Friday, March 1, 2013

The Founding of the Homeplace Story 2, The First Plantings, Part 3

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 2, The First Plantings, Part 3

"The Founding of the Homeplace" saga will continue here on the first and third Friday of each month, going forward. See Story 1 (Parts 123, and 4) and Story 2 (Part 1 and 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, "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 3 of 4"

Finally, for their other two quarter sections, Jake and Kate Patton chose to go a mile west of the southwest corner of their first properties and a half mile south to stake out a 320-acre parcel that included Center Creek, as they had now come to calling it, diagonally bisecting the western half of this parcel. The western two-thirds of the property was wooded along the creek, and had an additional small, but significant, spring of its own on the north edge, feeding southwest into Center Creek. This 320-acre parcel still had nearly 100 acres of pasture or tillable land in the eastern portion. Jake believed the area where the small spring fed into the creek would be an ideal location for his blacksmith and gunsmith operation. Eventually, Kate Patton hoped to open a general store there, as well; but that was in the future planning stage only.

In those early days in camp, along with moving timber, surveying and plotting land, and preparing the first garden and planting plots, everyone was alert to identification of the local edible berries and greens, along with the roots and herbs in the area to supplement game hunting treks to provide sustenance for the group. Fishing was good right from the start so their menu was well diversified. Wild turkeys were found to be in abundance as well. Warning and alert procedures were in place from the beginning to warn of unexpected intruders of any kind, and it was not long before they arrived, of course.

Wolves could be heard each night from the second day away from the Big Piney lumber camp region, but they seemed to keep their distance. Signs of bear were seen early on arrival in the valley, but none were actually seen for the first couple of months. Panthers, cougars, and other mountain lion species could be expected, but none were detected in the early days in the Oak Springs valley. Each of the men carried their long-rifles on any tasks away from the central camp. Harry also had a long-rifle now that he was an eleven year old. David carried a bow and quiver of arrows, with which he was quite proficient. He provided a turkey for the group in each of their first three weeks in the valley. Though three years younger, David was nearly as tall as Harry, and his father had encouraged a very strong sense of responsibility at a very young age. 

Practical considerations in the early days in camp at Cardinal Corner led to appropriate ‘out-house’ accommodations downriver from the camp site closer to where the animals were kept. Pens were constructed for the pigs but they didn’t always hold. This was a constant, but expected, source of irritation to especially the young folks, especiall Harry and David, because they were expected to run them down and return them to the pens. The chickens were initially left in the coops. Young Sarah Barksdale had pretty much adopted the chickens as her project. She fed them morning and night, and stopped by regularly during the day, around working in the garden, to collect any eggs that had been laid, hopefully before they were broken. Victoria Patton had taken on the primary responsibility for milking the four cows morning and evening. Others helped out, from time to time, but she felt she related best to the cows and wanted to do it.

[ be continued... on March 15, 2013, with Part 4 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.


  1. Love the painting, "Falling Spring." Can't wait for it to get here.