Friday, July 19, 2013

The Founding of the Homeplace Story 4, Fourth of July, 1833, Part 4

The Founding of the Homeplace
Story 4, Fourth of July, 1833, Part 4

"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), Story 3 (Part 123 and 4), and Story 4 (Part 12 and 3) 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 4, Fourth of July, 1833

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

Jake Patton, with an assist from Owen Olson, completed Henry McDonald’s four-wheeled freight wagon a few days before the ‘raising’ of the Olson cabin. As soon at it was ready, Henry, along with Harry, hitched up the mules and began driving the wagon around the valley each day, both to be sure the mules were trained and accustomed to pulling the wagon and to get each of them attuned to driving the mule pulled wagon. They tried a variety of loads, most being useful in moving goods around between sites. Before long, both Harry and Henry felt very much at ease with the mules and the wagon. They each became anxious to make the first freight run over the Big Piney trail a couple days after the Olson cabin was ‘raised.’

The Olson cabin ‘raising’ had to be postponed one day while a big thunderstorm rolled through the valley, but it went up very quickly on the following day. With one more day in between, Henry and Harry departed west along the Big Piney trail with full lists of items each of the families wished to have brought back on the return trip. They regretted not having a full load of goods to take with them, but that would likely come, in time. This time, they did have blacksmith items from Jake and Owen that they knew would sell in Big Piney. That was a start, at least, along with some other hand-tooled wooden and leather items from others in the valley. Kate and Victoria Patton had taken the lead among the women and sent along some preserves and food items they had made from native berries picked in the valley that they were pretty sure would sell in Big Piney because those items were not readily available there, to the best of their knowledge.

The McDonald men returned from their freight run to the Big Piney with most of the items they went for and some money from the sales they had made of the goods they had taken with them. The trip had been surprisingly uneventful. The mules and wagon each performed well. Robert Barksdale was especially pleased that the first two belts he had ordered for the mill were already there and were delivered on this run. With these now available, and with Jake able to make the first small saw blades, they looked forward to having a small, rough, early ‘saw-mill’ capability ready within a few weeks. 

Early in August the men got together and built two pole barns for winter hay. One was on the east edge of the forest between the Patton and Olson cabins and the other other equi-distance from the Barksdale, McDonald and soon-to-be Truesdale cabins. Shortly thereafter, as second cutting of hay was taken from open grasslands in sufficient quantities that all felt secure for their winter needs. 

During the third week of August, the Truesdale cabin went up as had been planned. As the fifth cabin, with the same basic design, it went up quickly and without any delay. Everyone felt a strong sense of relief, with harvest season approaching, that each of the families would now be set for the winter season with regard to housing accommodations. 

Hugh Truesdale and Victoria Patton were especially relieved on August 29th when who should arrive in the valley, down the Big Piney trial but The Reverend Mr. Jules Jenkins, still wearing his long black cloak and riding his big black Jack mule, Thunder, and leading a pack mule. The Reverend Mr. Jenkins preached his sermons, ate his meals, and performed the long awaited wedding ceremony promptly at 10 am on September 1, Victoria’s sixteenth birthday. As was his custom, following the wedding and lunch, The Reverend Mr. Jenkins packed up and headed southeast along the trail along Oak Creek to meet his next flock, where they were sure to be.

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