminence were completed. In mid-October, on one of his trips south, his granddaughter Jane (Teasdale) McDonald and her son, his great-grandson, William McDonald, now nearing two years old, accompanied Jake Patton in his carriage to go to live in the Oak Creek valley. On Jake's return, he stopped by to talk to Levi about his trip. He was pleased to share that the crops had been good, and the mill was in preliminary operation. He was very pleased to share the positive news from the valley.

In November, Gideon Inman accompanied Jake Patton to Oak Springs. Before they returned, Jake reported, they were able to hold an election for a new Town Council, comprised of Jake Patton, Owen Olson, Victor Campbell, Gideon Inman and Lewis Truesdale. Both Victor and Gideon had "filed intentions" to return to live in Oak Springs in 1866. Gideon was regularly receiving messages from former valley residents of their intentions to stay away or to return, Jake said. Levi enjoyed hearing Jake tell about each of the families from whom they had received notice. Jake had now reached 67 years of age, and although he appeared to be vigorous, Levi could tell he was slowing down. His had been a very full life already. Levi especially noticed that Jake enjoyed "lingering" and talking about "his valley" whereas in earlier years he seemed to always have someplace he needed to be off to. Levi noted to himself, that, of course, Jake Patton did have a lot to be proud of - it was just fine that he wanted to share that joy.

As the news continued to arrive, Levi learned that Caroline had given birth to a son early in February, 1866. She and Lewis named him James, but Jimmy seemed to be the name that stuck. Levi realized that all news came in both good and bad varieties. While births were always celebrated, it was also important to recognize deaths among friends and family. On one of Gideon's trips into Jefferson City, Levi had learned that Belinda, daughter-in-law of Gideon, husband of Jacobi, had died after several years of ill health. Jacobi had expected to stay in St. Louis, with his bank there. However, following the death of his wife, Jacobi and Victor Campbell reached agreement that Jacobi would returned to Oak Springs as Cashier at the bank in the spring of 1866.

Lewis Truesdale built a new Livery Stable in Oak Springs

A white horse in a stable
A white horse in a stable | Source

1866 and 1867 passed by quickly for Levi

Levi was both saddened and happy about the news he received regarding his former Oak Creek Township friends across the valley. In the east valley, Edmond Gifford had been the first killed by raiders in 1861. Levi learned that his son, Franklin, a Union veteran, had married and would be returning to operate the family farm. Samuel Street, another Union veteran returned with his family. Riley and Julia Cooper also returned to farm and work at the mill. Their son, Anderson, however, did not survive his service in the war. Daniel McDonald was now the lead in farming the McDonald land, with his father, Henry, and nephew, Alex, assisting.

In the central valley, Abner Wingfield and his family returned. Ace Donagan returned to rebuild his tavern with rooms on the second floor. Levi learned that when the Jones family made the decision not to return that Ralph and Sally (Rhodes) Campbell did return and built the first Boarding House in Oak Springs late in 1867. It was said they hoped to open a Dry Goods store on Central Avenue in 1868. Lewis Truesdale built a new Livery Stable. In cooperation with his father and grandfather (Hugh Truesdale and Jake Patton) they built a Sale Barn and resumed their horse and mule breeding business. Although with the end of the war, horses and mules were generally available, they knew that developing quality livestock would still be good business.

Delbert and Delia (Rhodes) Campbell returned in the spring of 1866 to take primary responsibility for operating the Campbell farm land in the western valley. They had no children, but got assistance, as needed, from young men in other families. Although Eli and Emeline Rhodes did not return, their son, Theodosius, and his wife, Lillian (Campbell) Rhodes, did return to operate the Rhodes family farm. Nearby, in the west, George and Marcia King and their family returned, as well, along with Michael and Amanda Duncan. As 1867 came to a close, Levi began to see that the time was quickly approaching when he should begin thinking seriously of returning, himself.

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.

“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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