Friday, May 3, 2013

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

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 3, The First Valley Visitors, 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), Story 2 (Part 123, and 4) and Story 3 (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 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 3 of 4"

Big John asked Harry to tell him how he had come to have this fine deer hide. Harry shared with Big John some details of the hunt as well as talking about what he had done to cure the hide. Big John then, very carefully, provided a critique and some suggestions about the quality of the particular hide he was wanting to trade. Big John knew, of course, that how he dealt with the youngster would have some impact on his relationships with the adults in the community as well. 

They then began talking about trade goods. What might Harry be interested in obtaining in exchange from Big John that Big John had in his pack? What was the value of the hide with respect to these items? Did Harry have any other items he might want to consider trading? Big John was careful to make that point that an immediate decision on a trade was not necessary and how important it was for each of them to feel they had a ‘good deal’ when they finished. They talked about long-term and short-term satisfaction issues.

Harry expressed an interest in some tools of his own so that he wouldn’t always have to use those of his father: a claw-hammerhead, an axehead, a skin scraper, perhaps. Big John showed Harry the tools he had and discussed their relative worths along with some positives and negatives of each. After some further discussion, Big John suggested that Harry talk to his parents about their discussion and come back tomorrow if he was still interested in some specific trade talks.

Harry met Sarah Baldridge leaving the garden area as he headed back to talk to his parents. She wondered why he had been talking to Big John, by himself. Harry explained what he had been doing and how interesting it had been to talk to Big John ‘man-to-man.’ Sarah wanted to make fun of Harry, but quickly realized how serious he was about doing a man-thing, on his own. So, she was positive and encouraged him in talking to his parents. 

Meanwhile, Jake, Kate and Victoria Patton had more visitors arrive from the northwest. A young couple, Owen and Anna Olson, by name, came walking down the trail off the ridge, each with a medium sized pack on their backs. They followed the Center Creek directly to the Patton cabin which was actually their intended destination. 

Owen was a powerful young man of Norwegian stock who wanted to learn to be both a farmer and a blacksmith. He had talked to a number of blacksmiths at the lumber camp. From those discussions, Owen and Anna had decided to come find Jake Patton, the blacksmith. Now, here they were.

Jake was flattered, of course, that they had come this far to see him. On the other hand, he had to be skeptical as to their intentions and how they might fit here in the valley, if that was really their intention. They did seem to be very sincere if quite naive in their expectations. Jake felt is was important to find out as much as possible about them by keeping them talking. He asked about the different folks they had contacted and the lumber camps and decided he could make a pretty good judgement based on those answers. They did show him their marriage certificate.

It did not take Jake long to conclude that Owen and Anna were very sincere, they had a strong work ethic, and seemed to be willing to do whatever it took to earn the way of life they sought. However, they also had no money and few supplies with them. They did not have a backup plan. They were putting everything they did have at risk to make this work. Following further discussion, Jake came to an agreement with the young couple to give them the opportunity to earn their dream if they would live up to the expectations they were presenting. Jake also made sure that they fully appreciated how difficult it was likely to be and that nothing was certain about the arrangement if they did not hold up their end of the bargain. They totally agreed to give it all they had, individually and together.

[ be continued... on May 17, 2013, with Part 4 of Story 3]

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