Friday, December 7, 2012

The Founding of the Homeplace - Story 1, The Trek, Part 2

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 1, The Trek, Part 2

"The Founding of the Homeplace" saga continues here on the first Friday of each new Month. See Part 1 in November 2012. This is a serial presentation of the story, beginning in 1833, when four families decided to settle the land, the valley, that would become the setting of the first two books in the The Homeplace Series: "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited" as well as the forthcoming third book in the series, "The Homeplace Forever." These three books are set in the years 1987, 1996, and 2006, respectively. The underlying premise of this trilogy is the desire of the family matriarch to retain the family farm in the southern Missouri Ozarks in whole and in the family. 

[Source: Currier & Ives, “Home in the wilderness,” c1870; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress ( : accessed 31 Dec 2012)]

Characters in the trilogy become actively involved in the study of their family history and snippets of that research appear, from time to time through the trilogy (one example). This serial presentation begins to share that ‘research’ in Story Form, and, some of the Stories represent 'writings of the family' that were ‘discovered’ in the process of that research. Each Story is an essay or report of the activities of the initial four families and their descendants that settled the Homeplace – the farm and the surrounding valley.

Story 1, The Trek to the Homeplace

In this episode, we share "Part 2 of 4"

Preparations for the trip had been underway since the previous fall in anticipation that this would be the spring when the move would be made. The distance they would travel was probably no more than twenty-five miles, as the crow flies, but they would not be crows flying. Following the animal and Indian paths they had marked off on the way over, and especially on the way back, would be closer to thirty-five miles. On the way back, they had cleared a path about four feet wide to accommodate their oxen pulling one-ox carts with the provisions they wanted to initially have in their new Homeplace. They would not try to take all of their furniture on this first trip; they would make at least two more trips before winter arrived. The group would be taking four oxen pulling four carts of provisions along with two bulls for backup and future breeding of the four milk cows making the trip. They had worked together to construct the carts over the winter and believed they were all ready to go. The move to the new Homeplace would likely take as much as four or five days, even with good weather, and how likely was that?
The ground they would be traveling consisted of rugged hills, springs, creeks and caves. There were still Indians, Delawares and Shawnees, who came through from time to time, mostly in the fall and winter, but they had not encountered any on this most recent trip nor had they seen any signs of recent visits. There was much wild game, of course, and signs of many more than they saw. Hunting, trapping and selling furs to traveling buyers and back here at the lumber camps would be a critical part of their new lives.
Some people described these folks and their neighbors as two-thirds hunter and one-third trader and lumberman. Young Truesdale and the McDonalds were determined to tame some of the land in their new ‘Homeplace’ valley for farming along with hunting and trapping. The Baldridges and Pattons would also have farming plots to provide for their families. They were also confident that other families would follow, as the Barksdales eventually needed to justify building their mill. Being the first to stake out their claims on the best fields was an important part of the planning for this group, the recent trip, and their expectations for the future. They would also take along some razorback hogs and two coops of chickens for a good start at their new lives.
Corn and bean seeds for immediate planting, along with garden seeds and several kinds of plantings would be priorities on this initial trip, as well. Jake would be taking his basic blacksmithing tools and materials, of course. Some of their needs could be met on occasional return trips, so those considerations were very important in keeping this first trip to basic essentials only.

Note: Story 1, by William Leverne Smith, was originally published as a Short Story, "The Trek to the Homeplace" in the anthology: Echoes of the Ozarks, Volume VII, 2011, published by the Ozarks Writers League (pp. 55-64).