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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L32 - Levi Noticed That 1880-81 Were Busy Times in Oak Springs

Updated on April 5, 2018
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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.

Peace and tranquility were sought in the community with the arrival of the Town Marshall

Things looked peaceful in the valley
Things looked peaceful in the valley

Voters approved public school taxes under Missouri State laws

August of 1880 would go down in history in Oak Springs as significant when the voters became among the first to implement the new state law authorizing public school taxation and mandatory attendance. Levi had strongly endorsed the measure and knew that it would be very successful in Oak Springs because of the success of the existing subscription schools. The people of this community appreciated the importance of educated young people for the well being of the community in the future. Thomas Crane, Karl King, Jane McDonald, Caroline Truesdale, and Russell Nixon were elected as the first school board to set the tax levy for approval by the state and to hire the first staff, beginning on July 1, 1881. Electing two women would be very unusual except they had each already been instrumental in the success of the existing schools, and continuity was valued and rewarded in Oak Springs.

On the flip side of the social scales, Levi had also supported the Town Council in hiring a Town Marshall. Drunk and disorderly along with vandalism had become too rampant to ignore. Andrew Fetter, an existing County Sheriff’s Deputy was hired as Town Marshall. He moved to Oak Springs from Eminence, the county seat, and retained his Deputy Sheriff status. Already familiar with the community, he made a big difference in his very first month. The three cells in the Town Jail saw steady occupancy in those early weeks. Fortunately, that business slowed to a trickle once the locals realized the Town Council was serious about the problem.

In mid-September, George King, the new Postmaster, announced that the new Post Office in the new stone Federal Building at Main and Central would be open for business on the 13th. Shortly thereafter, G.W. Mason was appointed Justice of the Peace for Oak Creek Township, replacing George King, the prior occupant of the office. Levi learned that the County Commissioners had been slow making a replacement appointment because there was a concern if the post was needed. However, it soon was obvious there were sufficient notices needing to be served to justify the position. In other legal news, the County Court appointed local attorney John Coffee as an Assistant County Judge to act on Oak Creek Township cases, as needed. They also arranged to use the Courtroom in the Town Hall when cases needed to be heard. These moves would save money for the taxpayers and also lessen the burden on local people needing to appear in court. Levi appreciated this move by the County.

Snow and Ice go together

A winter scene in the valley
A winter scene in the valley | Source

The new year, 1881, continued to bring positive change to Oak Springs

Clyde Orchard had promised changes when he opened his Orchard’s Grocery nearly a year earlier. Now, in January, he introduced Harvey Williams to the community as a partner in their Meat and Ice business. Harvey was a butcher by trade. Clyde and Harvey believed they could harvest ice off the creek on the land they had recently purchase just south of Oak Springs during the coldest part of the winter. They had also arranged to lease the ice on Patton Pond and other parts of the creeks nearby. Williams was building an Ice House on the property near the house he would build for himself, his wife, Minnie, and son, Guy. They would be farming the land as well. The Ice House would allow storage of the ice collected in the winter into the spring and summer. The Ice Business would make local deliveries of ice to customers who had purchased an Ice Box and subscribed to their service.

Levi was pleased to participate in the planning for the First Annual “Celebrate Oak Springs” Banquet on the fourth Saturday of January put on by the Oak Springs Chamber of Commerce. Clyde Orchard, Ralph Cornelius and ‘friends’ were responsible for a fine meal and other arrangements for the evening. The program, led by Chamber President Simeon Bishop, focused on new and expanded businesses in the valley during the year 1880 and looked ahead to expectations for 1881 and beyond.

Important forward looking announcements continued through January and into February. The new School Board announce the hiring of Quinton Chambers as the new Superintendent of the Oak Springs Public School District effective July 1. Wilhite Drug Store and Sundries announced a ten percent discount on everything in the store for their second anniversary celebration on Thursday, February 10. The Chamber of Commerce announced that the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) with be responsible for both the Memorial Day, May 30, and the 4th of July community-wide activities this year. Also, it was announced that the Oak Creek Valley Fair Association would hold their 1881 fair on the first Saturday of August, this year that would be the 6th.

The marriage was celebrated with a Wedding Cake

The Wedding Celebration Cake
The Wedding Celebration Cake

A family marriage was cause for a celebration

On Friday, February 4, Judge Coffee officiated at a marriage ceremony at City Hall for Trey Parks and Rebecca Cornelius. Alfred Weston, cousin of the groom, and Rowena Cornelius, sister of the bride, were the witnesses. Rowena had only recently re-joined the family in Oak Springs. She had been attending a girl’s school in St. Louis while staying with her grandparents.

An extended family celebration of the marriage took place at the home of Trey Parks and his bride, Rebecca, on East Second Street on Sunday, February 6. Guests included the groom’s father, Hiram, and Rebecca’s parents, Ralph and Inez Cornelius along with Rebecca’s sister, Rowena. Other family members included cousins Levi, Alfred and Otis Weston. Later in the afternoon, the family was joined by other friends and neighbors congratulating the new couple.

In March, Levi and the extended family of Weston and Parks welcomed a new addition in the person of 16 year old Monroe Tripp. A grandson of Hiram Parks, Monroe was a son of Hiram’s oldest daughter. Monroe wanted to do his apprenticeship in the Parks Harness Shop and Hiram was very pleased to have his grandson join him for an indefinite period of time. Monroe would be living with his grandfather while residing in Oak Springs. Hiram invited all of his customers to stop by and meet young Monroe the next time they were near the shop to make him feel welcome. Hiram added, in his newspaper ad, that he assumed that every person in the valley was either a customer or a future customer, so there was no limit to the invitation to stop by.

Note by the author

This episode continues the Levi Weston family saga fictional stories. Levi Weston family stories were included, from time to time, in the ‘Life in Oak Springs’ and ‘The Kings of Oak Springs’ stories elsewhere here on HubPages. Those stories occurred during the 1876-1886 time frame. This present series is reliving that period but from the viewpoint of this Weston family, through this second set of 20 episodes.

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 Weston characters that appear here, as well as the McDonalds, were first created as a part of “The Homeplace Saga” stories. The first 20 episodes of this Lx series filled in the early years of the lives of Levi, Jacob and their family.

Some of the stories of the "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories have also been published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog, found at the link, below, including those introducing Levi and Jacob Weston.

These first 20 episodes of the Levi Weston story have been compiled into an ebook: “Weston Wagons West: Levi Weston, L1-20 (1823-1874).” Thank you for your support.

“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer


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