Friday, January 4, 2013

The Founding of the Homeplace - Story 1, The Trek, Part 3

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 1, The Trek, Part 3

"The Founding of the Homeplace" saga will continue here on the first and third Friday of each month, going forward. See Part 1 and Part 2 earlier. 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 3 of 4"

For the trek to the new ‘Homeplace,’ there were six adults, all in their early thirties in age and each experienced with the animals and able to backup each other as needed. There were four youngsters: the fifteen-year-old Victoria, eleven-year-old Harry and Sarah, and eight-year-old David. Each took on designated daily responsibilities and each was expected to carry them out each and every day. 
The caravan started up the path early on the morning of travel day one. Henry, walking along with the lead cart, shouted, “Get up!” to the ox named Blue pulling the first cart with the two bulls tethered to the back corners following along. Laura was actually in the lead, carrying a rifle, and walking about 20 years ahead of the first ox and cart. Harry followed with the second cart pulled by the ox named Buddie trailing two of the milk cows. Susannah, also carrying a rifle, trailed the second cart, and was available to assist in any way needed, including driving a cart, if necessary. 
Miss Victoria drove the third cart, pulled by the ox named Laddie, trailing the other two milk cows. Jake drove the fourth and last cart, pulled by the ox named Topper, loaded down with the blacksmithing gear and topped off by the chicken coops, strapped over the top and carefully braced to remain relatively level. Razorback pigs didn’t like leashes, but they were on two leather strings of five each, with Sarah and David each in charge of one string. Kate followed along behind, wielding a mean bullwhip that ‘encouraged’ the pigs to follow along appropriately. Kate also kept an eye on the trail behind and to the sides for unexpected ‘wildlife,’ whether two-legged or four legged.
The normal din of the pigs and the chickens was broken occasionally by a shouted “Gee” or “Haw” to move an ox to the right or to the left. They all kept a steady pace for perhaps a mile and a half when Jake shouted “Whoa!” to stop his ox and cart. Three more “Whoa!” signals could be heard coming from up the line, as the whole procession came to a halt. “I want to check the straps on the chicken coops,” Jake yelled out, as he moved around the cart to check on the several fastening points. Seeing they were all taut and balanced, he yelled to Henry in the lead cart, “Move out.” That was followed by “Get up” from Henry, then Harry, then Victoria and finally Jake… and the caravan continued forward.
They followed the marked and cleared path up to and along the first ridge, following the ridge until it gave away to a curved path down off the ridge, across a saddle and up to the top of the next ridge for a ways. This pattern repeated as three or four miles was covered. Around noontime, they approached the edge of a ‘bald’ area, an open field, with a spring on one end, among the trees, with a stream running from the spring. This was a good place to stop and rest the animals, as well as the people. They let the animals have some water and graze while the people ate their lunch, as well.
By the time an hour had passed, they were on the move, again, following the marked and cleared path. During the afternoon, they had to stop twice to do some additional clearing to allow the carts to pass cleanly. Not bad for the first day. The evening stop was at another spring and stream they had identified. This stream still ran to the north. By noontime on day two, they would be stopping at a spring and stream running to the south.
Jake and Robert got the animals around, watered and hobbled for the night near their camp where they could graze. The pigs were left leashed, but the leashes were tied to trees branches to allow them to wander a bit, in their own area, but unable to chew on the leases. The chickens were fed and watered in their coops.
Henry and Harry were assigned to hunt some squirrels, pigeon, rabbit or other small game for the evening meal. The women and other young ones each had camp responsibilities to complete. As the hunting was successful, the evening meal was complete and everyone, except the first watch person, got to bed in good time after a long day on the road. The campfire was kept going well, all night, and one of the adults stayed on watch, in shifts, throughout the night.

[ be continued... on Januray 18, 2013, with Part 4 of Story 1]

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).

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