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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L18 - Levi Weston returned to Oak Springs in 1869

Updated on December 13, 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.

Levi traveled south in his buckboard

A Common Buckboard
A Common Buckboard | Source

Levi Weston began his preparations to return permanently to Oak Springs from Jefferson City

It seemed like déjà vu all over again for Levi Weston as he began preparations to move to Oak Springs in the spring of 1869. Much of what he planned to do he had already done twelve years ago in preparing for his first move from Jefferson City to Oak Springs. This time, however, his friend Owen Olson had examined Levi's property, as he had done with many others returning after the war, and Levi realized he was not totally "starting from scratch" on this move. The foundations of his buildings were in excellent condition, in fact, and could be built on again with little repair required. Levi had decided he would do that. Owen had also given Levi a list of tools and materials he had salvaged for Levi that he would have available on his arrival. With that part of the plan in mind, Levi decided to make a preliminary trip, himself, to make final arrangements there before actually making the move.

By mid-March, Levi packed up his buckboard that he would leave in Oak Springs, including a saddle to ride one of the horses back. Besides the two horses pulling the buckboard, he took one extra saddle horse and a mule with a full pack, as well. The weather had been unusually warm and he hoped it would hold. It did, except for one day in the middle of the trip, and he just stayed in the town where he had stopped overnight. He arrived on time, a day late, but that was fine for this trip. He had planned to stay at the hotel, but something in the back of his mind told him to check the Campbell Boarding House first. Ralph and Sally were pleased to see Levi, and welcomed him back to town. It turned out that they had one available room. After some discussion, they mutually agreed that he would take the room and keep it through his later arrival in town on a more permanent basis. They said they wanted him to stay with them, and that a long term commitment on the room was much more valuable than taking the chance of renting it by the night or the week. Besides, they liked having him around. Their son, Vic, was now 5 years old. Levi's nephew, his brother's son, Otis, had just turned 7, so Levi felt right at home with Vic around.

Levi met with Owen Olson to physically examine the tools and materials Owen had recovered from his property. They also walked the property together, so that Levi could get Owen's insights, based on what he had seen and helped others do with their places. Levi had hoped that Abner Wingfield would be available, and he did join them on an examination of the building site. Abner agreed to oversee the reconstruction, much as he had done with the original buildings there, twelve years earlier. They discussed timing, possible small changes, and other related matters. Levi was very pleased to be able to have Abner assist him again this time. Levi felt very good about his visit by the time he needed to head back to Jefferson City. Nature had other ideas, however, and a late spring snowstorm decided to arrive the day before Levi had planned to leave. With this short delay of an additional three days, Levi was especially pleased that he had reached the agreement with the Campbell's at the Boarding House. It gave him some extra time to spend with others in town, prior to his permanent return, including Lewis and Caroline Truesdale and Jerry and Polly Potts.

Levi's return was delayed by a snowstorm

A snowstorm during winter or spring
A snowstorm during winter or spring | Source

Levi Weston left Jefferson City for his return to Oak Springs

Once past the snow, the trip back to Jefferson City went smoothly and Levi wasted no time in wrapping up his affairs there. He hated leaving his extended family, but promised he would return regularly, for holidays and special events. Jacob and Dinah reminded him that his room was always available at their home. His brother, Ezra, had requested the "honor" of accompanying Levi on his trip south, with the wagon, and some extra horses, as they had done 12 years earlier. Levi was certainly not going to say no. He would enjoy the time they would have together, reminiscing about that trip, and all the other times they had been able to spend together. The stage was now operating regularly, so Ezra would be able to return promptly, after spending a few days in Oak Springs.

Ezra and Levi enjoyed their trip as much as they had hoped to and were sad when the time came for Ezra to depart, but both were anxious to get on with their individual lives, as well, of course. Weather was not a factor on this trip, and all went smoothly. Levi was pleased to see that Abner Wingfield had already managed to have the flooring in place for both the house and the shop by time Levi returned. In addition, under Owen's supervision, necessary fireplaces for both buildings had been reconstructed to their agreed specifications and walls would go up in a matter of days. It was well into April by now, so Levi set about getting in some crops and a garden. This also gave him a strong feeling of permanency.

Levi was pleased that a number of people invited him to their homes over those early weeks, both to welcome him and to get reacquainted with a neighbor. He found it interesting to visit folks and to see the variety of homes that were being used during this reconstruction period. And, of course, children had grown and there were new children in many families. New families had also arrived and they were included in some of the gatherings. He was there for the April Fourth Sunday social gathering, and that made him feel very much at home, as well.

Levi felt at home back in Oak Springs

Spring sunset and a feeling of tranquility
Spring sunset and a feeling of tranquility | Source

Life in Oak Springs returned to the new normal for Levi Weston as 1869 passed by

As Levi's home and shop were being re-built, Jerry and Polly Potts had also arrived and their family home and business property were being built at about the same time. Levi was also pleased to meet the "new member of the family," her younger brother, J.D. Potts, a physician. This was the first that Levi had realized Polly and Jerry were actually distant cousins with the same surname after marriage as before. Learning family history was much fun, and so informative, Levi believed. Their business, facing on Central Avenue, was really quite impressive with four businesses on the ground floor, facing Central: a physician's office, a barber shop, an apothecary, and a print shop. On the second floor was space for four apartments. Only one was being finished to start, as a home for J.D.

Levi noticed a number of activities around town during those early weeks that suggested to him that Jake Patton was still hard at work influencing changes in the town that would have a lasting impression and would set the stage for continued growth of Oak Springs over the long haul. He was selling more and more of his land properties around the perimeter of the town to encourage expansion and town planning for the future. His actions also spread the center of primary activities from the far south end further up north towards the Houston Road. In conjunction with his grandson, Lewis, more of his land on both the west and east side of the town proper were being brought into productive use through both the Livery Stable and the Breeding partnership. New individuals that Lewis had helped bring into town also bought some of the properties.

During the summer of 1869, a new young attorney, Sylvestor Preston, arrived in town and built an office building east across Central from the Potts building. He build his home just to the east of that, making him Levi's closet neighbor, at the time. They became good friends over time. Early in the fall harvest season, young Alex McDonald, some called him the "hero of the valley" during the Civil War, was injured in a farm accident and unable to continue work on the farm. During his treatment and recovery with J.D. Potts, Alex stayed with Jerry and Polly Potts. As he recovered, Jerry grew to appreciate the many talents that Alex possessed. After some time, it was decided that Alex would stay in town to work with Jerry and Polly in their business interests. They also finished a second apartment for him in their building, on the second floor, alongside J.D.

Although Levi met his commitment to have the two school coaches ready by fall, the school was not yet ready to open, due to slow subscription enrollments. Then, as the year went by, Jerry Potts began to become more involved with the drive to start the school. He entered into a full partnership with Lewis and Caroline in its development. It turned out his major contribution was in building positive publicity. He had a printing press that could print a full broadside. A broadside, printed on one side, could be used as a poster or folded and used as a brochure. As these promotional pieces appeared around the valley more and more, the subscriptions to the school began to pick up. In addition, during the fall, they began promoting free rides for distant families in the school coaches, to demonstrate how well they would work. By the end of the year, they had enough subscriptions to set a firm opening date for the school in the fall of 1870.

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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    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Mel, your continuing support is appreciated. Your support helps keep me going... ;-)

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image
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      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      May your wish come true, Bill! ;-)

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      You really paint a vivid word picture of those pioneering days. Nice work.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      One of the things I want to buy when my ship comes in (lol) is a wagon like the one you have in the first picture...anyway, great chapter. As always, an enjoyable read.