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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L39 - Levi’s Father Passed Away at 85 in 1885

Updated on May 25, 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.

They took the stagecoach to Rolla to catch the train

The stagecoach stopped in town
The stagecoach stopped in town

Jacob Weston had a long and fruitful life

The October telegram came from Levi’s brother, Hiram. It said simply that Jacob, their father, had enjoyed being with his family on his 85th birthday the day before, went to bed that night, and did not wake up the next morning. He had passed away in his sleep during the night. Levi, along with his nephews, Alfred and Otis, booked passage on the next stagecoach to Rolla. They would then take the train from there to Jefferson City, to be with their family as they laid Jacob to rest and celebrate his life together. It had been a full life, filled with joys and sorrows, through war and peace. Jacob had made a difference with his life in the lives of many others.

As so often happens with families that end up spread out, a funeral of this kind was one of the rare occasions where all family members were able to attend and reminisce. Not unlike when Levi’s mother had passed away a few years earlier, there were many, many local friends and acquaintances who participated in the gatherings, as well. The Weston family was well known and very active in their community. Alfred and Otis’s mother was disappointed, of course, that Alfred was not able to bring Rowena and their son, Brett, along, but she understood the circumstances. She promised that she and her husband, Ezra, would visit Oak Springs soon, themselves, again. Ezra, of course, wanted a complete report on how his sons were currently doing in Oak Springs, with their uncle Levi. They each were pleased to share the information.

Back in Oak Springs, Levi and Otis hosted Hiram, Monroe, Trey and his family, Alfred and his family so they could share the news about the extended family that they had gleaned from their visit north. It was always good to have an excuse to all get together. Levi, now 62, and Hiram, now 65, appreciated these gatherings more and more with each passing year. They were also reminded that having the youngsters around now, however, kept them feeling younger than their ages.

The vote for Town Council was contentious

A sign to encourage a vote
A sign to encourage a vote

Levi visited the Oak Springs Enterprise

Russell Nixon had invited Levi to stop by the Enterprise office when he returned from his father’s funeral in Jefferson City. He and Alex wanted to write a short report about their visit, and wanted it to be complete and accurate, as local folks were still interested in what was going on up there that might related back to Oak Springs. As they were talking about Jacob Weston’s demise, quietly, as an older man, Russell Nixon was reminded that former U.S. President General U.S. Grant had recently passed away, but he wasn’t so fortunate as to pass quietly. He had suffered from mouth and throat cancer and died a miserable death, after having lived such an exemplary life.

National political talk led to discussion of local politics. Whereas recent town elections had been very quiet for several years, 1885 had been very different. After Sylvester Preston, the local lawyer had declined to run for re-election to the Town Council, there had been a hotly contested election to replace him. G.W. Mason, manager of the livery stable, had run as was widely expected. What was not expected was that he was challenged by Reginald “Archie” Archer, stonemason with the rock quarry. It turned out the two men simply did not like each other.

It seemed to many that Archie had simply decided to run so that he could say disparaging things about Mason in public. It had become a ‘north-south’ contest, on top of that, in more ways than one. Archie represents the south side of town, and was also a rebel sympathizer, though he had not served in the South. Nevertheless, he used ‘southern verbiage’ to needle Mason. Mason not only represented the north side of town, he had proudly served the Union in Patton’s Regiment, under Representative ‘Captain’ Truesdale’s leadership. It had been very nasty. In the end, Mason won by a 12-vote margin, enough not to have the vote challenged. Neither Levi nor Russell and Alex felt there were too many lingering hard feelings following the election results, but they were all wary that they might re-emerge.

The family recognized and celebrated their religious holidays

Candles used at Jewish religious ceremony
Candles used at Jewish religious ceremony

The 1885 Holiday Season was a festive one

By 1885, only Levi and Otis Weston, Hiram Parks, and Monroe Tripp continued to celebrate the Jewish holidays in Oak Springs. Trey Parks and his family, and Alfred Weston and his family, now celebrated the Christian holidays.

The first day of Hanukkah fell on Dec 3, in 1885, and the last day of Hanukkah fell on Dec 10. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish observance to commemorate the Jewish people’s struggle for religious freedom. One candle is lit on the first night, two on the second, through to the eighth night when all are lit. A special prayer is recited during the lighting and while the candles burn it is a time for songs and games. Other customs include gift-giving, especially to children, and decorating the home.

All of the extended family gathered to enjoy the children celebrating Christmas, including the Cornelius grandparents, at Trey and Rebecca’s house on the afternoon of Christmas day, in 1885. Each of the children had received a small gift from each of the adults, this year, and it made the celebration very meaningful for everyone involved.

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.”


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