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Weston Wagons West - Ep. L9 - Levi Weston built things and relationships in Oak Springs

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.

Though late in the season, Levi planted a garden

Rows of garden plants
Rows of garden plants | Source

Levi juggled competing priorities to get his shop and house built as he built wagons

During the first couple of months in Oak Springs in the summer and early fall of 1857, Levi worked with several others in the community to get his shop and house built, to start a garden, and to begin building the two wagons for which he already had contracts. He also built himself a utility buckboard so as to preclude continued purchase of needed services moving small goods around. Two people he found especially useful were Abner Wingfield and Ephriam Bressie, farmers from not too far north of town. Ephriam was also a mason, skilled at building rock foundations and fireplaces. Levi needed to get his blacksmith work area in working order quickly as well as foundations for his buildings. Abner was a carpenter and both skilled and experienced in getting buildings up and framed in good order. Although he had only arrived in the valley, himself, earlier in the year, he had already established a good reputation.

Levi greatly appreciated the help of both men, and the helpers they were able to recruit, to get his house and shop area into workable shape in a remarkably short time. Levi could do finishing work, himself, over the winter. Getting secure and useful buildings in place quickly was very satisfying. As the buildings were going up, Levi was pleasantly surprised that word of his farrier skills had spread across the valley, and he began to have people begin to bring their horses to him for his assistance. His high level of skill at his trade generated a regular stream of clients that kept him as productively occupied with that business as he cared to be.

Building the first freight wagon for McDonald Freight Lines moved along as smoothly as could be expected in those early months. He knew Harry McDonald would not press him to finish, but his own pride in his own skills pushed him on to finish, well-done, as quickly as possible. Levi made delivery on the first wagon before the first snowfall, and Harry was very happy to receive it. They agreed that the second would be completed by about June 1 of 1858. Over the winter, in addition to making the first round of improvements in his house and shop, Levi began to make small wooden products, useful to most families. As had been then case in Jefferson City, as soon as folks knew what he had, the demand for more increased.

The first novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stories

Bank clerks at work

3 men at the bank - one is the author's grandfather as a young man, a bank clerk
3 men at the bank - one is the author's grandfather as a young man, a bank clerk | Source

Although not especially active socially, Levi continued to meet new people in the community

Gideon Inman, of course, was one of the people in Oak Springs that Levi had gotten to know the best in his early days in the community. Gideon and his wife, Louisa, had invited Levi to their home for evening meals on a number of occasions. Their son, Jacobi, the clerk at the bank, also lived with his parents. During that first summer, Jacobi had returned to the St. Louis area and married his longtime early neighborhood sweetheart, Belinda, and brought her to Oak Springs as his wife. They continued to life with his parents.

Gideon served as Town Clerk, as well as running his Real Estate business, so he liked to talk "small town politics" at many of the meals. He knew Levi was interested, even though Levi tried to show no great personal interest in political machinations. As Oak Springs sat near what was in effect the dividing line between north and south in national politics, those debates often got closer to home then most people cared to consider. Robert Baldridge, who was a pioneer in the valley, and owned the Mill in the east valley, as well the store in town, had been serving as a County Commissioner. A fine man, Robert was known as a strong Union supporter, Gideon mentioned. Robert had lost his reelection bid in the fall of 1857 because he had not been sensitive enough to needs and interests of all the constituents in his district which included the townships to the east and south.

From the day he arrived in Oak Springs, as he had learned growing up in his family, Levi made no attempt to either hide or flaunt his Jewish faith. He observed the tenants of his faith in the privacy of his home, including all recognized holidays. There being no organized church in the Oak Creek valley, religion did not generally play a large role for most citizens. Perhaps, like Levi, they each practiced their own faiths in their own homes. Itinerant preachers showed up in town, from time to time, and they often would hold a service at the Community Building while in the community. Fourth Sunday observances continued in the community but they had no religious connotations. They were a community social event. Levi generally participated, unless he was out of town.

The novella in "The Homeplace Saga" series

Levi activated Book Clubs when he arrived

Books from which the Book Club might have chosen
Books from which the Book Club might have chosen | Source

Levi celebrated with friends in Jefferson City and in Oak Springs

In May of 1859 Levi stayed true to his word and went back to Jefferson City where Jake Patton held a reception for the graduation of Caroline McDonald from the Davis Academy for Girls. It also turned out to be a reception marking the end of Jake Patton's service in the State Legislature as he had announced he would not seek reelection but instead would vie for the County Commission seat representing Oak Springs. Jake said he felt he could better serve his home community on the County Commission. He did announce that he would support his son-in-law, Hugh Truesdale, for the legislative seat in the upcoming election. While in Jefferson City this time, Levi spend some extended time with his family. He had been back for a few days a couple of times, but always felt the need to return quickly.

Levi was back in Oak Springs for the expected wedding of Jane Truesdale and Daniel McDonald in June 1859. Since Jane's parents were already living in Oak Springs, Jane and Daniel were able to make the old Truesdale homestead their new family home. They had both been looking forward to this new turn in their lives for a number of years. Jane and Daniel had been regular members of the irregular Book Clubs that Levi had been able to organize since moving to Oak Springs. Jane, as one of Beth Davis' star pupils, was a natural for the Book Club. She was an avid reader. Daniel was anxious to do whatever pleased Jane. Daniel liked to say that he didn't deserve Jane, but Jane always replied, "You are all I've every wanted." Levi also knew she meant, "And I want to have your baby."

Harry and Sarah McDonald held a big reception for his brother and his new wife, as well, with all the family there. Someone joked to Levi that all the family was happy to get Daniel out of their house and living elsewhere else. Sarah had become the "woman of the house" at the McDonald home headed by Harry and Daniel's father, Henry, when his wife, Laura, had died, too young, unexpectedly. Harry and Sarah, then, had gone on to have six children of their own. They had made two more additions to the existing home to accommodate the growing family. Caroline, the oldest, had just returned from school, of course. The next three boys were Thomas, 14, Patrick, 12, and Alex 10. The two younger girls were Mahala, 7, and Rebecca, 4. Levi was invited out to the McDonald house, regularly, and always enjoyed the family atmosphere.

The latest novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stories

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 were first created as a part of The Homeplace Saga stories collectively identified as The Founding - during their later lives in Missouri. This current Lx series fills in the early years of their lives.

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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