Friday, April 5, 2013

The Founding of the Homeplace - Story 3, The First Valley Visitors, Part 1

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 3, The First Valley Visitors, Part 1

"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 123, and 4) 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 Threatened." These three books are set in the years 1987, 1996, and 1999, respectively. The underlying premise of this series 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, "Summer landscape, c1869"; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress ( accessed 17 Mar 2013)]

Characters in this series become actively involved in the study of their family history and snippets of that research appear, from time to time through the series (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 3, First Valley Visitors

In this episode, we share "Part 1 of 4"

When Jake Patton returned from the county seat in Van Buren with the news that the land claims had been successfully filed he also brought something new with him. He had walked to the south east, but on his return, he was riding a bay mare that would be foaling in the early spring of the following year. Everyone was anxious to see and greet the horse as well has her rider.

One other bit of news Jake brought was that the next settlements to the south were about five families and perhaps another dozen single men involved in a lead mining operation near the confluence of the Current and the Jack’s Fork rivers. Oak Creek emptied into the Current, to the east, about ten miles below the Oak Springs valley. That next settlement was ten to fifteen miles further to the southeast.

Work had continued on planting mostly corn, and some beans, on the ten-acre plots at each farm while Jake was on his trip, including at the Patton farm.  

The first circuit-riding preacher to find the Oak Springs valley this year since the arrival of our settlers arrived on June 12, 1833. The Reverend Jules Jenkins was a Methodist out of St. Louis. He wore a long black cloak and was riding a big black Jack mule he called Thunder and leading a pack mule. Coming into the valley from the northwest, he arrived first at the cabin of Jake and Kate Patton who invited him to stay with them for a couple of days. While he was there they arranged with him to return early in September to marry young Hugh Truesdale and their daughter, Victoria. The Rev. Mr. Jenkins agreed to arrive as early in September as his travels would allow.

The preacher conducted an evening service at the Cardinal Corner arbor, with all of the valley residents present. The weather held and this was still a central meeting place even though the first two cabins were completed and the Patton and Baldridge families now had their own residences to look after. The McDonald family and Hugh Truesdale served as hosts, since the meeting was held in their residential area.

The Rev. Mr. Jenkins managed to take at least one meal with each family during his stay. He spoke to the children about God as well as to the adults about their important responsibilities in God’s kingdom. He reminded them to read their bibles every day, and that he’d be back in a couple of months to see how they had progressed in their understanding of God’s will in their lives.

Having come into the valley from the northwest, the Rev. Mr. Jenkins left to the southeast, following Oak Creek. He said he knew there were some lead mining settlements in that direction that needed his attention.

With the planting approaching a conclusion for the season, and the days getting longer, Henry and Harry McDonald took a few evenings each week to go into the woods on the ridge north of their farm to hunt for deer. They had good success on a regular basis. The meat was shared across the community, of course. The hunter who bagged the game, however, had the option to keep the hide and other peripherals for their own use. Harry, in particular, was proud to have bagged three deer and was now learning to process and cure the hides. One of the hides, when properly finished, was destined to become new deerskin leggings his mother, Laura, had promised. She said they would work together on them so that he would know how they were done.

[ be continued... on April 19, 2013, with Part 2 of Story 3]

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