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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L35 - Levi Observed Ups and Downs in 1882

Updated on April 27, 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.

The John Deere Implements were of great interest to the visitors

A horse drawn John Deere mower
A horse drawn John Deere mower

John Deere Implements were featured for 3rd Anniversary of Sales Office

John Deere Implements were now a featured sales item at the Parks Wagon Works Sales And Implement Sales Office Third Anniversary on April 1 this year. Trey, Alfred, and the John Deere representative who was available for the event were kept busy most of the day discussing the newest implements with customers. There was still interest in various wagons, but the implements were now of greatest interest. Because of the national economic issues, the Panic of 1881 was just now being felt a bit locally, new sales were not what Trey would have liked, but interest, hopefully, for future sales, was high.

Reading the Wednesday, April 5 edition of the Oak Springs Enterprise, Levi was surprised to see the front page story that Jesse James had been shot and killed by Bob Ford in St. Joseph on April 3. Would this now be the end of these stories?

Starting on April 5th, what had been pleasant weather for weeks, the ‘April Showers’ arrived by the buckets full. It didn’t rain hard everyday, but it did rain every day for nearly a week. Rivers and creeks were running full, or overflowing, throughout the valley.

Late in the afternoon of Saturday, April 11, word spread around town quickly of a drowning southwest of town in the swollen creek there. It turned out to be Jimmie Truesdale, only son of State Representative and town leaders Lewis and Caroline Truesdale. He had been at the 16th birthday party for his classmate, Kent King, at the King farm west of town. He had gotten too close to the rushing, out-of-its banks, creek and been swept away nearly a mile down stream where the body was recovered. The body had been recovered just upstream from the Ice House, in some reeds, where the creek widened and the flow was not as fast. The entire community was shocked at the tragedy, a first of it’s kind in the valley. Everyone came together to assist the grieving family, though there was really very little could be done. Their lives would be changed forever. The funeral at the Methodist Church was held with an overflowing attendance.

All attention was on the new baby in the family

A new baby
A new baby

Mortality was on the mind of most everyone now

Recently, family talk around Levi had centered on the baby to arrive to Trey and Rebecca in early July and Alfred and Rowena getting more and more serious about a June wedding. The recent tragedy was another reminder to Levi that he did not have a will and had continued to put it off, thinking that it was too soon to think about that. That had now changed. It was time he stopped in to see attorney Sylvester Preston to remedy that situation. In his mind, he had already decided, that with no direct descendants, that Alfred and Otis were really his heirs now. He sat down with them to discuss his thinking. In broad terms, he was thinking of willing the lot where his house and shop sat to Otis, because he would most likely be continuing to live there. He had been thinking of building a two-bedroom cottage on the south “garden” lot for Alfred, now that it appeared he would soon be taking a wife. His interest in the farmland and in the Wagon Works and Sales Office he would simply leave to them jointly, a half interest each. Alfred and Otis were surprised, but very pleased with the arrangement, if that was really what Levi wanted. He said he did, and proceeded to have his will prepared with those provisions. He and Alfred also met with Abner Winfield to plan work on the cottage. Abner would do the basic work, and the three Weston men would do the finishing, with some guidance from Rowena, of course.

The High School Graduation this year, 1882, was a special one because of the five students who were graduating. But, even then, it was a bit subdued in light of the recent tragedy in the valley. Board President Thomas Crane got to present her diploma to his daughter, Charlotte, along with that of William McDonald. Everyone knew they would be getting married in a few months or years and farm near their parents in the east valley. Vic Campbell, only son of the town banker, and Kate King, who had also been a couple for quite some time, also held a special place in the community. While all five had been the first class to make up the Freshman Class of the High School (first subscription, now public), and all five were outstanding students, John Carver was named most outstanding and spoke on “Being the Best You Can Be” at the ceremony. Vic would be going to the Bank Administration Program at Washington University in St. Louis for eighteen months following graduation. John would be attending a four year university.

The crops were still in the fields on the Gower Place

Corn in the field ready to harvest
Corn in the field ready to harvest

A change of minister assignments by the Presbyterians set off a chain reaction

Alfred Weston and Rowena Cornelius had set Sunday afternoon, June 11 for their wedding by Presbyterian minister Walter Ware. However, he learned that he was being recalled from Oak Springs, and they had to get special permission for him to stay until June 4 to perform the rescheduled ceremony. It had been determined that there was not sufficient support in the community currently to support establishment of another church and Ware had been assigned to answer the call of an existing congregation in need. The wedding was the expected happy occasion attended by and celebrated by largely the same group that celebrated the marriage of Trey and Rebecca (Cornelius) Parks, with the roles exchanged. Alfred’s parents, Levi’s brother, Hiram, and his wife, were able to come down from Jefferson City for the ceremony and celebration, as well. The men were able to sufficiently complete the cottage south of Levi for the couple to live in, but finishing work continued through the summer.

Meanwhile, Gilbert Gower, one of those who had worked so hard to get the Presbyterian church, made a sudden and very surprising decision for his family. He made quite a fuss about “his church” having “turned it’s back on him.” Everyone noticed, of course, that he saw the decision only in light of the effect it had on him. It came out later that his father had recently died leaving his mother all alone with a sizable farm to look after. Whereas Gilbert had earlier rejected the idea of working with his father on his farm, now his attitude seemed to change entirely. Gower gave notice to Lewis Truesdale that he and his family were moving out of the Oak Creek valley immediately to move in with his mother on her farm. He was simply walking away from his responsibility to Truesdale to complete the share agreement year, leaving crops in the field. Levi heard more than one person say, quietly, “good riddance.” In related news, Rev. Arthur Boyd received word from his Methodist Church Conference that he had been reappointed to the Oak Creek Charge for another year.

Late in June, Levi had been called to the Daniel McDonald farm to care for an issue with one of the horses. Levi had been their farrier for many years, of course. In talking to Daniel, Levi learned what had happened to what everyone called “the Gower Place.” The square mile on which it sat was the original Truesdale homestead, just west of the McDonald original 640 square mile in the east valley. Lewis had managed, after the war, to entice four of the men who had been in his cavalry unit to come with their families to help resettle the valley by renting each of them one of the four 160 acre plots in the home section. Lewis had wanted to concentrate on his business interests in town, and being State Representative, rather than farm them himself. Sometime earlier, he had arranged with his sister, Jane, and her husband, Daniel, to have first option to purchase each of those plots should any of the tenants leave, for whatever reason. With Gower leaving, the first of those options occurred. With William and Charlotte planning to marry and farm in the next couple of years anyway, it only made sense to Daniel and Jane to exercise the option, and that farm would become the first homeplace for William and Charlotte. So effective July 1, they took over the “Gower Place” and and began to make it their own. (See MT14-16).

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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