Friday, January 18, 2013

The Founding of the Homeplace - Story 1, The Trek, Part 4

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 1, The Trek, Part 4

"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 4 of 4"

The weather continued to hold, cool and breezy, on day two so they got another early start. A few dark clouds could be seen in the west, but they were not threatening as the little caravan moved up, down and around the hills through day two. They all followed their same routine through the evening of day two, except they were careful where they made their campfire and got out the canvas tents to sleep under because it appeared they would have rain before morning. And they did. The storm arrived around four am and was filled with thunder, lightning, wind and heavy rain that lasted into mid-morning. They did not attempt to break camp but stayed hunkered down with regular inspections of all their equipment, and the animals, to be sure nothing was being damaged by the storm. 
As they were familiar with Ozarks storms, they were not surprised when the sun came out as soon as the storm had passed. Henry walked ahead on the path a ways to be sure it appeared passable as the others broke camp and prepared to move out, shortly before noontime. This would be a short travel day, but that was expected as they had planned the trip. They were pleased they only had to make one stop during the afternoon to repair a washout of their path. They stopped early at the next spring location and spent some additional time checking their loads and being sure the storm had not caused any damage they had not discovered in the morning.
Day three followed the same routine and as they made camp for the evening, they felt comfortable that they would arrive at their destination in the afternoon of the fourth day, if all went well. With that prospect in mind, everyone was anxious to get their chores done and get to bed so that day four could begin early.
When they stopped for noontime on day four, Robert was pleased to announce that this was the spring that fed the middle of the three streams in ‘their valley’ and they should arrive there in two to three more hours. Perhaps in an hour and a half or so, they would be on the ridge where they could look down into ‘their valley.’ Each person was diligent in their noontime activities, but the tension in the air could be felt by each person as the minutes ticked away.
Most of the following hour was driven through a forest of oak and hickory trees, followed by a half hour or so of mostly white oak trees. As they passed by one especially impressive giant white oak, the valley opened up before them. Henry, still on the lead cart, shouted out: “This is the place. There is our new Homeplace. Welcome home.”
The caravan descended the ridge and moved toward the larger spring fed stream on the eastern end of the valley. This stream came off the ridge in about a fifteen-foot waterfall into a pond that then extended east and south. Hugh Truesdale walked toward them from the edge of the forest where he was working, as they approached. “Welcome to Oak Springs!” he said as he greeted them. “This spot is everything we were looking for, and more. Let me show you a good place to make camp for the night, and I can share what I have learned since you left me a while back.”
They proceeded perhaps three quarters of a mile southeast where they came upon a bend in the river with oak and hickory trees abundant. “We can make our camp here in this protected area a bit upstream from the bend and put the animals downstream from us, still in protection of the trees.” As he spoke, two bright red cardinals flew by and took up residence on a nearby hickory limb to watch as the camp was being set up. “Cardinal corner,” young Sarah exclaimed.
As soon as he could, without looking too obvious, young Hugh Truesdale found his way over to Miss Victoria and, taking her hand said, “I sure have missed seeing you, Miss Victoria. I hope you had a good trip to our new home.”
She looked him straight in the eye, squeezed his hand just a bit, and said, ”I missed you, too. Let’s get to work on our new home.” And they did. 

[ be continued... on February 1, 2013, with Part 1 of Story 2]

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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