Friday, August 22, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace, Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 5


The Founding of the Homeplace
Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 5


The green hill in the valley


From the forthcoming short story collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed

1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status - Section 5 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

[It is believed this narrative was a joint effort of Alex McDonald and Jerry Potts.]



Eight farm families were living along Center Creek west and northwest of Oak Spring in 1860: the Dies, Carrolls, Johnsons, Pryors, Sullivans, Lowdens, Craddocks, and the Hambys. It was known that Jefferson Lowden had died in combat, but contact had been lost with his wife and their young son. After no contact for a long period, it was learned that Silas Hamby was not returning, and Gideon obtained a legal document from him relinquishing any interest in his property. The Carroll family eventually provided a similar document. 

Wilson and Wanda Craddock did not end up returning, but in 1869, their then 24 year old daughter, Neva, with her husband, Turkill Dent, along with their baby son, arrived with the proper legal documents to claim the Craddock property and make it their own family farm.

Jasper and Leannah Die and their family did return, but not until 1868. Similarly, Lawrence and Lucinda Johnson had maintained contact, and finally returned in 1869, with both their daughter and son. Jacob and Patsy Pryor said time after time they were coming back, but never did. Jourdan and Martha Sullivan said they would return, and in 1870, they did, bringing daughter Shirley, but not son, Julian.

Delbert and Delia (Rhodes) Campbell returned to work the Campbell family farm land on the Western Branch in early spring of 1866. They had no children, but with the help of some ‘hired out’ young men from other families, were able to continue the Campbell agricultural prosperity they had enjoyed before the war. Eli and Emeline Rhodes finally decided in late 1866 they were not going to return to their family farm on the Western Branch. With that decision, their son, Theodosius, and his wife, Lillian (Campbell) Rhodes, along with their family, decided to return in 1867 to claim and operate the farm that had first been settled by his parents in 1838.

George and Marcia King and their family returned to the Western Branch in 1867, as well. They wanted to come back earlier, but kept in touch, settled their other affairs, and got an early start in 1867. Their daughter, Shasha, had married and did not come, but the other three young folks did return. Similarly, Michael and Amanda Duncan made it back in 1867 as well. Before they returned, their daughter, Alice, had married in their new location and did not come back to Oak Creek Township. 

Joshua and Tetisha Cox returned in 1868 with their sons, Bernie and Coleman, with the intent to help them get started and then to move into town, which they did in 1871. Their daughter, Dorothy, had married and did not return with them. Finally, the Nathan Bishop family did return in 1869, with all three of their children, and, once returned, did prosper in their far Western Branch location.

Meanwhile, back in Oak Springs, in 1867 it was learned that Percival and Katherine Jones, who had been expected, according to available information, to return to reopen their Dry Goods store, if not their Boarding house, would not be returning. They relinquished their interest in Lot 2 of Block M, as well as Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Block N. When that new information became available, Ralph and Sally (Rhodes) Campbell, saw the opening they had been waiting for and returned late in 1867 to build first a Boarding House, on Lot 1 of Block N, and then in the spring of 1868 a Dry Goods store, on Lot 2 of Block N, facing on Central Avenue. They also resumed their farming operation just on the west side of the town plot. 

By this time, in the spring of 1869, the Town Council had also made a few more relevant decisions that affected location planning for several pending building plans. The town purchased six additional blocks from Jake Patton (at very favorable rates) directly north of the existing town plat and extending two blocks to the east. The blocks numbered from the west, were: AA, BB, CC, DD, EE, and FF. Fourth Street was renamed Main Street. This Main Street, running east and west, ran a quarter of a mile south of and parallel to the Houston Road.

Further, Block C, at the southeast corner of Central Avenue and the newly designated Main Street, created a designated Town Square  The plan was to build both the new Town Hall and the stone bank building (exchanged Block G, Lot 3, for Lot 2, Block B, the new location) on the perimeter of the Town Square. In addition, they had passed an ordinance that provided adequate space between any wooden structures so as to reduce the likelihood of a fire in one building spreading to nearby buildings, as had become a common issue in many towns where buildings were right next to one another.

There were a few newcomers to the valley as well. The following describes these new arrivals up to 1870.

Thomas Crane, his wife Grace (Fox) Crane, along with daughters, Charlotte and Cora, settled on 160 acres just south of the southeast corner of the Henry McDonald home place in early 1868. Thomas had visited the prior year and determined that he could dig a well on the property for their household needs. This was one of the first of many to come in the following years. 

As expected, Lewis Truesdale continued to be active in building and recruiting new business opportunities in the town and the valley. By the end of 1868, six of his recruits, all calvary members of the units he commanded, had come into the valley, with their brides or families, to become a part of what they hoped would be prosperous times ahead. Four of the families located on the Truesdale farm land to the west of the McDonalds land working on shares. The four couples on the farms were Willis and Isabel Garrett, Theodore and Ellen Warden, S.L. and Martha Reeves, and Gilbert and Susan Gower.

Two of the families lived in town (J.W. and Lucinda Norton and G.W. and Margaret Mason) and were employed at the Lewis Truesdale businesses now under the names of Oak Creek Valley Breeding and Oak Creek Valley Livery and Stable. Lewis had located these businesses on the west edge of town (working with Jake Patton and Hugh Truesdale, he had exchanged their interests in Block K - where the livery had previously been located - and Lots 1 and 3 of Block L, for Block M and Lots 3 and 4 of Lot I). In addition, he had acquired from Jake Patton the 20 acres immediately west of the town boundary (running along the east side of the Ralph Campbell farm). The Nortons purchased Lot 1 of Block I and the Masons purchased Lot 2 of Block I on which to build their own homes.

Also new in town, arriving in the summer of 1869 was a young attorney, Sylvester Preston, who bought and built an office building on Lot 3 of Block K, facing on Central Avenue. He also bought Lot 4 of Block K and used it to build a home for himself. In 1871, another young attorney, John Coffee came to town, and entered into a partnership with Sylvester Preston to form the Preston and Coffee Law Firm.


Ace Donagan opened his Tavern in 1868. He had arranged to purchase the Lot 3, of Block O, from Jake Patton, where he had been located on a lease, previously. He brought in R.R. and Matilda (Farrell) Callahan as operating managers and her brother, J.R. Farrell, as well, as a laborer. As with the earlier tavern, there were rooms for rent on the second floor. 

To be continued... next Friday.


May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!



Dr. Bill ;-)

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace, Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 4


The Founding of the Homeplace
Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 4


The green hill in the valley


From the forthcoming short story collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed

1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status - Section 4 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

[It is believed this narrative was a joint effort of Alex McDonald and Jerry Potts.]



Victor Campbell had been President of the Oak Springs Savings Bank since 1855. In that role, he had accepted the responsibility from the Board of Directors for both investments and loans by the bank. With the shifting winds of the economy in addition to the political environment in the late 1850s, Victor had made safe investments in the St. Louis area as well as others around central Missouri. He and Jacobi Inman, the bank clerk at the time, when the war broke out, took all the records with them to the St. Louis area. Victor had continued to grow the investments and keep all appropriate records. 

Jacobi had ended up with a bank position in St. Louis and had not entered military service. His wife, Belinda, had suffered a series of miscarriages and continued to suffer from illnesses during the period of the war. Jacobi had initially declined an offer from Victor to return to Oak Springs. However, when his wife took a turn for the worse, and died, in July of 1865, he contacted Victor and made the decision to work with Victor toward a return to Oak Springs upon the rebuilding of the bank. 

The bank board, now consisting of Jake Patton, David Baldridge and Victor Campbell, 
wanted to build a new stone bank building in Oak Springs. Their choice of new location, however, was still up in the air as 1865 became 1866. Jake Patton, Gideon Inman and Victor Campbell formed the Oak Creek Real Estate and Land Office late in 1865. 

Gideon had received letters from the former Ames and Mathison Real Estate partnership that had owned the land and buildings on of Block J, Lot 2 and Lot 4. They each, individually, also relinquished their ownership of all four lots in Block X, where they had previously had residences. 

Subsequently, the Land Office built an office building from which Gideon Inman could operate it in the spring of 1866 (on Lot 2 of Block J). Gideon Inman already owned Lot 1 of Block J and built his own home on it. He continued making and receiving contact with former residents/property owners and providing information to new prospects, as well. One of the functions of this company was also to be in a position to purchase (for resale), at a nominal fee, any land in the township not re-claimed and re-settled between 1865 and December 31, 1870 (based on a court order received by the Township). 

Based on the contacts Jake Patton and Gideon Inman had made and continued to make through 1865, no new returnees were expected in the rest of 1865. However, a number of “intentions to return” in 1866 and thereafter were in hand and more were anticipated. With this information, and proper notifications, a new Town Council was elected in November: Jake Patton, Owen Olson, Victor Campbell, Lewis Truesdale and Gideon Inman. Victor Campbell and Gideon Inman had not yet moved to the valley full-time, but had filed letters of intention to build homes on lots they already owned in the spring of 1866.

From the records compiled by Gideon Inman in the fall of 1865, the following was known about other 1860 residents.

Edmond Gifford, on his farm in the far southeast corner of the township, had been one of the three persons killed by raiders in the valley in 1861 before the mass exodus began. Gifford was murdered in his front yard, in front of his house, and his mules and horses stolen. His wife and children had left the valley immediate to live with other members of her family. Their son, Franklin, 16 in 1860, served in the Union army and had expressed the intent to marry and return to claim the family farm. His mother supported the intent of the son, but expressed no interest for she and her daughter to return. With help from his family, Franklin and Josephine Gifford did return to their family farm in 1867; and were successful in their endeavor.

Samuel Street had served in the Union army and had notified Gideon of the intention of his family to return, hopefully in 1866; it was actually 1867. They were still on the farm as this report was written. Riley Cooper had been in communication with both Gideon and with David Baldridge about returning to work at the mill when it got back in full production. Riley also said his wife and son planned to return and they were interested in purchasing the 160 acres, to the west of the Truesdales, where they had lived and farmed before being driven away. Riley and Julia Cooper did return in the spring of 1866. Their son, Anderson, did not survive his service in the war. 

There had been four farms located north of Oak Springs in 1860: Ephriam Bressie, Abner Wingfield, Jesse Bartlett, and Oliver Dodson. The Bressies had relocated into central Missouri and did not plan to return - however, they hoped they could sell their land, if there was any value there. Abner Wingfield and his family planned to return, which they did, in 1867, and in 1872 purchased the Bressie place at a very low price. Neither Jesse Bartlett nor Oliver Dodson, or any of their family members had maintained contact with anyone as of the fall of 1865.

In Oak Springs, Jerry and Polly Potts had kept in touch, but declined to return any time soon. However, late in 1868 they renewed contact with town officials indicating their plan to return to claim their town property in early 1869. They did in fact do that and arrived in the spring along with her younger brother, a physician, J.D. Potts. They built a family home on Lot 3 of Block J. They also bought Lot 4, of Block J, that fronted on Central Avenue, where they built a multi-front building for their businesses included a physician’s office, a barber shop, an apothecary and a print shop. A second floor above the businesses on the lower level provided for apartments that were only finished as needed. J.D. Potts finished and lived in one. When Alex McDonald moved into Oak Springs, he moved into another, in 1869.

Ace Donagan indicated his intention to return and build a new tavern much as he had when he left in 1860. He was communicating with the Town Council on site and timing issues in late 1865. 

Ralph Campbell (and his Rhodes wife) and well as Theodosius Rhodes (and his Campbell wife) expressed interest in returning but each was still uncertain under what conditions and when. 


Levi Weston expressed plans to certainly return, but he really needed to wait until a little more population was back in place to return. This time arrived in the spring of 1869 when he returned to restart the operations in the location he had left behind in late 1861. The contract to build the two special carriages for the new subscription school did play a role in his timed return. Levi was fully operational by early in 1870.

To be continued... next Friday.


May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!


Dr. Bill ;-)

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace, Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 3


The Founding of the Homeplace
Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 3


The green hill in the valley


From the forthcoming short story collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed

1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status - Section 3 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

[It is believed this narrative was a joint effort of Alex McDonald and Jerry Potts.]



As soon as the war ended, and his duties there fulfilled, Colonel Patton returned to the valley regularly, intent on doing what he could to uphold the interests of the people who had settled there before the war intervened in all their lives. He and Gideon Inman had stayed in touch throughout the war period. 

Even before war broke out, in the mid-1850s, Jake and Gideon (who had served as town clerk and helped out with land records from his arrival in the valley) had managed to develop a complete copy of all the land records for Oak Creek Township from the County records in Eminence. These records were helpful in normal times, but as tensions had grown, they had correctly foreseen that they might be essential. Gideon had kept those records with him, and had managed to preserve them through the period of the war. He had held a civilian administrative job with the US Army during the war in St. Louis. Throughout the war, he, with Jake’s assistance and encouragement, had set about attempting to make contact with each and every former valley resident, or their families. This effort helped them to determine the level of interest from each family in either returning to the valley or relinquishing their claims to land in the valley. They generally sought to ascertain the current situations of as many of ‘their people’ as possible. These efforts were intensified as the year 1865 passed by.

The fourth ‘family,’ the eleventh member in the original settlement party, was Hugh Truesdale, a young man who wanted to be a farmer. He was supported in this effort by the other members of the party. In the fall of 1833, after Victoria Patton had become 16 years old, she and Hugh Truesdale were married. Over the next several years, as their farming operation prospered, three children joined the family. First came Jane, then Lewis and finally Nellie. In addition to her farm wife responsibilities, Victoria helped her mother in the General Store. In 1854, Victoria Truesdale became Postmaster, and continued in that role. For many years, in partnership with Jake Patton and Victor Campbell, Hugh Truesdale, in addition to farming interests had developed a substantial mule and horse breeding operation.

In 1860, Hugh was 48 years old and Victoria was 42. Jane was 23, and had married Daniel McDonald in June 1859; they lived at the Truesdale family farm home. Hugh, Victoria and Nellie had built a new home in Oak Springs and moved there prior to the wedding in 1859. Lewis was 17 years old and had been in Jefferson City for a few years attending Secondary School but had returned recently to work in the family business.  Nellie was still at home as a 10 year old, receiving her schooling from her family. 

With the advent of the war, in 1861, Hugh and his son Lewis worked closely with others in the valley to round up virtually all of the mules and horses in the valley in an attempt to get them to the Union Army in Houston both for profit and to make a contribution - as well as keep them out of the hands of the Rebels. By the time they could get left, they had already lost four horses and six mules to Rebels on raids into the valley.

During the war, Hugh Truesdale continued to be a contract provider of mules and horses to the Union army working from a base outside Jefferson City. Hugh continued to meet with the legislature each year, as well. In his travels, he kept a room in the northern end of his district, and kept on the move. He managed to continue representing his district including portions of Dent and Texas counties as well as Oak Township throughout the war. Building up seniority and maintaining contacts where they were to be had, he continued to hold the seat. After 1865, of course, he had residence with his son, Lewis, in Oak Springs, though he was only there periodically throughout the year. During and after the war, Kate and Victoria remained at their home outside Jefferson City as Jake and Hugh continued their various activities. 

Lewis served as a Captain in his grandfather’s cavalry unit, serving mostly in Missouri through the war. Lewis and Caroline McDonald had managed to marry during a leave he was authorized to take in 1864. He returned to the valley as a 23-year-old accustomed to being a leader and in charge of his environment. Returning to Oak Springs and Oak Creek Township, he displayed this leadership in his determination to rebuild his home valley. While his initial actions had been to get the family farm land back into early production, his other early actions were in the central valley where he got to work establishing a site for his family business interests in Oak Springs. 

By the fall of 1865, a double cabin, built around a central stone fireplace, was completed which became headquarters for those early actions to begin rebuilding the town of Oak Springs. As soon as the cabin was built and habitable, a very pregnant Caroline returned to Oak Springs to join and support her husband, Lewis. Their son, James, they called him Jimmie, was born in February, 1866. 

Visits by Colonel Patton, Hugh Truesdale, Victor Campbell and Owen Olson provided the opportunity to set priorities and approve initial plans, not unlike they had earlier done in the 1830s and 1840s. They were each very conscious of their own succession plans as well as the needs to build the town to and beyond its former conditions. 

Owen and Anna Olson arrived in the valley early in the summer of 1833 as a young newly wed couple with only what they had in the packs on their backs. They worked very hard to help in the community in anyway they could, including building cabins, building the mill, farming their own share crops and helping with farming for others. Owen apprenticed as a blacksmith under Jake Patton and eventually became the primary blacksmith in the shop. Owen and Anna, each 48 years old in 1860, had two children, Liam, 26, and Allison, 23. In 1860 Liam was apprenticing as a blacksmith, as well, under Owen and Jake. During the war, Liam served as a farrier with the cavalry. He was among the first four young men to return to the valley in late spring 1865, returning with David Baldridge. He set up his own blacksmith shop near the mill and worked closely with David to get it operational by that first fall back, in a temporary shelter. 

When the war began, Owen was blacksmith in the Patton Shop, Anna was Assistant Postmaster and she and their daughter, Allison, each worked in the Patton General Store. They had been among the last to leave the valley, and when they did, had vowed to return. By the time the “Olson party” arrived in mid-September, 1865, the early arrival young men in the valley had constructed a house for the Olson family according to Owen’s desires, near their original homesite. It was totally enclosed, if not totally finished; but it served them well, as planned. In the party were also the pregnant Caroline (McDonald) Truesdale and 15-year-old Nellie Truesdale along with Owen, Anna and Allison. 

Jake Patton had agreed to an arrangement wherein Owen Olson would purchase the city lots (Block S, Lot 1 and Lot 2; Block T, Lot 1) from Patton west from the Olson home through the old General Store location and the original blacksmith shop (Block Q, Lot 4). Olson would then set up his new blacksmith shop in approximately the location of the original. The Olson’s would build a new Oak Springs General Merchandise store in about the same location as the original, with the existing Central Avenue running between them. The Lewis Truesdale cabins had been built near the location of the remains of the original Patton cabin (Block Q, Lot 2).


The new Oak Springs General Merchandise store was to include the U.S. Post Office with Anna Olson as Postmaster and Allison Olson as Assistant Postmaster and General Manager of the Oak Springs General Merchandise store. Each new store and residence was being built on the original town plat plan but also with respect to what was left from the prior construction and current knowledge as to whether it was beneficial to build on the same location or a new one nearby. It was planned to dig two or three water wells in the town to supply water without needing to be near a creek. In 1870, the Community Building was re-built on Lot 3, Block S (Patton Land), and Block R was designated as a community park (land still owned by Jake Patton) to be used in conjunction with the Community Building for such events as “Fourth Sunday,” 4th of July, and fairs and festivals for the entire community. Blocks U and V would continue to remain open, owned by the city, for possible future community development needs, as well.

To be continued... next Friday.


May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!

Dr. Bill ;-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 2


The Founding of the Homeplace

Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 2


The green hill in the valley


From the forthcoming short story collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed

1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status - Section 2 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

[It is believed this narrative was a joint effort of Alex McDonald and Jerry Potts.]


*****

In 1860, Henry had been 59 years old and still actively involved in the family farm operation. As the war had its impact on the valley, Henry, along with his grandson, Alex, 12 in 1861, decided to stay and ‘protect their property’ as noted above.

After the war, both Henry and Alex worked with Daniel in getting the farm land back in operation. By the second year, they hired two men, Orville Anderson and Julius Swenson, on recommendation from Harry and Sarah, as hired farm workers. They worked well as a team so that farm operations could expand. They were also helpful in getting the cattle operation back in business. In 1869, they were joined by Elwin Johnson, a younger cousin of Orville. Also in 1869, Daniel and Jane, with young William, built a new home near the center of the original McDonald section of land, with a road leading the half-mile out to the Houston Road. The hired men continued to live in the cabins. 

Henry McDonald had begun to cut back on his workload, and took on more supervisory and monitoring roles. With young William growing, Jane also took a stronger lead in management of the families’ several interests, along with Daniel. During the fall harvest, Alex McDonald injured his back and could no longer do manuel labor. In getting treatments from J.D. Potts, in Oak Springs, Alex stayed with the Potts family. Following much discussion, he decided to stay in town with them, permanently. 

Henry McDonald died in March 1872 from natural aging, on “The Homeplace.” He was buried in the McDonald plot, at the east end of McDonald land, along side his wife, in what was now the Oak Creek Township Cemetery.

Jake and Kate Patton with their daughter, Victoria, were the third family in that first settlement party in 1833. Jake was a blacksmith by trade, but also pursued farming, enjoyed raising horses, and had both investment and political interests. He assisted with the early surveys in the valley and soon and often was the political representative of the valley in county and state affairs. Kate operated a General Store near the Blacksmith Shop in the early days of the community and served for a number of years as Postmaster.

With the changing political environment in the area, Robert Baldridge had lost his County Commissioner seat in 1857. Jake felt that with his longer involvement with the southern elements in the county he could regain the valley’s representation, which he did in 1859. He then supported Hugh Truesdale, 1860, in his run to win the seat Jake had held in the State Representative race since 1846. Hugh did win, but in a very close race.

In 1860, Jake was 62 and Kate was 60. When the war broke out, using his political connections in the Missouri capital, Jake was awarded an Army Commission and was responsible for raising a cavalry regiment. This is why, thereafter, he was referred to as Colonel Patton. Kate and Victoria stayed behind continuing of the operation of their store and mail responsibilities until a bunch of raiders burned down the store, as well as the blacksmith and gunsmith shops. Escaping with their lives and little else, they scurried up to Jefferson City to join the other refugees from the valley. Kate and Victoria remained in the Jefferson City area following the war. 

As soon as the war ended, and his duties there fulfilled, Colonel Patton returned to the valley regularly, intent on doing what he could to uphold the interests of the people who had settled there before the war intervened in all their lives. He and Gideon Inman had stayed in touch throughout the war period. 

Even before war broke out, in the mid-1850s, Jake and Gideon (who had served as town clerk and helped out with land records from his arrival in the valley) had managed to develop a complete copy of all the land records for Oak Creek Township from the County records in Eminence. These records were helpful in normal times, but as tensions had grown, they had correctly foreseen that they might be essential. Gideon had kept those records with him, and had managed to preserve them through the period of the war. He had held a civilian administrative job with the US Army during the war in St. Louis. Throughout the war, he, with Jake’s assistance and encouragement, had set about attempting to make contact with each and every former valley resident, or their families. This effort helped them to determine the level of interest from each family in either returning to the valley or relinquishing their claims to land in the valley. They generally sought to ascertain the current situations of as many of ‘their people’ as possible. These efforts were intensified as the year 1865 passed by.

The fourth ‘family,’ the eleventh member in the original settlement party, was Hugh Truesdale, a young man who wanted to be a farmer. He was supported in this effort by the other members of the party. In the fall of 1833, after Victoria Patton had become 16 years old, she and Hugh Truesdale were married. Over the next several years, as their farming operation prospered, three children joined the family. First came Jane, then Lewis and finally Nellie. In addition to her farm wife responsibilities, Victoria helped her mother in the General Store. In 1854, Victoria Truesdale became Postmaster, and continued in that role. For many years, in partnership with Jake Patton and Victor Campbell, Hugh Truesdale, in addition to farming interests had developed a substantial mule and horse breeding operation.


In 1860, Hugh was 48 years old and Victoria was 42. Jane was 23, and had married Daniel McDonald in June 1859; they lived at the Truesdale family farm home. Hugh, Victoria and Nellie had built a new home in Oak Springs and moved there prior to the wedding in 1859. Lewis was 17 years old and had been in Jefferson City for a few years attending Secondary School but had returned recently to work in the family business.  Nellie was still at home as a 10 year old, receiving her schooling from her family. 

To be continued... next Friday.


May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!


Dr. Bill  ;-)

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace - Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 1


The Founding of the Homeplace
Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 1


The green hill in the valley


From the forthcoming short story collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed

1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status - Section 1 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

[It is believed this narrative was a joint effort of Alex McDonald and Jerry Potts.]

This is an American Centennial Report for Oak Springs and Oak Creek Township by xxx xxxx. In this report, I will discuss the activities of the principal families living in the Oak Creek valley to 1860 (from the time of first settlement in 1833), discuss their status in 1860/61, and then look at the activities of the same families here between 1865 and 1875, following the Civil War, based on available information.

I will begin with the four initial families who first settled the valley in the late spring of 1833: Baldridge, McDonald, Patton and Truesdale; plus the Olsons who arrived in June of 1833 and the Campbells, the first to arrive in the west valley, in 1836. 

Robert and Susannah Baldridge arrived in the valley with their children, Sarah and David. Robert and his family built and operated the mill on Oak Creek, farmed, and raised beef cattle on the pastures on the ridge above the mill. In 1860, Robert and Susannah were 57 years old. Their son, David, in 1860, was 35 years old, unmarried, and was the principal operator of the mill with the assistance of Riley Cooper. By 1849, Robert and Susannah lived in Oak Spring and had opened a combination feed store and lumber yard selling in the central valley the products produced at the mill. They continued to broker beef cattle, as well. In 1853, the young man Theodosius Rhodes, who started clerking for them in the store as an 18-year-old, as a 21-year-old became the manager of the store.

Politically, with the changing environment in Shannon County, the County Commissioner districts were changed in the mid-1850s, and Robert Baldridge lost his re-election bid in 1857 (he had served since 1847). 

When the war arrived in Oak Springs in 1861, Robert and Susannah bought up most of the beef cattle in the valley, and, with the help of several young men in the valley, drove the cattle to Houston, along the Houston Road, to sell the cattle to the Union army. Using the many contacts they had in the beef cattle industry, they subsequently moved north to the Jefferson City area and continued selling contracted beef to the Union army. Sadly, unrelated to the war activity, they both were killed in a carriage accident pursuing their business interests just outside of Jefferson City in 1863. 

David Baldridge kept the mill going through the fall of 1861 when raiders coming through the valley set the mill on fire. He managed to escape and made his way north through the woods and joined the Union Army. He saw combat, he said, but didn’t really want to talk about it. Not withstanding that, he was among the first to return to the valley in 1865 and began repair and recovery work on the mill on behalf of himself and his sister (Sarah Baldridge McDonald) following the death of their parents. For the return trip, he was joined by Liam Olson and the two of them took the lead in the restoration work, as Liam set up his blacksmithing operation near the pool below the mill. Liam and David continued to work closely together in the milling, lumber and blacksmith shop business, as well as beginning to rebuild a cattle herd, with Sarah’s urging.

Henry McDonald and his wife, Laura, with their son, Harry, arrived in the ten-member settlement party with the Baldridges and Pattons. Henry and Laura had a second son, Daniel, born in 1838. Laura died in 1848. Henry farmed from the beginning. He and his son, Harry, also operated a freight business for the valley with interests in Texas County to the west. Harry had married Sarah Baldridge in 1842 and they had a large family, starting with Caroline, born in 1843, Thomas in 1845, Patrick in 1847, Alex in 1849, Mahala in 1852 and Rebecca in 1855. By 1860, Caroline, their oldest daughter, had attended a girl’s academy for two years and was back in the valley preparing to become the bride of Lewis Truesdale, her neighbor, in a year or two. The coming of war interfered with these plans and many others. As soon as the war broke out, son Thomas went off to Houston to join the Union army and son Patrick ran off to the south to join the Rebels, as happened in so many families in the region. They never heard from Patrick again. Thomas was killed in the battle at Shiloh with thousands of others on each side. Alex managed to survive in the valley through the war with his grandfather, Henry McDonald. (Read his story elsewhere in these American Centennial stories.)

By the summer of 1861, Harry, Sarah, Caroline, Mahala and Rebecca packed up their things in a freight wagon and headed north, managing to get to the Jefferson City area. Accompanying them was Levi Weston who had set up a woodworking shop in Oak Springs but was also the son of Jacob Weston who ran a freight line in central Missouri out of Jefferson City with whom Harry had exchanged services in the recent past. They formed a working partnership and eventually created a very successful contract freight business together during the war. Following the close of the war, Harry, Sarah and the two younger girls remained in the Jefferson City area. Harry and Sarah each visited back in the Oak Creek valley, regularly, for business and family reasons. The Weston-McDonald Freight Line continued to flourish and included regular trips into the Oak Creek valley where Harry’s brother, Daniel McDonald, eventually oversaw the valley freight stations for pickup and delivery.

Daniel McDonald, age 22 in 1860, had married Jane Truesdale in June 1859 and had continued the McDonald farming operation with his brother, Harry, father, Henry, and young nephew, Alex. However, Daniel also felt called to join the Union army in 1861. His wife, Jane, left the valley as well with the other McDonalds and Levi Weston as noted above.

Daniel and Lewis Truesdale (married to Daniel’s niece, Caroline) were the first two to return to the valley following the war. They had come to reclaim their families’ land and resume farming operations. They were also anxious to reconnect with young Alex and his GranPa Henry, who had stayed in the valley, if they were both still alive. They were, and they did, and all immediately set about getting in crops for the 1865 year. They each continued to pursue their farming interests as they also helped out with other reconstruction projects across the valley. By the fall, Daniel’s wife, Jane, and their one-year-old son, William, had joined him in the valley, as had Lewis’ pregnant wife, Caroline.

After originally living in the cabin built near the mill site with David Baldridge and Liam Olson, by the time the families arrived, the McDonalds had built a double cabin, with ‘dog-trot’ separately them, near the original McDonald ‘homeplace’ on Oak Creek. Daniel, Jane and William lived in one cabin and Henry and Alex lived in the other. This also allowed room for visitors in the early years, before more permanent housing could be built.

To be continued... next Friday.


May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!


Dr. Bill  ;-)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Today's Thoughts on… Part IV, of the Founding Book


Today's Thoughts on…
Part IV, of the Founding Book


The green hill in the valley


The following will serve as a guide to the weekly Friday posting for the next several weeks:

From the:

Table of Contents

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed

1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status
List of Businesses and Buildings: 1865 to 1875
Land Purchases in Oak Creek Township after the war
Oak Springs Town Plot Land Exchanges
Extract of 1870 Census
Extract of 1875 Census
Governmental Positions by Residents to 1875

1871-1875 Activity Summary
*** The First School
*** Building in Stone


May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!


Dr. Bill  ;-)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Stories of Civil War Survivors - Owen Olson


Stories of Civil War Survivors
Owen Olson


This is the fifth of the five stories of Civil War Soldiers and Others of the Oak Creek Valley from Part III:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


Owen Olson shares the challenges of rebuilding a community

I have been asked to share my memories of rebuilding in Oak Springs and the Oak Creek valley following the period of the war. This is both easy and very hard to do. My wife, Anna, and I had settled in this valley and helped create this town out of the virgin land beginning in 1833. We were blessed to have been taken in and supported by the earliest settlers in those first years, especially by Jake and Kate Patton. They were more like parents and mentors to us, and good friends, through the years, continuing until they passed from us not too long ago. 

With Jake, I returned to the valley for the first time, on horseback, in late June of 1865, and it looked much as it did, in many ways, like it did in 1833. Most of the people I’ve talked to, who were around to see it then, have said the same thing. We arrived at the mill area, first, of course, having come from the north. The young men had already accomplished a number of their first goals, which pleased us. They had only been there a little over a month. Jake and I were anxious, however, to cross on over to the town site, to see what was and what was not still there. Almost immediately upon arriving back at our home site and Jake’s near the spring, I could see that there was more there, on second sight, than appeared at the first glance. 

Lewis Truesdale was with us, by then, and quickly agreed. Foundations were often still fully or partially intact, once you got past the underbrush built up over a few years. Even some flooring was there, or at least was partially salvageable. Walls had mostly burned down, of course, but some chimneys remained, some fireplace parts and equipment laid where they fell or nearby. 

As a continuing Township Trustee, since 1846, I was curious, anxious was probably a better word, about the roads and the few bridges we had built, as well. I was only there for a few days that first trip back, so I only explored a bit. With those examinations, however, I was encouraged that much of the work we had put in was still there, under green growth, and with a number of scrub trees needing to be removed. We saved the work for later, but began visualizing the work that did need to be done and how to do it. 

We worked closely with Lewis to locate the best site for a cabin near the Patton Springs. It would be a double cabin, built around the fireplace and chimney that was still there from Jake’s original cabin. It needed repairs, of course, but was available for a quick start. They would get the first cabin up in short order, and the second by mid-summer. We would use this site as a gathering point as several of us visited during the year before bringing our families.

We also looked at our homesite, to be built where we had lived before. The foundation and most of the flooring was still there. We worked out a plan to have it at least habitable by mid-September when we expected to bring some of the extended ‘family’ members back for good. All of this of course, was contingent on no outlaws or raiding parties coming through again, to spoil our plans. None had been seen, yet, but the fellows were on constant alert. We knew there were still some bad folks on the loose out there.

Let me stop here for a moment and share some details you should know about. They tend to be left out of stories I hear folks tell about those days. But, they are an important part of the story. All of us left in a hurry, whether planned for a couple of weeks or a month, as we did, or under great duress as did Kate and Victoria, as raiders burned the buildings around them and they escaped into the woods. I mention this to remind you that much of what we needed to live here, again, had to be brought back in. Horses, mules, cows, chickens, pigs, wagons, farm equipment, blacksmithing equipment (in my case), whatever we were each using in our farm or business to survive. 

During those early months of 1865 a number of us met together to decide what needed to be brought back here, when, and how. Roads were still not in a condition to use wagons. So, one priority, perhaps, was to work on the roads. If we were to live here through the next winter, crops needed to be planted so they could be harvested in the fall. That was one of the first things those first to return worked on, thankfully, along with Henry and Alex McDonald, who had managed to survive the war here in the valley.

So, when Jake and I made this first trip back, on horseback, he had another horse with a pack that he brought for Lewis to use, containing goods that had been predetermined would be needed. I had brought a mule, that would be useful, but also had a pack of goods that I wanted to have arrive early, as well. We were confident of this, partially, because David Baldridge and my son, Liam, had already made a trip north and back, early in June, to share what they had learned. They had each brought back a pack mule, as well, by the way, and each had also brought a milk cow.

This working together, and planning together, was something that had distinguished the Oak Creek valley settlers from their initial foray into the valley in 1833. It was continued on the return of many of us in 1865 and after. Another tradition from that 1833 experience was something called “Fourth Sunday.” Now, we were here for that “Fourth Sunday” in June, 1865, so we called a meeting of every one that was in the valley, and re-established that tradition. We used it as time set aside to plan the upcoming month and months, together, to meet common as well as individual goals. And, I am pleased to report, the tradition continues. Not everyone is there every month, like in the old days, but most do try to make it. It pays benefits, both to the community and to each of us individually. I believe in the process.

Shortly after the “Fourth Sunday” meeting, Jake and I did ride south, to Eminence, to see if he could re-establish himself in what he believed was his continuing role as a Shannon County Commissioner. We always travelled in pairs, and well armed, of course. I wasn’t especially thrilled at making this trip on south, but I certainly didn’t want him to be going by himself. And, I didn’t want any of the young men who were working so hard here in the valley to go either, so I went.

I’ll leave the details of the trip to be read in his memoirs. He had written them, he said, before he died. I am not privy to any plans there may be to publish them. I’ll just say here that we got down there, he made some contacts he felt appropriate, and we got back to the valley alive. It was still hostile territory, but he had earned enough respect in past years to allow us to travel in and return. He did return regularly, over the following months and years, representing our interests, but I was not directly involved in that.

We only stayed a couple of days in the valley before returning to Jefferson City to continue to work on our permanent return.

Late in July, I returned to the valley, this time with Victor Campbell. He wanted to see for himself what “everything looked like.” We were especially watchful on this trip as to the condition of roadways in the various parts of the trips and what we saw that we could plan to assist with, if we could do anything at all. There were more people at various places along the way each trip I made. On the way down, as well as on the return trip, we talked to the local people, especially in Dent County, to determine what they were doing, or planning to do, that would be useful to us as well. Harry McDonald, then affiliated with the Weston-McDonald Freight lines, had asked us to bring back what information we could on how far in that direction wagons could go. 

The road from the Dent County line north to near Salem still needed work. From Salem north was passable. We talked to a number of locals south of Salem, many of whom Jake did know. We let them know we were working to get the mill back into operation, and that we would get the road cleared north to the county line, if they would work to the same point from their side. We generally agreed that the target date was early in September. Daniel and Lewis did make a trip north early in September and let us know that the road was passable, so we stayed with our plan to make the migration move south in mid-September. 

In what many have referred to as the “Olson party” we had besides myself, Anna, and our daughter, Allison, a very pregnant Caroline (McDonald) Truesdale, wife of Lewis, and his 15-year-old sister, Nellie Truesdale. Daniel and Lewis traveled back with us, along with additional horses and mules, a coop of chickens, two more milk cows, and a couple of pregnant pig sows and the boar that had bred them. Among the packs were also the additional tools I felt I needed to get back into the blacksmithing business. It was not an easy trip, for anyone, but all arrived safely (and the baby did wait until after the first of the year to be born on schedule). 

Speaking of blacksmithing, on my earlier trips, I was pleasantly surprised how much of my needed equipment was still on site and usable, with some tender loving care. Jake and I had an agreement that I would re-open the blacksmith shop and that we would also re-open the general store. I purchased the land for both from him on very favorable terms. We were pleased, again, to work together, for the benefit of everyone involved, including the community generally. Anna and Allison would run the store and reopen the Post Office when we got the official word from the government, which Jake helped us obtain in fairly short order, under the circumstances.

By November, Gideon Inman had also made a preliminary trip to the valley. During November then, we managed to get everyone together sufficiently to hold an Oak Springs town election. Elected to the Town Council were: Jake Patton, Owen Olson, Victor Campbell, Lewis Truesdale and Gideon Inman, to serve until the next regular election. Victor and Gideon had signed letters of intention to build homes on lots they already owned in the spring of 1866. With that action, we had both a functioning Town Council and three Township Trustees: David Baldridge in the east, myself, Owen Olson, central, and Delbert Campbell in the west.

I focused my attentions on 1) getting my blacksmithing operation functional, 2) getting the new General Store built by the time the freight line resumed deliveries, and 3) putting finishing touches on our house, as needed. I also spent some time, each week, on dragging the streets and roads in my Trustee district, so they could be as good as possible, as soon as reasonably practical. I felt good about that work.

Also, a number of different times, as people came back to consider rebuilding, I tried to be on-site, to assist them in salvaging what we could and helping them get restarted on their properties.





May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!


Dr. Bill  ;-)