Friday, February 15, 2013

The Founding of the Homeplace - Story 2, First Plantings, Part 2

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 2, The First Plantings, Part 2

"The Founding of the Homeplace" saga will continue here on the first and third Friday of each month, going forward. See Story 1 (Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) and Story 2 Part 1 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, "Falling Spring, c 1868"; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress ( accessed 25 Jan 2013)]

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 2, First Plantings

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

This settlement group was especially prepared for this venture because they had a variety of well-developed skill sets in addition to having accumulated the necessary funds and credit to purchase their lands prior to their arrival. Each adult had also developed and established the habit of keeping a journal of their activities along with the usual weather, crop and animal details.

New settlers were entitled to purchase up to 640 acres, a full section, if they had the cash or credit available. In this first group to this valley, the Baldridges, the McDonalds and the Pattons each intended to stake out the full 640 acres in the beginning. Young Hugh Truesdale only had funds for 160 acres. However, since Jake and Kate Patton did not intend to be full-time farmers, they had agreed to lease out 320 acres of their land to Truesdale, when he felt ready to handle it. Only a small portion of these lands would be tilled in the first few years, of course, but planning for the future was a part of the process for these folks.

The Baldridge land laid out included a segment of the major stream, which they had come to refer to as Oak Creek, running inside the east edge of their property, with the falls and the pond at the bottom in the far southeast corner. The section also included a large open pasture on the ridge, with forest to the north and along the front face of the ridge, and perhaps forty acres of tillable land along the south border.

Henry and Laura McDonald had selected the 640-acre section diagonal to the southeast from the Baldridge section. This included the stream of Oak Creek below the pond running along the north edge of their property, with the bend of the river (where they were now camped and called Cardinal Corner) in the northeast corner of the property. The rest of the section, which sat relatively flat, six to ten feet above the level of Oak Creek, appeared to be excellent farming soil with few trees or major rocks to impede agricultural pursuits. Timber was readily available directly to the north of this property, across Oak Creek, where Hugh Truesdale had already begun to harvest it.

Since Hugh Truesdale could only purchase a 160 acre plot at the beginning, he was allowed to choose that quarter section between the Baldridge and McDonald land that had a small portion of Oak Creek coming out of the Baldridge pond from the north and curving to the east along the north edge of the McDonald land. In essence, it was a westward extension of the McDonald property. The comparable quarter section immediately to the west would be his next purchase, when he could handle it. The two quarter section portions immediately to the south of the quarter section Truesdale selected were purchased by Jake and Kate Patton to lease to Truesdale. As before, this land was effectively a westward extension of the same quality of land as selected by the McDonalds.

[ be continued... on March 1, 2013, with Part 3 of Story 2]

Note: Story 2, by William Leverne Smith, was originally published as a Short Story, "First Plantings" in the anthology: Echoes of the Ozarks, Volume VIII, 2012, published by the Ozarks Writers League.

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