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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L19 - Levi Weston in Oak Springs during 1870

Updated on March 9, 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.

Levi had three bred mares that winter

Portrait of a horse
Portrait of a horse | Source

Levi Weston began the year 1870 in a fully operational mode in Oak Springs

Over the winter of '69-70 Levi Weston had been able to "finish" many aspects of both his shop and his home to allow him to feel fully back at home and operational as a farrier, a small wooden products crafter, wagon master, and small farmer. He didn't have all his horses in Oak Springs, but he had enough to have three bred Morgan mares due early in the spring. Late in the fall, Levi had built a barn for his horses, with sufficient stalls for the birthing and care of the horses he had on premises. He had been able to cut and store sufficient hay for that first winter as well as feed for them.

Each week, he had some people approach him who needed some assistance with their horses, which he enjoyed doing. He was very skilled as a farrier and in healing the ills that beset horses. He was pleased to have the opportunity to serve the people of the valley once more. He also got regular orders for his hand-crafted small wooden items for homes and farms. He tailored his products to the individual or family purchasing them to the extent that he could. This helped build his reputation and kept people coming back for more. There was not a lot of call, yet, for wagons, but he responded promptly to each request and each customer was very happy with what he produced to meet their individual needs, as well.

Over the months, Levi continued to get invitations to the homes of valley residents. Usually for a meal, but on occasion, to join in a family celebration, to welcome a visitor or newcomer, or just for a social visit. He also, slowly, resumed meeting with small groups for the Book Clubs he had initiated earlier. He still enjoyed reading, and he especially enjoyed sharing with like-minded people, where ever they lived, and whatever their background.

They looked after the cattle jointly

Cattle in the field grazing
Cattle in the field grazing | Source

Visits to the homes of friends were the highlights of each month for Levi

Jane and Daniel McDonald, along with their now 6 year-old son, William, had built a new home in the middle of the original McDonald section of land east of Oak Springs, southeast of the mill. On one particular occasion, a Sunday mid-day meal and afternoon social time, Levi was invited out, along with Lewis, Caroline and 4 year-old Jimmy Truesdale, Jerry, Polly, and J.D. Potts, Alex McDonald and Nellie Truesdale. These were all active members of the Book Clubs, from time to time, as well as having the common interest in getting the school started. Levi found this group especially intellectually satisfying to be around. They had very stimulating discussions, from time to time.

On this particular day, somehow, Levi and Jane were separated from the others for awhile, and got onto the subject of Harry and Sarah McDonald and especially Sarah's continued interest and involvement with the cattle operations on the Baldridge land across Oak Creek to the north of the McDonalds. Levi knew that the two couple had three hired men that now helped with both operations, the cattle and the field work, on a cooperative arrangement, getting done what needed to be done when it needed done. They would also help out David Baldridge and Riley Cooper at the mill, from time to time, as needs arose. They now lived in the cabins first build right after the war. Jane had made a point of how much involvement Sarah really had in running the operation. Jane said that Sarah really wanted to continue her parents business interests, but it was becoming a bit of a burden, while continuing to live in Jefferson City. She knew that Levi was fully aware of that decision and situation.

As they talked, he was surprised when Jane confided that Sarah and Davide had given Daniel and Jane "first-rights-options" on each of their pieces of property in the valley, in case anything should ever happen to either them or David. Sarah and David had apparently been quite shaken by the totally unexpected deaths of their parents, and were anxious not to make the same mistake of being unprepared for a tragedy. Jane said she was surprised that this decision had actually brought the sisters-in-law closer together, and made her even more determined to be sure the overall operations continued to be very successful for all concerned. Levi listened with interest, proud that she would confide this kind of personal information to him, as a close personal friend.

The snow did not stop the school coaches from making their rounds

Snow covered ground on a cloudy day
Snow covered ground on a cloudy day | Source

The town of Oak Springs grew slowly over the next year or two

The Town Council decided that 1870 was the year to rebuild the Community Building south of Olson's General Merchandise Store. They also designated the block between there and the Blacksmith Shop a City Park. The two other blocks, in the southeast corner of the town, south and southwest of that, were designated for future development as City Park land, as well. The two blocks to the east of those blocks were now filled with fine homes built by: Jake Patton, Victor Campbell, Hugh Truesdale, Roland Muldrow and Spencer Fielder. The latter two gentlemen were, respectively, the Quarry Manager and Master Stonemason at the new Stone Quarry, now located just east of Oak Springs.

Work began late in the year on the new stone Oak Springs Savings Bank building to built on the new Town Square, on the north end of Central Avenue, at the corner of the newly designated east-west "Main Street." This new Main Street was previously the north border of the town proper, prior to the addition of another row of blocks from Jake Patton. It was on the "half-mile" line to the Houston Road from the Patton Road on the south side of town.

In mid-September, the new "Patton School" fall term began with 21 students enrolled ranging from 6 to 13 years old. Nellie McDonald was the teacher. Alex McDonald had also been hired to teach the older students (aged 10-13) history, literature and the classics for two hours each afternoon. Alex also was available as a substitute in the event Nellie became ill or had to be away from the classroom. Otherwise, he continued to work for Jerry Potts at the prints shop, etc. An overnight snowfall the first week of December caused some anxiety, but was not enough to disrupt picking up and delivering the children very close to the scheduled time. Otherwise, the fall term went off as planned.

A cloudy fall day as school began

A cloudy day in the countryside
A cloudy day in the countryside | Source

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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